Hello! Merry Christmas to those who are celebrating and Happy Holidays! I'm getting a much-awaited break from work, and I hope you are having a good time too.
This is my 100th week of writing and the 100th blog post. And it has been a roller-coaster of a journey. More reflections will follow in my 2-year reflection post in a couple of weeks, but I wanted to dedicate my 100th post to something that got me interested in writing in the first place — books. I started reading on August 22, 2021, and I've been reading daily since then.
I got fascinated with reading, and I began to slowly understand the value of books, writing as an art and skill, and most importantly, writers. So, it's only fitting that my 100th blog post should be on books. Combining this thought with the year ending, I wanted to list some great books I read this year. Here are the top 10.
10: Of Mice and Men — John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men is a classic piece of literature from the 1930s about two men George and Lennie, who are friends who don't have anyone else for them. George is small, witty, and rational. Lennie is huge, innocent, and he has the heart of a child. They are laborers in 1930s California who dream of owning an acre of land and a ranch someday. Of Mice and Men portrays the struggles of the working class during 1930s with respect to poverty, wages, dreams, jealousy, stigma, pettiness of their bosses, etc, and how one can find meaning when you have someone in your life with whom you can share a dream. It's a small yet powerful book, with endearing main characters and their friendship towards each other. I loved it.
9: Warbreaker — Brandon Sanderson
Warbreaker is a standalone novel by my favorite author Brandon Sanderson. Warbreaker is about a pseudo-god who hates being a God, a mysterious nobody of a person who has a ruthless talking sword, and a princess whose younger sister was married to a notorious God King. The novel takes place of the Cosmere, the fantasy universe created by Sanderson. With a unique magic system called as the BioChroma, an interesting plot, a lot was achieved in a single book. Easily cracked my top 10.
8: The Lost Metal — Brandon Sanderson
The Lost Metal is the finale (book 7) of the Mistborn Series, which I have talked about before (Click here for my overall thoughts on Mistborn). It was a bold ending and a fitting finale to such a grand enterprise and I loved it. This is part of the second era, which concluded with this book, and I hope Sanderson writes another era of Mistborn. Wayne from this era is probably one of my favorite fantasy characters of all time.
7: The Alloy of Law — Brandon Sanderson
The Alloy of Law is book 4 of the Mistborn series, but book 1 of Mistborn — Era 2. Though both eras are driven by the same magic system, I was amazed by the difference Sanderson was able to create in the same world 300 years later. It felt like this fantasy story happened in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, with trains, carriages, electricity, engines, primitive airplanes, etc. I'm being vague on purpose here with the story as I don't want to spoil it for anyone who might read this. I would recommend reading Mistborn Era 1 first before diving into Era 2 as it has major spoilers. Anyway, another great Sanderson book.
6: The Kiss Quotient — Helen Hoang
This is the only romance book I read in 2023, and I loved it. Stella is an econometrician who is looking to date people. However, considers herself sub-par with sex and that stops her from pursuing relationships freely. To overcome her fear and self-doubts, she hires an escort named Michael to teach her about sex and related stuff. Michael has his own story of why he got into the escort business, which I liked more in the book. What will happen to Stella and Michael once their sex lessons are over? It's a steamy romance novel with a little depth too. It was an enjoyable read.
5: The Bands of Mourning
The Bands of Mourning is book 6 of the Mistborn series Era 2. This is my favorite book of the second era and it was epic. A compelling read with significant storylines comes to an end, the build-up to the ending was epic and so was the ending. Highly recommended.
4: A man called Ove
Ove is a grumpy old man in Sweden, living alone and mourning his wife, the love of his life, who has recently died. He is unable to live without her and decides to end his life. Multiple attempts to end his life are constantly interrupted by something. He is frustrated, always grumpy, hates everyone in his neighborhood, and leads a life with little tolerance or patience. His life takes a turn when an Iranian family moves next door with their two little daughters. He starts to become less grumpy and starts loving his life, his neighbors, and his community. His community who saw him as a grumpy old man starts to see the good side of him. After all, he realizes that he's got a lot of love in him. It is a heartwarming story of love, friendship, neighborhood, and community. The novel was written in Swedish and translated into English. Go for this if you're up for a feel-good book.
3: The Way of Kings — Brandon Sanderson
The Way of Kings is the first book of the Stormlight Archive, Sanderson's biggest project to date. I'm on the verge of finishing this and will do so in a couple of days. I don't need to finish to put it in the top 3. It's generally slower than the Mistborn Series, solely because of the complexity of the plot and how grand the things are. Can't wait to continue.
2: How to be perfect — Michael Schur
This book is like a moral compass for humans. Michael Schur is the creator of the shows The Good Place and Parks & Recreation, an established writer in the entertainment industry.
This is a witty, thoroughly researched book that focuses on moral and ethical dilemmas we face in our daily lives. The book covers a lot from different schools of modern and ancient philosophy, including Aristotle's Virtue Ethics, Emmanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative, Utilitarianism, Consequentialism, Existentialism, etc. That's a lot of long words. I didn't know anything about these things. But, once I read this book, I have a pretty good idea of what they are, and how these can be applied to real-life scenarios. The most likable part of this book is its simplicity of explanations.
The author explains the above seemingly complicated concepts with easy-to-imagine scenarios. Some example scenarios I liked are "Should I tell my friend that I don't like her ugly shirt that she's about to wear to an interview?", "I have done some good deeds, I donate money to charity, I recycle, and I make myself morally upstanding as much as possible, but can I take THREE free samples from a store where it clearly says one per customer?", "I have grown up listening to this artist's music all my life, but he has been a jerk lately. Should I stop listening to my favorite music?". Overall, a great book on moral philosophy and ethics especially for newbies on the subject.
Sapiens is the best book I've read this year. The amount of knowledge you can get from this book and the amount of research that has gone into this book is tremendous. It's a very dense book, but worthy of every single sentence. It's a detailed glimpse into humans as a species — how we started as a species, who else was there when we started, how our societies formed, how we destroyed, how we created, how we have occupied the earth, the role we play on the earth, and so much more. It's a detailed account of human history and is regarded as one of the most important books of the decade, and I can see why. This should be a must-read for everyone on the planet.
Thanks for reading. Cheers!