Category Archives: Reading Recommendations

Women-centric literature: A book list #Birthdaybloghop

“And since a novel has this correspondence to real life, its values are to some extent those of real life. But it is obvious that the values of women differ very often from the values which have been made by the other sex; naturally this is so. Yet is it the masculine values that prevail. Speaking crudely, football and sport are “important”; the worship of fashion, the buying of clothes “trivial.” And these values are inevitably transferred from life to fiction. This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room.”

– Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
women-centric literature
women-centric literature

I recently compiled a list of books from my bookshelf, and the main theme that seemed to bind them all was the fact that they were either written by women or were about women in different spheres of life. Needless to say, many of these books, when they first came out, were often subject to various controversies, specifically because they also dealt with the themes of female independence, sexuality, intellectualism as well as female interrelationships.

Although these books all belong to various genres (literary fiction, nonfiction, bildungsroman, Post Colonial studies, dystopian, graphic novels, contemporary literature, etc), they have a common thread of continuity running through these. These follow women who are growing in one way or another (physically, emotionally, mentally, etc) and as such are often placed in contrast against the largely conservative and patriarchal society. All of these women are rebelling, in either a small or a big way, against the society that strives to repress them and their beings.

These are books that I have either read or am planning to read, specifically because of the subject matter. I believe that in one way or another, these can be great references when studying feminism, because like I have reiterated continually, they all deal with women and their rights, in various degrees. So, here is my book list of 25 books, including 3 special mentions, which I think every person should read.

  1. Delta of Venus by Anais Nin – A rich and exotic collection from the master of erotic writing!
  2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – The trials and tribulations of the March sisters during the American Civil War.
  3. The Ages of Lulu by Almudena Grandes – A groundbreaking novel of sexual exploration which was an overnight sensation and sparked international controversy!
  4. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde – A cyclical chronicle of the author’s coming-of-age and the different women who shaped her.
  5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – A dystopian novel that is utterly convincing in its representation of a society that does not let women read and uses them as breeders.
  6. The Loves of Faustyna by Nina Fitzpatrick – A sexual odyssey across the social and political scenario of Communist Poland.
  7. Orlando by Virginia Woolf – A love-letter to Woolf’s lover Vita Sackville-West, Orlando is a journey across three centuries.
  8. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys – A retelling of the Jane Eyre story from the eyes of the madwoman in the attic!
  9. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir – A powerful analysis of the Western notion of โ€œwoman,โ€ and a groundbreaking exploration of inequality and otherness.  
  10. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf – A feminist text that argues for the need for literal and figurative space for a woman to flourish and dedicate time to herself.
  11. The Awakening by Kate Chopin – One of the key first-wave feminist texts, that portrayed the stifling cage the institution of marriage was for one woman, who found respite in an extramarital affair.
  12. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – An intensely emotional read about a young girl suffering from mental health illness.
  13. The Color Purple by Alice Walker – An empowering story of a Black woman who faces multiple hardships, until she takes charge of her own destiny. Narrated via a series of letters.
  14. We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – A seminal nonfiction work that serves as the most basic and relevant modern reason why one should be a feminist.
  15. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel – A graphic novel that explores sexuality, literature, and the effect of shame of closeted homosexuals.
  16. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi – Often described as a Middle Eastern version of Sex and the City, Embroideries deal with female sexuality, the concept of virginity, and independence.
  17. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert – A fun read set during the years before and after the WWII, City of Girls is an exploration of one’s identity and sexuality, amidst the glamour of fashion and showgirls. Also, narrated by an old woman looking back on her life.
  18. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert – The only book in this list, written by a male author, Madame Bovary is much like The Awakening in the sense that it follows a married woman trapped in her marriage, seeking emotional fulfillment in reading, spending and ultimately in adultery.
  19. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett – One of the best-loved works in Victorian and children’s literature, it is about resilience and hope in the face of extreme hardships and sadness.
  20. Emma’s Secret (A Woman of Substance series) by Barbara Taylor Bradford – The Woman of Substance was a book that my aunt loved and heavily annotated, and as many would agree, a story of the indomitable spirit of a woman who with a mean entrepreneurial streak became the richest woman in the world.
  21. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – A reimagining of the Mahabharata from the eyes of Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandavas.
  22. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery – A book series that was a childhood favourite of many, and was again relieved via the Netflix series Anne with an E.

