I spent the whole of 2016 reading more and more of non-fiction books after I’d noted the drift in my reading preferences. While I was doing well on the reading front, I was constantly curious why an increasing number of book critics and the people whom I look up to for reading recommendations were constantly emphasising on reading more fiction than non-fiction.
I could have simply brushed it aside as a matter of ‘individual preference’ had this been an isolated case. But when it happened over and over again, I was left looking for answers on the Internet.
The answer came to me from the interview of Barrack Obama with The New York Times’ chief book critic, Michiko Kakutani, where he talked about why fiction matters.
“When so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and technology and migration, the role of stories to unify—as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalize—is more important than ever.” Storytelling, Obama said, “brings people together to have the courage to take action on behalf of their lives.”
Ever since I have been working on balancing out the fiction and non-fiction reads I read every month.
“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”
To celebrate the arrival of my favourite season, autumn, I picked two books that revolve around the theme of ‘letting go’.
1. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh:
The book is a psychological thriller, full of mind-numbing twists and so engrossing that I ended up reading this 371 page, emotionally draining book in one day. That is a lot of reading done in a day given my slow reading speed.
The trapped moth by the window pane overlooking a downpour on the beautiful cover of the book fantastically captures the plight of the protagonist in the book.
The tense, fast-paced plot with an astonishing intensity made me relive the roughest patch of my life in its protagonist Jenna Gray. Her miseries were so close to mine that I couldn’t dare put the book down without reading it through to find out if she finds closure.
Though the plot of the book faintly reminded me of the Julia Roberts starrer ‘Sleeping with the Enemy‘, it would be rather unfair to compare the two.
I loved this book principally because through it I could get a great insight into how chronic abuse impacts the victim. I was able to seek answers to the many questions that had been nagging me since I had opted to move out of my marriage because my ex-husband bears a disturbing resemblance to Ian’s character in the book.
My takeaway from this gripping read is that, no matter how fast or further we run away from our past, it is sure to catch up and if not addressed appropriately, the consequences can be pretty devastating.
If you love fast-paced thrillers that’ll not let you sleep till you’ve read the end, this book is just for you.
2. Invisible Ties by Nadya A.R:
This book with a gorgeous cover highlighting the protagonist’s most prized possession, the bottle green jade mirror, fine tapestry tinted in romantic notes of fresh roses captures the heart of the young girl whose journey is the essence of this book.
The book explores the themes of displacement and loss. Noor, the protagonist is a young Pakistani girl battling the demons of having his loyal driver sacrifice his life to protect her. Just when she is beginning to understand the nuances of the troubled life in Karachi she is pushed into an arranged marriage with Meekal, a banker based in Malaysia.
The story revolves around Noor’s troubles in her married life and how she strives to move on breaking free from the shackles of tradition and her painful past.
The book is successful in the careful portrayal of the life of young girls from the Indian subcontinent region who are well-educated but are seldom masters of their own destiny. The poetic, almost lyrical prose, complemented with the author’s love for nature, architecture, history of the Mughal Empire and most importantly, the Taj Mahal come as a whiff of fresh air in Noor’s otherwise troubled existence.
My main criticism is the slow pace of the plot and the hasty ending. On many occasions, the book becomes unbearable with the lack of conversations between the various characters. As the protagonist trains to become a psychotherapist, the book would have surely gained from a deeper introspection (given the author is a practising psychotherapist) than focussing entirely on seeking answers from her surroundings.
This book tugged at my heartstrings because at many points I relived painful memories of the times when I’d been caught on similar crossroads of life, quite like Noor.
This book echoes the importance of letting go of our past only after having made due peace with it. Is Noor successful in accomplishing that, is for the reader to explore.
If you love books that focus on the imagery and architectural history, explore fiction closer to reality then this book might make for a good weekend read for you.
These two books, written, years and genres apart strongly emphasise the importance of letting go of our past for a happy existence in the present. Though it ain’t possible without mustering enough courage to stand up for ourselves and choosing life over death, loss, grief and pain.
This post is part of the #BookTalk series on the blog where I talk at length about the book(s) I read with personal connection and my inspiration behind picking those.
To know more, please head here.