Ten Books that Crashed on me Like a Tidal Wave – Its Personal

8th June, 2016

Here is how a spill from a bottle of vanilla essence ended up with me making a list of books. Yes, its personal this time.

Ten Books that Crashed over me Like a Tidal Wave

Today a bottle of vanilla essence toppled right onto the floor from my refrigerator. That is where it all began.

While cleaning the floor bathed in the scent of vanilla, I started humming random tunes which brought me to Owl City’s Vanilla Twilight. Owl City was one a constant contender in my playlists during my undergrad, but now it has been years since I listened (or even remembered) the music. Funny how one thing leads to another. At that moment I realize  that tastes change, memories dim and vanilla scent does not fade away easily. I continued wiping the sticky essence off the floor humming about a tidal wave crashing. (The title is inspired by that thought even though later I googled and realised I had mixed up words of two different songs of the band).

Meanwhile, my subconscious mind had foraged for books that have touched my inner most soul. I have lived through these, and often died a bit through these as well.

These are books that I have mostly read at a single stretch and then loved the feeling of drowning in. These are books in which I have got lost; those that have  left a piece of themselves in my heart before leading me back to reality as I closed the back cover. These are books that have crashed on me like a tidal wave.

All book covers are linked to their Goodreads pages. These are books I would recommend to you if you are someone who cares about the whole experience of reading.

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

1. RUBY by Cynthia Bond

I read Ruby a week ago sitting on my balcony during a power outage as the rains lashed outside. I talk about the lyrical prose used in the book on my Instagram blog here.  Ruby is a book I think I will always have a fear that my review would never do justice to the writing Bond has put forth.

The story in brief – Ephram is on his way to Ruby’s hut with an angel cake. To the town folks she is a mad, possessed woman; to him she is the same girl he fell in love with as a boy. As the church, people and haunted spirits try to dissuade him from the journey, read what keeps him going.

It is a book like Ruby that keeps the hope in me alive that the pen is magical and stories can touch your heart.

Warning : There is quite a bit of abuse – sexual, child and mental.

The God of small things by Arundhati Roy

2. THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS by Arundhathi Roy

“In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.That is their mystery and their magic.”

I have many fond memories about this book. It goes back to the day when I was still a small girl and woke up to the news of Arundhathi Roy winning the Booker prize. I was amazed because she was from my state and the book is set in my home town.

I later followed Roy’s interviews and some essays, agreed with some and disagreed with some; never picking up her novel for the fear that I might not connect to it. Besides I had read severe criticisms of the book by the then Chief Minister.

I read this book eighteen  years after its publication. And I loved it. It took my breath away.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

3. AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah is a book that I recommend to every person who asks me the question – “Recommend a good contemporary read”. “I have for a very long time wanted to write an unapologetic love story,” says Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “But one that is very much set in a practical world affected by things like getting a visa and paying rent.”

I loved Americanah so much that I took the afternoon off  to finish reading the book because I could not concentrate at work. From talking about how one doesn’t feel ‘black’ until one steps on the American soil to commenting on how lesser loved Michelle Obama would be if she hadn’t straightened her hair, Adichie writes it all in this book.

You can read my review of Americanah here. 

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

4. THE BASTARD OF ISTANBUL by Elif Shafak 

This book was recommended to me by a dear friend who dreams of visiting Turkey one day. I read this one evening at a park  leaning on a small hill of grass, later squinting under the lights to read more. I read till it was quite dark and the husband came looking for me, as I lost track of time and not returned home. And yes, I did stay up till one in the morning to finish the book the same day.

This one book made me a fan of Elif Shafak. It plants in you an urge to visit Turkey as well as makes you very hungry with the descriptions of Turkish delicacies. This is the story of a family on a backdrop of the scars left by the Armenian genocide and specks of mysticism.

the sense of an ending by Julian Barnes

5. THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by Julian Barnes 

“What you end up remembering isn’t always the same as what you have witnessed.”

This is a special book for me because it was a book I had kept off buying for a long time and later became one of the first I bought after having money of my own. This is the story of life and whether memory can be imperfect as time passes. Even though the read is not a philosophical one, I had a bad book hangover for days and I drifted into many deep thoughts about youth, old age, memory and relationships.

My only suggestion if you decide to read this book is to read it in one sitting. It is a very short book and the experience would not be the same if you break it up. The ending of the book says “There was unrest.” And I felt it. A churning unrest seemed to wrap me up when I closed the book.

