As always, ending a year involves more than a limited amount of retrospection. I have been prone to bouts of in years past. Invariably the first thing to come to mind is how have books shaped the past twelve months. I ended up reading a bunch last year, and in that vein, here are a few books I enjoyed reading the most last year.
Better - A surgeon's notes on performance by Atul Gawande
Better was a interesting book we found for the Inconceivable Desi Podcast. A relatively short book, it is nevertheless a very solid read. Atul Gawande talks about improving healthcare incrementally and with innovative changes gleaned from his years practising medicine. Slightly technical, but mostly human the book is a very inspiring read. I found I could take away a few lessons in my field of work. The deep insight that Gawande brings to his field is illuminating and worth the few days it takes to go thru this book.
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
This was a surprise book. I heard of this (pretty liberal) adaptation of a real life incident on NPR and was immediately intrigued. The title comes from a real newspaper headline covering a real life incident involving one of the first women sheriffs in the United States. The book chronicles a slice of the life of 3 sisters caught up in a bit of a situation involving monied bad guys and henchmen. Pithy dialog and a lack of superfluous verbiage make this an exhilarating read at times. The subject matter is unique and handled with limited drama making it a satisfying read.
A Corner of a Foreign Field - The Indian History of a British Sport by Ramachandra Guha
Cricket remains a great passion of my life and every year I try to educate myself a little bit more about this history of this fascinating game. This books chronicles the history of the game in India. It offers biographies of long-forgotten players like C K Nayudu and Palwankar Baloo. Meticulously researched and written with passion, it will appeal to the fan of Indian cricket.
Vedica Kant's photobook on the travails and experiences of the Indian subcontinent soldier in the First World War is both unique and hard hitting. Most Indian origin soldiers who fought in the war were illiterate and leave very few memories. A photo book is probably the closest we will get to understand their experiences. In a day where religion dominates any discussion on nationalism, this is a unique window into the mind of the soldier before nationalistic fervor gripped India. My longer review can be found elsewhere in the blog.
The 100-year old man who climbed out of a window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
One of the last reads of this year, this surreal and absurdist romp through the Swedish countryside is uplifting in many ways. It chronicles the story of a 100 year old man who steps out ... well, the label on the tin is exactly what it says. Part satire, part mystical ruminations, almost magical realism - this book offers a heartily enjoyable overview of 100 years of history seen through the eyes of a man who is just an everyday guy. Except when he is not. Surreal.
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian - the movie - is a very racy and technical thriller. The book on the other hand is a solid, technical read. At times, you have to pause and appreciate how well the author has stuck to the contours of a sci-fi book - not a thriller or a fantasy. Totally worth the read even if you have seen the movie.
The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett
This is Pratchett's last work. 'Nuf said.
Here's looking at some more great reads in 2016.