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The Reading List

January 12, 2016 2 Comments

The Reading List

Today I’d like to share with you 3 books I enjoyed reading in 2015, and 3 books I’m looking forward to in 2016. I always love receiving recommendations as well, so if you’d like to leave one in the comments I’d be much obliged!

3 Books I Enjoyed in 2015

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

This book was written for bibliophiles everywhere. It was truly a joy to read – I’d be happy each time I picked it up, and tried to read more slowly as I reached the end.

The story takes place on Alice Island in New England, and features A.J. Fikry, a widower and the grumpy owner of Island Books – the only book shop on Alice Island. The tale begins when his precious first-edition copy of Tamerlane by Edgar Allan Poe is stolen from his apartment above the shop, and a baby girl is left on his doorstep…

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry may have a book shop owner as its protagonist, but the story is just as much about the books themselves. I think Robert J. Wiersema’s review states it more eloquently than I ever could:

“(it’s about)…how books and stories become part of our lives, how we find ourselves within what we read, how we carry books with us – literally and figuratively – as talismans, as reminders. It is a powerful novel about the power of novels, but there is nothing outsize or metatextual about it, no cloying literary in-jokes or philosophical digressions: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a book for people who love books, who recognize a story well-told for what it is, and for the power it contains.”

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

When is this novel going to be turned into a major motion picture?! I’m calling it within the next 5 years! This book was definitely one of my favourite reads of 2015, and everyone I’ve recommended it to has raved about it as well. I wrote a mini review of it already, but I must emphasize again how much I enjoyed it.

I love that the book starts off in Toronto, I love that it features both a cool comic series and a traveling Shakespearean theatre group, I love the author’s take on a post-apocalyptic world, but most of all I love the beautiful humanity of all the characters involved.

The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob

This was quite possibly my favourite book of 2015. I started it while on my long flight and stopover to Stockholm, and finished it while on the beach in Malaga. I rarely find the time to read while I’m traveling, but I found myself picking up this book whenever I could read without feeling guilty about having my head in a book instead of sight-seeing.

The story takes place over three decades in three places – India, Albuquerque, and Seattle. It begins in the late 70s and ends in the late 90s. Told from the perspective of Amina, a first generation child of two Indian parents, this is not at all the typical immigrant’s tale you’d be expecting. Instead it’s a domestic drama about ghosts, photography, dating, mourning, real Indian food, and of course, family. I was engrossed by it because the story is funny, sad, poignant, and silly – it has ALL THE FEELINGS!! Mira Jacob is a true storyteller, and The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is one that will stay with you long after you close the book.

3 Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2016

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

I’ve heard so much about The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante that I’ve decided I have to give them a go this year. The four-part series is a “coming-of-age” story that the author describes as a single novel, released in parts so as to manage the length and duration of each book.

The major theme running through all parts in the series is friendship – specifically female friendship. This is what drew me to the series initially this year, because I’ve spent so much time reflecting on these types of relationships in my life over the past few months. I’m looking forward to reading the first part, and perhaps finding a story I can relate to. 

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Shadow of the Wind was recommended to me by one of my best friends a looooong time ago. I remember reading it in almost one sitting, and being absolutely enchanted. I’m jealous of anyone who hasn’t read it yet, and will be able to experience the magic of Barcelona’s underworld for the first time.

Now I have high hopes for “Marina”. From what I’ve read about the book so far, it looks like it also takes place in Barcelona, and also spins a macabre mystery into its plot. My dad got the hardcover for me for Christmas, so I’ll be diving in soon!

Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks

This was a recommendation from a dear friend of mine. The novel is written by Geraldine Brooks, a Wall Street Journal correspondent who spent six years covering events in the Middle East. In this book she seeks to shed light on women’s rights in Islam, essentially to understand the “women behind the veils”. From what I’ve read from the reviews, she attempts to write her story from a balanced perspective while trying to break down Western stereotypes of Islam. Although this was written in 1995, I think it will be just as relevant of a read today.

I use Goodreads to help me with my reading goals. It’s such a useful tool because it allows me to track what I’ve read and when, and also keeps my “to-read” list up to date. I find the rating system to be quite accurate, and the recommendations that the site generates for me are typically on point.

Let me know if you guys have ready any of the books I mentioned above, and what you thought of them 🙂 Happy reading!


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  • Hasina Daya January 12, 2016 at 9:25 am

    I was SO happy to see Nine Parts of Desire on your list!!! Can’t wait to hear your feedback and thoughts! Are you an e-reader or a hardcopy reader? My guess is you enjoy the paperbacks – the touch and feel of books! I have a big reading list for the year as well. I’ll let you know if I complete any that are particularly enjoyable!

    • jocelyncaithness January 18, 2016 at 10:53 am

      Hard copy books all the way 😉 but when I travel I bring my kobo. Saves me space to pack more shoes!!

      Thanks for the recommendation, I can’t wait to read it! And of course, let me know if you think of any more!

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    I'm Jocelyn: a daydreamer and fashion lover disguised as a finance professional. My head may be in the clouds, but my stilettos are firmly planted on the ground ;)

    Jocelyn Caithness

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