My Year in Books – 2020

For me, this year has been insightful into the practice of reading. For long, I assumed that it is an effortless habit and wondered why more people don’t just jump into the myriad rabbit holes of different worlds that books offered. This year though, I realised that there is more to it than meets the eye.

Once the lockdown started, I thought that this would be the year when I would break all possible boundaries of reading a vast variety of enriching books in all possible genres. Gradually, it dawned on me that reading is a very momentum-based habit, which for me had a big trigger. As soon as I sat in almost any public transport especially while travelling alone, my hand would go of its’ own volition to my hand bag to extract the paperback I was lugging around. When you lose a certain rhythm, at times it can get hard to get back or feel the grip of words calling out to you.

When I look back at my year in books for 2020, in some ways it’s made up of fits and starts which atleast at a glance looks mostly fine. However, if I were to evaluate myself by more stringent standards, I can just not wait to get back to reading effortlessly again. Read on to check out the 55 books that made up my 2020 to take your picks and hopefully get inspired. As always, click on the title of the book to either land on a blog post for the same or it’s Goodreads page. For most books, I have also added a quote which really caught my fancy from the book.

In case you missed it, this is my third Year in Books post and you can check out the previous two right here:

My year in books – 2019

My year in books – 2018

Before you plunge headlong, note that this as usual is my longest post of the year almost hitting 6,500 words. If need be, you might want to bookmark the page and revisit a few times.

January

1. Designing your life – Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

This tiny teal blue cover book was one of my scarce American library picks. While there was very little new for anyone who has read maybe 5 or 7 personal growth books, it still gave a good guide map to identify where your life is headed. In case, you feel stuck in life with respect to personal or professional life, then this is a good pick to help with figuring out a way forward.

A well designed life is a marvelous portfolio of experiences, of adventures, of failures that taught you important lessons, of hardships that made you stronger and helped you know yourself better, and of achievements and satisfactions. 

-Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

2. Joy luck club – Amy Tan

This book snuck into my reading list in the days of active in-person Book Club meetings. Reading it gave me a wonderful view into the lives of Chinese immigrants in the US over the decades. In some ways, it was a reminder of the joy of reading which can open up totally new worlds. Although, I was a little dissatisfied in the end with the way the stories seemed to hang in balance with no resolution per se.

And I think now that fate is shaped half by expectation, half by inattention. But somehow, when you lose something you love, faith takes over. You have to pay attention to what you lost. You have to undo the expectation.

-Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan

3. Coffee can investing – Saurabh Mukherjea, Rakshit Ranjan, Pranab Uniyal

One of the few investing reads for me this year, this was one of the better Indian personal finance reads for me. Much acclaimed considering the performance of their portfolio, the strategy gives a good idea of value investing in the Indian landscape. Check out this post for a good idea of some of the gems from the book.

Although Kirby made the discovery of the Coffee Can Portfolio sound serendipitous, the central insight behind this construct – that in order to truly become rich an investor has to let a sensibly constructed portfolio stay untouched for a long period of time – is as powerful as it is profound.

– Coffee can investing, Saurabh Mukherjea, Rakshit Ranjan, Pranab Uniyal

February

4. Girl, woman, other – Bernadette Everine

This much acclaimed Booker Prize winner of 2019 was a Christmas gift from a family member. Hearing and reading all the hype about it, I was pretty intrigued about it myself. God, it was probably my most awful completed book of the year! The novel didn’t really read like one. In fact, I was confused whether these were just character sketches rather than a novel per se. Reading this and another Booker nominee down the line, I did wonder whether I should keep away from all things Booker.

As if she was the kind of woman who’s amputate her aspirations to become one of his decorative appendages.

– Girl, woman, other, Bernadette Everine

5. Water for elephants – Sara Gruen

This was an interesting read even though it had quite a bit of masala. Just the world Gruen painted of life at a circus in the early 20th century was fascinating in itself. It made for a good change of scene from most other books.

