15 Books That Stole My Heart In 2015

Because some books are more special than others. Here are 15 books that went the extra length for me in the previous year.

Red Queen

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

What is the book about? 
The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…

What I liked in this book?
Despite it’s gorgeous cover and twisted back story, I am always a bit skeptical about books that based on fantasy. (Mainly because after reading ASOIAF and the HP series, my standards are very high) Though there are no comparisons to those two series, I really enjoyed reading this book. From some really nice characters to a strong plot line, this book was indeed one of the surprise hits of this year.  I eagerly anticipate the next book in this series.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

What is the book about?
When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

What I liked in this book?
Every once in a while, I’m fortunate enough to come across a novel whose characters embed themselves into my heart so that when their hearts break, mine does; when their hearts soar, mine follows. “A Little Life” is one such novel and is anything but little. It is a momentous story about 4 college friends who go on to graduate and become what we would think of as successful adults. The story centres on Jude St. Francis, a man so tormented by his past that he is unable to divulge his violent and shameful history to his friends for fear of losing them. And so he suffers for much of the story in silence and through flashbacks we are given glimpses into his horrific earlier years. Yanagihara is magnificent as she transports the reader through beauty and brutality; often leading us down dark and evil paths while gently lolling us back to what is good; what is hopeful; what can be, even after what has been. This narrative will make you feel uncomfortable – it will get under your skin and leave you with a perspective of humanity that is shocking and terribly sad and a knowledge that sometimes even those who love us unconditionally, cannot save us. This is a beautiful book and I cannot recommend this book more. Though I am heartbroken in the end, I am going to read it all over again, because even if they are painfully sad, such stories change your lives forever.

orphan train

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

What is the book about?
Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse…
As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

What I liked in this book?
This is a beautifully written book, that I would recommend it to anyone without any doubts. If you love historical fiction, authentically written characters, and a great story, Orphan Train is the one to read because it manages to strike all the right chords. This book brings together two generations who have their own set of bad and good memories. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a part of history I wasn’t aware of,  with the added bonus of Ms. Kline’s incredible writing style.

Goth

Goth by Otsuichi, Kendi Oiwa (Illustrator)

What is the book about?
A notebook that leads to murder – a refrigerator filled with hands… a pit of dead dogs… an accidental suicide… a boy buried alive – and where two teenagers linked by an obsession with murder and torture explore the recesses of humanity’s dark side.

What I liked in this book?
I have never read goth books before and this one really sucked me in. But be warned, the theme for this book is very dark, as it includes elements like suicide, murder, gore, and guilt. That being said, I recommend that anyone who has the best capability to read and digest the manga world’s most mind boggling horror story, must read this book. It will leave you wondering why there isn’t a second book out yet, though this one truly managed to creep me out successfully.

room

Room by Emma Donoghue

What is the book about?
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

What I liked in this book? 
An amazing and heart-wrenching story of love and survival, Room provided me with a unique perspective from the point of view of a child, making it a highly recommended book. Donoghue goes the distance with this novel, that can can be read through myriad lenses be it psychological, sociological, or political. It presents an utterly different outlook about love,  while at the same time providing a fresh and expansive vision about the world in which we live. Beautifully narrated and written, Room definitely made a lot of room for itself, in my heart and mind.

colorless

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
What is the book about?
The remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages.

What I liked in this book?
Murakami does not write for everyone, but if you are a fan of his works, then do not miss this book under any circumstances. I have always maintained that Murakami is an artist of seduction when it comes to themes of alienation and dislocation. And this book takes you on a really spectacular journey of finding yourself, with a completely amazing conclusion. The writing in this book is truly sublime. This book was a total pleasure to read, right from the beginning to end. I have said it before and I say it again, Murakami is a master story teller and I continue to treasure his work.

city of djinns

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple, Olivia Fraser

What is the book about?
Sparkling with irrepressible wit, City of Djinns peels back the layers of Delhi’s centuries-old history, revealing an extraordinary array of characters along the way-from eunuchs to descendants of great Moguls. With refreshingly open-minded curiosity, William Dalrymple explores the seven “dead” cities of Delhi as well as the eighth city-today’s Delhi. Underlying his quest is the legend of the djinns, fire-formed spirits that are said to assure the city’s Phoenix-like regeneration no matter how many times it is destroyed. Entertaining, fascinating, and informative, City of Djinns is an irresistible blend of research and adventure.

What I liked in this book?
Out of all the non-fiction books that I read this year, City of Djinns has managed to really captivate me. As a person who has stayed in Delhi for a long time, taking a journey into the history of the place that I call home was extremely unique and interesting. For Dalrymple, Delhi is a city of accumulated losses, haunted by its innumerable fallen rulers, the locus of empires that have been lost and – though not actively remembered – not quite forgotten either. Based on in-depth research, this book blew my mind because this book gave me a new insight about the city I literally grew up in. I would recommend this book to all travel enthusiast and a history buffs. Thank you Dalrymple for helping me to know my Dilli better.

Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir

What is the book about?
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.
As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.
Grounded in real, present-day science from the first page to the last, yet propelled by a brilliantly ingenious plot that surprises the reader again and again, The Martian is a truly remarkable thriller: an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel that manages to read like a real-life survival tale.

What I liked in this book?

This book has already got a lot of rave reviews. Plus now it has also been made into movie starring Matt Damon. Highly recommended for all people who love science fiction, because despite being based on a single character, namely astronaut Mark Watney, this book will keep you turning each page, right till the end.

park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 

What is the book about?

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

What I liked in this book? 

If you’ve experienced that first love – that heart-wringing, soul-squeezing, crush-the-air-out-of-your-lungs-whenever-you’re-apart first love – then this book is definitely for you.
I love this book. I love its vibrancy and its warmth, its heartache and its pain, its humor, its meanness, the ugliness, the beauty, the crying, the laughter, the sarcasm. I love Eleanor and I love Park, and I love that there’s still a tiny chance for them…and for everyone whose first love was torn away. Even if you are never destined to meet again, they change you in ways that no one else will ever know or understand. They will always, always hold that little piece of your heart that no one else will ever be able to touch. A book that deserves a special place in your bookshelf, Eleanor and Park ticks all the right buttons for a book that is destined to steal your heart.

purple

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

What is the book about?
The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.
Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence.

What I liked in this book?
What a spectacular book! No wonder it has over the years received so many rave reviews. This book has long been on my to be read list and I finally managed to read it, during the last year. While most books tend to wrap you and take you away to a faraway world, this book is not one of them. This book rips away all your emotions and leaves you bare and vulnerable. Walker’s words are music. Sometimes a sweet melody, but mostly a cacophony of pain and sorrow. But this book deserves to be read because sometimes you need to open your eyes to see the world in a different light. And that is what this book does. Whatever genre of book you prefer, this book does not have any category, because some books should be read by everyone.

girl

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

What is the book about?
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

What I liked in this book?
Thrilling and queer, this is one book that does not allow you the luxury to even breathe. It fills one with a fear. Because it brings to light, the kind of world that we are leaving for the future generation. The inevitable. A zombie book that is anything but that, the author takes all your ideas and expectations, dumps it in chilling waters and creates a tale that is as breathtaking and beautiful as it is intense and terrifying. While the ending was a bit of a let down, because it did not offer much closure, it deserves a read especially from those who love a spooky element in their books.

wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Raquel Jaramillo

What is the book about?
You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside.
But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.
Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?
Narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he touches forever, Wonder is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

What I liked in this book?
Oh God, what a wonderful book! I don’t read a lot of realistic middle grade fiction  as I tend to gravitate more toward fantasy. But this is probably one of the best book, that I have ever read in my life. An upbeat, humorous, life-affirming story that deserves to be read, it really puts a lot of things like family, love and loyalty into perspective. I recommend this book to everyone, because sometimes children can show us the true meaning of life.

dragons

A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

What is the book about?
In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance — beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.
Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’s claim to Westeros forever. Meanwhile, to the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone — a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.
From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.

What I liked in this book?
Do I really need to say why? For all those who have still not started reading ASOIAF, please start today. Such series do not come come along very often and you need to read them at least once during your lifetime. Also GRRM, please can we get onto The Winds of Winter please? The wait is killing me.

forty

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak 

What is the book about?
In this lyrical, exuberant follow-up to her 2007 novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, acclaimed Turkish author Elif Shafak unfolds two tantalizing parallel narratives—one contemporary and the other set in the thirteenth century, when Rumi encountered his spiritual mentor, the whirling dervish known as Shams of Tabriz—that together incarnate the poet’s timeless message of love.
Ella Rubenstein is forty years old and unhappily married when she takes a job as a reader for a literary agent. Her first assignment is to read and report on Sweet Blasphemy, a novel written by a man named Aziz Zahara. Ella is mesmerized by his tale of Shams’s search for Rumi and the dervish’s role in transforming the successful but unhappy cleric into a committed mystic, passionate poet, and advocate of love. She is also taken with Shams’s lessons, or rules, that offer insight into an ancient philosophy based on the unity of all people and religions, and the presence of love in each and every one of us. As she reads on, she realizes that Rumi’s story mir­rors her own and that Zahara—like Shams—has come to set her free.

What I liked in this book?
I really liked the novel and most of it is because of Shams of Tabriz, who is popularly known as the instructor of Rumi. From his rules of love to his strong personality to his love and belief on God, everything about this character was mesmerising.The Forty Rules of Love takes Sufism into blockbuster territory and does so exceptionally well. Written in a fluid and elegant manner, this book gave me new perspective on life, relationships and religion.

wild

Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed

What is the book about?
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

What I liked in this book? 
Wild is a beautifully descriptive story about loss, pain, nearly giving up, and pushing on. A woman finding her way, despite everything that has happened in her life. I loved every moment of this book and I am just blown away by the author’s audacity and courage. I will probably never be able to go three months in the wild, but I sure loved the fact that I could live at least a part of it, through this book. It has a movie version as well, for those who are interested.