Some Books Recommended to You by Strangers


R E C O M M E N D A T I O N – B O O K 


Tanzina Tabassum Nova, Tasnia Shahrin


Picking one book as a favourite is almost an impossible task for readers, hence, knowing a person’s favourite book gives us a way to bond with them by understanding their reading perception. It also tells us much about that book as it creates a lasting impact to become so close to their heart. We thought in this cruel pandemic, connecting to a bunch of strangers through knowing their perceptions about a specific book might be a fun practice. Hence, this is what happened when we asked few Bangladeshi readers about their favourite books of all time.

Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

Recommended by: Adrita Zaima

The writer’s presentation of the protagonist, Isabel Archer, is the main reason that the book is so close to Adrita’s heart. She comments,

“Her character is a maze of complexities, made of layers upon layers of minute psychological details. She is a paradox personified — strong in will yet not decisive, hard in emotions and manner yet melting at the tiniest of instigations from her lover. Isabel’s resolve in making her own decisions about everything she does and is, even at the consequence of an injury to herself, hit me at a very personal level.”

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Recommended by: Rabab Rayan

The Diary of a Young Girl is a compilation of the writings from the diary kept by Anne Frank while she was in hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

Rabab shares that this book got him into reading after a long time. Through this book, he also became interested in holocaust, bunkers, and the cruelties of the World War.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel   

Recommended by: Koushin Unber

One of the very few books that are better read AFTER watching the film because it lets you realise how much more the power of words can let you imagine and conceptualise than pixels on a screen can. In the guise of a Lord-of-the-Flies-esque survival story, Life of Pi juxtaposes the need to believe in a deity within the primitive necessity of survival.”

Koushin shares.

According to her, the lack of over-the-top mythical elements help her connect more to the story, since the story is so connected to the earth as we see it. She also thinks that following piscine Patel, the protagonist, on his journey will leave the readers puzzled yet mystified.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 

Recommended by: Fatin Hamama

Fatin describes the entirety of this book as:

“A physical manifestation of the term Bittersweet Nostalgia, even when nothing significant is taking place at a particular point.”

She also finds the book’s realistic exploration of the themes of love, friendship, and especially family dynamics adorable. She comments,

“The characters aren’t trying to be anything other than an ACTUAL embodiment of regular teens hurtling through life like comets as events become moments and moments become memories and memories become the possibility of stories in the far future when they’re done living a long, good life. I also love how strong and energetic the representation of mental health issues is in this book even though the author NEVER mentions it DIRECTLY and rather lets the readers figure it out through the stark subtlety of the descriptions.”

Overall, she emphasises that everyone should read this book at least in their early 20s.

Chowringhee by Sankar

recommended by Tanzina Tabassum Nova

Following a sudden turn of events, the narrator, Sankar, gets a job as a receptionist in the renowned Kolkata hotel, the Shahjahan. The novel is a portrayal of life through the eyes of this receptionist. All the major and minor characters have some stories of their own, all of which are connected through the hotel Shahjahan.

“This is one of those books that you want to hug tight after you finish reading, that’s how good it is. The way the lives around the hotel are described through the eyes of a receptionist, is really fascinating. Characters like Marco Polo, Nityahari Babu, Karabi, Sujata have become so close to me through the story. One special character that I want to mention is Sata Bose, I am not going to forget this man anytime soon.”

– Tanzina shares.

She also mentions timelessness as another notable feature of the novel. According to her, in its language, events, characterisation, and everything else, Chowringhee stands as a timeless classic.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Recommended by: Tasnia Shahrin

Invisible Cities is a thought provoking piece of urban literature which is framed as a conversation between the aging emperor Kublai Khan and Marco Polo. The majority of the book consists of brief prose poems describing 55 fictitious cities that are narrated by Polo. The cities are divided into eleven thematic groups of five each: Cities & Memory; Cities & Desire; Cities & Signs; Thin Cities; Trading Cities; Cities & Eyes; Cities & Names; Cities & the Dead; Cities & the Sky; Continuous Cities; Hidden Cities.

 “What makes this book so close to my heart is that these cities can be read as parables or meditations on culture, language, time, memory, death, or the general nature of human experience.”

says Tasnia. She also adds by saying,

This book exposes a reader to a series of visual, theoretical, and mathematical illustrations. That’s why I chose to devote two entire semesters to study it and write my undergraduate thesis on it.”

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Recommended by: Fahin Rahman Aungkita

The Kite Runner is a wonderful and emotionally moving novel set in Afghanistan, and it narrates the heartbreaking story of a young boy named Amir and his friend Hassan. There is much death and horror in this portrait of a tortured country. In addition, there is emotional richness, and a look into the inner life.

Fahin describes her experience with this book as,

I read this book quite a long time ago when I hadn’t been exposed to the concept of flawed protagonists as much. And there’s something tragically beautiful about the way Hosseini describes tragedy.”

She also adds,

It’s been real long and no matter how many books I read, even Hosseini’s next which was just as heart wrenching, this one stayed with me and is as vivid in my head as it used to be the first time I read it and cried over it.”

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Recommended by: Tasmim Kheya

Gaiman’s works are considered masterpieces all throughout the globe and Coraline is no exception. Tasmim describes this books as,

“The whimsical aspects paired with horror elements make it an ultimate comfort read for me. It reminds me that sometimes life is scary, but you can still be brave even if you’re afraid.”

Geometry of Quantum Theory by V. S. Varadarajan

Recommended by Lamia Karim

This book made me realise that life is hard. And my brain is smooth. 

– Lamia shared.

 

Picking up someone else’s favourite book for reading could be a fun chance to explore something new. We hope that this recommendation list will help our readers in that respect.

 


Tanzina Tabassum Nova is a full-time couch-potato, and a part-time reader, writer, translator, and reciter.

Tasnia is a proud Slytherin who loves binging on poetry and graphic novels in her free time.

 

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