Top 3 Must-Reads of 2016 (even if they aren’t all published in 2016)

Scroll down for a list of all the books I’ve read this past year! Shamefully, with a tinge of expected wryness, I admit that this past summer wasn’t incredibly fruitful on the novel-writing front (with bits and pieces jotted down here and there, but little spun into a coherent plot). But at least my love for a…

I Am Macbeth, and IB is my Lady.

Forget the small issue of conflicting gender roles; we are all Macbeths, and IB is our Lady Macbeth. Admit it. We started off this journey fresh-faced, seduced by the allure of being inquiring, knowledgeable students of the future, compelled by the thought of being challenged intellectually… But over time, we’ve struggled to catch the false…

Hector and the Search for Happiness, by Francois Lelord

By now you’d be familiar with my frequent laments about not having enough time to read the books I want to read, do the things I want to do, travel the places I want to travel – but I decided to indulge myself a little this holiday. Having won $150 worth of Kinokuniya Bookstore vouchers from an…

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan

Beautiful, quirky, and utterly engaging. Admittedly, the book title’s typography and design is not great – it literally screams ostentatious ‘teenage hipster literature’ all over the front cover (although that may be the point, if teenagers are the target audience). Teenage hipster literature? A slight fidget, an inward cringe, a heavy sigh. Is that even a genre??? Yep —…

Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all. Beautiful, reflective, and charmingly nostalgic, Brideshead Revisited paints a captivating picture of the British aristocracy in the prosperous age before the Second World War. This is a novel that speaks of religion, love, art,…

There but for the, by Ali Smith

It was one of those rare december break mornings; one where I actually woke up with the burning sensation (rather, a pounding heart attack) to get a start on my holiday homework because oh lord why is there always so much work. Knowing that staying at home would eventually lead to languorous inactivity, I wiggled…

While the Light Lasts, by Agatha Christie

I spotted this gem amidst the rustic bookshelves of Sister Srey café, a charming little nook along the riverside of Siem Reap’s bustling Old Market area serving good ol’ Aussie nosh tosh. The amazing food aside, this petite café had a charming shelf-load of books on its second floor free for anyone to take. Having…

The Outsider, by Albert Camus

Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee? It is this strange  insouciant detachment that characterizes ‘The Outsider’; that makes it such an unsettling and yet morbidly compelling read. It is a story that leaves you with an aching sense of gaping vacuity, a feeling that perhaps life has no meaning, and no…

It’s All in the Mind.

It’s that time of the year when work starts piling up- multiple IAs and assignments lie in a stack of unkempt, disheveled papers at the corner of your desk- constantly reminding you, beseeching you to pay some thought to your neglected duties. But all you can think about is how to avoid studying for your…

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, by Charles Seife.

Nothingness is being and being nothingness… Our limited mind cannot grasp or fathom this, for it joins infinity. – Azrael of Gerona Connections, connections, connections. There are many things in life that have inconsequential beginnings: things that are only discovered by chance (and on curious whim). When nonchalantly sweeping past the library bookshelf and fingering…

Lost Horizon, by James Hilton

There are books that, after an intense and exhilarating read, leave you perturbed and agitated; there are books, incidentally, that, after a calm, mildly thought-provoking rumination, leave you calm and collected. Then there are books that coax the life out of these two worlds; long, undulating colorful strands, plucked from the most delicate of glowing…

Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg

I am a feminist. Abashedly, such a declaration makes me cringe. A voice in my head adamantly screams fury and repulsion, refusing to let me associate myself with the characteristically outspoken, obstinate, and vehemently bitter female advocates of feminist rights. But I am a feminist. I believe in social, political and economic equality of the…

Perfume, by Patrick Süskind (Translated by John E. Woods)

If no one asks me about it, then I know what it is; but if someone asks me about it and I try to explain it to him, then I do not know what it is. ~ St. Augustine, quoted by Patrick Süskind in On Love and Death A quote intended to describe time, but aptly adapted…

Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller

The flaw, or crack in character, is really nothing – and need be nothing – but his inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of what he conceives to be a challenge to his dignity, his image of his rightful status. – Arthur Miller, Tragedy of the Common Man. I have fallen in love with…

The Importance of Being Earnest, Wild Rice Productions

It is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me? Words cannot begin to describe the stomach-aching, cheek-muscle-straining, giddiness-inducing two hours of utter enjoyment that Wild Rice’s production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest brought to the…

All My Sons, By Arthur Miller

‘[…] the underlying fear of being displaced, the disaster inherent in being torn away from our chosen image of what or who we are in this world.’- Arthur Miller, Tragedy of the Common Man.  The fear of not being that which you want to be. A pervasive fear; one that everyone falls prey to at one…

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Don’t trust your own judgement. Think. At first glance this hefty book may seem like a compilation of daunting concepts and unmoistened bare facts- the book is indeed dry and may come across as an esoteric psychological analysis of a specific area in the cognitive sciences. However, it is reasonably conveyed in layman’s terms- and…

In Praise of Idleness, by Bertrand Russell

I made the mistake of bringing this book out with me one day- being seated across people on the bus inevitably means being uncomfortably scrutinized by the brash auntie, the self-righteous uncle, or even the occasional pony-tailed student (albeit more discreetly). The usually surreptitious glances evolved into somewhat tactless gapes and frowns, which confused me-…

Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J.Dubner

The problem with non-fiction books is that they inevitably become outdated one day. No, not even your most basic Math 101 textbooks can withstand the test of time, and are usually swept off the shelves within a few years of publication, woefully lost to some newer, shinier edition with a sleeker cover. However, there are…

Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

A colossal tome reflective of Ayn Rand’s literary greatness, her magnum opus- a beautiful volume brimming with burning conviction, fierce challenges to societal values and morals, packaged in a deceivingly modest-looking paperback. Ayn Rand- in her complete appreciation for individuality- pays homage to the driving forces of the world, the men (and women) without whom…

The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde

I had absolutely no intention of reading another book today (well, in this case, a script), but spending lunch alone inevitably results in excessive munching and extensive reading. It’s no help that the largest book shelf in the house is virtually two steps away from the kitchen, conveniently flaunting its alluring tomes for easy perusing….

The Time Machine, by H.G Wells

The title of this book brings back those fun-filled days spiritedly running through the meadows of blooming creativity and imagination, brimming with childish naivety and a profound love for the new and exciting. That’s right, there’s something charming in the foolish thought of exclusivity in a child’s wanderings- I had, at the raw age of…

Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

I read two brilliant books in the last 24 hours, the first being a wonderfully simple and heartfelt book (which I will review later, it has become my favorite book of all time and hence deserves a second, third, fourth, or dozens of reads before I can review it objectively), and the latter being the…

Time Must Have a Stop, by Aldous Huxley

I picked up this beautifully laminated paperback at Citylights in San Francisco- a rustic and sublimely homely book shop that contains shelves upon shelves of books. If I had the choice I would’ve willingly remained there for the rest of eternity. The comfortingly earthy smell of heavenly tomes blended right in with the roughly cut…

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Just finished reading The Scarlet Letter. I’d been looking forward to finishing it (I read three quarters of it during the IGCSE period), but although I found it an intriguing read I can say I was a little disappointed. Not that I thought it wasn’t a good book, on the contrary I thought it was…

Those Barren Leaves, by Aldous Huxley

Starting with my first-ever book review on this blog! It seems rather apt to be reviewing this book, as Aldous Huxley is arguably my favorite author of all time-although that’s not much of a feat since I’m unfortunately not as well-read as I would like to be (due to time constraints). Prior to this I’ve…