Special Mentions:

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  2. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  3. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
women-centric literature
women-centric literature

This post is part of #Birthdaybloghop by Vidhya Thakkar and Neelam Sharma should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. Hosts are not responsible for any infringement caused.

Delving into Audiobooks! Tips & Tricks!

Audiobooks are one heck of a way to get into reading, to be honest! I love that they make me free to do other household chores. I am often listening to audiobooks while I wash the dishes, water the plants, or take a walk. However, I do understand that audiobooks can be daunting for many of us, especially non-native speakers of English. So today, I’ll be sharing a few tips and recommendations and I hope you will all find them beneficial!

Delving into audiobooks!

Here are the 8 tips which will probably help you all, just as they helped me when I was starting with audiobooks!!

Delving Into Audiobooks!
Audiobooks: How-to Pt. 1
  • Begin with a light read – like a poetry collection, or conversely, begin with a fast-paced thriller! For me, it was the fast-paced thriller/literary fiction that did the job – Long Bright River by Liz Moore.
  • Often as a beginner, listening to an audiobook can distract you if you are doing something that requires you to be actively focused on it, as opposed to doing the job by mere muscle memory. That is why I personally recommend you to first start with doing such muscle-memory jobs while listening to audiobooks.
  • This tip is especially for non-native English speakers, myself being one such example. Obviously it is difficult to understand someone who is speaking very fast. As such, I would recommend you to perhaps start with 1x and then increase the speed as you grow comfortable. I personally have become accustomed to 2x now.
  • The way a particular narrator narrates the tale, can make it or break it for the reader. Of course, this is subjective for every reader, and so if you have perhaps heard someone say that a particular audiobook (that you have been meaning to listen to) is not really great, don’t simply give up. Check it out! On the same note, always try to listen to the sample track before buying the audiobook for the same reason. Check it out before you commit to it or before you completely push it aside.
Audiobooks: How-to Pt. 2
  • If you are struggling to get into a physical book, then try to read it while also listening to the audiobook. This is a way of active learning, so perhaps you can also do it for college/school/work readings.
  • Always try to look at it in a positive manner. If you go in, thinking you won’t enjoy listening to audiobooks, chances are, you probably won’t. So keep an open mind!
  • Do not get discouraged. Since it is your first time delving into an audiobook, chances are there might be a couple of misses before the hook clicks in!
  • Lastly, check out my Audiobook Playlist on Youtube where there are quite a few audiobooks. Moreover, Librivox.org is a good source to get audiobooks!

Here I am also sharing recommendations of fabulous audiobooks (based on my personal experience, as well as recommendations I have come across!) I hope you all fall in love with audiobooks too! Here’s to a happy journey into a new world!

Audiobook recommendations!
Audiobook recommendations!

Check out my latest blog posts: How I read 250+ books a year! , How to Ace Online University! , Why you should NOT use Linktree! etc.

How to Read 250+ books a Year!

An update of How to Read More Books?

This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links (at no cost to you, of course! ๐Ÿ™‚)

Hey guys! I’m sharing 13 tips today to help you read more books! These are tried and tested (I read 265 books in 2019 and have already finished 50 by mid-April 2020) .

  • Get a planner (Get mine: https://amzn.to/2y4CD2R )
  • Set monthly TBR goals
  • Set deadlines for each book
  • Indulge in guilty reads
  • Read books that you love; from the genre that you love
  • Keep a book with you always
  • Take part in readathons
  • Follow #bookstagram accounts that inspire you (Here’s mine, if you want to check it out: https://www.instagram.com/pretty_little_bibliophile/ )
  • Join book clubs and book discussions (Comment if you want to join mine, or alternatively, DM me in Instagram)
    • My April Book Club pick is THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead. I will be sharing my views with you in the April video. If you want to contribute, you are more than welcome to email me at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com
  • Use physical dictionaries

I hope these tips will be helpful to you all as well! Don’t forget to tag me in the Instagram tags and stories when you apply any of these!