Daytripper by Fabio moon and Gabriel Ba

6. DAYTRIPPER by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon 

Daytripper is a graphic novel. The book is absolutely fabulous- the art, the story, everything. The book asks the question “when does life begin?” Does it begin when you have your first kiss? Or when your friend betrays you? Or when you have a family of your own?

In each chapter, the protagonist dies in the end. Each chapter talks of his life based on his choices as well as unpredictable events. Deeply reminiscent of Robert Frost’s The Road not Taken,this book that makes you question yourself how different your life would have been if you had taken another turn or skipped a few lanes.

Someone at a distance by Dorothy Whipple

7. SOMEONE AT A DISTANCE by Dorothy Whipple

Whipple was a new writer for me and I decided to cautiously test the waters with this book few months back. I was blown away. Someone at a Distance is the story of the marriage of a loving couple upon the entry of a French lady who is bitter towards life.

It was heart wrenching. This is what I call a tidal wave! Whipple’s talent in capturing sorrowful emotions and the urge to not give up in front of tragedies is admirable. I immensely enjoyed this piece of writing and I highly recommend it as well.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

8. GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell

I am sure no one can forget the book that was never available at the school library when you go asking to borrow it. Many years later, my friends gifted me a copy for my birthday. The pages have fallen apart, the binding has given way; yet it  is still one of my cherished possessions.

This is the story of a nation, divided in its interests, and the story of the ruthless and beautiful Scarlett o’ Hara. When it comes to choosing bookish heroines, I like those like Scarlett who have a fire ruling in their eyes. It is amazing how she does everything to be unloved, yet makes you salute her courage and passion. I read this in a day. And it is a book I would love to re read.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

9. WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte

My favourite classic and my most re-read book.

From the first page onwards, I was transported to the moors. I could hear the haunting shrills of the wild countryside and see the darkness that ruled over days. Wuthering Heights is a love story (or is it?)  with a very disagreeable hero who is more of a mourner than a lover. What fuels this story then? You have to read and find out.

This novel was rejected several times and finally Emily paid 50 pounds to get it published. She died believing the novel was a failure, which is heart breaking.

Freedom at midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre

10. FREEDOM AT MIDNIGHT by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre

As a child, I did not dislike my History classes. But often I had teachers who ruin the experience of soaking in the past by converting it into a mundane clerical task of remembering mere dates and events. That is when this book fell into my hands.

I was enthralled by the read. This is a book that has a story and a heart. I time travelled to the times of British rule in India and the rise of leaders who toiled to find unity in the chaotic diversity of the country. I wept (literally, I did), I read and I re-lived the freedom struggle.

Let's discuss

Have you read any of these? Do you have any books that surprised you or made you cherish the experience of reading them? 

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This Post Has 74 Comments
  1. I can see we have some favourites in common: Wuthering Heights, Elif Shafak, Gone with the Wind, Americanah… Wonderful selection and makes me want to reread them.

  2. What a lovely post! I really enjoyed reading about your experiences with these novels. The tagline I gave my blog is ‘Reading – it’s personal’ because I totally agree, reading is such a personal experience, but one that is wonderful to share too 🙂

    I have the Whipple on my TBR pile – I’m really looking forward to reading it now I’ve heard how much you enjoyed it!

    1. I agree with you. Reading is such a personal experience. All these books have been great reads for me; some of them even surprised me at unexpected moments.

      I hope you will pick Whipple soon. I have heard most of her books convey deep emotions. I look forward to reading more Whipple.

  3. Thanks for this post! I’ve been meaning to read several of these, and now I have some new ideas of some other things to read.

    But I think you must be thinking of some other book re publication history of Wuthering Heights. I don’t think Emily Bronte could have paid 50 pounds to get it published, even if she wanted to. She probably never saw that much money at one time in her life.

    1. I am not sure. The first edition was published along with Agnes Grey as three volumes even though both are unrelated novels. I have no idea where I read this information about 50 pounds from. Being a fan of Wuthering Heights this is a sum I have often quoted (having read it somewhere) and now I am not able to prove its authenticity.

      However I did come across this list while googling now, http://mentalfloss.com/article/63520/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-wuthering-heights . It also mentions the sum as 50 pounds. No idea if what the internet says is true or not. Especially since 50 pounds was a huge amount back then.

      Hope you will enjoy reading some of these.

