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  • Ninay Desai

Book Recommendations to Overcome a Reading Slump

We’re well into the second month of the year and if you’re like me, you have a reading target for the year. And if you’re really like me, you’re lagging behind so miserably that the whole idea is beginning to look impossible. But I’m an optimist. I usually wake up looking to turn into a new leaf almost every other day. Some people call that delusional. I call it Tuesday!

My usual reading target is 24 books in a year. I have achieved that target only once in the last five or six years which is when I began keeping a count of the books I read. Mostly, I end up reading 17-18 books in a year. Therefore, with a renewed spurt of afore-mentioned optimism with real-life data shaking its head in disbelief, my target for this calendar year is 36 books. For the mathematically-oriented, this translates to reading 3 books a month.

It's the 9th of February and I’ve read one book. So clearly, something’s got to change. I need to get out of my reading slump. And from my extensive experience of such slumps, I know that one of the important elements of achieving the requisite momentum to get out of a reading slump is to pick the right book. Something that is fast-paced or soothing (depending on what you need) but mostly, something that reads like a letter from an old friend… easy-going, fun and with bits that make you chuckle or sit up in surprise.

On a baby blue chunky knitted blanket lie an open book, three pears and a cup of tea.

I hope to stumble upon such a book recommendation but for you, dear reader, I bring a list of books I’ve read in the recent past that should help jumpstart your reading battery.


A copy of The Art of the Racing in the Rain on a cushion with a black dog lounging on a sofa. Photo by Ninay Desai.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is the story of the Swift family narrated by the half Labrador and half either Shepherd, Poodle or Terrier protagonist, Enzo. At the centre of Enzo’s life and the story is Denny Swift, an aspiring professional race car driver dealing with family and financial issues. Enzo’s perspective as narrator is what makes this novel shine.

If you’re looking for a heart-warming book about family, loss, resilience and hope, this may be just what you’re looking for.


A copy of Matt Haig's The Midnight Library lies on a midnight blue cloth with its folds catching the light, making it glisten. A string of tiny twinkly lights is strewn around the book. Photo by Ninay Desai.

Have you ever wondered how your life would’ve turned out if you’d done a few things differently? The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is a novel about the decisions we make and how every choice we are offered is both a fruit of previous choices but also a seed for future possibilities.

The Midnight Library is a charming little book to curl up with. It reminds us to value our small victories and joys in a world that glorifies the flashy.


The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams sit atop a pile of books on a round glass table. A bowl of fruits lies close by. Under the glass top of the table are small potted plants. Photo by Ninay Desai.

Between the pages of a library book lies the List– a handwritten catalogue of eight novels with no obvious similarities- written out for no one in particular just in case they need it. For reasons of their own, the protagonists, Aleisha, a teenage librarian and Mukesh, an elderly widower who has until now kept his distance from books, start reading the novels on the list, forming an unexpected bond with books and each other.


A copy of Fredrik Backman's A Man called Ove lies face down on grass. Photo by Ninay Desai.

The protagonist of A Man called Ove is a grumpy and rigid old man. He decides to end his life, seeing no point in carrying on. Ove has a plan and the tools to achieve it. That’s when a couple moving into the neighbourhood ruin his design. This book will warm the cockles of your heart while reaffirming the inescapable truth that few things are more essential than the belief that one is loved and needed.


If mysteries and thrillers are more your speed, here are a few more recommendations that will keep you engaged without getting too complicated. Remember, easy-peasy is the vibe we’re going for.


A copy of The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz lies on a grey and white checkered tablecloth. Photo by Ninay Desai.

The Plot is a novel about Jacob Finch Bonner, a struggling writer who steals a riveting plot narrated to him by a student who dies before completing his novel based on the same plot. Jacob’s book ends up becoming a blockbuster and he, a celebrated author. There is, however, one tiny fly in the ointment - someone knows his secret and is threatening to reveal it to the world. 

The writing is engaging and the narrator’s turn of phrase and ironic tone elevates the story injecting it with humour and insight while keeping you turning pages to discover the identity of the murderer in Jacob’s novel and the blackmailer in his own life.


A copy of A Death in the Himalayas by Udayan Mukherjee lies face down on a chair with striped green upholstery. A white woollen muffler is tossed casually on the chair. Photo by Ninay Desai

Set in the hilly environs of an idyllic little village in the Himalayas, this novel sets the stage early when an English activist found murdered in the nearby forest. Clare Watson is a victim with many supporters, quite a few enemies and a secret or two.

Neville Wadia, a suave, former policeman is the primary but unofficial investigator of the case. He carries the baggage of his past as do most of the suspects.


A copy of The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker on a round wrought iron coffee table. Photo by Ninay Desai.

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair is a cold case whodunnit delivered with a literary flair. It’s a novel about two authors – Harry Quebert, a celebrated senior writer who is arrested for murder, 33 years after a fifteen-year-old girl that he loved goes missing; and Marcus Goldman his protégé who, struggling with writer’s block after his successful first novel, resolves to clear his mentor’s name.

With a host of suspects, fading memories and looming deadlines, Marcus is up against many challenges. This is an absolute page-turner with lots of plot twists. Joel Dicker’s style and narrative technique make it even better by imbuing an investigative thriller plot with literary allusions, three-dimensional characterisation and social commentary without letting up on the pace.

Happy reading, folks!

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