THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE
by Neil Gaiman, 2013
Neil Gaiman is a genius storyteller. I love everything I have read by him so far, and this book is no exception. A nameless man returns to his hometown to attend a funeral. He sits by a pond to reminisce about his childhood. Suddenly, details of events that happened years ago come rushing back to him. Packed with magic, monsters, and dreamlike joy, this exceptional book effortlessly carried me back to my childhood.
by Adania Shibli, 2017
(Trans. Elizabeth Jaquette)
Through two highly divergent perspectives separated by decades, this short book explores erasure and life under occupation in Palestine. The first part is set in 1949 after the Nakba, an event which resulted in the displacement of 700,000 Palestinians. It is narrated in a detached third person point of view by a nameless commander of the Israeli forces, who commits a horrific crime. In the next part, a present-day journalist becomes obsessed with this ‘minor detail’ in history, and reflects on the atrocity. I read this book very recently, for #readpalestine week.
by Alice Oseman, 2019
An ongoing LGBTQ+ young adult graphic novel and web comic series, Heartstopper is a charming and tooth-achingly sweet story about growing up, friendship, identity, love, and everything in between. There are currently five volumes available, and if I am not mistaken, the sixth one will be the final book in the series. You will breeze through the chapters. Netflix recently adapted it into a show, which is also a must-watch.
by Ali Hazelwood, 2023
It is hard for me to just pick any romance book and delve into it. I like the female protagonists to be driven and passionate like the women in my life are, and the fictional men to have emotional intelligence; they should not be abusive in the name of love. I’ve developed a recent interest in romance novels set in the world of STEM.
My quests led me to Ali Hazelwood. Though The Love Hypothesis was the first book I read by her, I have a newfound love for Love, Theoretically. I haven’t laughed this much in a while.
Elsie is a dedicated theoretical physicist and holds a PhD. When she couldn’t find a well-paying academic position, she resorts to ‘fake dating’ as a side hustle to keep her head above water. Enter her career nemesis, who is also the older brother of her favourite ‘client’. Both of her professional lives collide, her personal life is up in flames but she is not going down without a fight. To say this book is hilarious is an understatement.
DAYS AT THE MORISAKI BOOKSHOP
by Satoshi Yagisawa, 2023
(Trans. Eric Ozawa)
Heartbroken and unemployed, Takako moves into the room above her uncle’s secondhand bookshop in Tokyo. Surrendered by stacks of books and readers, she slowly opens up to new experiences, despite not being a reader herself. Days at the Morisaki Bookshop is a sincere tale about books, relationships, and falling in love with reading.
I am trying to reconnect with our Bengali literature this year. If you are too, I would like to recommend Golpo Gulo Bari Geche (Jagriti Prokashony, 2018) by Mehrin Ferdous and Birupkotha (Abosar Prokashana Sangstha, 2021) by Tanjim Rahman. Golpo Gulo Bari Geche is a stunning collection of everyday stories, while Birupkotha can be described as a modern fairytale set in a beautifully mystifying world.