    2. I believe that she did pay £50 to have W Heights published. Am I right in remembering the sisters were left a small legacy and that this is how they used the money, or am I dreaming. … I’m not sure, but I do think she paid to have it published.

    1. All of these have touched me in some way – some made me happy, some sad and some very surprised. Hope you will be able to add a few of these from genres of your interest.

  4. Now I will get nothing done at work this afternoon as I brainstorm MY list! I’m definitely with you on GWTW. W.H. & Freedom at Midnight. GWTW will definitely be on my list–have to think on some of the other candidates. GREAT POST!

    1. I am so glad this post inspired you to put on your thinking cap. I would be looking forward to reading your list too. I loved Gone with the wind. It was an experience in itself. It was as if I was a character inside the book and the scenes were taking place right in front of my eyes.

      1. Fantastic post – thanks.
        I would add to these excellent books The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which altered the way I looked out of my windows onto the landscape for months after I’d finished it.
        My favourite of all the ones you mentioned was Wuthering Heights.

  5. This is a brilliant list! I’ve read Wuthering Heights, Gone with the Wind, and Americanah and will definitely be adding the others to my TBR list based on your recommendation 🙂

  6. It’s interesting that you have Gone With the Wind on this list; it sticks out. Another interesting thing is that I’ve never heard a single person from the United States in love with the book! People in my parents’ generation love the film, but no word on the book. I remember studying one aspect of the film in school: the mammy character. I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, but I would love to read it to look at the racial issues within.

    Also, if you like funny stuff, here is a little comic that parodies Wuthering Heights: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=322 There are two other Wuthering Heights comics. You can just Google “Kate Beaton Wuthering Heights.”

    1. Maybe an opinion on GWTW has to do with the generation? Those who have experienced it and those who have only read about it? Most of my American friends have loved this read and so do I. Thanks for the link on Wuthering heights. I had read it once on the internet and totally forgotten who it was by. Thank you!

  7. You captured perfectly my feelings about Someone at a Distance and Whipple’s way of capturing emotions. I couldn’t believe that book could have such an impact on me. Ruby is on my wishlist; I just need to buy it. I need that book in my life.
    And I also really enjoyed Wuthering Heights. I know it’s a hit or miss book for most readers especially when they compare it with Jane Eyre but I think it’s quite unfair to do so since I believe both books have nothing in common. For me at least, Wuthering Heights is not a romance at all. How could it be? or how could anybody think it is? It’s a story full of horrible people doing horrible things to each other. That’s not love. I guess most people who hate the book is because they’re expecting a great love story. Wrong. Also, the movie adaptations don’t do any justice…. they have helped romanticizing the terrible relationships in the novel. Urgggg. It makes me really annoyed. Sorry for the rant hahahaha

    1. Someone at a Distance was such a breath taking read. I still have to review it. Everytime I sit down, I dont know how to put the emotions to words. I agree about Wuthering heights. The book is about the whole experience of reading it, being on the moors with a bunch of disagreeable characters. It is not a love story, rather a love obsession. I love WH more than JE. I agree they both are vastly different in their themes. Perhaps people had this question because of gothic overtones?

      I hope you will be able to add a few books on to your TBR

  8. I’ve heard a lot of buzzings about The God of Small Things but haven’t gotten into it. Your experience does go to show that you really just have to dive into a book yourself to know if you’ll like it, even if reviews and criticisms can help along

  9. What a lovely way to come to create a book list! I haven’t read most from your list, but the Roy was really memorable and a great book. And I have that Whipple book on my shelves! 🙂 Need to read it! Also, yeah history teachers can really ruin the most fascinating topics, but that book looks great, I need to read more about India!

    1. I hope you will pick it up. It is well written. I am not a non fiction reader. And I often get bored while reading non fiction. So the ones that I have liked reading are really good ones for those who are not fans of non fiction. If you ever pick it up, let me know what you think. It would be interesting to know the opinions of someone who regularly reads non fiction.

  10. I am very, very curious to read your review of Ruby. Every time you talk about it, my interest is piqued further. Your full review may very well convince me to buy it. I’ll let you know when I do!

    Your review of American was one of the first posts I saw in your blog. It was shortly after I started blogging myself. I stumbled upon your blog and was blown away (still am) by how beautiful it looks.

    What a great and eclectic list of books, Resh. Loved how personal it was.

