Book reviews: We Were Liars and A Man Called Ove

Have you ever wondered about reading challenges? Goodreads, for one, has been something I have followed for the last 5 years. And mostly, I stick to the challenge target. I started with 12 books a year and read 15, went to 25 books and read 30 etc. I gave a conservative estimate of 25 books for 2016 too, but I guess America and Brexit were not the only things that were happening this year. So, while the calendar months crawled by, I fell behind on my reading and hardly read any book for the first 6 months. I was in Bengaluru then. In June I moved to Delhi. I had friends but I also had a house and my bookshelf with me. So, here I am trying to make up for all the books I did not read.

In the last one month I have finished ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara (read my review of the fabulous, serious mind-blowing, book here), We Were Liars by E Lockhart, Part 1 of Maus (a graphic novel which has a part 2, that I am going to read today), Tales from Beedle the Bard (from the Harry Potter universe, of course) and A Man Called Ove (by Fredrik Backman). Not bad for a month which involved me working 10 hours a day, and working out/ training/ running a half marathon and hosting friends who were visiting from other cities.

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We Were Liars is a Yong Adult (YA) fiction that came out in 2014. Simple book, not sophisticated writing. It speaks of the Liars – a group of kids/ teens born into a wealthy family of perfect blonde white hair, rosy cheeks and all that. But all that looks perfect is hardly ever so. And the family is torn apart by many a thing. And while the protagonist tries to recover from a memory loss of an accident, the liars seems to drift further apart. There is, obviously a twist at the end. Which makes the book, quite fun and readable. Even if for only once.

A man called Ove on the other hand is simple and heart-warming. It has no pleasant or unpleasant surprises lurking around. Which suits me fine, from time to time. It speaks of old man Ove, a widower and a cranky one at that. Ove likes to live according to a schedule – wake up, check if everything is fine on his street, fight with some people who drive cars in the no-car-zone – that kind. His wife’s death leaves him unprepared to go on with his life and therefore he methodically plans out to end his life and join his wife in the other world. Except that he has new neighbours. And when the neighbours come into his life, it takes a few turns. Why did I like this 200 odd page book? Because it shows you that life is not about trying to find amazing moments to cherish, or feats to accomplish and brag about, or even hundreds of friends to celebrate with. A few do just as well, and as long as you are happy, and you touch someone’s life – it will always come back to you. Simple yet good. Perfect for let’s-countdown-to-Christmas month.

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Both the books are available on Kindle as well as in paperback format. These are quick reads – will probably take 3-4 days for an average reader to go through. And once you are done with them, you can always put to rest the idea that books must be written in a complex, grown-uppish manner for it to be called a good read.

Goodreads count: 15 (out of 25).

Time left: 1 month.

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