Top 10 Books You Must Read In 2011

Posted on December 30, 2010 in Books

As 2010 ends and the countdown for 2011 begins, we present a list of 10 books you ought to read in the coming year. These books have been read and hand picked by our Sub Editor, Nitum Jain. Read on and feel free to add your suggestions in the comments box below. (The list is not a ranking, all books are equally good).

1) The Fountainhead- Ayn Rand

Wildly popular and a bestseller many times over, The Fountainhead is a book that many must have already read or else should definitely read. The story defines the life and struggles of Howard Roark, an aspiring architect who refuses to adhere to the traditions and thus receives severe censure. Reduced to nothing, Roark still stands by his ideology and we then see him rising to touch the sky. A few lines can scarcely describe this book; it definitely calls for a read.

2) The Finkler Question- Howard Jacobson

The Man Booker Prize winner, 2010, the book revolves around three men; Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality and their former teacher, Libor Sevcik, a Czech always more concerned with the wider world than with exam results. All three widowed men share their experiences, their laughs and their sorrows but this novel is not just about their lives but incorporates much beyond the three mortals. Not to be mistaken as a simple light read just because it’s comic, this book is much more than what meets the eye.

3) The Secret Daughter- Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Two women, Somer and Kavita. One yearns for a child she cannot conceive and the other yearns for a child she cannot keep. Belonging to a family where the girl-child is forbidden, Kavita sneaks out with her newborn daughter and gives her up at an orphanage. Somer, an American doctor, adopts this golden-eyed baby. The book traces the path of these two families and culminates into the search now-grown-up Asha, the daughter, begins to find her origins. “Secret Daughter” poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families — one Indian, one American — and the child that connects them.

4) Purple Hibiscus- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Set in a politically unstable Nigeria, it narrates the story of a 15-year-old girl, Kambili, who belongs to an affluent Catholic family. The family patriarch, Eugene, was an abusive husband and a terrible father to his children, Jaja and Kambili. Solace is found by the children in the arms of their aunt, the sister of the cause of their troubles. Beginning a new life, young Kambili discovers herself, love and sexuality… until it’s time to return home. The book traces the path of self-actualization of this young woman; a book used even as a text in schools and universities, Purple Hibiscus is a one of the best literature this decade has produced.

5) A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khalid Hosseini

Another beautiful tale by Khalid Hosseini after the immensely popular The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns too is based in Afghanistan and narrates the stories of two women, Mariam and Laila, their separate ordeals and pains. Fate and the political changes in the land force their paths to converge and both of them find themselves unhappy wives to the same man, Rasheed. However, their journey doesn’t end there. An invigorating read, this books and its predecessor shouldn’t be missed.

6) The Enchantress of Florence- Salman Rushdie

A mixture of history and fable, Salman Rushdie plunges us into a world of marvels. It starts with a yellow-haired traveller entering Mughal Emperor Akbar’s court with a claim of being related to the emperor and a tale to tell; the story shifts to the enchanting land of Florence, the exotic enchanting women and princesses and imaginary queens. It’s more than just conventional historical novelizing, therefore, when fictional characters are placed among historical personages as Akbar, Niccolò Machiavelli, Medicis, Savonarola and the Wallachian warlord Vlad Dracula. Though not Rushdie’s best novel, this is definitely an excellent lesser-known work.

7) Three Days Before The Shooting- Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison is already a known name for Invisible Man, which was a raging success in the 50s, the posthumously edited manuscript of his never-finished second novel, Three Days Before The Shooting, hit the markets in 2010. Set in the frame of a deathbed vigil, the story is of a man named Bliss who belonged to an indeterminate race and was raised by a black Baptist Minister by the name of Alonzo Hickman. As an adult, Bliss takes up a white identity and the novel then takes us along the journey of him becoming a race-baiting United States Senator named Adam Sunraider. Unexpurgated, moving and a surprising mix of humour and tension, this book is one of the best books launched this year.

8) Acts of Faith- Erich Segel

A book by Erich Segel of Love Story fame, this is a tale of Jewish siblings Daniel and Deborah and the orphan Timmy, who grows up as an Irish-Catholic. A mix of crushed aspirations, forbidden relationships and deep spirituality, the novel doesn’t give the reader a chance to put it down. Segal had gone out on a limb and successfully ventured into a genre much different from his earlier books. Acts of Faith is a novel that leaves you thinking and touched.

9) FREEDOM- Jonathan Franzen

Freedom starts with a brief history of the Berglund family from the perspective of their nosy neighbours. The Berglunds are basically a dysfunctional, albeit liberal, middle-class family, and the story centres Patty and Walter Berglund and their friend, Richard Katz, who keeps on weaving in and out of their lives. What had started as an ideal family life dissolves into a mere memory as all members are flung far and wide by circumstances.  Jonathan Franzen’s uncanny ability to capture the true essence of characters, his lack of fear of creating unlikable personalities and the way his writing is never far from reality is what makes Freedom a book to look out for.

10) The Liquid City- Curtis J Hopfenbeck

Shadoe Kilbourne is the perfect killer machine, an impressive arsenal of both wit and weaponry at his disposal, keys to most of Seattle’s hot spots and strong ideologies to make him the perfect guy for all jobs. Deadly with his charms and his humour, this one knows how to eliminate the bad guy and get the girl. Revenge drives his through this story, rooting from a painful past we can only speculate on. A thriller which doesn’t stop to take a breather, this one will keep you glued.