I read far fewer books in 2011, than I did in 2010. Somehow, there just wasn’t space among all the free time spent doing nothing much! And quite a few books were comfort food.
Anyway, below is the list of the books I read, in the order of reading:
Author – Book – Genre – My Review
1. Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club – Fiction – Some parts of this novel work, but on the whole I wasn’t sure why it was so popular; maybe because it meandered so much!
2. Neil Gaiman – Anansi Boys – Fiction – Most definitely Gaiman’s best work; the concept is pure Gaiman, but the true magic was in the execution which left me breathless.
3. Neil Gaiman – Coraline – Fiction – A chilling tale, which the kids are sure to love!
4. Cali Ressler, Jody Thompson – Why Work Sucks And How To Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution – Business – Interesting premise, and since Ressler & Thompson are coming from their experience at Best Buy, this makes it all the more worthwhile. Wish it read less like a marketing brochure though.
5. Alberto Manguel – A Reader on Reading – Essays – For any reader, or anyone interested in reading as a process, or curious about why we read, this is an invaluable study. And it’s bloody interesting to boot.
6. Various – Batman R.I.P – Fiction – I don’t really think I’m cut out to appreciate graphic novels; this left me strangely unmoved.
7. John Grisham – The Confession – Fiction – Grisham rediscovers *some* of his old story-telling magic; still nowhere as good as his best
8. Neil Degrasse Tyson – Death by Black Hole – Essays – Tyson takes you on a journey of the universe, as befits his stature as one of the leading cosmologists of the world. What was surprising was the wit & humor with which he presents arcane & difficult scientific concepts, making them accessible to the layperson-reader.
9. Tom Holt – Wish You Were Here – Fiction – Not as laugh-out-loud funny as the other works of Holt, but much deeper in parts; what happens when the deepest dreams of a set of people comes true!
10. Dave Barry – Dave Barry’s complete guide to guys – Fiction – If you don’t want to be shunned from all polite company for all time to come, please refrain from reading this book in presence of anyone else, including your dog! You will have tears running down your face, and your uncontrollable laughter will mark you as a degenerate maniac.
11. Shel Silverstein – Where the sidewalk ends – Fiction – Super-awesome poems & amazing sketches!
12. Robert Sutton – Good Boss, Bad Boss – Business – Sutton has been spying on my corporate life, and my many bosses – this book proves it!
13. Various – My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me – Fiction – New fairy tales; some of them are fairly captivating, but not all of them work.
14. Goscinny & Uderzo – Asterix in Spain – Fiction – Still trying to absorb all the jokes 🙂
15. Nassim Nicholas Taleb – The Bed of Procrustes – Essays – Short, witty aphorisms, which will challenge all that you hold to be true & dear
16. Nora Ephron – I Feel Bad About My Neck – Essays – Ephron, the writer of “When Harry Met Sally” shows it’s possible to write a memoir consisting entirely of short essays, that make a reader laugh with you, while going, “hold on, that happens to me!”
17. Tom Holt – Djinn Rummy – Fiction – Nothing to say, except he is the master of absurd humor writing!
18. Terry Pratchett – Color of Magic – Fiction – The first discworld book I read; I’m sorry I discovered Pratchett so late in life
19. Joe Hill – Heart-shaped Box – Fiction – Horror with very interesting twists; although not comparable to his stories!
20. Terry Pratchett – The Light Fantastic – Fiction – Even better than Color of Magic, this second book in the series rocks!
21. John Constantine Hellblazer – The Fear Machine – Fiction – Discovered Constantine graphic novels at a late stage in life; highly recommended for those into this sort of thing. I wish I were.
22. John Constantine Hellblazer – The Family Man – Fiction – Discovered Constantine graphic novels at a late stage in life; highly recommended for those into this sort of thing. I wish I were.
23. Batman & Robin – Batman Reborn – Fiction – Much better than Batman R.I.P.
24. Terry Pratchett – Wyrd Sisters – Fiction – Laugh out loud funny; but also makes you think. The literary asides & allusions are a treat.
25. Lucy Kellaway – Martin Lukes: Who Moved My Blackberry – Fiction – Strongly reminiscent of Sidin Vadukut’s Dork, this is one rollicking journey through an year of a clueless manager’s life!
26. Jeffrey Deaver – More Twisted – Fiction – Even more twisted than the original Twisted, these stories should come with a statutory warning! Lovely!!
27. Jeremy Clarkson – The World According to Clarkson – Essays – Irreverent, opinionated, and laugh-out-loud funny! Although I did wish I had read it in 3 parts
28. Neil Gaiman – Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader – Fiction – Gaiman has his own perspective on how the death of Batman would play out; could have been fleshed out a bit more though.
