Books save lives. Or at least they have saved mine, more than once. In dark places, books are the refuge. They’re full of words, but they also let you be. They expose you to different worlds, while helping you hide from others. Recently, I was speaking to a friend about reading and we both agreed that one of the most important ways we choose books these days is through recommendations from friends.
There are so many books. Many escape our radar. This post is an attempt at capturing those that have shown up on my timeline, from my reading and writing friends–I recommend checking them out this weekend. Just look at all those lovely covers!
All That Jazz and Other Stories by Lopa Bannerjee
‘All That Jazz and Other Pathbreaking Tales’, consisting of ‘All That jazz: A Romance Novella’ and 10 Short Stories narrate the tales of contemporary women and their emotional journeys, their life choices and their travails. Romance, gender, sexuality, and the spirited journeys of love and loss form the crux of these pathbreaking narratives.
The novella and the short stories are set in the backdrop of the throbbing city of Kolkata and its suburbs, the picturesque mountains of North Bengal, Delhi and its outskirts and in various cities in USA. Set in the backdrop of these diverse settings, these stories unburden the hidden desires, the old scars, the indomitable passion and irresistible emotions of the protagonists as their journeys unfold various nuances of their lives.
Hiraeth: Partition stories from 1947 by Shivani Salil
What would you do if you were told you had minutes to leave your home? What would you take, what would you be thinking…?
This thought dominated the minds of millions who moved across the newly created borders in 1947. The place they called home was not a geographical zone but an emotion. Most just locked their doors and left as if they were going on a vacation. They ended up as refugees in a foreign land with a yearning for a home they could never return to. That yearning is what Hiraeth stands for.
The writer belongs to a family of such refugees. This short story collection is her tribute to them and to all refugees, on both sides of the border. These are the stories of ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances. It’s a chronicling of their spirit, their hard work and their resilience as they made peace with their past.
Perceval’s Secret by C.C. Yager
In June 2048, American Evan Quinn conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Vienna, Austria as Americans and Chinese conduct talks in that city about their economic relationship to prevent a global economic meltdown. Evan defects and brings a “Day of the Jackal” secret with him that could change the course of the talks and ignite a global war. Viennese Police Inspector Klaus Leiner, convinced Evan is an American spy, especially after CIA operative Bernie Brown takes an interest in him, organizes a surveillance operation to collect evidence for his arrest. Evan must stay ahead of the police and CIA while establishing his new life and music career. He believes he’s left America behind but has he? Whom can he trust? Finally, he realizes that his secrets could make him his own worst enemy or provide his best chance for survival.
Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat
You wake up, parched and famished, at the bottom of a deep well—dark and dingy with the foul smell of excreta and rotting scars and no seeming way to escape—what do you do? This is the predicament that ex-ACP Anton Pinto faces when he reluctantly joins the investigation into the mysterious disappearances of men from affluent families of Mumbai. There is an inexplicable pattern behind the abductions and all suspicions point towards an old, physically-challenged, mysterious lady. Soon, Anton discovers that the seemingly unrelated men have one common link—the most popular and expensive international school in Mumbai.Following clues that span from schools and old-age homes to illegal dingy hospitals, Anton is led through a labyrinth of incest, abuse, torture and suffering, spanning decades. What secret does the school hide behind its gates? What was the undisclosed crime that is thirsty for justice? Will Anton be able to save the men? Will justice be served?
Strangely Familiar Tales by Vijayalakshmi Harish
In modern day India, Detective Kali Das helps Shakuntala locate her lost ring.
Somewhere else, a grieving mother, whose newborn daughter has been mysteriously killed, seeks revenge.
In a magical College, a yogini is woken from her twenty year slumber, and asked to find a rogue yakshi.
Through these three short stories, that fit into different genres and skirt the edges of both fantasy and reality, Vijayalakshmi Harish makes you ask, “What if?”
They Never Learn by Layne Fargo
Scarlett Clark is an exceptional English professor. But she’s even better at getting away with murder.
Every year, she searches for the worst man at Gorman University and plots his well-deserved demise. Thanks to her meticulous planning, she’s avoided drawing attention to herself—but as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts probing into the growing body count on campus. Determined to keep her enemies close, Scarlett insinuates herself into the investigation and charms the woman in charge, Dr. Mina Pierce. Everything’s going according to her master plan…until she loses control with her latest victim, putting her secret life at risk of exposure.
What books have you read lately? Would you like to recommend an author or their work? What has reading been like for you in these covid times? Have you read any of these books already? If not, which one would you pick up, and why? What’s on your reading table right now?
My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is optioned to be a TV series by Endemol Shine.
It is available in India here.
Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.
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Books are my escape, especially during my work breaks.
I’m enjoying The Gate of the Tigers by Henry Meigs, a murder mystery set in Tokyo. CIA, tech companies, involved so very interesting.
Books do indeed save lives. Over the course of the last year, there were several books that helped me come out of my persistent depression. Books are a person’s best friends. Thanks for this list.
I am revisiting classics. Hadn’t read The Great Gatsby , so at it. I’ve read Hiraeth and Strangely Familiar Tales. I’ve been hearing of All that Jazz… So will pick this one up soon.
Thank you for the recommendations.
Reading has always been my escape. I have never been comfortable with the world around me. Mostly, I would say. That’s where reading has always stepped in.
This weekend I am reading Pearl S Buck’s Pavilion of Women and Peony, and a hard read by Daina Ramey Berry titled The Price For Their Pound of Flesh. An extremely hard read, but one that should be required reading for every American child and adult. h
Have a special weekend!