A Year in Books: January
Oh no, I hear you say. Not this again…
Well, yeah. I’m bringing back A Year in Books!
Anyone else excited? Just me? Ok. | © Universal Pictures, via Giphy
For those of you who don’t know, A Year in Books is a series I started in 2015. The aim was:
- read a couple of books per month
- choose the one I liked best
- and review it on the blog
All in a bid to encourage me to read more outside my syllabus. Perhaps it was sound in theory, but like most of my projects, it sort of petered out and faded into the background, never to be spoken of again. Until now!
The main reason A Year in Books failed was because I didn’t enjoy writing my original reviews (if you’re interested in reading them, they’re here. Spoiler alert, there are only three). The content felt dull and the process of writing them just wasn’t fun. So I’m going to try a few new things, see what works. The main thing I want to do is to talk about a range of books, and not necessarily about ones I liked.
So, since January is long over and I’ve some catching up to do, I’ll get started with the book of the month! Without a doubt, this would have to be…
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
I can’t express how much I loved this book. It made me laugh, it made me cry. It let me experience appalling, heartbreaking and magical moments.
Here are some things I liked about it:
- It intertwines stories: The novel moves between characters, gradually revealing their pasts and connecting them in the present. The scenes chosen to introduce and develop them are poignant, and the characters end up feeling like real people you get to know over the span of the novel.
- It crosses boundaries: The structure lets us glimpse many people’s lives, allowing the book to cross boundaries including time, class, caste and gender. Individual lives are brought to light. Their daily experiences are shown against a background of larger political processes. Numbers and statistics become real people; and everyone, regardless of differences, becomes human, driven to extraordinary things by forces larger than themselves.
- It’s a wonderful combination of the simple and complex: The book gets a lot across without weighing itself down with unnecessary fluff. It gets to the point, and it does so beautifully.
Through the stories it weaves, the novel presents us with life: the happy and sad, the horrifying and amazing. It shows us the incredible connections people weave because of necessity.
So, as you can probably tell I highly recommend this book. If you happen to pick it up sometime, let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading, and until next time.