January and February 2023 – Reading Wrap Up

I managed to read a few more books than usual in the last two months since I was at home, off work and recovering from my surgery. Here is a snapshot of the books I read in the last two months. Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on the books below if you’ve read them? 🙂

Where the Crawdads Sing (3/5 Stars): This is going to be one of those unpopular opinion book reviews. I know this book is well loved by many of my reader friends and now there is a book to screen adaptation too – but it wasn’t for me. The writing and the lush description about the marsh land and various mating characteristics of animals, birds and insects were definitely interesting but that’s where my interest stopped. 

Surrounded by this setting of the marsh is the story of Kya – a girl who raises herself alone in the wild from the age of seven. And it is also a love story and also a murder mystery. So the premise sounds promising but I couldn’t find that connect with Kya or the men in her life that maybe other readers would have found and loved. The statements that the men found her intriguing because she was a wild creature but also very beautiful, made me uncomfortable in some ways. I didn’t like either of the male protagonists in the story. So yeah, my second read of Jan was much anticipated but didn’t match up to my liking 🙂 I wonder if the movie will be better than the book for me in this case?

Have you read this book and watched the movie? What were your thoughts?

More than a Woman (5/5 Stars): Caitlin Moran could write a grocery list and i would read it and it would sound witty and feminist at the same time! She has become my go to witty feminist writer and I love her writing! They are so relatable and funny! Her first book was about being a woman – spanning her teenage years to her adult years. This second book is about women and their lives when they are 40 or 50, and I couldn’t have asked for a better timing to read this book! 

She talks about ageing, metabolism, endometriosis and menopause or peri menopause, women being carers and juggling between the prime of our careers and the growing years of our children, raising a feminist daughter and dealing with your child’s eating disorders, reducing alcohol because the enzymes don’t work anymore and taking up yoga because your body feels like heaven after all those stretches.. I mean the list is endless!

Her audiobook is even better to listen to.. maybe one day I will also own all the physical copies of her books😊

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (5/5 Stars): I absolutely loved this book! My first 5 star read of the year! This story is about three friends – Sam, Sadie and Marx. It is about the love that friends have for each other. But it’s mostly about work and how work and passion for work has the power to save us from grief, heartbreak and loneliness. The story is set in the 20th Century and centres around Sam and Sadie’s passion for video games. I loved all the Japanese art references thrown in and kept looking into them. I learnt so much about what goes into creating a good video game and I was fascinated even though I’m not a gamer myself. 

I could really relate to Sam’s character in the book even though he might come across as insensitive and self absorbed, but I could relate to his asexuality and the fact that having constant physical pain plays a major role in turning one into an uncaring social recluse. It’s hard for others with normal life to understand this. Sadie’s struggles with being a woman in the tech world felt very real too and well Marx’s character was so good that I felt he was a mirage🙂 and the grandparents with their nuggets of wisdom were an absolute delight!

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (3.5/5 Stars): I listened to a murder mystery on audiobook after a long time and I wasn’t disappointed. This is a clean YA murder mystery with a message in the end and I was surprised that I hadn’t guessed the entire mystery till the end! (Considering I think of myself as a closet detective in the making 😜). The characters were relatable and quite real and the plot clean too. There are some triggering themes in the story such as child abuse, self harm, drug abuse and rape, but they’re all handled very well by the author. 

Babel (5/5 Stars): I am utterly in awe of the genius of R.F. Kuang and her writing! What can I possibly write, that will justify an apt review for this book, because I have never read anything like Babel in my life so far. 

TW: Violence, Racism

The story of Babel is set in fictional Oxford, where young students who have exceptional grasp of languages from across the globe are admitted to study in the prestigious Institute- Babel. Thus starts Robin’s journey, who is ‘rescued’ from China by a white man and raised in London and eventually sent to Oxford as a Babel student due to his proficiency of Cantonese, Mandarin and English. In Oxford, he meets his cohort – Ramy (from India), Victoire (from Haiti) and Letty (from England). Life is great for the four of them who worship Babel, until Robin stumbles across a revelation that brings the shiny world they know, toppling down.

There is so much information regarding languages and translation, that I might have highlighted more than half of my book. I highly recommend buying a physical copy of this book for this very reason, because almost half the book is non-fiction and has very interesting information about the origins of words. There is a discourse on the power of languages, about the possibility of having a universal language and the positives and pitfalls of translations.

But then, the author starts weaving the story about colonialism and slavery and how language played an important part in either enabling it or thwarting it. Again, the second half of the book is filled with nuggets of information about all the tiny uprisings across the globe against slavery, colonialism and exploitation.

And amidst all this, is there hope for a better future? Can a handful of people turn the tide and make Governments and systems more humane? Is revolution really possible and what will it cost?

I highly recommend this book, especially for people who like reading non fiction. It is also a very clean book and there is barely any romance in it. On an ending note, for readers who have loved TPW series by R.F. Kuang, try not to compare both the books, which is what I had started doing in the beginning.

The Gospel of Yudas (3.5/5 Stars): Thank you @readwithzainab for sending me this book as our book exchange idea 🙂 I guess almost two years later, I finally read it. 157 pages of being hit hard. This book is translated from Malayalam to English and is the story of grief, an all consuming guilt and unrequited love. The story is set in Kerala where a young Prema falls in love with an older man who calls himself Yudas and rescues dead bodies from the lake. But Yudas is unable to reciprocate Prema’s love because of the weight of guilt that he carries from his past. In the backdrop there are references of the Naxalite movement and the terrifying torture that the captured naxals underwent in the hands of the police. This is a short yet difficult book to read. 

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (3/5 Stars): I’ll start with this – the book overall in terms of characters and the lacking plot didn’t work for me, but what really worked is the amount of philosophical discussions that can be had with the subjects the author touches upon- polygamy, infidelity, unrequited love, communism, freedom, the purpose of life and death, love in general, emotional baggage and how our past shapes us, and a lot of other subjects. 

It’s a short book and the writing is simple and easy to follow. The story is not chronological but that doesn’t confuse the reader. This book was translated from Czech to English so there could be a possibility that a lot of the essence of the book was lost in translation. I think this is a book for intellectuals who like to hang out in quiet bars or libraries with a scotch and cigar in hand and discuss the philosophies of life. If you’re looking for plot or character arc, you can skip this one🙂

I read this book as part of the @fictionalbookclub pick for Feb, and we definitely had some very interesting thoughts during the book club discussion😊 

The one takeaway that I did take from the book was , “Ess Muss Sein”! 🙂

Artificial Condition – Book 2 from the Murderbot series (4.5/5 Stars): I just love Murderbot. Its narration on just work and entertainment and being asexual and not wanting to be amongst other humans, no matter how well meaning they are, feels like it is no further to who I am..LOL! In the second book, Murderbot makes a friend it seems, hesitantly. I really enjoyed Art and Murderbot’s interactions and couldn’t stop cracking up every time the two of them interacted. Can’t wait to listen to the next books in the series and Murderbot’s further adventures. I only wish these books were available in India 🙂

That’s a wrap!! Hope you’re having a wonderful month and week so far! 🙂

2 thoughts on “January and February 2023 – Reading Wrap Up

  1. Nice and varied collection of books from you as always.. but I’m most glad that you are enjoying Murderbot and ART is such a delight 😍😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

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