Summer Reads

What are you reading this summer?

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin. The deep penetration of digital technology into our lives had prompted many to prophesy the demise of paperbacks and hand-held books with the passage of time. Surprisingly though, books refuse to walk into the sunset, instead growing even more popular with the i-Generation. This is evident with the large number of bookstores dotting our city filled with youngsters crouching over a book with a cup of latte. The number of books being published has only increased over time, ironically because digital writing tools and software have made writing and reading accessible to the larger populace. “This young generation does not read!” is largely a myth, as I discovered while talking to young people in the process of putting together this list.

Summer is a great time to catch up on reading, whether you are on the sandy beaches of Goa, chilling at a resort outside the city limits, or still commuting to and fro from work by train. For those who drive, audio books are a great option. Here’s a list of some great books recommended by The Examiner readers. If you’re planning to pick up a book but can’t make up your mind, you can begin with one of these. Do let us know what you are reading by leaving us a message on our Facebook page ‘The Examiner Catholic Newsweekly’ @theexaminermumbai.

Millennium (by Ian Mortimer)

History’s greatest tour guide, Ian Mortimer, takes us on an eye-opening and expansive journey through the last millennium of human innovation. In Millennium, bestselling historian Ian Mortimer takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the last ten centuries of Western history. It is a journey into a past vividly brought to life and bursting with ideas, that pits one century against another in his quest to measure which century saw the greatest change.

We journey from a time when there was a fair chance of your village being burned to the ground by invaders — and dried human dung was a recommended cure for cancer — to a world in which explorers sailed into the unknown and civilizations came into conflict with each other on an epic scale. Here is a story of godly scientists, fearless adventurers, cold-hearted entrepreneurs, and strong-minded women — a story of discovery, invention, revolution, and cataclysmic shifts in perspective.

Millennium is a journey into the past like no other. Our understanding of human development will never be the same again, and the lessons we learn along the way are profound ones for us all.

Elsa D’Silva, Andheri

Word by Word (by Kory Stamper)

While most of us might take dictionaries for granted, the process of writing them is in fact as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography--from the agonizing decisions about what and how to define, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why small words are the most difficult to define (have you ever tried to define ‘is’?), how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. Throughout, Stamper brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a world inhabited by quirky, erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate. A sure delight for all lovers of words, Word by Word might also quietly improve readers grasp and use of the English language."

Runcil Rebello, Bhayander

Touch the Sky (by Rashmi Bansal)

The book is a compilation of stories about ordinary Indian women who have taken small but significant steps with courage and confidence, to get the wheels of change rolling. In each personal triumph lies a larger story. Of boldness, of transformation. Of women rising, to take their place in the sun. Their stories highlight the struggles of women in a patriarchal society, chained by obsolete traditions and myths. These women leave you with a sense of duty and responsibility to do your part in eliminating social evils.

Gracelyn Rodrigues, Borivali

An Unwanted Guest (by Shari Lapena)

A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up. It's winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell's Inn is so delightful! So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity--and all contact with the outside world--the guests settle in for the long haul. But then there’s one body, then another and then a third. Within the snowed-in paradise, something--or someone--is picking off the guests one by one. They can't leave, and with no cell service, there's no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly.

A not-your-typical whodunit mystery. A story that dives deep into the emotions of the human heart that set it on a chartered course. It is the story of the desire to trust, the longing for forgiveness, the complexity of friendships and the need to listen to your own instincts. A novel that teaches you that sometimes ignorance isn’t always bliss.

Kara D’Souza, Bandra

Apostle (by Tom Bissel)

The story of Twelve Apostles is the story of early Christianity: its competing versions of Jesus’s ministry, its countless schisms, and its ultimate evolution from an obscure Jewish sect to the global faith we know today in all its forms and permutations. In his quest to understand the underpinnings of the world’s largest religion, Tom Bissell embarks on a years-long pilgrimage to the apostles’ supposed tombs, traveling from Jerusalem and Rome to Turkey, Greece, Spain, France, India, and Kyrgyzstan. Along the way, Bissell uncovers the mysterious and often paradoxical lives of these twelve men and how their identities have taken shape over the course of two millennia.

Written with empathy and a rare acumen—and often extremely funny—Apostle is an intellectual, spiritual, and personal adventure fit for believers, scholars, and wanderers alike.

Debbie Portell, Missouri, USA

Sea Prayer (by Khaled Hosseini)

"Because all I can think tonight is how deep the sea,

and how vast, how indifferent.

How powerless I am to protect you from it."

I've always been a fan of Khaled Hosseini, so naturally, I had to get my hands on his latest book. With the impactful combination of neat illustrations and remarkable storytelling, this short story (written in verse) about the refugee crisis is packed with punch and emotion. It really speaks volumes about Hosseini's writing skills when he can move you and tug at your heartstrings in just a matter of a few words. Of course it makes a bigger difference when it's based off a true story. A quick read that's light on the hand but heavy on the heart. Would recommend this to people of all ages and walks of life!

Christina Fernandes, Malad (W)

Little Flowers of Pope Francis (by Rosario Carello)

In this book we are invited to encounter the courage, faith, warmth and humility of Pope Francis. There are eighty biographical stories, true stories and adventures full of humour, love, concern for others and devotion to Jesus Christ. From the light-hearted to the very deep, these tales show there is no avoiding the genius of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, worker, teacher, priest, Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires and now Pope. Jules Vernes classic Around the World in Eighty Days provided the spark for author Rosario Carello to present eighty stories about the Pope in a page-turning A to Z format. Little Flowers is a wonderful book that you can finish in one sitting. It gives you a glimpse into the down-to-earth nature of our beloved Pope.

Jenny Menezes, Goregaon

Heads You Win (by Jeffrey Archer)

Set in Russia in 1968, Alexander Karpenko is met with a tough choice. After his father is assassinated for defying the state, he and his mother hope to escape Russia. But they are confronted with an irreversible choice: should they leave for America or Great Britain? Alexander leaves this choice to the toss of a coin. In this single moment, a double twist of fate defines Alexander's future. He struggles as an immigrant to conquer the world, eventually realising that he must face the past that he left behind in Russia. This book is filled with twists that are sure to leave you spellbound. Perhaps Jeffrey Archer's best work since Kane and Abel.

Caelean Tavares, Andheri

(The book descriptions provided are not necessarily by those who have recommended them)


Fr Joshan Rodrigues is sub-editor at The Examiner