6. Social: Why our brains are wired to connect – Mathew Lieberman

This book served to cement something I have come to believe in for the last few years. The fact that social connections and friendships are an important ingredient to smoothening out this journey called life. What’s funny though is that I read the book some time before the coronavirus crisis hit, a time which did even more to bring home just how important relationships are in life.

Yet the closer friends become, the less they tend to keep track of who has done more or less for one another. Often, a friend’s primary value is the comfort of knowing we have friends.

Social: Why our brains are wired to connect, Mathew Lieberman

7. Man of her match – Sakshama Puri Dhariwal

This is a book I picked from a pre-loved book sale. While it looked like a usual romantic comedy book, my reason to pick it up was simply because the author was one year my senior in school. However, it also turned out to be like a lot of the other romance books I have read and not been much impressed by.

8. Arabella -Georgette Heyer

Having read one of the mysteries written by Georgette Heyer and having thoroughly enjoyed it, I picked up my first Heyer Victorian romances. Reading romance is a guilty pleasure but I am also weirdly picky about it. I realised Victorian romances with a singular plotline are not my cup of tea. Although I may still pick up another Georgette Heyer mystery or two.

9. Made to stick – Dan & Chip Heath

This was an interesting book which reminded me of my days as a marketer. Dan & Chip Heath do a good take on the basis of what makes ideas sticky and how to go about thinking and strategizing for it.

It is hard to make ideas stick in a noisy, unpredictable, chaotic environment. If we’re to succeed, the first step is this: Be simple. Not simple in terms of “dumbing down” or “sound bites”. You don’t have to speak in monosyllables to be simple. What we mean by “simple” is finding the core of the idea.

-Made to stick, Dan & Chip Heath

March

10. How remarkable women lead – Joanna Barsh & Susie Cranston

Ironically, two out of the three books I read in the month of celebrating International Womens Week had gender at the heart of it. This book was a good, well-researched analysis of the differences in how women lead and also how some innate female traits could be harnessed for the purpose of leadership.

Good things and bad things happen to everyone. What makes the difference is how you work with this raw material of life. Over and over, the women leaders talked about opportunities and how they didn’t hesitate to take them. As we dug deeper, we discovered a recurring theme: These women approached new situations for their possibilities.

– How remarkable women lead, Joanna Barsh & Susie Cranston

11. Forest of enchantments – Chitra Divakaruni

The first time I read The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni, I was a fan. I have always felt that most religions and mythologies end up giving a short shrift to women. Imagining the same timeless tales from the point of view of a woman is something that enraptured me for sure. In fact, as someone who is embarrassingly low on Hindu mythology knowledge, it is with reading Divakarunis’ take on the two epics, Mahabharat and Ramayana through this book that I have a better hold on those. So yes, read this book to understand and experience Ramayana seen through the lens of Sita.

This incident taught me that the more love we distribute, the more it grows, coming back to us from unexpected sources. And it’s corollary: when we demand love, believing it to be our right, it shrivels, leaving only resentment behind.

– Forest of enchantments, Chitra Divakaruni

12. A gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles

A much acclaimed book, this was a Book Club read for me. Not only did I absolutely love the language but in some ways it was like a trot through a few decades of contemporary Russian history. As for the storyline, I just loved the  way Count Alexander Rostov makes the best of his situation and of course, his relationships especially with the two young ladies. If this sounds scandalous, read the book to know it is meant with a pure as snow intent.

But while he was liberating a wedge of plum from its pit with his paring knife, the Count happened to note a silvery shadow, as seemingly insubstantial as a puff of smoke, slipping behind his trunk.

A gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

April

13. The pact – Jodi Picoult

I have enjoyed many Jodi Picoult novels and this pick from the American Library was no different. I love how she is able to come up with strange human conundrums and then spin such a sparkling, throbbing web around it. In this one, where two teenagers  have a suicide pact and only one ends up dying is obviously enough to split families. Add the layer of the two families being neighbours and close friends for years and you know you have all elements of a gripping read.

14. Beartown – Frederik Backman

For me, Frederik Backman is indelibly associated with one of my favouritest (I am willing to bend the language to just convey how much I love this book) reads – A Man Called Ove. To say I went in with high expectations would be an under statement. While the plot is good and the picture of the town vividly painted, the tone has varied dark undertones of melancholy. Probably coming from another author, I might have enjoyed this book more.

