Not everybody in this world can appreciate the thirst for books and what’s inside them.
But for the blessed some that do, you know how it feels to see a hardbound book on a dusty rack in your favourite bookstore, the thrill of slowly, steadily, yet doubtfully walking towards it, picking it up and holding it between your hands like a newborn baby, opening the cover and taking it towards your nose, to inhale that ancient, parchment scent that you lose yourself to, billing it feeling like no matter how much money you spent on it was definitely worth it, waiting to get home or opening it even on the way back, wondering what do those pages contain?
Where is it going to take you this time? To a Victorian summer with orchards where a weeping lady starts her story? To the haunted street in Kansas where the graveyards were coming alive? To the tragic journey of a man who had just lost both his wife and child? Or to a detective who has to solve the murder of a murderer on a train that has stopped due to a blizzard?
That is the thing about books, they take you on greatest expeditions and travels, even time-travels, without you having to move your feet, and just sipping on that coffee, slouching on the couch with your pajamas any day.
With that rant being over, this is what we are going to share with our fellow book lovers today. Our all-time favorite books that have been an amazing read, or have changed lives altogether.
1. Shoe Dog - Phil Knight
Genre: Non Fiction, Autobiography, Business
Follow the journey of a young athlete who gets an opportunity to settle nicely in his career but takes the harder route to follow his passion and goes onto building one of the most familiar and internationally recognized brands of the world – Blue Ribbon Sports or The Swoosh or officially known as Nike.
Shoe Dog is the autobiography of Nike’s Founder Phil Knight where we follow his days of pre-Nike, the challenges and struggles he faced both personally and professionally, the juggle between his job and his startup, the sacrifices he had to make to keep pursuing his dream. The book is extremely inspiring and feels genuine, unlike most entrepreneur stories of the present.
The first half of the book oozes inspiration, motivation, and the love for passion. If you are an athlete, you’ll absolutely adore the first half. You’ll be able to feel the reason why Knight wanted to write this book.
The second half of the book is all about getting back up and not letting a setback or failure define you. The second half also leans a little into the business side of things which puts the brakes on the pace but is quite interesting if you are into businesses, startups and understand business jargons.
Verdict: Searching for an honest, inspiring autobiography or even just inspirational books? Look no further!
2. If Tomorrow Comes - Sidney Sheldon
Genre: Crime fiction
This book is about Tracy Whitney – a simple woman leading an ordinary life until her life takes a sudden turn. She is falsely accused and framed and consequently had to serve a long term in prison.
When her fiancé breaks ties with her just because she’s accused – something inside Tracy changes. She goes through a difficult phase in prison and when she is released she is a different person – not the naive simpleton who had entered.
She becomes a con artist and successfully carries out many thievings and burglaries. She continues this shenanigans until one day she herself is conned by Jeff Stevens. What ensues is a battle between two con artists trying to outdo each other.
The story keeps you hooked throughout and the ingenuity of the crimes is truly amazing. Sidney Sheldon is a master at his work. This is undoubtedly one of his best works.
Verdict: A perfect book for a long journey.
3. Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind
Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Science
Though many of us have little to no interest in History, I can promise you that this book is not another boring history book. (There’s a reason why it’s the most highly rated and most reputed book of recent times).
Sapiens is a complete flashback about us – humans. Starting from our birth as a species, Yuval Noah Harari walks us chronologically through every facet of human evolution bursting the bubbles, providing debatable opinions on a variety of topics like agriculture, religion, politics, science, money, capitalism and much more.
The scope of this book is highly ambitious as it sets out to explain thousands of years of evolution in just 500 pages, and Harari does an excellent job breaking down complex topics into condensed and simple chapters.
Not only is the book thought-provoking and brilliant, once you get synced to the pace of the book which takes approx. 50-75 pages, it gets really hard to put down. The way Harari takes us through the book makes it a gripping page-turner.
Sapiens also lets us stop and think about our place in the world and gives us a glimpse of where we, as a species, are moving towards enabling us to imagine the bigger picture.
Verdict: If you are preparing to be mind blown and look at the world in a different way – this is the one.
4. The Harry Potter Book Series - By J.K.Rowling
Genre : Fiction/Magical
I know it’s a little clichéd, but this is where it all started for the most of us. If you haven’t read the books or have watched only the movies, please do it already. The movies don’t stand a chance next to the books like all book readers would agree. The movies deserve some credit and they weren’t that bad, but a lot of details were cut out/ changed/ never shown. Nearly 700 pages were squeezed into short 2 hour movies.
