Three Books I Secretly Read

I blog only about books I adore. (I wrote about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Shatter Me, although they didn’t agree with me. But, I want to believe that I was not too harsh, because I asked my furry friends to give me a hand.) So, yes, I blog only about books I adore. I gush about them, abuse nice adjectives, shove the books under your nose, and almost arm-twist you into picking up the books.

Sometimes, I read brilliant books, and for reasons that I cannot fathom, I do not write about them. I read Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter, and Jodi Picoult’s Harvesting the Heart last year. I highlighted myriad passages, I still quote them during discussions, and awarded many, many stars on Goodreads. However, I could not bring myself to gather, and pin down my thoughts. While the logic seems elusive, I thought I should not dish out that treatment to the wonderful books, which one of my friends recommended this month. I am going to try writing a couple of lines.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir:
My blog on Shatter Me made my friend recommend An Ember in the Ashes. She said she loved it, because it let her escape into an another world. I couldn’t say anything better after I read the book. The plot is compelling, the characters are memorable, the story is beautiful, and the dialogues are soulful. There is a sequel, and I look forward to reading it. It is safe to say that if one misses Harry Potter books, Tahir’s can fill the gap. Also, I want to be brave enough, and confess that I found An Ember in the Ashes deeper than Harry Potter. Ouch, did I just say that?

“You’ll never forget them, not even after years. But one day, you’ll go a whole minute without feeling the pain. Then an hour. A day. That’s all you can ask for, really.” His voice drops. “You’ll heal, I promise.”

“Fear can be good, Laia. It can keep you alive. But don’t let it control you. Don’t let it sow doubts within you. When the fear takes over, use the only thing more powerful, more indestructible to fight it: your spirit. Your heart.”

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng:
As soon as I learn that one reads, one of the first questions I pose is, “Are you on Goodreads?” I draw immense pleasure from looking at the shelves, and adding a hundred more to my TBR. When I browsed this friend’s shelf, I found quite a few interesting books. I ordered Everything I Never Told You, Room, and To Sir, With Love without paying a second thought.

Celeste’s book is a gem. It took a while for me to get warmed up to it, but after I invested enough time, I wanted to live with it. This is an important book, and I am glad I chose to read it. Almost every theme that Celeste explored is still relevant. Also, I loved, loved, loved Celeste’s writing, and her impressive eye for details.

“The things that go unsaid are often the things that eat at you — whether because you didn’t get to have your say, or because the other person never got to hear you and really wanted to.”

“It would disappear forever from her memory of Lydia, the way memories of a lost loved one always smooth and simplify themselves, shedding complexities like scales.”

Outline by Rachel Cusk:
I am grateful to friends, who recommend books like Outline. I am more grateful to friends, who recommend books like Outline, and make time to deliver “mini literature classes.” (I heart you, SM!) This novel was everything I wanted to read. The book spoke to me. Will you forgive me if I employ a cliche here? The book spoke to me… like literally. Outline is about everything that we often discuss. Love, loss, friendship, relationships, marriage, identity, values, writing, success, failure… To grasp the finer aspects, and meditate more, I want to read this book again. I also intend to read Cusk’s memoir Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation.

“What Ryan had learned from this is that your failures keep returning to you, while your successes are something you always have to convince yourself of.”

“As it happened, I was no longer interested in literature as a form of snobbery or even self-definition. I had no desire to prove that one book was better than another; in fact, if I read something I admired, I found myself increasingly disinclined to mention it at all. What I knew personally to be true had come to seem unrelated to the process of persuading others. I did not, any longer, want to persuade anyone of anything.”

“It was impossible, I said in response to his question, to give the reasons why the marriage had ended: among other things a marriage is a system of belief, a story, and though it manifests itself in things that are real enough, the impulse that drives it is ultimately mysterious. What was real, in the end, was the loss of the house, which had become the geographical location for things that had gone absent and which represented, I supposed, the hope that they might one day return. To move from the house was to declare, in a way, that we had stopped waiting.”

What kind of books do you read secretly? I would love to know. 🙂

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60 thoughts on “Three Books I Secretly Read

  1. I like the quotes and passages you highlighted here. I tend to do the same and go through friends’ Goodreads shelves to add more books to my TBR. Celeste Ng’s book is one I’d like to get. I’ve been curious about it since it was published.
    Well, these days I don’t secretly read anymore since I push myself to blog about everything I read. It’s like a reading/book journal for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like that you don’t blog about everything because you have to, but because you want to. Maybe that’s why I follow your reviews. 😛
    An honest, from-the-heart plain review is any day better than a glowing insincere one. Often, I too have been unable express myself correctly about books that have touched me. Either words fail me, or, I go over the top abusing adjectives and strewing adverbs liberally all over the place.

    … “An Ember in the Ashes” deeper than Harry Potter. You said that! Really? Well, that should be reason enough to add it to my TBR. Further, the quoted passages do seem compelling enough.

    I am giving Everything I Never Told You a miss, even though you loved, loved, loved Celeste’s writing. *rolls eyes* The passages didn’t appeal to me.

    Outline and Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation do seem intriguing. Might give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for being kind, as ever, OT. 🙂 I remember what AJ, the protagonist of ‘The Storied Life of AJ Fikry’ said. “A question I’ve thought about a great deal is why it is so much easier to write about the things we dislike/hate/acknowledge to be flawed than the things we love.”

      Please, please try ‘Everything…’ Celeste deserves your time.

