Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Love to love, love to hate | 20 books that have changed me

The first time I was nominated to list 10 books that changed my life, I ignored it. I mean, how am I supposed to pick just 10 books? Each and every book I’ve ever read or left unread has changed me in some way or another.

Good books leave you with a feeling of satisfaction. Even if they dodn’t go the way you would have liked. They make you happy. You find yourself smiling when you think back to their prose years later. You often find yourself recommending them.

Bad books leave you angry. Irritated. Sometimes, you read them until the end just to give yourself the satisfaction of knowing yes, that was undoubtedly one of the worst books of all time. You find yourself scowling when you look back on them years later. You often find yourself bitching about them and often, recommending people read them so they can share your pain.

Unfortunately, there’s a thin line between love and hate, bad and good. It is all subjective, after all. What you devour may read like nails on a chalkboard for another. What you detest may be a friend’s bible!

That is why I believe that books both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ have the tendency to change you. Raving about the ones you love gives them a wider audience. It lends them the affirmation you believe they rightfully deserve. Bitching about the ones you dislike also has its advantages. Some might listen to you and get the reason they need not to risk it. But others who have read and loved them offer up some insightful arguments.

All books you've read/attempted to read serve a purpose. They may tell you things about the author. But more importantly, they teach you things about yourself. They offer you lessons on life you may not otherwise see.

Maybe the prose was too heavy or pretentious. That teaches you the importance of making points and telling stories that are simple, clear and to the point.

The plot probably had promise when it started but found itself in the same old rut that kills originality. That teaches you about ideas in life that look promising at first but materialise very differently because you are either too lazy to see them through or couldn’t, for whatever reason, follow your original vision.

Either way, books you like and dislike have the tendency to change you. But you can’t blame people for wanting to focus on the good over the bad. Let’s also not dismiss the idea of the pressure involved in revealing the texts that had an impact on you. Will I sound erudite enough? What if I sound too pretentious?

On my fourth nomination, I had a go at it on Facebook and this is the response I received.

You know you have good friends when they keep you honest. Especially if they're the ones who know each and every reading adventure you've ever had and how it influenced you even if you don't. Also, as the only person (I know of) to have ever designed and hosted a Harry Potter pub quiz in Mumbai, I think my friends may be right on that part.

So here’s the final list of books I love that changed me. Followed by, in the interest of balance, titles I disliked for various reasons, but not enough to dismiss because they've added value to my life and love of literature in some way or another.

Books I Love to Love
1. Harry Potter by JK Rowling (Are you happy now, Reshma?)
2. 1984 by George Orwell
4. Mystery Man by Colin Bateman
5. The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa
6. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
7. Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw
8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
9. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
10. French Women Don’t get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

Books I Love to Hate
1. 50 Shades of Gray by EL James
2. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
3. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
4. Bared to You by Sylvia Day
5. Snow by Orhan Pamuk
6. The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
7. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
8. Weight Loss by Upamanyu Chatterjee
9. The Alchemy of Desire by Tarun Tajpal
10. Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence – this is still part of my master-list of books that changed me because no matter how disturbed I find myself while reading it, I will from time-to-time go back to it for old times’ sake. (A rant on this book + my visit to the author’s house in Nottingham, COMING SOON).


  1. Afsha brilliant writing. Especially

    All books you've read/attempted to read serve a purpose. They may tell you things about the author. But more importantly, they teach you things about yourself. They offer you lessons on life you may not otherwise see.

    By my flurry of comments you would have guessed that I am reding your blog on the go and can't stop my self from sharing my thoughts with you.

    Would love to have a conversation about books and Realtek travels!!

    1. Hello Neha,

      Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving your thoughts :) I'm so happy to come across a fellow book blogger. I will be looking forward to reading your posts and bookmarking some interesting recommendations. Would absolutely love to have a longer, more detailed conversation about books very very soon. All the best! Many thanks and so much love.

      Keep reading!


    2. Pleasure is all mine!books and conversations excite me!

  2. I think I agree to the ones on your to hate list. It will make a lovely conversation to bitch about the books hated by both



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