Hockey is just a silly little game. We devote year after year after year to it without ever really hoping to get anything in return. We burn and bleed and cry, fully aware that the most the sport can give us, in the very best scenario, is incomprehensibly meagre and worthless: just a few isolated moments of transcendence. That’s all. ….. But what the hell else is life made of?

Beartown, Frederik Backman

15. The woman in the window – AJ Finn

I really got hooked to this genre of psychological thrillers after reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. On a side note, have you noticed how in this genre the crazy protagonist is mostly female? Anyhow, this was  a good change and it did keep you gripped and curious as the layers of the story unfolded, be it with the woman, her tenant or her neighbours. A quick, one-time read for me.

16. Broke millennial: Stop scraping by and get your financial life together – Erin Lowry

As a personal finance blogger, I would have to be seriously ignorant to not have heard of Erin Lowry or her Broke Millennial franchise. This was her first book in the series. While I ended up reading her second book on investing last year, I gave a shot to the first one this time. Although I wrote about it in detail, the one lasting impression I remember from this book was a very school matron kind of tone who is also trying really hard to fit in and talk in the cool kids’ language. If I had to recommend a basic financial book even to a youngster, this may not really make the cut.

May

17. Meet me at the cupcake café – Jenny Colgan

To be honest, I really loved the plot. Probably because almost anyone who enjoys baking has often though of ditching a regular job to do it the whole wide day and earn money from the endeavour. But, there was nothing too exciting in the writing or how things unfolded. My favourite part of the book? The cupcake recipes sprinkled through it!

Life was always easier, reflected Issy, when you were carrying a large Tupperware full of cakes. Everyone was happy to see you then.

Meet me at the cupcake café, Jenny Colgan

18. Map of the heart – Susan Wiggs

Oh, this was a fun book. A woman who goes to Tuscany and then ends up getting links to World War two in her family history is right up my alley. History and travel with a dash of romance made for a good read.

19. Born a crime – Trevor Noah

One of the most acclaimed autobiographies of the year, in the middle of the lockdown it made me feel greatful for my blessings in life. Also, reading about Noah’s growing up years felt like diving into a different world and indulging in wanderlust at a time when it was physically impossible. Although, at the end I felt like I didn’t get what I was promised. My main curiosity of how Noah made that jump from poor quarters in Johannesburg to becoming a well-acclaimed celebrity in the US was never addressed. But then, that is what leaves room for another book, right?

People are willing to accept you if they see you as an outsider trying to assimilate into their world. But when they see you as a fellow tribe member attempting to disavow the tribe, that is something they will never forgive.

Born a crime, Trevor Noah

20. The hating game – Sally Thorpe

For me, romance books are often like palate cleansers. After a few serious or heavy reads, I need a break. However, despite fairly high ratings I didn’t really enjoy this office romance much.

21. The fountains of silence – Ruta Septys

For a few days after finishing this book I was floating with a warm glow of having ingested a memorable read. Based in General Franco-era Spain and unfolding over a few decades, I was enamored. It’s one of those books that I have probably recommended to almost any reader I bumped into this year. The spinning of the story, blending of the facts and just the sensory details of the era were absolutely bewitching. A must must read.

There are colors of beauty in Madrid, but also colors of hardship. Ghosts of war walk the streets in Spain. Daniel passes blind lottery vendors, citizens missing limbs, young people using canes. Should he look directly at them and acknowledge their sacrifice or look away and honor their dignity?

– The fountains of silence, Ruta Septys

June

22. Factfulness – Hans Rosling

Sometimes, books come in your life at the perfect time. It was June and the realisation of this war against coronavirus being long drawn was beginning to hit in waves of pessimism. At that moment, I picked up this book that comes highly recommended by Bill Gates. And was I glad I did so?! Rosling demonstrated how we humans mostly focus on the negative aspects of our life not bothering to see the slow, creeping signs of progress. As I read of his experience in trying to stall the rampant spread of ebola, all I could think of was wish he was still alive to be a valuable ally in defeating this crazy disease.

