Written by Vedika Pathania, a second-year journalism student
Just like any other ardent book lover, I treasure the books I have. I have collected them over years, some passed down, some bought from my pocket money, some gifted. And just like any other bibliophile, I have vowed to protect my books from any harm.
A little context to this list, I wasn’t someone who started reading at an early age. Even though my mother used to get Enid Blyton novels for me, I never read them. In fact, I started reading in 7th grade when I was 12. Pretty late for someone who calls themselves an ardent reader, I know.
Contrary to other bibliophiles in the lockdown, I hit a rather frustrating reader’s block and barely read 5 books in the past 2 years and am still struggling but let’s hope I read enough to give you another list soon.
I was, of course, a little hesitant to share my favourites even though they are pretty popular ones and then I realised that sharing books and what you love about them, only makes it better.
The list will change with time, that is inevitable but I hope that wherever you are, whichever stage of reading you’re at, and however old you are, you can read them at one point or the other.
So here is my list of favourites, in no particular order
- Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer
For those of you who love a blend between fiction and non-fiction, this book is for you. This was the first full-length novel I read and this is the book that got me into reading so I do have a sentimental bias but, apart from that, it is a wonderful, emotional, and inspirational book that follows the life of a mountaineer – George Mallory who is, by some, believed to be the first man to climb Mount Everest. Yes, even before Edmund Hillary. This book, though fictionalised, takes you through his life, his childhood, his early expeditions, and his relationship with his wife, Ruth. Jeffrey Archer has for sure written better, more acclaimed novels like Kane and Abel, First Among Equals and The Fourth Estate, Paths of Glory is still special to me and had me weeping at 2 am when I finished it.
This book can be read by the 11 and above age groups.
- Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
This one is for all my mystery-suspense-thriller lovers. For me, no one does it better than Dan Brown and I am not lying when I say that Angels and Demons kept me up at nights and that I have a special place on my bookshelf for my Dan Brown collection. Out of his Robert Langdon series, this one is my personal favourite followed by The Da Vinci Code and Inferno. You might have also seen the movie adaptations but nothing beats the thrill of reading the books and googling things you don’t know about and suddenly wanting to visit the Vatican City and Florence.
Angels and Demons is the first book in the Robert Langdon series and it follows his mystery-solving character through conspiracy theories, Illuminati, symbols, clues, and codes to, you guessed it, save the lives of people. Langdon and Vetra embark on a frantic search through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even the heart of the world’s most secret vault, following a 400-year-old trail of ancient symbols that snakes across Rome toward the long-forgotten Illuminati lair, a secret location that holds the only hope for Vatican salvation.
After reading this, you will be pushed to read the other novels and you can trust me when I say this, you will not be disappointed.
I read this book when I was 15, and it can be read by anyone above 14.
- Literally any book by Khaled Hosseini
No reading list is ever complete without mentioning Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner. I won’t lie, the books are heavy and emotional and I had to stop after every 10 pages to take a long breath.
Both these books are placed in war-torn Afghanistan and follow love, life and friendship in the lives of the characters.
A Thousand Splendid Suns jumps from one timeline to another and narratesthe stories of Mariam and Laila whose lives are intertwined due to horrific conditions and somehow, they form an unimaginable friendship and bond.
The Kite Runner, on the other hand, follows the lives and friendship between Amir and Hassan and is a tale of regret, loss, love, and friendship. In all honesty, I barely have words to describe the book. One quote, “For you, a thousand times over”, will stick with you for the rest of your life and it is only when you read the book, will you understand the weight it has.
I read both of these when I was 16 and hence only recommend it to an older audience simply because of the heaviness of the themes in both of them.
His third book, And the Mountains Echoed is still on my reading list.
- The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Of course, I am going to include classics. As a Literature student, if there was one writer I had to pick to read for the rest of my life, it would be F. Scott Fitzgerald. The grace, imagery, luxury, and pure brilliance in his writing make him incomparable. It is true that The Great Gatsby by him is more well known and read and acclaimed but The Beautiful and Damned has its own charm. Anthony Patch, a 1920s socialite and presumed heir to a tycoon’s riches, is the protagonist of the tale. Anthony and Gloria are young and beautiful, wealthy and affluent, and they devote their life to the wild pursuit of happiness. However, when their marriage crumbles under the weight of their expectations, dissipation, envy, and aimlessness, this personal narrative becomes sad.
I recommend it to an audience over 16 years.
- The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom is a book that revolves around the belief that when one dies, before they enter heaven, they meet 5 people. These 5 people are the ones who shaped your life and had the biggest impact on you. The book keeps you hooked right with its name and the first paragraph itself.
“This is a story about a man named Eddie and it begins at the end, with Eddie dying in the sun. It might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time”
Mitch Albom brings us an astonishingly creative story in The Five People You Meet in Heaven that will transform everything you’ve ever imagined about the afterlife — and the significance of our existence here on Earth. This is a book that readers of good fiction and fans of Tuesdays with Morrie will enjoy since it tells a timeless story that appeals to everyone.
It’s a story about human life. It’s a story about life after death. It’s a love fable, a cautionary tale about conflict, and a salute to the actual people of the globe, the ones who don’t have their names in light.
Tuesdays with Morrie in itself is a beautiful novel that I also recommend but I like The Five People You Meet in Heaven better.
I recommend to ages 12 and above.
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I physically can’t summarise this for you. You will have to trust me on this and take my word for it. Please read it if you’re above 13, it is beautiful and you won’t read a better coming-of-age novel. Trust me.
- Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
I will start by saying that Murakami is not an easy author to read and many don’t like his writing style because of the said pretentiousness and unnecessary complexities. I think that is exactly what makes him a great writer and this book is for all hopeless romance genre-loving readers.
Toru is thirty-seven years old when the narrative begins, and he is recalling events from twenty years ago. Toru, his closest friend Kizuki, and Kizuki’s girlfriend Naoko are inseparable in high school. Kizuki is the one who binds them all together. Naoko and Toru, on the other hand, are depressed as a result of Kizuki’s suicide. Both chose to attend universities in Tokyo in order to escape their pasts. Midori appears in the novel and the narrative shifts. Now, I don’t want to be blamed for spoilers so, the rest is for you to read.
I recommend this to readers above 17.
- Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
You might know this author as the writer of “All the Bright Places” and even though I adore that novel, I think this one deserves a little more appreciation. It is a coming-of-age, young adult novel suitable for audiences above 16.
It follows the relationship between Jack and Libby. Libby and Jack are both upset and astonished when they become entangled in a harsh high school game, which leads to group counselling and community service. Because the more time they spend with each other, the less lonely they feel.
Trust me, give this book a chance, you will love it because I loved it and I ended up crying.
Here are some more of my favourites…
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- Matilda by Roald Dahl
- Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
- The Timekeeper by Mitch Albom