    1. I hope I will be able to write the thoughts in my head. You don’t even have to wait for the review. Buying Ruby cannot go wrong. Glad you found me through Americanah. I wanted Americanah to be the first review on my blog. The profile pic on the About me page has me holding Americanah because I was amazed by that book and I wanted everyone to read it. I had read it during the time I was working on the design of the blog. However the photo of the book came out really bad and I was supposed to go home for Christmas which left me with no time to re do it. So I went with another book as a start.

      It feels good to know you found me through one of my best loved reads. Hope you will find some good ones acc to your taste from this list to add to your TBR

  11. I’m saving this list. Your quick thoughts on the books appealed to me and there are a few there that I have on my TBR: Americanah, Ruby, Daytripper.

  12. I’ve yet to try Dorothy Whipple, but Someone at a Distance seems to be a favourite among quite a few of the bookish people I’m in touch with via blogs and social media. Good to see it on your list as well. The Persephone editions are gorgeous, aren’t they?

    1. Oh yes! The Persephones are gorgeous. This is my first Persephone. I hope you will pick the book soon. I loved it. It was such an emotional roller coaster ride that I closed the book a few pages before the end and waited a while before picking it up again as I was afraid of how the book will end.

  13. I loved Someone at a Distance too it is a heart-rending story. Americanah and The God of Small things were wonderful too. I have to admit to not being a massive fan of Wuthering Heights and The sense of an Ending was a so so book for me. I read Gone with the Wind in my mid teens and loved it then though I suspect I would react differently to it now.
    Fascinating list. Our favourite books are so very personal.

    1. I am so glad you feel same about Someone at a distance. It broke my heart. I have been wanting to write a review of that book, but cannot form the words I want to convey. Many readers did not like Sense of an ending much. Sometimes I wonder if my opinion of the book is a bit elated because I saved up to buy the book for a long time. Haha. I read Gone with the wind so long ago. And I would love to read it again now to see if my opinion has changed.

      Thank you. I agree, best loved reads are very personal.

    1. Daytripper is AMAZING> It makes you feel so philosophical. Especially since the protagonist dies at the end of every chapter. In each life he gains something and loses something. And in some lives he dies happy; in some unhappy.

  14. The God of Small Things was one of my English texts when I was in high school and I loved it so much! It was one of the few books that I ended up buying my own copy of after the unit was over because it affected me so much! I’ve yet to reread it but it has a proud place on my shelf!

    1. I am glad you enjoyed reading it in school. I have heard of stories where readers did not enjoy the book when it was part of their curriculum and they kept looking for points to analyze in the narrative. I am glad that wasn’t the case with you.

      It is one of my favourite reads. I hope I will get time to re read it. 🙂

  15. Great list Resh. I enjoyed reading why these books moved you. Hope there will be many more for you in the future.

  16. What a fantastic post, it’s so great to hear a bit about your experience, and so true how we all experience books and read them, see them, love them in different ways and for so many different reasons. It’s weird -and a bit shameful, I admit it- that I haven’t read Wuthering Heights yet. I’m clearly missing out!

    1. That is true Marie. I always look out for the experience of immersing myself in a book. I hope you will pick up Wuthering Heights soon. It is such a delight. Of course some people disagree. But do not read it as a love story. Read it as a story of people who hurt those they love. That makes it more relateable

  17. I LOVE Americanah wholeheartedly. It’s an amazing love story and an amazing cultural critique as well. It is one I will reread some day.

    I’ve not been interested in reading Ruby until now – your review intrigues me. I may give it a shot.

  18. Only read A Sense of an Ending, but I totally agree – I read it in two parts and I really feel like I missed out on something fundamental. Hopefully I’ll be able to re-read it soon and get the proper experience. This also once AGAIN confirms to me that I need to read Americanah. I keep putting it off for some reason!

  19. I love hearing how people met the books they love and why they love them. It reminds me of a quote which essentially meant that the books you like are like a recommendation for the person you are, something like coming to know a person through a common friend. This is a beautiful list by a beautiful you. I have read God of Small Things and Americanah and have enjoyed them. Ruby, I have been circling from a distance because I wasn’t sure I’d like it. But your enthusiasm convinces me that I must read it.

    1. Thank you. I agree. It is how they say that a library is a reflection of a person. If a person reads similar books as you you can be sure both will agree on a lot of points if not all.