Factfulness is … recognizing when a story talks about a gap, and remembering that this paints a picture of two separate groups, with a gap in between. The reality is often not polarized at all. Usually the majority is right there in the middle, where the gap is supposed to be.

– Factfulness, Hans Rosling

23. Mastering the market cycle – Howard Marks

I confess I am slightly embarrassed to admit that this was my first time discovering Horward Marks. Although his fund specialises in distressed assets, all the things that he said made so much sense for my favourite asset of equities as well. However, if I were to critically mention one thing then I think the book could have been better edited and shorter. A lot of times the same things and aspects seemed to be repeated with a gift wrap.

If we study past cycles, understand their origins and import, and keep alert for the next one, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel in order to understand every investment environment anew. And we have less of a chance of being blindsided by events. We can master these recurring patterns for our betterment.

Mastering the market cycle, Howard Marks

24. The first Muslim – Leslie Hazleton

The book was recommended to me by a friend last year which I finally read this time round. Although I have a few muslim friends and have read a bit about the rise of Islam during my graduation years in history, I admit my understanding was still very superficial. This book is fantastic for anyone wanting to know more about one of the world’s most important religions and how it came about. What it also does really well is to show Muhammad more as a human life with some of the greys in it as well.

Perhaps this is why it can be so hard to see who Muhammad really was. The purity of perfection denies the complexity of a lived life.

The first Muslim, Leslie Hazleton

25. I am not your perfect Mexican daughter – Erika Sanchez

The beautiful title and the cover drew me to this book. I loved getting a glimpse into a Mexican household and viewing the opposing pulls on coming-of-age immigrant kids. Apart from that, the intrigue in the story too makes it well worth a read.

“Get back here,” Ama yells after me. “What kind of a woman are you going to be if you can’t even make a tortilla?”

– I am not your perfect Mexican daughter, Erika Sanchez

26. Erotic stories for punjabi widows – Balli Kaur Jaswal

Another story with immigrant culture at its’ heart, the title of the book is an outright winner. As for the storyline, the main skeleton of repressed desires of women especially widows was a win for me. The evolution of characters and treading with caution on tricky cultural lines was all done beautifully in this quick read.

July

27. Indistractable – Nir Eyal

Another productivity read, although after Cal Newports’ Deep Work all others seem like pale imitations. This one was a good one-time read with decent lessons to take home.

28. The airbnb story – Leigh Gallaghar

What an year to read about airbnb, one where in the middle of the year they announce a 25% employee cut only to end the same year with an IPO listing at 112% premium. As someone who has an entrepreneurial itch that is yet to be scratched, this was a good, well-balanced read. If you are someone who looks at the valuations of star startups in envy, reading this books gives a good insight into just how much it took to get there.

It isn’t just Chesky, Gebbia and Blecharczyk espouse these beliefs, too, and they permeate the air at the company’s headquarters. The company likes to say that it is “the UN at the kitchen table,” bringing people together from different worlds and uniting strangers.

The airbnb story, Leigh Gallaghar

29. Too much and never enough – Mary Trump

Ugh! Yeah, that’s my description for the book in one word. I am no Trump supporter and considering the flurry of books that were being released that time, this one seemed like a good one to attempt. The only thing Mary seemed to be attempting to do is draw the readers’ attention to the fact that her father (who clearly had failings of his own) was mistreated by his brother Donald and grandfather who always favoured the younger one. Funnily enough, the book starts on a note of Mary attending an event Donald organised, hosting the entire extended family to the White House for one of the sisters’ birthdays. Strike one for hypocrisy is how I saw it. Spoiler alert, there is a lot of name calling in the book too.

Only the most dedicated optimist could have lived in Sunnyside Towers without losing hope. There was no doorman, and the plastic plants and flowers that filled the two large planters on either side of the plexiglass front door were perpetually coated in a thin film of dust.