NonFiction November Recommendations!

Nonfiction November is here and I have got some amazing nonfiction recommendations for you all! I hope you all have a blast reading these books!

nonfiction november
NonFiction November recommendations

Reading nonfiction is hard!

I feel like 2019 has gone by so fast. November is here; half of it is already gone and it is only now that I am making the #nonfictionnovember recommendations post! I know from personal experience that reading this genre can be quite intimidating for some of us. But for those of you who read non-fiction very often, I applaud you!

How to ease into this genre

Since easing into this genre may take some getting used to for many of us, I decided to compile a list of some non-fiction reads, which do not really read as such. So without further ado, here are some books I have read and some that are on my radar!

Craft!

Embroidered Life: The Art of Sarah K. Benning โ€“ a splendidly created coffee table book, Embroidered Life follows the work process of Benning. Benning is a self-taught embroidery artist nad this book is a wonderful book to leaf through. If you are looking for something creative to pick up to while the harsh winter months away, this might just be the book for you. I for one, am currently working on an embroidery project of my own, which I hope to complete and show you all soon! (Goodreads)

Sci-fi!

Lost Transmissions: Science Fiction and Fantasyโ€™s Untold, Underground and Forgotten History โ€“ a book which I am absolutely thrilled to pick this month is this insightful behemoth. It is rightly regarded as the bible of science fiction and fantasyโ€™s most interesting and least-known chapters. ย  I have very high hopes for this mixture of essays, interviews, and stunning visuals! (Goodreads)

Memoirs!

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body โ€“ Roxane Gayโ€™s searingly honest memoir of food, weight, and self-image has been described as being intimate, vulnerable, and bracingly candour. Having read excerpts of Bad Feminist, I am pretty excited to see how this much-acclaimed memoir will be for me. (Goodreads)

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft โ€“ Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft. I decided that no matter what I write could trump this brilliant description of the Kingโ€™s book. I have yet to read any of his books so I think I will change that situation by picking up this one. (Goodreads)

Iโ€™m Not Here to Give a Speech โ€“ Garcia Marquez is already a much well-acclaimed author. And I think it is an ironically named book! This is his collection of speeches span from his high school days to his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize. If you have not yet read any of Marquezโ€™s words, perhaps this could be great for you to start with. (Goodreads)

Important works!

City of my Heart โ€“ a 4 star read for me, this book is a translation of four texts that talk about Dilli (or Delhi, as it is now known), following the downfall and the fate of royalty following the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, with the capture of Bahadur Shah Zafar. (Goodreads)

I am Malala and We Are Displaced โ€“ Malala is the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the fact that I have yet to read her books, meant I just had to get to them this month. Both of these two books are a conglomerate of the global issues of terrorism, the utter destruction it causes to the innocents of lives all around, immigration crisis, etc. It also speaks of the displacement issue that crops up with it,  war, the refugee situation, border conflict, etc.

Feminist works!

Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More and Live Bolder โ€“ a 5 star read that Iโ€™d recommend to all! It was a fundamental and impactful read that I loved. It talks about the unexplainable need for perfectionism (which is prevalent in all of us), albeit a bit more obsessively in girls. Please pick up this book! It would be a shame if we fail to read it and realize the way most of us limit ourselves. (Goodreads)

Feminist Rani โ€“ Can I brag that I have already met the author and got this signed? Shamefully, I havenโ€™t read it yet! Perhaps there is no better time than this November! It shares the stories of 15 women – women who have strived to fight for their own rights to stand as equals to men. They talk of issues such as identity, the need for the realization of selfhood, etc. (Goodreads)

A few other recommendations!

