I read 10 books final month.

(Yes, I’m probably going to fail the end-terms.)

-Shashank Verma


Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie:

It is a children’s book, with a fairy tale storyline. But the subtle themes of book advocates for freedom of speech and expression, points out aspects in which censorship affects a society and the values of discussion/ debates, etc. The book was written by Rushdie in hiding after the leader of Iran issued a fatwa for him, following the release of the Satanic Verses.

Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway:

It is a novella composed of beautiful prose and symbolism. It’s a short read but it carries so much weight. The central theme of the book can be described as the power of human determination in the face of sure defeat. The experience that the old man carries, the failures of his past, the circumstances of his present, everything builds up the road of his never-ending resoluteness.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller:

This anti-war satire by Heller follows the ongoings of an air-force camp during World War 2. The central theme of the novel is the pointlessness of war. There is absurd humour in Heller’s writing, at the same time depicting the cruelty of war, the deaths, the destruction of civilian life and property, etc.

Sub-themes of the book are the politics of war (Generals sending in troops to fight their suicidal battles, so that they themselves can get promoted), consumerism in the times of war is symbolised by characters (who sell weapons to both the sides fighting war), enforced patriotism is the face of mortal danger, etc.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde:

This play by Wilde follows the comedic scenario of Jack, who makes up an imaginary sick brother named Earnest, as an excuse to get out of the country. He becomes Earnest in the city of London and people there know him by that name. His friend, Algernon, learning the truth, confesses he sometimes does the same. The central theme of the play is how main a double life (Bunburying), leads the protagonist and his friend into loads of troubles, including their prospective wives who only want to marry a man named Earnest.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie:

[NO SPOILERS].

Whether you know, you know.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Part 1. Mostly Harmless) by Douglas Adams

Short, very entertaining science fiction read. Presents a precept of an improbability driver engine, which, instead of giving a spaceship power and speed, gives it the probability of doing something, even the most improbable matters. Also, Soil is “Mostly Harmless” in the eyes of alien life.

Night by Elie Wiesel:

First-hand account of a holocaust survivor, the author won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. This is a memoir of the prison days of the author as a Jewish prisoner during the holocaust in Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.

The book gives an perception into what extreme conditions do to the human intellect and the body. People kill their own fathers when it’s evident that they won’t survive. Taking their food and ration as it’ll go “waste” on him. Not feeling grief on account of a loved one’s death, the author even feels relief as he’s free from the duties as a son.

 Moby Dick by Herman Melville:

Follows the epic journey of Captain Ahab and his crew, for the hunt of the White Whale, Moby Dick, who has previously hurt Ahab, taking his foot. The narrator, Ishmael, a young sailor looking for a new adventure, which he’ll find in whale hunting, soon witnesses how obsession, greed and overambition can destroy lives. The central theme of the novel can be described as existentialism, obsession and monomania.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger:

 The protagonist, a high school kid, gets kicked out of the school for naughty grades. Holden goes on a self-exploration trip of the New York city. The central theme of the book is “self-protection through alienation”. The protagonist goes through a series of incidents and meets some people on the way, all of whom he thinks are “phoney”. A child’s intellect experiences new experiences, and eventually, leaving behind the innocence of childhood, advances towards adulthood, for which he has preconceived notions.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood:

Atwood’s dystopian novel is set in a world where women no longer have control over their own bodies, they only have one bodily function: to reproduce.

[I haven’t completed the book yet.]

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