Top Reads of 2016

The One that Pulled Me into the Abyss.

My Review

A Little Life is perhaps, the darkest book I’ve read in a long time. It features a character who wouldn’t know happiness even if it was staring at him in the face. Because even if he was surrounded by the people who genuinely loved him, he was always waiting for the other shoe to drop so accepting that love was tremulous task. This was a hard read, but I truly feel that I was a better person after the crying jag.

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The One that Gave Me Perspective.

My Review

There is nothing easy about this novel ( though, easier than A Little Life, admittedly). This is about the racial climate in contemporary America, and Jodi Picoult did her best, albeit reluctantly, to tackle this issue most of Americans wish should remain buried in their painful past. This book gave me pause as I ruminated on how difficult it is to be successful, to be educated, and still be disrespected and discriminated because of the colour of your skin.

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The One that Pulled Me Out of the Abyss.

My Review

After the trauma of watching a demagogue be elected as the president of the United States, I was not in a good place. I was angry and shocked. And since books have always been the panacea I tend to reach for when I’m feeling down, The Hating Game pulled me out of that dark place. I just knew that rereading it would be the perfect thing that would help me forget the misery of the day.

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The One that Made Me Like Science Fiction.

My Review

Science Fiction, much like Fantasy, is a genre that I could never quite figure out. But this page-turner made me believe that I could truly love Sci-fi in its simplest form. Simple, because this book isn’t inundated by jargon and long sterile narratives that tend to steer me away from the genre. I’ve always believed that discoveries have the tendency to bring out the best and worst in humans. Mr. Neuvel certainly didn’t shy away from showing all the immoral things we’ll subject ourselves to in the name of Science. With a combination of dry humour and ingenious story-telling, Sleeping Giants was the perfect example of Sci-fi for the masses.

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The One that Whisked Me Away to Another Place and Time.

My Review

This book always makes me want to ramble on about how beautiful it is. The writing, the scenery, the characters…everything about it perfectly captures the small town charm, the grandeur of the old world Hollywood setting, and the stories of the people that tie these worlds together.  Beautiful Ruins was cozy, warm and funny it all its subtleties. It’s a book full of passionate people, visceral settings, and rich in history spanning decades. The perfect beach read…couch read…bed read.

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 The One that Made Me Feel Inadequate.

I have re-read this twice already. Each re-read more powerful than the last. Still, the impact is greater for someone like me to comprehend. It could be because I’m not African American, nor do I live in the States. But the power of Mr. Coates’ words – his desperation, his hopes, his warnings – leap off the pages with intense clarity. And yet, I get it. I get the hopelessness. That feeling that in some ways, his body, his son’s body were never their own. As easily as freedom may come to some, to African Americans, freedom is a fleeting fancy. Despite the progress that America has had over the years with the racial injustices of times gone by, African Americans are still shackled by the colour of their skin.  And to deny the existence of such discrimination is naive and dangerous.

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[689]: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

28587957Understanding the difficult racial climate in America.


Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult

I read this over a month ago now and still to this day, I’ve yet to find the right words to convey my every thought and feeling that can perfectly show why this is probably one of the most importatnt book you’ll read given the racial climate in the US. My emotions were only ramped up soon after the elections and news about violence towards Muslims, LGBTQ, and African Americans spread all over the world. And as the normalization of the Nazi movement (otherwise known as Alt-Right) soon becomes apparent, I was filled with equal amount of fear and rage to what this presidential election brought.

This is one of those books that I read with my eyes half wide-open. I was too terrified to see the full picture, but I knew I was giving it a disservice by not paying attention. I couldn’t help myself. The thought that the Nazi movement was making a resurgence scared me. And all the while, I was comforting myself with the thought that I was, after all, only reading a work of fiction. But here we are. And this is now. America has a president-elect that normalized hate, manipulated the unducated, and turned half the country from the truth and the democratic process. He has the support of the KKK and the Alt-Right Nazis. But you won’t hear him enthusiastically disavowing these movements whose creed is based on racial hate. Nope.

Small Great Things came into my life when I didn’t think blatant, in-your-face racism was a possibility. It’s about an Ivy League-educated nurse with 20 years of experience who found herself the ire of a White Supremacist couple. While she was tasked to take care of their newborn son, they ordered the hospital administration that under no circumstances would she be allowed to touch their baby because of the colour of her skin. She’s an African-American woman who worked hard all her life to better herself and to never become a statistics. All that changed when she was forced to make a choice between the order she was given and saving a baby boy’s life.

Jodi Picoult wrote with the best intentions. She wanted a conversation, a perspective, and a challenge for her audience. She does succeed because this book is very timely. Who woud’ve thought that a book that she’s started years ago would come at a time such as these?

I often find myself at a loss for words and somewhat hesitant to comment on how realistic an author’s portrayal was of characters that are people of colour. I’m not an expert so I’m not going to sit her and pretend she was dead-on in immortalizing Ruth, her sister Adisa, and their mother. She went into this armed with research and interviews, sure. But unless I stood in their stead, I wouldn’t know. Unless I’m stupid enough to use a second hand account (which I’m not).

I’ve learned a few truths about racism in this book. I’ve learned that you can be the most educated person in the world, or the most experienced in your craft, but at the end of the day, all that mean squat when confronted with bigots of the world. I learned that there are two kinds of racism: passive racism and active racism and that the difference is  subtlety and your willingness to show the world your hate. This book made me think about all the ways I’ve become a participant – consciously and unconsciously – in the act of racism by simply not saying a word whenever someone makes a joke about another person’s race. This book is probably a great introduction to read if you want to understand the difficult racial climate in America. It paints a disturbing picture, but it’s not a broad stroke.

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On the Night Table [42]: Fall TBR

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Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap | The Spawning Grounds by Gail Anderson-Dargatz | The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon | Scythe by Neal Shusterman | Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult


It’s going to be quite an ambitious month for me over here. But I feel like I’ve been neglecting so much and I need to do my best to curb-stump by TBR pile – particularly, the books that I’ve gotten for review. And there’d been so many! This past weekend, I made a list of all the books that needed my immediate attention and have come up with what is now my On the Night Table post.

Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap  is a memoir meant to aid the narrator in unburdening herself with what had been a difficult life. I’m in for angst, I think but I’m looking forward to reading this because it’s sort of a historical, racially charged account of how Slovenians were treated in German-speaking Austria. Looking forward to reading this. 

The Spawning Grounds by Gail Anderson-Dargatz is a family saga set in British Columbia. I’m always on the lookout for books set in my country, so I was happy to receive this from Random House Canada.

The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon I love Nicola’s debut and have sworn to read anything she puts out ever since then. I can’t wait to read this!

Scythe by Neal Shusterman I haven’t read any of his books but I think I have his popular series. I’m looking forward to finally reading one of his books!

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult this is only going to be my second Jodi Picoult reading, believe it or not. Loved her The Storyteller, so looking forward to more of the same.

Have you read any of these?

What do you plan to read this month?

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