Some other books I could recommend are Becoming (I personally think all schools should make this a compulsory read), Soliloquy of a Small-town Uncivil Servant, Girl Power, Between You And Me, etc. You can also check out Can You Die of a Broken Heart?, Kashmirโ€™s Untold Story, The Case that Shook the Empire, The Intelligence Trap, etc.

Please donโ€™t forget to comment below and recommend the nonfiction books that you have read as well.

Book Recommendations for Fatherโ€™s Day!

So tomorrow’s Father’s Day and I had compiled a list of books I could possibly gift him. I know it’s last minute, but here they are! (This article also got published in my State’s daily The Assam Tribune and my dad was very happy!)

I am not ashamed to say that no man I ever met was my fatherโ€™s equal, and I never loved any other man as much. โ€“ Hedy Lamarr

Now that Fatherโ€™s Day is just around the corner, I was wondering what book to give my dad (I honestly, personally, only give books as gifts to people). And so I thought why not compile a list to help you all as well. Very often we take our main man for granted and I know there are many people who say that we should love each other every day as opposed to showing it on special days only. Nevertheless, to be honest, even I do not show my love and gratitude everyday โ€“ human nature is fickle, and I am no exception. Therefore, without further ado, here is a list of books that I think would go well with our heroes.

Non-fiction

Can You Die of a Broken Heart? by Dr Nikki Stamp

I know it sounds sordid but this is one of the books I shall be gifting to mine. So very often, our fathers stress and work so much, they hardly give themselves time. Self-love sessions are rare in their schedules. So this book, which is focused on the human heart โ€“ what causes it harm and what heals it, sounds like the perfect one to gift.

Between You and Me: Flight to Societal Moksha by Atul Khanna

This book is a very nagging read and provides an insight into the political, social, educational, economic etc. spheres in todayโ€™s world. Whether you agree with the writerโ€™s views or not, this is sure to spark questions and subsequent discussions.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

This book was  actually recommended to me by my grandfather and since he loved it and I enjoyed it too, I recommend this to you all as well. This is a wonderful read, full of stories from history regarding religion, culture, society etc.

Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani

This is a book about women, but it is definitely a must-read for everyone. It speaks of the need that no many women have to be perfect and this prevents them from really succeeding or affects their self-esteem. I thought this was a great read and definitely recommend it to you all. Moreover, if you know any new dads, this is a definite recommendation for them as well. I think that basically all fathers with daughters should read this one.

Chicken… made simple by Love Food, an imprint of Paragon Books

If you dad is anything like mine, he will probably love this book. There are also various other cookbooks you can possibly gift your chef of a dad, but I personally have used and loved this one.

Fiction

Fortune’s Soldier by Alex Rutherford

Adventure set in Colonial India? Check. Some great bromance? Check. A quest for power? Check! Fortuneโ€™s Soldier is a great read following the events leading up to the British victory at Plassey โ€“ the prelude to a couple centuries of British rule in India.

The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne

A murder mystery in the mountains with a professor running against time sounds interesting. Add to that a possible variable of a grizzly gone rogue and computational biology. The Naturalist is a gripping mystery thriller that is bound to keep your old man interested from the beginning till the end.

The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer

If your father is a Dan Brown fan, or if you think he will enjoy that author, you might opt to pick up The Book of Fate too. It has a very Dan Brown vibe and  is also already a bestseller. Moreover, if you father loves conspiracies, how does the element of the Masons included in this book, sound?

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

A witty and darkly humourous journey of a man in new India is a must-read for everyone. It is funny, but so dark and I personally rather found it inspiring at parts. Nonetheless, it is an enjoyable read with just the right amount of stark reality carved in.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

It is never too late to start with Murakami. Norwegian Wood is pretty short so it might be a good place to start with and to understand if you want to continue with Murakami or not.

The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature.  Antoine- Francois Prevost

How to read more books? Or How I have read 100 books so far into the year!

Itโ€™s only August, and I have already read a record 100 books! Which is way more than I have ever read in one year. I have always been an avid reader and reading was never boring to me; Iโ€™d rather read than watch YouTube/Netflix- something that still stands. Unless, of course, it has a certain Peter Kavinsky in it ๐Ÿ˜‰ (I mean, that is one beautiful man! Have you seen the movie yet?)