      And, Cusk is awesome. To my surprise, she has written quite a few books.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I forgot to mention that I read recently (about 1 year ago!) – The Illicit Happiness of Other People – about which I am unable to express myself, except to say that it was good.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved Everything I Never Told You – very much – and, I too have not written about it on my blog (yet). I do read books I like that I don’t blog about. Sometimes my reaction is too complex, sometimes its an excellent read but I have nothing to say about it. For example, I just finished Breaking Wild but will not write about it. Couldn’t put it down, but felt maybe it had too much of a formula and a message, perhaps because this is a first novel. But very good nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wasn’t Everything I Never Told You gorgeous?! It was my favorite book for 2014.

    Oh boy, secret reading? Chick-lit or whatever term you prefer. Light, frothy, plot focused, with the focus on clothes, jewelry and high society. As evidenced recently, I can be burned by this genre because like a moth I’ll head to the flame every time!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Deepika.

    I blog about everything that I read.

    I do sometimes grapple with some of the issues that you raise here. Sometimes I have so much trouble wrapping my thoughts around a work in its entity. Thus I have difficulty writing about the book. In those cases I tend to forgoe a comprehensive post and focus on just a single aspect of the work.

    All the books that you mention here sound good. Outline seems particularly intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve picked up and carried Everything I Never Told You around a bookstore only to put it down and either pick something else or leave empty handed. I’m not sure why the hesitation! I’m going to renew my library card, so this will be on my list of books to snatch up.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You sold me with your review of An Ember in Ashes. Added to Goodreads TBR.

    I like reading (and writing) mini-reviews. They seem like less pressure than long posts. I like that you blog about what really speaks to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I read and adored the first two books you mentioned. I have read Rachel Cusk but not the book you have mentioned here. I don’t think I have a secret book…truly…I read soooo much and when I love a book I want everyone to read it and love it, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! That’s so true. We want everyone to read it. I am glad you liked ‘An Ember…’ too. I saw some mixed review on Goodreads, and I was worried that I have asked so many people to read it. ‘Outline’ was wonderful. I look forward to reading your thoughts on it.

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  9. I find that when I love a book a lot, I struggle to review it. I don’t know what the deal is but I have a few books like that still waiting to be reviewed. I want to read Outline! I love the sound of it. Thanks for talking about these books.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I absolutely loved Everything I Never Told You and will now add Outline to my reading list. Ideally, I like to write something about every book I read, but sometimes I if can’t come up with anything to say other than I liked it, I’ll just rate it on goodreads and move on.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes! I find a book hard to review when – I absolutely love it OR I abhor it (not hate, abhor). But I eventually get to the ones I love (Pride & Prejudice), and I generally skip (there are exceptions – one coming up soon) the ones I hate (and can’t find a single good thing to say).The ones that are easiest to review are the ones that I can highlight the positives and negatives; offer a balanced review and selectively recommend. But it is so unfair on the books we love. 😦

    Psst..That is high praise for An Ember in the Ashes. Noted and Added. Thank you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh don’t worry. I do that all the time – try to compare and contrast with Harry Potter, whenever I fall in love with a book. Even if I don’t mean it literally – if I compare it to the Gold standard of awesome – it is very very good. That’s quite enough to know. So don’t sweat it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is exactly why I came back to comment. I knew that if you are like me, you would worry yourself over it. So, don’t sweat it. 🙂 I read the blurb, and I loved it. Thank you for a fab recommendation. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I can’t think of anything I *secretly* read, but I have read good books that I didn’t review for no apparent reason. The most recent was MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING. It’s such an iconic book that I think I felt everything that could have been said about it already had been said and by writers who say things better than I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh that is high praise indeed! I have Ember in the Ashes and the Celeste Ng on my tbr, I will have to add Rachel Cusk as well 🙂 I do have the same struggles with perfect books and horrible books. I don’t want to criticize a horrible book too much, as so much work went into it regardless. Only exception is if there was racism and sexism and I think I need to speak out. But with erfect books it is so hard to find the right words!! 🙂 Glad you posted about these three after all!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wonderful reviews — I am so very very very behind on reviews I ought to do something like this — because it makes me sad I’m not squeeing about the books that have me swooning! Also, I really really really need to read Everything I Never Told You — I love Ng on twitter and I’m sure I’ll love her book.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great reviews! Sometimes I fond it very difficult to write about a book I loved, maybe hesitating that I won’t be able to fully describe all the ways in which they moved me. Maybe it is a matter of time and more space to think things through…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m so glad you liked Amber in the Ashes. It’s a book I plan to read this year! I do need something to fill the Harry Potter gap.

    Everything I Never Told You sounds excellent as well. Whitney put it on my radar a few weeks about. I trust both of your judgments and am confident this will be a great read!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Good question, Deepika, except once I started blogging I committed to reviewing every book I read. It does slow down my reading because my reviews can take hours to write. I understand though how hard it can be to write about books you find brilliant. I certainly fear at times that I won’t do them justice and in fact that fear can I fear (!) result in my not doing some of them justice. I get tied up in knots, try to put too much in and end up saying nothing particularly interesting BUT at least I have a record of something and that’s what I started blogging for – to make me maintain some sort of thoughtful record.

    Love that quote on the right about marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. An Ember In The Ashes has been on my To-Read List for quite a while, and now, after hearing your lovely thoughts, I’m really looking forward to read it! And, adding Everything I Never Told You and Outline as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I really loved Everything I Never Told You too 🙂 I find that sometimes the books I love the most are the hardest to describe. Sometimes a book just resonates with me for reasons I can’t articulate.

    Liked by 1 person

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