29. Terry Pratchett – Mort – Fiction – If you have ever wondered what it would be like to have some really awesome powers, how about being an apprentice to Death! Beware: it might be disastrous for your love life though.
30. Tom Holt – You Don’t have to be evil to work here, but it helps – Fiction – Tom Holt! FTW!!! (Super-awesome, and every office-goer will relate to it)
31. Rob Parsons – Teenagers – Parenting – A timely & valuable guide to raising teenagers: the lessons might be obvious, but they can always do with a repetition
32. Jai Arjun Singh – Popcorn Essayists – Essays – I really didn’t think film-writing was for me, till I discovered Jai Arjun’s blog. In this collection, he introduces us to the musings on this genre by a series of well-known non-film writers.
33. Devdutt Patnaik – Jaya – Fiction – An informed & balanced re-telling of Mahabharata, which draws from various sources, highlights them, and provides a commentary on the much-loved text.
34. Kabir – Ghat Ghat Kabir – Poetry – An impressive effort by “The Kabir Project”. Wish they had included some of the more accessible/popular works as well.
35. Linda Hess – Singing Emptiness: Kumar Gandharva Performs the Poetry of Kabir – Poetry – Some great couplets with good translations; but one wishes Hess wasn’t so hagiographically madly in love with Kumar Gandharva’s singing
36. Marcus Aurelius – Meditations – Essays – Aurelius was wise; and this book full of nuggets of his wisdom is exactly what I needed.
37. Gever Tulley & Julie Spiegler – 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) – Parenting – Interesting, nostalgia-inducing & at times, plain scary! Must read, and must-do
36. Jawed Akhtar – Tarkash – Poetry – There are couplets here, which will pierce your heart!
37. Jason Fried – Rework: Change The Way You Work Forever – Business – Whether you are a business executive, entrepreneur or just starting out in your corporate career, read this book! A much-required manifesto of corporate change!
38. Gautam Adhikari – The Intolerant Indian: Why We Must Rediscover A Liberal Space – Essays – While Adhikari’s heart is in the right place, this ponderous rant makes for heavy reading.
39. Steven E Landsburg – More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics – Essays – Starts out slow, but picks up steam; irreverent, unconventional & fun!
40. Rob Parsons – The Heart of Success – Essays – Simple lessons, which bear reminding.
41. Stephen King – Everything’s Eventual – Fiction – These are dark tales. King proves yet again that he is a master story-teller. LT’s Theory of Pets hits you with a bang!
42. Kamleshwar – Hindustani Ghazalein – Poetry – Not all of them worked for me, and maybe that’s to be expected of any anthology; I wish Kamleshwar had selected more representative ghazals by these shayars.
43. Kaifi Azmi – Chuni Hui Shayari – Poetry – Read Azmi, and discover that a romantic idealist can also be a militant, standing up & speaking out for the things he believes in.
44. Vinay Dharwadker – Kabir: The Weaver’s Songs (Penguin Classics) – Poetry – Not as good as the other Kabir books I read this year; too academic & stilted.
45. Scott Adams – What Would Wally Do? – Business – Read & weep…Scott Adams has spies in your office!
46. Vijayendra Mohanty, Vivek Goel – Ravanayan – I – Fiction – Mohanty & Goel take a fresh look at Ramayan, from the perspective of the arch-villain; brilliantly drawn, although the writing could be better. Waiting for part 2 of the 10-part series now.
47. Sarah Herman – I Like My Job – Fiction – A scathing look at life in an office; this isn’t Dilbert. This is the true story of your life – stark, bleak & dystopic!
48. Scott Adams – Don’t stand where the comet is assumed to strike oil – Business – The 23rd book in the ever-popular Dilbert series strikes home with painful certainty. While you may laugh at the antics of Dilbert, his PHB, and his co-workers, you know it’s very close to the cubicle realities.
49. Robert Rankin – Necrophenia – Fiction – Rankin is a true master of cyberpunk. Laced with bitter ironies, and sly humor, this is a look at 60’s as you don’t know it!
50. Ahmad Faraz – Ye Meri Ghazalein, ye meri nazmein – Poetry – Faraz wrote some really romantic stuff; and some really revolutionary stuff!
51. Ashwin Sanghi – Chanakya’s Chant – Fiction – Good story, historical narrative interspersed with contemporary political story, to display relevance. But really needed a better editor!
52. Sri Kant, Shahroz – Pakistan ki Shayari – Poetry – The first 20-odd were good; after that it seems as though they were trying to get to 50 shayars!
53. Nagarjun – Pratinidhi Kavitayein – Poetry – Nagarjun rocks! Such rage, such simplicity, such beautiful turn of simple phrases!
