A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Set in Mumbai, India between 1975 and 1984 during the turmoil of The Emergency, a period of expanded government power and crackdowns on civil liberties, this book is about four characters from varied backgrounds—Dina Dalal, Ishvar Darji, his nephew Omprakash Darji and the young student Maneck Kohlah—who come together and develop a bond. (Wikipedia)
Simply the best book I’ve ever read. How do you know you love it? Because it makes you laugh, cry, angry, happy and outraged on almost every page. It makes you mad when its done. It makes you forget you’re reading a book. It makes you want to meet the characters and help them. It makes you want to travel to India or to 1975 or both. The ending is so tragic and comic at the same time you want to meet the author and punch him in the face for doing that to his characters and then hug him for inventing them in the first place. This is a Giller winner and Booker nominee. The book is long and daunting and I can’t recommend it any higher. Other books that make me feel like this are rare. I haven’t read it again, which I occasionally do with favourites. I just finished my tenth reading of Catcher in the Rye, and I recently found a copy of A Fine Balance. I’m hesitant to read it again, I’m afraid that it won’t be as good as I remember and like an old movie or a memory you cherish perhaps the idea of it is more perfect than the event itself. But then I think, no way dude. That book reads good, you can’t go wrong. Read it. Read it again. Get back to me and tell me I’m wrong and I’ll give you $10 000*.
* Not really.
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddharta Mukherjee
A non-fiction scientific book with some of the most engaging easy to understand science prose I’ve ever read. It starts by telling us about treatment of cancer in Egpyt 2000 years ago and takes us through centuries of advances and set backs right up to the genetic treatments of today. Along the way we meet dozens of fascinating doctors, scientists and patients who each have a personal connection to the disease. We hear of how terrible it was for cancer patients only a few decades ago, and how hard doctors worked their entire career for one tiny breakthrough.
Many people might think that it will be too hard or too sad or too dry or too nauseating – to them I say SHUT UP. Get this book, jump in and learn 100 things that you had no idea about. Enrich your life and get smarter. I promise you’ll enjoy it and if you’re unhappy with the selection I’ll give you $10 000*.
* Still not really.