      I would love it if you read Ruby. I was skeptical st first because I DO NOT like graphic details of abuse and the like in books. I picked it up because I didnt want to miss out on the prose. I was okay with the abuse scenes. Maybe because the language strikes you from the first page of the book and you just cannot stop reading. I would love to know what you think if you pick it up. 🙂

  20. I have not read any of these *hangs head in shame* although that’s probably no surprise because we seem to have rather different reading tastes. BUT STILL I KIND OF WANT TO TRY SOME NOW!! I love the sound of The Sense of Ending…and omg I didn’t know that about Wuthering Heights. THAT IS SO SAD. 🙁

    1. Haha. Of course that doesnt really matter, does it? I might have very few in common with your set of “books that crushed your soul”. Let me stop you right there. You would not enjoy Sense of an Ending. SO don’t even bother picking it up. I recommend Daytripper. You would LOVE that. Especially since the protagonist dies at the end of each chapter (Yep, I know you love characters dying). It is a graphic novel and an easy breezy read.

      And true. The story of publication of Wuthering Heights is so heart breaking.

  21. Wow, this is an amazing list of books! Thank you so much for sharing it- and the reasons behind your love for them! I haven’t heard of all of them (and I didn’t know about Emily Bronte dying thinking her book was a failure- that IS heartbreaking!), but I looked them all up and they sound absolutely phenomenal! Daytripper sounds unlike anything I’ve ever heard of, and I need to read that sooner than later for sure. These just sound so incredible, all of them!

    1. I am glad you found a few good books. Daytripper is a phenomenal book. It makes you question life and choices and makes you very philosophical too. I really enjoyed resding through. I was heart broken reading about Emily Bronte. Sometimes life is unfair and sad.

  22. I’m so impressed that you read Gone with the Wind in a single day! I’m currently about half way through it right now and it’s taking me forever. I absolutely love it, but it’s one of those stories that I feel like I need to take some time with. Anyways, this is a lovely list and I can’t wait to check out some of these titles!

    1. Haha. Thank you. That was such a long time ago, when life was care free, meals would arrive on the table by themselves and time was abundant. I dont think now I can read it in a day. Also I had seen the movie first. SO I was eager to know what all had been changed. ALOT was changed. Especially Scarlett’s babies.

  23. I love seeing “The god of small things” on this list. I have recently embarked on a journey around the World in 100 books, and it is one of my suggestions for India. Now I am sure it will be the right choice. Just now I am reading Adichies “Half of a yellow sun” and I definately think I will read more of her books. Suggestions for my list are always welcome. My blog is in Danish. Sorry

    1. Oh, how wonderful. That is a great challenge. I hope you will enjoy reading the book. I am yet to read Half of a Yellow Sun. Do pick up Adichie’s other works too. They are all fantastic.

  24. I just obtained Americanah and God of Small Things about 2 weeks ago and I am really excited to read this. Many of the titles on here are ones I hope to read at some point in this year. What a beautiful list, and I must go and add several of these to my TBR now!

    1. Thank you Aentee. I love your taste in books that recently when I got some book coupons I straightaway went and checked your Insta account. I hope you will enjoy God of small things and Americanah. Both are much loved titles for me. 🙂

  25. Books really do have the power to touch us and stay with us for a very long time, and I love that you made a list on that! It made me want to read Wuthering Heights again, because I haven’t read it since high school.

  26. Number 10. “Demain la liberté”. Read it in French ages ago. That and Midnight’s children are grand books. Especially for a frenchman born after the Partition. And number 2 by Arundhati Roy. Loved that book. And it is set in your hometown. Well well, you live in Bombay but you are not Gujrati then?
    Take care my dear.
    (And thank you for your reviews and reccomendations. So many books so little time…) 🙂

    1. Glad to know of some books that have touched your heart. I love God of small things. It is an absolute favourite. I hope you will add a few to your list of books to read.

      I stay in Mumbai,but Maharashtra is not my native state.

  27. I do so love a book you can really get lost in, and so lovely to read about another blogger’s personal favourites. Wuthering Heights would definitely be on my list too, as would The God of Small Things.

  28. Hi there! Hope you are going great. I just came across this site. I had no idea you had your own blog! That is so amazing! Also this is a very impressive list of good reads… I have read a few and I am very eager to try some more good books as and when time permits lol.. You are right actually.. reading books was easy when all we had was time on our hands and now it seems it’s the most sought after thing for me… Anyhow I would suggest you to try Shantaram. Maybe you have read it already. It’s a good one too!

    1. Thank you dear. Thank you so much for visiting and for the kind words. Thank you for the recommendation. I have thought of picking Shantaram several times. But I was scared because of its size

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