Harry Potter is not a children’s book like most people perceive it to be. It is a beautifully concocted tale that hooks anyone into the marvellous story and adventure of Harry Potter, as narrated by Rowling.
It is a masterpiece that has sold more than 400 million copies and has been translated into nearly 68 languages. That is massive and incredulous for any random “children’s book.” The story, although set in the most famous Wizarding school of Hogwarts, where great wizards and witches are made, is not even close to any high school drama.
It is a well-written masterpiece that takes the readers through a magical journey, includes wise quotes, repeatedly teaches what family means, the free will of choice and decisiveness between right and wrong and true love. The book has a strong message of equality and how love, in itself is a magical and the most human thing that anyone can possess and continues to prove how power isn’t everything and the battle between good and evil.
Verdict: This series will change anyone’s life and give you companions for life, be it the characters in the book, or other people who have read the book. The reason why most Harry Potter fans are still obsessed with the series even after all these years, can be understood only by someone who has read the series. After all this time? Well, we say Always.
5. A Midsummer Night’s Dream - By Shakespeare
Genre : Comedy
If you love plays, then this will knock your socks right off. A Midsummer Night’s dream is a play written by William Shakespeare in 1595/96. If you doubt that an ancient comedy will still make sense/ be relatable, read it for yourself.
The play is initially set in Athens and is centered around the wedding of Theseus, The Duke of Athens and the Amazonian queen, Hippolyta. Most of the play is set in the woodland that is inhabited by the fairies. What starts as the play with a love triangle, radically changes into a comedy that overtakes all current century comedy sitcoms.
The play consists of 4 interconnecting plots that are connected by the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta.
Egeus, in the opening of the play, brings Hermia, his daughter to Theseus in complaint that she is not marrying the guy, Demetrius, whom he has chosen for her. With continuous refusal from Hermia’s side, he threatens her on invoking the ancient Athenian law, whereby a daughter needs to marry a person of her father’s choice, refusal of which might result in a death penalty.
Hermia loves Lysander, a man of her dreams, while her best friend Helena is in love with Demetrius, who is the chosen one for Hermia. Demetrius loves Hermia and is hoping for her to change her mind. Hermia and Lysander run away from Athens and into the woods. Helena informs Demetrius about this plan so he would follow them. Helena also sneaks out, and follows Demetrius in the hopes of getting him.
Demetrius denies any kind of love towards her and insults her outright, which is seen by the king of the Fairies, Oberon. The plot thereby starts getting hilarious when Oberon asks his mischievous fairy Puck, to fetch a flower that is stuck by a cupid’s arrow and then when applied to eyelids of a sleeping person, that person upon waking, falls in love with the first living thing that they see.
The plot gradually gets thick with humor when the characters find themselves falling in love with the wrong person, or animals and the fights and funny confrontations that follow, make your eyes wet with laughter.
Verdict: An all time comedy classic from one of the best literary genius to have ever existed. A lot of modern day comedies derive inspiration from works like these. It is a quintessential read for people with a taste for classics and humour.
6. The Final Diagnosis - Arthur Hailey
Genre : Medical Fiction
When we think of hospitals, we promptly think of doctors. They’re the people who treat us, and we know at times our lives depend on them.
But what about the others – the pathologists, the radiologists, and nurses. They play very significant roles in the hospital as well.
The final diagnosis revolves around the pathologists and brings them to the limelight. The book is about what happens on a daily basis in the hospital. The book appeals to everyone, not just people from the medical field. The characterization is wonderful, and each character has a separate story.
As you go deep into the story, we see how a pathologist who was once efficient refuses to learn with advancements in technology, and no one is in a position to correct him. It just goes to show that sometimes decisions that could save or kill have to made on experience and instinct. Not everything is calculated meticulously – some things are left to chance.
When you come out of the technicalities of the story – there is a whirl of emotions. The book makes you empathize with every character. There is no black or white; right or wrong. In real life, there is only grey and the boundaries that are too delicate to mess around with.
Verdict: Even though it’s essentially about the medical field every person should read this to know that no one is infallible.
7. And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
Genre : Fiction, Mystery, Crime Thriller
Right from start to finish – an unputdownable crime thriller. Written by the Legend herself, And Then There Were None is one of Agatha Christie’s best works if not the highly rated Crime Fiction of all time.