-Too much and never enough, Mary Trump

August

30. Maybe you should talk to someone – Lori Gottlieb

When most places in the world are seeing a spike in the number of people seeking help for mental health, this book strikes a fine balance. Gottlieb perfectly blends together stories from her practice as a therapist with her experience of seeing one herself, all in a very breezy readable manner. Along the way, she sprinkles beautiful gems that can help while living our lives.

But what are we so afraid of? It’s not as if we’re going to peer in those darker corners, flip on the light, and find a bunch of cockroaches. Fireflies love the dark too. There’s beauty in those places. But we have to look in there to see it.

Maybe you should talk to someone, Lori Gottlieb

31. An American marriage – Tayari Jones

This was a recommendation by Barack Obama in one of his book lists. With this one, I am a bit on the fence. I thought it had a decent plot and complexities to it. But, even as I got done with it, I never understood what the hype was all about.

If you have a woman, you recognise when you have said the wrong thing. Somehow she rearranges the ions in the air and you can’t breathe as well.

An American marriage, Tayari Jones

32. The wall of Winnipeg and me – Mariana Zapata

Sports and romance is obviously a favoured mix for me considering that’s what I used as a backdrop in my debut with Second Serve. However, what gets to me is when romance  gets too fluffy or too heavy with emotion which I thought this book was also guilty of.

33. Shoe dog – Phil Knight

One of the best business books I have read. Global brands are something most of us come in contact with once they are already of a certain stature. With Shoe Dog, it was quite a journey to go behind the scenes and see the brand being birthed and nourished to the size that it has attained. My big takeaway?  Get into a business only if you have a burning passion which can sustain you through the bumps that it will inevitable come with.

So that morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy… just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.

Shoe dog, Phil Knight

34. Man’s search for meaning – Viktor Frankl

This was like a follow up book that I picked up after reading Gottlieb’s Maybe you should talk to someone. While the sexist title still gets my goat, this short heavy read just strengthened my resolve of continuing to hunt for meaning in my life. A meaning that doesn’t come with a price tag. If not the book, definitely Wikipedia  Frankl to be awed by the life he led.

The prisoner who has lost faith in the future – his future – was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and become subject to mental and physical decay.

Man’s search for meaning, Viktor Frankl

September

35. The dressmakers gift – Fiona Valpy

It really was a year of quite a few historical fiction reads for me. Paris, Second World War, Fashion. Need I say any more? Although, in my opinion three things make a historical fiction really sparkle – setting, story plot line and writing quality. For me, this book ticked the first two boxes very well although the third was just fine. In case of Fountains of Silence by Ruta Septys in May, all three boxes were a winner.

Life can seem so very tenuous sometimes. But perhaps that fragility is why we treasure it so. And perhaps it is our profound love of life that makes us so terrified of losing it.

The dressmakers gift, Fiona Valpy

36. The moment of lift – Melinda Gates

A lot of us harbour envy and to an extent disgust for the uber rich. But, for the last few years I have come to believe money only accentuates your value. The right person will use money and their position to open doors for the right things. This book reinforced my faith in this thought. Melinda Gates outlines some of the lessons she has learnt through the work she has done for the Gates foundation in the years past. The main underlying lesson? Women still have an unfair card in many parts of the globe. Work towards evening out the balance and the world will be a better place. Oh and if you ever feel life is being unfair to you, give this book a read and you will realise that just with the necessities that we take for granted, we have so much to be grateful for.

Being a feminist means believing that every woman should be able to use her voice and pursue her potential, and that women and men should all work together to take down the barriers and end the biases that still hold women back.

– The moment of lift, Melinda Gates

37. The psychology of money – Morgan Housel

One of the thoughts which drew me towards financial planning was the idea of money being a rational and emotion-led subject. In this book, Housel houses (see what I did there?) a lot of the maxims I have read elsewhere in a concise 20-chapter read. My most memorable eureka moment was the way he explained compounding. Who doesn’t know about a concept we learn in secondary school. But, when he talked about how Warren Buffet really became rich and well known after decades of investing and compounding, the pieces seem to fall in place.

The premise of this book is that doing well with money has little to do with how smart you are and a lot to do with how you behave. And behaviour is hard to teach, even to really smart people.