So anyway, like I have been saying, this year has been a phenomenal reading year for me. And I can only hope that this streak continues. So without further ado, let me state a few points which I have personally used this year and they have helped me immensely in setting this record.

  1. Since you might feel that to read a novel, you need more time, I would definitely advise to get a planner. What it does, is helps you prioritize the things you need to do or have to do, and sheds light on the time you waste as well. I personally keep a bullet journal and that has helped me immensely in organizing my day to day activities and as such I find myself with enough free time on my hands.
  2. Set monthly TBR goals! (TBR stands for To Be Read.) So I try to set a goal of 10 books each month- when I think that itโ€™s a busy month, or else I set a minimum of 20 books per month.But you also have to keep in account, the size of the book- donโ€™t be disheartened if you read, say perhaps, just 5 thick books. The size or the number of words/pages really matter as well. I read books with a minimum of 300 pages each mostly, so I can easily cross 15 every month, unless Iโ€™ve got exams or such school activities. Setting a goal always helps!
    1. Now one thing that always works for me is to set higher goals that I think I can achieve. Itโ€™s something like the saying goes- aim for the moon and youโ€™ll fall on the stars (?). Something like that I suppose. Now this ideology really helps me- because I am a naturally competitive person with myself- I always am aiming to do better than what I have done previously. So if I set the goal at 20, and I only reach 15, thatโ€™s a pretty good number too! However, the catch-22 here is that this can also affect someone else in a completely opposite manner. So I definitely recommend you try this one out once and go on from there. This sub point is so not for everyone.
  3. Set deadlines for each book. Setting deadlines just as goals, really help too. While I have specific deadlines for the books, I sometimes fly past them- I am a university student after all, and I have to give more importance to my course books, of course. Nonetheless, it really helps me to finish the books I want to. My deadlines vary as such- 150-200 pages โ€“ maximum of 2 days; 250-350 pages โ€“ maximum of 3 days; 400-500+ pages โ€“ maximum of 5 days.
  4. Indulge in guilty-reads! Sometimes, when I can feel the ominous onset of a reading slump, I go back to my guilty-reads. Guilty reads can be described as those books that you really love- but would not call them something serious, rather something light and for mindless fun. For me, the guilty reads are all the vintage Mills and Boon books. (How many of you have also loved them?)
    1. Going on the same vain, do read books that you actually love. Donโ€™t force yourself to read something you hate (unless you have to, for school! ;)) If you keep on forcing yourself to read books you hate, your brain will condition you into hating the process of reading itself!
  5. The most important tip perhaps is to keep a book with you always– an eBook for when you go out but are not carrying anything except your wallet and phone perhaps, and an actual paperback copy for when you have a bag big enough to fit it in. Then, you can also read whenever you want. If you are a person who prefers to read a single book at a time, then make sure you also have an eBook of the same.
  6. For inspiration, take part in readathons– something I actively do and also host in my Instagram book account, aka a bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile). On the same vein, follow a few bookstagram profiles that can help inspire you.
  7. Join book discussions. This will condition your mind into looking forward to these sessions, as a result of which, you will actually finish reading the book.
    1. Also join book clubs! (Feel free to join mine!)
  8. If you think you need help while reading, regarding the word meanings, keep an actual dictionary with you, rather than using your phone. This will ensure that you wonโ€™t stray and end up watching a YouTube video or two.
  9. Always have a set space for your reading/studying. This goes for both active and passive reading. Continuously indulging in this, will condition your mind to just read/study in that place. I have my desk where, I automatically start working, because thatโ€™s the place where I have always read and studied, and the like.
  10. A bonus tip- if you really find difficulty in reading while there is a lot of noise in the background, you might like having some white noise (This goes even when you are studying.) I use the Tide app or Rainy Mood website to block out any unnecessary noise!

You can reach me at my email, nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com

Lots of love,

Nika!