Readers say there can be nothing better that curling up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book during the weekends. There’s something very soothing about getting under the covers and reading the day away. You get to explore a different world from the warm snuggly comforts of your home. And during winter, there can be nothing better than that. But often times, picking up the right book poses a challenge. You want something that you can probably finish in a day or two and is entertaining to boot. The Week talked to a few avid readers to find out what they consider a cold day read. We recommend you a take a pick from this list and get started.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
A friend told me about All the Bright Places. The plot revolves around two characters who, even though had contradicting characteristics, beautifully complimented each other. With mental illness being one of its major themes, the book talks about Violet and Finch’s story and is basically about a girl learning to live from a boy who intends to die. Finch’s sarcastic tone constantly adds humor to the story even at times when the context was heavy.
It’s how realistically the characters were portrayed that appealed to me the most. The perfect switch between the points of views of the two characters gave me more in depth insight to their thoughts. Also, the simple narrative made it possible to connect more with the characters. This novel even touches on topics like depression, suicide, and death and made me more aware about mental illnesess and how it should be recognized. Niven herself having experienced depression makes Finch’s character more pragmatic and earthy. Another reason why I think this book is a good read is the fact that it tries to convey the message that love can’t always fix things. ‘Love’ these days is very romanticized and this book challenges that notion.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this book deals with racism in the world – more significantly in the US. The debut novel by Thomas which has Starr Carter as the protagonist is based on the life of a 16-year-old black girl as she shuffles through two relatively different worlds. Starr has a reasonably stable home life in the midst of an impoverished and crime ridden neighborhood. She spends her weekdays at a fancy suburban prep school in a white neighbourhood. The balance tips off when she witnesses her best friend being murdered by a white policeman. As the sole witness of this crime, the onus of reporting it lies on her. Eventually, she musters up enough courage and makes a statement before a grand jury knowing full well that this puts her and her family – and even her community to some extent – in grave danger. With a first person narrative, this novel is a strikingly truthful portrayal about race and racial tension. Starr juggles family issues, interracial love, friendship, peer judgement and living in today’s world and there’s a thing or two you can learn from all that.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Thomas, the protagonist of the series, is a 17-yea- old boy placed in a strange place known as the Glade. A number of teenagers who call themselves ‘The Gladers’ already live in the Glade and all of them only remember their names. This Glade is protected by huge walls but every month there is a newcomer there. Beyond the walls of the Glade is a maze with horrifying creatures called grievers. The gladers have to survive amidst chaos, betrayal, confusion and a series of tests as the trials are full of dangers, secrets, suspense and betrayal. Dashner has written the story in third person narrative which helps in the humanization of all of its characters. None of the characters are unrealistically powerful or emotionless. It’s interesting to get to discover them through Dashner’s writing. Although, Thomas is portrayed as somewhat of a strong character, readers get to see an awkward and emotional side of him more than once.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Set in a seemingly perfect society with well fed and satisfied, carefree and content individuals, The Giver sketches a crafty twist to the classic dystopian tale. This society free of crime and sadness has also eliminated emotional understanding and depth of its inhabitants by permuting to the “Sameness”. It lacks everything from color, memory, climate, intuition to terrain in order to imply a general equality above individuality and singularity.
A 12-year-old boy, Jonas, is chosen as the Receiver of Memory. He is terrified as he discovers that the last person who received this position failed to overcome the pain and isolation it brings and mysteriously disappeared. Receiver of Memory is the person who stores memories of the times before “Sameness”. Jonas is troubled as he learns about the ugly truths, concept of good, evil and inbetween, freedom, color, agonies of war and crime and so much more. He struggles to cope with the full range of human emotions and the facts of the past.
This novel written about a quarter of a century ago is one of the most challenged books of the 90s. Lowry crafts a fragile plot with disbelieving and concerning ideals that gives the reader plenty to think about.
Now You See Me by Emma Haughton
This psychoanalytical thriller opens with Emma, a 16-year-old, whose best friend Danny mysteriously disappeared when they were 13. For three wretched years both Emma and Danny’s parents relentlessly search for the lost teenager. Eventually, they come across a beaten up, slightly grown up but still the same in a way Danny who has no memory of what happened to him. To make matters worse, it appears that both sets of parents (Emma’s and Danny’s) are hiding quite a few secrets of their own. Haughton puts a fair emphasis on how Danny’s disappearance and recovery impacts each individual. The enthralling plot undergoes a twist at the last possible moment leaving readers rather ruffled and bewildered.
The novel is narrated by Emma and is basically her perspective on things. She struggles a lot with guilt as she believes she could have done something to prevent Danny’s disappearance. This novel is a refreshing change from typical thrillers and suspense stories. It’s also a gripping tale of what happens when hope comes back to haunt you.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway by Jeff Kinney
Price: Rs 638
The new hilarious story from Jeff Kinney is the best yet in the brilliant, bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series! Greg Heffley and his family are getting out of town. With the cold weather setting in and the stress of the Christmas holiday approaching, the Heffleys decide to escape to a tropical island resort for some much-needed rest and relaxation. A few days in paradise should do wonders for Greg and his frazzled family. But the Heffleys soon discover that paradise isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Sun-poisoning, stomach troubles and venomous creatures all threaten to ruin the family’s vacation. Can their trip be saved, or will this island getaway end in disaster? Jeff has been named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. He is also the creator of Poptropica, which was named one of Time magazine’s 50 Best Websites.
Ascent by Chris Bonington
Price: Rs 1118
Sir Chris Bonington memoir Ascent charts not only his many triumphs in the climbing world but also the struggles he has faced in his life bringing up a family, and maintaining a successful and loving marriage over the decades of travelling the world to conquer mountains. He also discusses his first wife who tragically passed away after a long battle with motor neuron disease, his many years of caring for her, and then in his twilight years deciding to return to an iconic climb from his past. Ascent is a memoir like no other. It’s about what it takes to conquer fear, and learn/develop the technical skills necessary to climb the world’s greatest peaks, what it is like to survive in places no human being can ultimately reside in for longer than a few months at very high altitude, but also how one overcomes emotional obstacles, too, and rediscover what drives us on to happiness.
The French Exception by Emmanuel Macron
Price: Rs 958
From total unknown to one of Europe’s most powerful men in just a few years, at 39, France’s youngest leader since Napoleon is intent on conquering the world stage. But what lies beneath the façade of this youthful, ultra-confident and calculating president? How did someone from small-town France assemble – in just 12 months – the network, team and finances to win the presidency? Now elected, can he make the French feel better about themselves? Can he rally Europe around him and turn the tide of right-wing nationalism sweeping the continent? Critically, what will his presidency mean for Britain? Featuring never-before printed interviews with key members of Macron’s team, his friends, mentors and political detractors, acclaimed Paris-based journalist Adam Plowright asks: can the shine on this brilliant new president last? And for how long?