It’s that time of the year – the time of the year-end lists. I was almost hesitant to write this ‘Best books of 2016’ post because 2016, all in all, has been bad for me reading wise. I read far fewer books than I usually do and in the beginning of the year, I went into a major reading rut due to personal circumstances. And then Tolstoy or more precisely War & Peace rescued me from this rut. And obviously, that finds a place on my list.
But, I also learnt something. That reading is something that should be done for enjoyment, not because of obligation, and even though the number of books read this year was lesser, I also told myself that IT IS OKAY, it’s not a competition .
However, 2017, I hope you will be better.
So here goes my top 5 books of 2016:
- War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Despite being the story of 19th century Russian aristocrats, the beauty of the book lies in its relevance – the experiences of the characters, their mistakes, naivety and growth offer insights into what makes us human and what gives life its meaning.
2. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Another one that still holds significance despite being written 200 years ago – an immensely unsettling look into the mind of a woman, who, repressed and confined in her domestic prison, slowly starts to unravel.
3. Michelangelo: An Epic Life by Martin Gayford
A truly remarkable, insightful and objective portrait of one of my heroes and favourite artists. I started this right before I was in Florence and finished this on the way back on the flight – it was an emotional experience for me, having seen his works for the very first time for ‘real’ instead of on a screen.
4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Based on the true story of the last woman executed in Iceland back in the 19th century, Burial Rites is the haunting account of Agnes’ last days as she takes the reader back to the moment of her crime. The description of the landscape made me yearn for Iceland!
5. The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance by Paul Strathern
Another one to feed my obsession with everything to do with the Italian Renaissance, this is a fascinating account of the Medici family, the ‘Godfathers’ who contributed immensely to the politics, economy and especially the culture of Renaissance through their patronage and vision. Having seen their Palazzos in Florence, reading the book was like reliving my entire Florentine sojourn.
(Featured Image: Compartment C Car by Edward Hopper)