– The psychology of money, Morgan Housel

38. Bossman – Vi Keeland

Ah, nope! The only thing I will say for this book would be a palate cleanser gone wrong.

39. The confidence code – Katy Kay and Claire Shipman

Confidence is like that elixir that you often wish could be bottled and ingested when the need so arose. This book has a well-researched and structured content about how women are lower on confidence. Most importantly, the authors give very actionable ways to increase your confidence barometer.

The newest research shows that we can literally change our brains in ways that affect our thoughts and behaviour at any age. And so, fortunately, a substantial part of the confidence code is what psychologists call volitional: our choice.

The confidence code, Katy Kay & Claire Shipman

40. The new girl – Daniel Silva

This is a book I nicked from my husband whose main fiction diet is geo thrillers like these. What I really enjoyed apart from the taut plot was the way Silva writes. There is a sense of someone witty and sarcastic writing through a bird’s eye view.

October

41. Before we were yours – Lisa Wingate

Yes, another historical fiction this time with children at its’ forefront. It is dark and dreary but considering it has its’ antecedents in true events, the book makes for a good read. I also loved the past and present swinging writing technique.

There is no denying that Magnolia Manor is more upscale than the nursing home May Crandall lives in, but both places face the same underlying challenge – how to provide dignity, care and comfort as life turns difficult corners.

– Before we were yours, Lisa Wingate

42. Lean in – Sheryl Sandberg

For years, this was the only book marked  on my Goodreads wishlist and finally it’s ticked off. Once I had read it, I also ended up reading so many critiques of the book and the ideas put forth by Sandberg. In my humble opinion, some critiques take the advise on face value to mean that there are no structural issues leading to the imbalance and in a way it is almost like victim shaming. However, I agree with a lot of the pointers I read in the book probably because it was much more action oriented which I have come to believe is the only salve.

My argument is that getting rid of these internal barriers is critical to gaining power. Others have argued that women can get to the top only when the institutional barriers are gone. This is the ultimate chicken-and-egg situation.

-Lean in, Sherly Sandberg

43. Burnt Sugar – Avni Doshi

A Booker Prize nominated book, this was a Book Club read for me which was the only reason I completed it. I have read dark books before but this one just seemed to make my mood fouler and fouler by the page. I found the writing unrefined and the book a serious struggle. The only good part was that a discussion of the book made me realise the value of a book club as the varied perspectives did make me think of it differently as well.

They do not realise that I have the ears of an owl now, that my aural reach can pick up the movement of my daughter’s breath across the city. This is what it means to be a mother. My claws are ready. I am always hunting.

Burnt Sugar, Avni Doshi

44. Beastly tales from here and there – Vikram Seth

This year I have been trying my hands at writing limericks, mostly about topical newsworthy items. This book of poetry by Vikram Seth felt so relatable to what I try to do with the limericks I write. It’s a short one but if you enjoy silly rhymes, you won’t be able to tear your eyes away.

November

45. Diamonds are forever – Ian Fleming

2020 will be remembered in my personal history as the year when I read a James Bond novel. Although it was my first, it could just be my last as well. My guess is it is just too dated a read for me and the rampant sexism caught me off guard.

46. A necessary evil – Abir Mukherjee

Oh what a find this book was. I got it as part of a big bountiful stack of books I got from my ex-boss and mentor. The book is part of the Inspector Wyndham and Surrender-not series where a British policeman and his Indian deputy solve crimes in 1920s east India. This particular book concerned itself with resolving the murder of the Prince of Sambalpur, a small province either a part of or close to Orissa. I loved the picture he painted of the era and the fantastic, witty writing style. The plot though was quite typical mystery thriller where it points to everyone except finally the real culprit.

For a few seconds he just stood there, as though he really was divine and the bullets had passed straight through him. Then blotches of bright crimson blood began to soak through the silk of his tunic and he crumpled, like a paper cup in monsoon.

