Summer of 2021 has been quite the mixed bag for many people. On the one hand, it’s given us the chance to get out and explore more of the world as we take cautious steps outdoors again. On the other, we’ve all grown accustomed to a certain sedentary lifestyle that we’re hard-pressed to go cold turkey on. One thing that’s kept a lot of us on Team SEEMA sane is the chance to do some reading, catch up on books we’ve been meaning to for years or discovering new works by authors unheard of.
As September calls for a return to learning, here’s a guide of the SEEMA team’s summer reads that we highly recommend and really believe would be worth your while!
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering by Josh Foer: A journalist dived so deep into his story about memory that he became an expert himself. In fact, he was the 2006 U.S.A. Memory Champion. And yet, instead of getting wholly enmired in his own personal journey, Foer sticks to his remit: providing history, context and, most importantly, evidence, about human memory to help the newbie along. The book may have benefited from some tightening but, overall, “Moonwalking with Einstein,” by being both story and manual, is informative, instructive, and interesting. Worth a read. (Find it here)
Keepers of the Faith by Shaukat Ajmeri: Ajmeri takes the traditional Romeo and Juliet story and places it in the center of the two (almost) warring sects of the Bohra Muslim community. As a fictional tale, it spans the decades to provide a sweeping narrative of love with all its complexities and moral quandaries. But as a commentary on a very real rift between two groups, Ajmeri weaves an intriguing tale of drama and gives you an insight into one of recent history’s lesser-known feuds. (Find it here)
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga: Anyone who grew up or spent time in India can recognize Balram Halwai, the protagonist of this extraordinary novel by Adiga, the second-youngest writer to win the Man Booker Prize. He attempts to capture the voice of the colossal underclass as he takes you along on a journey with Halwai, a village boy who first arrives in Delhi to work as a chauffeur to a rich landlord. From there, we follow Halwai’s quest to climb the ladder as he attempts to break free from the shackles of the caste system (the “darkness”) to find freedom and triumph. To be the White Tiger, that rare species, able to escape the “darkness,” and find his way into the “light.” (Find it here)
Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian: A magical and simultaneously realistic coming-of-age story, “Gold Diggers” skewers the model minority myth to tell a hilarious and moving story about immigrant identity, community, and the underside of ambition. It’s a work of social satire and magical realism by Sathian, who draws on her experience of being raised in the U.S. by Indian immigrant parents, and is built around ambition, alchemy, and the American dream. (Find it here)
Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior: Eighty-six-year-old Veronica decides to visit Antarctica to see the penguins. As her past unfolds before us, we discover a young woman quite unlike the Veronica we see now. A feel-good read that had me smiling throughout! It’s a definite pick-me-up for someone looking for a little dose of hope (and aren’t we all right now?). (Find it here)
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune: This is a delightful contemporary fantasy that shows how love and kindness can make a real difference. Arthur’s story will resonate with everyone who has ever struggled to fit in. The characters in the book, with all their quirks, felt like family. I absolutely loved this book, and you’ll love it too if you’ve ever looked for someone to identify with. (Find it here)
The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones: Sadie Jones has a knack for creating stories that feel as tightly bound as they do insanely random, which is what this book achieves. It tells of a family celebrating a birthday, when they’re interrupted by a drove of derailed train passengers. There are horses in children’s bedrooms, ghosts of lovers past, grand destroyed feasts, love triangles, you name it! Just when you think there’s something missing, it appears in the most hilarious fashion. It’s as satisfying as it is head-scratching, and that’s a unique achievement! (Find it here)
Stories I Must Tell: The Emotional Life of an Actor by Kabir Bedi: Unlike autobiographies of actors that only mention things that are known and skip stories that people would want to know, Bedi’s memoir tells the raw, real story. “Stories I Must Tell” is a journey of an actor that provides a ringside view into Bedi’s extraordinary life. The book offers entertaining vignettes about his early days, including the time he hustled his way into interviewing The Beatles for All India Radio. But it also touches upon real things you may remember him for, like his rocky relationships with first wife Protima and the late superstar Parveen Babi. (Find it here)
Coming Out as Dalit by Yashica Dutt: In this memoir, the author narrates her struggles with her identity and poverty, while her mother works to the bone to get her the best education possible. Interspersed with insights into caste realities and B.R. Ambedkar’s influence on their people, this book was a heart-wrenching, eye-opening read that speaks of ills that are all too true. (Find it here)
Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne: An NYC socialite and an uptight lawyer clash over well… everything! This book was the perfect light romance for the summer, a yummy mix of chemistry, drama and of course, love. For all those missing the delight of catching a light rom-com in theaters in the summer, this book is the perfect reprieve. (Find it here)