The story, set in the mid 1900’s, follows the tale of ten strangers meeting for the first time on an isolated private island all of whom are there to meet or serve the one Mr./ Mrs. Owen who is expected to join them very soon on the island. As time goes by, one by one, the strangers are killed mysteriously and there is no sign or trace of the killer.
Of course, as always, the strangers have a dark secret but not necessarily connected to each other or an event. The story kicks into top gear almost immediately and is pretty much guaranteed to send chills down the spine especially with a foreshadowing in the form of a nursery rhyme (Absolute Gem!).
All ten characters are crafted carefully making them easily distinguishable and simple to follow. The story is so gripping and as you keep turning pages, the thrill and curiosity shoots up exponentially. The ending isn’t something that you’ll see coming and that makes it even more exciting to keep guessing.
How many will survive? Will they find the killer? Is Mr./Mrs. Owen real? Is someone secretly hiding in the island hunting prey?
A lot of questions, guesses, twists and turns makes this book a must read for all fiction readers especially the crime fiction aficionados.
Verdict: You won’t be disappointed. A must read. Go for it!
8. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
Genre: Drama/ Historical Fiction
Set in Afghanistan, the book is about two boys – two friends. Amir is the son of a wealthy Pashtun and Hassan is the son of Amir’s father’s house help. The boys are good friends, and they spend much of their time together.
Amir’s father treats them both equally. This often irks Amir as he feels he is not receiving any special affection from his father. Amir spends most of his time writing and waits for appreciation from his father – but his father considers Amir’s interests to be sissy; meanwhile, he heaps praises on Hassan.
One day Amir flies a kite to impress his father, and he succeeds in earning his admiration. But he loses the kite and Hassan goes looking for it. Amir follows Hassan. Hassan is assaulted by some boys and Amir is too scared to defend Hassan. Hassan comes back disturbed and returns Amir’s kite. Amir pretends to be indifferent. But the guilt kills him and devises a scheme to get rid of Hassan and his father.
Later, Amir and his father relocate to America, and in a few years, his father succumbs to cancer. After this, Amir gets to know a lot more about his family history. The rest of the story is about emotions and pathos, losses, and regret. It takes you through a whirl of emotions, and at the end, you are left with hope – hope that life gives you a way to rectify almost every mistake.
Verdict: If you’re a sentimental person – go for it. If mushy stuff bores you give it a miss.
9. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Genre: Non-Fiction, Self Help, Personal Finance
Are you graduating from your school, college or getting your first job? Then this book can be the most valuable and actionable to you but of course, is valuable and actionable to anyone who reads it. Rich Dad Poor Dad is a good starting place to educate yourself about finance, money, and is recommended heavily for people seeking financial literacy and freedom.
And No, the book will not provide you a well-laid path through a rose garden to making money but will teach you the basics on where to start, the mindset needed and lessons on managing your money.
Since it’s a beginner book, Robert does not dive too much into financial jargons and keeps it simple but effective. The book focuses on making you financially literate and changes your perspective about money which is powerful and effective. Another major aspect of this book is its emphasis on self-education being the secret sauce in achieving what you want.
Writing a book about “helping people make more money” is a slippery slope, and yes, there are few areas where Robert slips up with his controversial takes on certain topics but the amount of gold in this book easily overshadows the harsh opinions.
Verdict: If you are wanting to become financially literate, this is a good place to start.
10. Only Time Will Tell - Jeffrey Archer
This is the first and the best part of the seven-part Clifton Chronicles.
Harry Clifton is raised by his mother and her family. Harry’s mother – Maisy is a waitress, and she puts in a lot of effort at work to educate her son well. Harry tries to escape school and runs off to the docks, and here he meets Tom, who becomes the mentor that Harry needs. He motivates him to pay attention in school and also asks him to focus on singing – a talent he naturally possesses.
Harry receives a merit scholarship to a prestigious scholarship because of his voice. There he meets Giles and the boys become very good friends. Giles is from a very well too do family and comes from a family of cricketers.
Harry on the other hand is very hard-working and took a special liking to theatre. In one of his plays – he happens to fall in love with his co-actor. But mysterious circumstances prevent the courtship from converting to marriage.
The book takes you through the tumultuous lives of Maisy, Harry, Emma and Giles. The book is fast paced and unputdownable. It is a wonderful start to the Clifton Chronicles.
Verdict: Excellent standalone book. But be warned the remainder of the series is a let-down.