– A necessary evil, Abir Mukherjee

47. Unfinished business – Anne-Marie Slaughter

As part of my attempt to better understand the way men and women experience the workplace differently, this was another book that came much highly recommended. My one takeaway was the fact that childcare is really the watershed moment when the career tracks end up diverging.

I want a society that opens the possibility for every one of us to have a fulfilling career, or simply a good job with good wages if that’s what we choose, along with a personal life that allows for the deep satisfactions of loving and caring for others.

-Unfinished business, Anne-Marie Slaughter

48. The tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

Another much acclaimed historical fiction including being mentioned by John Grisham at a session in the Tata Lit Fest. But, to be truly honest I didn’t enjoy it much. I appreciate the fact that it brought alive a true story. However, it was definitely way too mushy for me. More importantly, it is such a rich period which has been brought alive by so many novelists so well that for me this fell short even in the camp intrigue that it tried to create.

49. The CEO factory – Sudhir Sitapati

This was a book I nicked off my colleagues’ desk knowing he had got it as some award and that he really wasn’t going to read it. It was hands down one of the best Indian Business books I have read till date. Essentially, Siitapati has now been with the Indian consumer goods behemoth Hindustan Unilever in various roles for more than two decades. In this book, he presents a distilled version of the knowledge he has gained in all spheres of management and there is a lot to learn for almost anyone interested in business.

The Greek historian Herodotus said that when the Persians had to make a decision, they first made it when they were drunk and then made it again when they were sober. The decision had to be the same both times for it to be taken.

­-The CEO factory, Sudhir Sitapati

December

50. One for the money – Janet Evanovich

This is a book I had picked up many years ago but somehow dropped despite really liking the snarky narrating bounty hunter protagonist Stephanie Plum. Finally, I picked it up again and quite loved it. You know you love a book when even the trailer of the movie adaptation is enough to turn you off.

Burg Catholicism was a convenient religion. When the mind boggled, there was always God, waiting in the wings to take the rap.

One for the money, Janet Evanovich

51. Girlfriends guide – Vicki Iovine

Vicki Iovine is known for her sassy girlfriend series of books for almost every life event possible. I picked this one up. While I was laughing along initially, towards the end I sort of stopped relating to being Iovine’s girlfriend.

52. Blankets – Craig Thompson

Probably my first foray into reading a graphic novel, Blankets was at some points a shock to the senses. Thompson literally puts the graphic in this coming-of-age graphic novel. I realised that while reading a graphic novel, words are almost a support cast with visuals doing so much more work. I am glad I added a graphic novel to my list in 2020 but still unsure of how enjoyable I found the experience.

53. Divergent – Veronica Roth*

This and the last book on the list are the ones I am still in the process of finishing and hoping to polish off as we bid farewell to this weird weird year. The book was recommended by a friend when I told her I was trying to do some research on the idea of post-apocalyptic genre. The concept is quite interesting although slightly Hunger Games-que with the idea of survival forming the heart of the plot. But, I should reserve my comments considering I am still trudging along.

54. The 7 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton*

This was a book recommended by a friend and when I looked it up I was a little surprised I hadn’t encountered it earlier. As I started reading and the plot gradually unravelled, I was amazed. The storyline is shocking to say the least and you are mostly left grappling with trying to figure what is happening (in a good way). But, the writing style takes the cake. You have to be really attentive to ensure you take in all the tiny details strewn around each sentence. What more can I say when even being in the first half of the book I am gushing so much.

Her lips are tight. She’s tugging her sleeves down awkwardly. If she had a shovel, she’d dig herself an escape tunnel. The deeds of good men are not related so reluctantly and I’m already beginning to dread what she has to tell me. Even so, I cannot let this go.

-The 7 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

That was my 2020 in books although I haven’t specifically talked about a book that I read multiple times. I finally published my first novel Second Serve, a mix of romance and sports, in October this year. So far, the reviews have been very encouraging and I am hoping to use that as a push to write more books. Do check it out.

You can also read my other two years in books right here:

My year in books – 2019

My year in books – 2018

What did your 2020 look like in terms of books? Did you have a favourite read? Did you read any book from among those that I did? Let me know in the comments below.

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