54. Judy Blume – Tales of a fourth-grade nothing – Fiction – Totally empathised with Peter Hatcher; having a brother like Fudge (so cute!) would drive anyone nuts!
55. Anthony Horowitz – Stormbreaker – Fiction – Alex Rider was a refreshing change from the usual spy thrillers; significantly better than the “Young James Bond” thrillers!
56. Judy Blume – Superfudge – Fiction – Fudge is growing up…into an ever-worseing bundle of hassles for Peter Hatcher!
57. Anthony Horowitz – Point Blanc – Fiction – The second Alex Rider has a cool new plot, but the ending does leave a lot to be desired.
58. Olen Steinhauer – Bridge Of Sighs – Fiction – Bleak, unforgiving portrayal of life as a policeman in a post-WWII communist state. If you thought Stieg Larsson rocked, you’ll be blown over by Steinhauer.
59. Amish Tripathi – The Secret of the Nagas – Fiction – A worthy sequel to Immortals of Meluha
60. Scott Adams – I’m not Anti-Business, I’m anti-idiot – Business – Dilbert has spies in my office…and yours!
61. Roger Lewis – Seasonal Suicide Notes: My Life As It Is Lived – Fiction – Lewis’s biting wit & satirical put-downs of the things he finds irritating, and there are so many of them, is hilarious!
62. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief – Fiction – Unputdownable saga of Gods come to life in modern world.
63. Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet – Essays – Rilke’s best work, far more powerful than his poems, urges us to look within & embrace the world.
64. Eric Van Lustbader – The Bourne Dominion – Fiction – Lustbader finally writes something worthy of Ludlum mantle!
65. Bobby Henderson – The Gospel Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster – Essays – A rollicking one time read; too snarky & not funny enough to be read again!
66. Simon Sinek – Start with Why – Business – Too preachy & long; could be condensed into a 12-page article.
67. Louis L’Amour – Taggart – Fiction – L’amour spends too much time describing the desert, and not enough on developing his characters; strictly for his fans.
68. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Andrew Ward – Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters – Business – Only relevant for CEOs, those fired with generous severance packages!
69. James Thurber – Collecting Himself – Fiction – These pieces are fun, but definitely don’t justify Thurber’s reputation as the greatest humorist of all time!
70. Jasper Fforde – Lost in a Good Book – Fiction – Hilarious, but works only for those who have more than a passing acquaintance with a large body of literature.
71. Robert Arthur – The Secret of the Terror Castle – Fiction – The first Three Investigators mystery rocks; just as it did more than 25 years ago, when I first read it!
72. Louis L’Amour – From the Listening Hills – Fiction – Good stories, though not as captivating as the westerns L’Amour is known for!
73. Jonathan Stroud – The Golem’s Eye – Fiction – Engaging & witty, Stroud’s djinni, Bartimaeus is possibly the most interesting creature from the Other World you will ever come across!
74. PG Wodehouse – Ukridge – Fiction – Wodehouse creates another sterling character, with his unique quirks & foibles. Ukridge is a perpetually upbeat gentleman, full of ideas which will make him rich “soon”. Poor Corky, his friend, has to suffer through his schemes & shenanigans.
75. Louis L’Amour – West of Dodge – Fiction – Classic western fiction; L’Amour makes the West come alive like none else!
76. Jeffrey Young, William Simon – iCon: Steve Jobs – The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business – Business – Young & Simon present a eulogy to one of the greatest businessmen of the last 50 years, but succeed in making him out to be not such a nice man to know, or to work for.
77. Sidin Vadukut – God Save the Dork – Fiction – Sidin displays his Robingenuity in this book, with Robin “Einstein” Verghese blundering into one disaster after another, largely of his own making, and barely surviving on his luck alone. Hilarious!
78. Suhel Seth – Get To The Top: The Ten Rules For Social Success – Essays – Seth writes for the social climbers – a banal, cliché-ridden book, which tells you how to throw parties & make friends with important people! Quite a few examples in the book contradict the so-called “Rules”. A total bloody waste of time!
79. John Grisham – The Litigators – Fiction – Grisham returns to his familiar haunts, the world of the lawyers, and delivers a smashing read.
80. Julian Barnes – The Sense of an Ending – Fiction – Barnes won a well-deserved Man Booker Prize for this novel, about ageing, and memories, and our forgotten, or rather selectively remembered past. This is the novel I wanted to write!
81. Michael Robotham – The Suspect – Fiction – The best thriller I’ve read in a really long time, packed with some really good dialogues & one-liners. Robotham is the find of 2011 for me!
82. Tom Holt – Falling Sideways – Fiction – Perhaps fitting that I should close the year reading this. After a really awful week, spent caring for a sick kid in hospital, I needed Holt’s intelligent humor to remind me of the good things in life!