There are so many good books these days and it is impossible to read all of them. It is also impossible to call one book good and the other, bad. All the books are good in one way or the other. But there are some that get more attention than others. And while they deserve the attention they get, there are books that are definitely more obscure than they really should be. Here is a list of a few books that I think need more attention than they get.
Let us start with something that isn’t very obscure, in that it has been a bestseller and has won several prizes. But I still think that not many people know about it.
Here’s a small fact:
“You are going to die”
Thus begins the book. The narrator? Death itself. Set in World War 2 Germany, the story follows the “illustrious career” of the book thief, a young girl named Liesel Meminger. As the war rages on, the world is depicted as seen through the eyes of a 9-year-old girl and then through the eyes of Death. Death always sees colours as he collects the souls of the dead. And indeed, there is a strong emphasis on colours throughout the book. The descriptions are abstract and vivid. The characters are alive.
The book slowly builds up each character, showing us the trials and tribulations faced by each, their aspirations, their hopes, joys, and sorrows, until eventually, they became as much a part of your life as they are a part of the book. It slowly builds up to the tragedy. As you read through, you are on a roller-coaster of emotions. After a while, you can see the colours yourself, too! Ever so often, Death alludes to the tragedy that was soon to come, keeping you on the edge. But, Death hasn’t the heart to recount the tragic end, and so he softens the blow. But no matter what, the ending will leave you with a bittersweet taste and a lot of food for thought. In the end, Death concludes with the following note:
Humans haunt me.
Dr.. Eugenia Cheng
This book, I am sure that not many people will have heard of. In fact, I only know about it because I bought the only copy to ever have appeared in my usual bookstore. I haven’t seen another once since.
Do you have math phobia? Do you have nightmares about your upcoming (or possibly, recently finished) math exam? Do you think that maths is a monster? Then this book is for you! Dr Cheng, a senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield, has dedicated her life to ridding the world of the fear of mathematics. She specializes in a branch of mathematics called ‘Category Theory’, which she describes as the mathematics of mathematics.
In this book, Dr Cheng has supplied a series of recipes and anecdotes, drawing witty analogies from them. She relates everything to maths and makes it familiar and comfortable. The book is arranged in such a friendly way that even the most ardent of haters can’t help but smile. And if you already love maths, then you’ll absolutely love this book. So, whether you love maths or hate it, How to Bake Pi is definitely a book worth picking up.
Another rare jewel that I haven’t seen too many copies of. This one is a nice light read, nothing you need to spend hours trying to speed-read to the finish. Just catch a couple of pages when you have the time.
Everyone has heard about it. Everyone knows the general gist of it. But what is it really? What is Murphy’s Law?
The answer to that lies in this book. From anecdotes of its framing to exact definitions to comprehensive lists of corollaries, this book has it all. Ever wondered why you run into someone you know when you’re having a bad hair day? Why you get the one bad piece out of a hundred? Why it only rains when you haven’t got your umbrella? The answer is, you’ve guessed it, Murphy’s law. There’s really not much to say about it. A fun little book to read in your downtime.
As a fan of medieval culture, I couldn’t resist picking this book up – and it was a hundred per cent worth it.
The Arthurian Legend is just that – a legend. But there are many elements of truth in it. The age of knights and gallantry and chivalry did, in fact, exist. And while we may never know if a King Arthur existed during it, we can learn about the lives of the knights and squires through this book.
Written in the classical historian format, The Age of Chivalry is a comprehensive guide to the knightly life of England. There are chapters on hierarchies, nobility, knighthood. The armour and weapons, too, get their own chapters. To reach the rank of Knight, one had to first undergo thorough grooming. In fact, the word “romance” also takes its root in the age of chivalry. The courtship, the gallantry, the honour. It makes sense that the word would be conceived here. If you are a fan of classical fantasy, this is the textbook you should have.
This last one is not so much a conventional book. It is a collection of comics written by Art Spiegelman.
Maus is the true story of Art’s father, Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of the second world war. Vladek was a Polish Jew, living in Sosnowiec when the war came to Poland. The story is a mixture of Art’s relationship with his father and his father’s narration of the events of the war. The book paints a haunting picture of the atrocities faced by the Jews at the hands of the Germans. It’s a survivor’s tale. Vladek survived Auschwitz, Dachau and everything in between, but it left a mark on him. On the other hand, Art, who never saw the war, is filled with survivor’s guilt. Both of these aspects are drawn out in the book. There is a deep, psychological setting to the story and it leaves you thinking. And although the story ends on a somewhat happy note, the journey is truly a grim painting.
The book, itself, is not very long. Something definitely worth reading if you want to learn about the holocaust in more graphic format.
So, these are some books that I think are definitely more obscure than they really should be. These books need to get more attention than they get. Click on the book name, so you can get your own copy. Have I missed anything? Do drop into the comments section below.