Classics, Romance And Drama- All That I Read In 2021 and 2 January Reads
I felt like I read a large no. of books in 2021 when in reality I read only 8 books (the rest 2 are January reads). I’m not upset by the number I could tick off from my ‘To-be-read’ list but honestly, just a tad bit disappointed.
Anyway, I’m glad that each of these books was worth spending extra time on them. Without further adieu, here’s the list! Let me know how many of these you’ve read or plan to read.
1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I’ve talked quite a lot about this book in my previous posts. It was a challenge and a delight to read it. I loved the complexity of the characters as well as the depth of the author woven in. The story’s pivotal character, Anna, chooses to leave her husband and position in society to become a fallen woman and have a passionate and tumultuous affair with Count Vronsky. Tolstoy brings out the complexity of our nature as humans in full force and will certainly make you question your decisions.
2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The less I say about this one, the better. I don’t think I have words to express how exquisite Oscar Wilde’s writing is. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a story of a young man who apparently sells his soul in order to forever stay young. I’m still in awe of Oscar Wilde’s writing more than the story. Yes, the story is great but his writing…muah! Every sentence is a philosophy of its own. If you haven’t read it, then this is your chance.
“Never marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired, women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.”- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
3. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
To be honest, I was quite skeptical about this. Alexander Pushkin is often said to be the founder of modern Russian literature. Eugene Onegin is one of Pushkin’s more celebrated works and has a great story as well. I was hesitant to read this since it’s in prose form and I had never done that before- reading a novel in prose. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading a novel in prose, it was refreshing and the story seemed quite close to my heart. The story is about a girl Tatiana who confesses her love for a man called Eugene Onegin and finds her heart broken instead. The story is as much about Tatiana’s transformation from being a naive country girl to a woman who becomes a society darling, as it is about Eugene’s transformation from a dandy to a man forlorn in love.
4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Continuing with my spree of Russian classics, I went on to read Dostoevsky’s most famous novel. I was quite surprised by my reaction to this particular book. Judging from the reviews and the premises of the book, I thought I’d be depressed like the majority of the population and maybe even hate it a little bit. But while reading it I was thoroughly intrigued by the character. The story begins with a University student committing murder and from there on, we follow him as he battles with his anxiety of being caught while guilt hovers over his head. The interesting thing about this book was that Dostoevsky manages to make the reader forget that the student, Roskolnikov, murdered somebody at the beginning of the book. The protagonist doesn’t let you forget the heinous crime that he committed but at the same time, doesn’t let you remember the vulgarity of the incident. We meet various other characters throughout the book, but the one that stands out is Sonya. She is the light at the end of the tunnel, even as she burns herself to be that light. She represents the redemption that Raskolnikov is seeking yet does not know till the end. At the end of the book, all I took from it was if somebody else loves you enough to not give up on you, you’d do yourself a favour by giving in to their love and believing in their love.
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Like every other romantic, Pride and Prejudice will always have a special place in my heart. This was more of a re-read for me, the first time around I had almost read it except the last few chapters. By far, it is still the most romantic and cozily happy book I’ve ever read. The story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy serves to fulfill the fantasies of millions, wherein a wealthy man of upper station defies the laws of society to marry the feisty woman he’s fallen for.
6. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
I remember feeling a bit indifferent towards this book. Not that I didn’t like it but I found the drama to be a bit dragged out. This is one of Thomas Hardy’s sunnier novels with a happy ending. It’s a good novel as it explores romantic relationships from the perspective of the passion and desires of a woman rather than just love and companionship. The story is about Bathsheba Everdeen and her relationship with three men, all of whom might have loved her in their own ways.
7. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
This was a fun and light read. I picked it up because it had great reviews in the romance section and also because I needed a respite from all the heavy reading. The book is a gender-reversal of “Pretty Woman”. The girl is a rich Econometrician and the guy is an escort. Here’s the catch though- she’s autistic. Sounds unbelievable right? But the author herself has Asperger’s syndrome. This book might seem educational also in a way since the character is on a lower spectrum of Autism and thus it’s not easy to detect, which is more common in women than you’d think. Especially when she talks about her compulsion to stick to routine, I even doubted myself to be somewhat autistic. But that’s just OCD in my case.
I wouldn’t say it’s a must-read if you haven’t but if you’re looking for something sweet and well, smutty, then I’d say go for it.
8. Neon Gods by Katee Robert
This is a January read. I wouldn’t say that I’m completely in love with this book but yes, I did like it quite a bit. Neon Gods is a modern re-telling of one of the most famous love stories in Greek mythology, Hades and Persephone. Honestly, it is a very loose retelling. Except for a few traits, the characters don’t show much resemblance to their namesake. For starters, Hades, the God of the Underworld in the actual story, is not a very likable character, except his eternal love for Persephone. He literally kidnapped Persephone and took her to the Underworld to make her his queen. They did eventually fall in love, so much so that Hades never took another wife, apparently, and theirs is a marriage considered to be of equals (can’t expect that from any other Greek God!…you hear that, Zeus?). The dude even created Elysium (heaven in Underworld) because she suggested that the good souls should be separated from the nasty ones.
However, in this book, Hades is a much nicer and softer character and Persephone runs to him of her own. Everybody to whom I recommended this book, I had to warn them that there’s a good amount of kinky fuckery going on, especially exhibitionism, so if you’re not into that, better steer clear of this one. Despite the deviation from the myth, I liked the book and think it’s an enjoyable read overall.
9. The Phantom of The Opera by Gaston Leroux
“I tore off my mask so as not to lose one of her tears… and she did not run away!…and she did not die!… She remained alive, weeping over me, weeping with me. We cried together! I have tasted all the happiness the world can offer.”- Phantom Of The Opera, Gaston Leroux
The name “Phantom of the Opera” is more synonymous with Andrew Lloyd Webber than Gaston Leroux because of the immense popularity of the musical composed by Webber. It’s a story of a masked man, who lives in the shadows of the Paris Opera House and falls in love with a young Soprano, Christine Daae. It’s a story that’ll make you wonder, are you confronting a monster or a victim? A story that’s as dark as it is heart-wrenchingly lovable.
10. Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
This is also one of my January reads. This was one of my guilty pleasures, I will not lie. Judge me all you want, but I love me some good historical romance. The plot is quite simple, Lord St. Vincent, Gabriel, is found in a compromising situation with Lady Pandora. This is the 19th century, the only possibility is for him to marry her, otherwise she’s ruined. I enjoyed reading it but I wouldn’t say this was Lisa Kleypas’s best in this genre. In case you’re crazy enough to read a historical romance, then please go for Devil in Winter by the same author. It’s my favorite in this genre!