Best of 2019! | My list of must-reads.

I didn’t set myself a challenge this year, aware that I’m not in the space to read as frequently as I did before. Also, 2019 turned out to be a year of traveling more than reading! But I do have some really good book recommendations for you!!

  1. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

“If you are disgusted by what you see, and if you feel the fire coursing through your veins, then it’s up to you. You don’t have to be the leader of a global movement or a household name. It can be as small scale as chipping away at the warped power relations in your workplace. It can be passing on knowledge and skills to those who wouldn’t access them otherwise. It can be creative. It can be informal. It can be your job. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you’re doing something.” 

The author, an award-winning journalist, decided to expand her blog post and with it the emphasis and importance of Race and White Privilege into a book. What I appreciate and respect is that Renni Eddo-Lodge doesn’t beat around the bush talking about this sensitive topic, there’s no sugar coating but just a very distinct voice and clear thoughts.
The book examines British history through slavery, racism and discrimination and how more than just traces of it have seeped into the present too.
I’m aware that racism exists, even though I haven’t faced it myself at least not yet, but I understand the intensity of it. However, there’s a lot that I’ve never thought about before and how it affects a huge amount of people. That is what this book does, it challenges what you’ve been so accustomed to believe as normal and okay and gives you the necessary nudge to unlearn it all.

“The mess we live in is a deliberate one. If it was created by people, it can be dismantled by people”

2. They Called Us Enemy by George Tokai, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; Illustrated by Harmony Becker.

I don’t think I’ve read any books on Japanese History, unfortunately, but I’m glad that I started with They Called Us Enemy. It’s a beautiful illustrated memoir highlighting George Tokai’s childhood in America and eventually in American concentration camps during the second World War.

“Years later, the trauma of those experiences continued to haunt me. Most Japanese Americans from my parents’ generation didn’t like to talk about the internment with their children. As with many traumatic experiences, they were anguished by their memories and haunted by shame for something that wasn’t their fault.”

The illustrations capture almost every emotion beautifully, it takes you through happiness, joy and laughter and through sadness, darkness and pain. You’ll find yourself smiling and crying and sometimes maybe both.
The story took me to and through the Pearl Harbour bombing in December 1941 that affected thousands and thousands of lives. Americans with Japanese heritage, were no longer seen as Americans even though they’ve never set a foot outside and America is all they know.
What’s more heartbreaking is that their ordeal didn’t end even after the concentration camps ended and the determination and strength with which George Tokai fought years after and brought about a huge change in the American law is commendable.

“Shame is a cruel thing. It should rest on the perpetrators but they don’t carry it the way the victims do.” 

These two definitely made it two my favourite non-fictions! Moving on to some really good fiction books now.

3. Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman

“If there is any truth in the world, it lies when I’m with you, and if I find the courage to speak my truth to you one day, remind me to light a candle in thanksgiving at every altar in Rome.” 

This book! I can’t tell you how much I loved the way it’s written! If I had a physical copy it would’ve been highlighted and tabbed and underlined almost through out. The writing style, the prose at times is simply just breathtaking.
Call Me by Your Name is the kind of book that I don’t think I’ve read before. The intensity with which the characters tell their stories is absolutely refreshing. It’s strong, fierce, unapologetic and as true as fiction can be. I’m not into romantic novels, but this book and the love its based on is somewhat epic and strangely pretty honest. The complexities of a teenage boy figuring out himself and his life and the the fear an adult carries to guard his emotions comes across without inhibitions.
And! they couldn’t bring out even half of it in the movie and it was just so disappointing! The only treat was the film location but nothing more than that, at least not for me.
I had the chance to see the author, Andre Aciman, in January this year at the Jaipur Lit Fest. I, unfortunately, couldn’t meet him but I was happy to see him on a discussion panel with other authors who share Jewish families and/or beliefs. Pretty interesting!

4. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Oh this book!! I really want to write my version of the synopsis but the original one is just so good that I’ll just paste it here!


“According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.
So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.
And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .”

“It’s like you said the other day,” said Adam. “You grow up readin’ about pirates and cowboys and spacemen and stuff, and jus’ when you think the world’s full of amazin’ things, they tell you it’s really all dead whales and chopped-down forests and nucular waste hangin’ about for millions of years. ‘Snot worth growin’ up for, if you ask my opinion.” 

I’m yet to watch the Series adaptation of the book and I really hope to enjoy it! I did, however, listen to the BBC recording of the book and it was just so good! so Good!

5. Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan moore, illustrated by Brian Bolland

“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.” 

This is, at least in my opinion, the best origin story! I don’t mean to romanticise evil and insensitivity in any way, but the story about how Joker came to be the Joker we love to hate is told in the best way possible. The story takes us back and forth his past and helps us relate it all to his present. And the art work is just stunning! It is absolutely stunning!

Remembering’s dangerous. I find the past such a worrying, anxious place.

And that’s it for now! Like I said, I didn’t read many books this year but I did find these that made it to the list. Let me know if you’ve read any of these or look forward to! Also, I’d love to know your 2019 musts! I’d love to have some recs, please 🙂

Love,
Gee.

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