50 and still counting Part 1

Inspired by amrav’s post

My book journey

Books had been my first love since childhood; classmates of mine rejoiced at the PT period while I rejoiced at the Library period. Even at recess times, I used to gobble up my lunch and rush to the library to satisfy my hunger. No library was spared by this spectacled-monster: school library, the town library, the club’s mini-library, his own mini-library. The hunger for books has enhanced greatly as I entered college. I read books during eating, during commuting and during lecture breaks while my friends ponder where am I lost. A book, if not finished in 3-4 weeks is a nightmare indeed. You steal time from other activities to cover it and in the end, you finish gazing over a masterpiece that was much,much better than its movie or series.

Revising 2017

Unfortunately, I have a big problem: I don’t classify my books. If you visit my disorderly Goodreads shelf, you will notice it has only 55 books. Some have been added much later after I read them and some which are still in the ‘to-read’ shelf. It’s just a lazy thing to classify my books; might do it this year perhaps.

But as I see my phone, my kindle and then my laptop, memories rekindle of me reading them and thus remembering which ones I read and which ones I haven’t. And to my surprise, the list is quite long; long enough to bore you perhaps. So, here it goes:

1) The World was Going our Way by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin- The second part of the famous Mitrokhin archive, this details the activities of the KGB(the Soviet secret agency) in the Third world. Searching this book for over 3 months, I finally got it from some sources. A must-read if you love reading about espionage.

2) North Korea’s hidden revolution by Jieun Baek- This book about North Korea is entirely different from what you might think; not focusing a lot on defector stories or the ones on famine. This book deals with how defectors are using modern day technology to make ordinary North Koreans more aware of their plight and of the foreign world that was and still is, shut for them. Marks in the top three I have read about North Korea

3) Daughters of the KGB by Douglas Boyd- If you hated reading about how gruesome KGB was, avoid this book. This book covers the Stasi, the AVH and the StB, to mention a few. This agencies were trained by the KGB and turned out to be more gruesome and skilled than their trainers in some cases.

4) Voices from S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pot’s Secret Prison by David Chandler- What if a country of millions is forced by its leaders to revert back to ‘Year Zero’ forcing everyone to go back to farming and those unable to do sent to S-21? This simple ‘code’ stands for some unspeakable horrors David Chandler uncovers in this wonderful book. This was one of those books which caused me to shut down after reading some of its pages.

5) North Korea Undercover by John Sweeney- A journalist disguises himself as a history professor to enter one of the most repressive and secret countries of the world and uncovers the truth behind the reality of the nation. BBC Panorama had an episode on this book. My favourite book on North Korea. A must-read for those seeking about North Korea.

6) Dirty Work 2: the CIA in Africa by Ellen Ray- Ellen Ray interviews despots, mercenaries, agents of the French,Portuguese, Guinean and Angolan secret services to uncover a massive campaign undertaken by the CIA to topple pro-Soviet governments. I would not suggest you this book unless you are so into CIA; the book’s interviews are out- of-flow and boring. You don’t understand a lot of action and cannot look up on Google either due to the rarely documented details. A major disappointment.

7) Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars by Sonia Faleiro. A real first of-its-kind. The author interviews several bar dancers and eunuchs to know how they ended in this web that cannot be unravelled, no matter how hard you try.

8) Spies against Armageddon by Dan Raviv- This book can be taken as a compilation of some jaw-dropping feats achieved by the Israeli Secret Services or the Mossad during its history. It also explains the Mossad’s working mechanism, probably the first book to do so. A good book, I guess. Would not recommend strongly, though

9) All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer- This book documents how the CIA assisted MI6 in making a rod for their own back by overthrowing the Mossadegh govt. and paving the way for Ayatollah Khomeini. This book is a good starter if you want to know what caused the Iranian revolution.

10) The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA by Antonio Mendez- For those who don’t kow Mendez, he was protrayed by Ben Affleck in the political drama Argo. The Argo thing is just a chapter in this awesome book as the former CIA officer chronicles his life in the Office of Technical Services(OTS), CIA with his postings ranging from Tehran to Moscow to Vientane. I strongly recommend this book for those who want to know about being a secret agent.

11) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher- the first novel in this list, I agree that the novel has been done justice by Selena Gomez when she produced its series version on Netflix. A really horrifying account of bullying. I would not suggest you this book if you think you are faint-hearted or sensitive.

12) We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch- The book title is enough to tell what it’s about- the Rwandan genocide. A really well researched book about the treatment of people before the Habyarimana regime and after it. And certainly more better at explaining reality than Hotel Rwanda.

13) Women Who Kill: Profiles of Female Serial Killers by Carol Anne Davis- Carol Ann Davis investigates psychological and sociological reasons behind the crimes of murder queens and their fate as decided by the law. This book, I must say it will never be even proposed to anyone to read. Apart from the psychology, the book is sickening.

14) Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee—A Look Inside North Korea by Jang Jin-sung- Another one from North Korea; this one is different in the sense that the author who is also a defector was considered very close to the dead leader of the nation and explains how the son usurped power from his father. not to mention his escapes as he narrowly avoided getting caught more than thrice. I liked the book due to the details being intriguing. This was something unheard of in the outside world previously.

15) Gerald’s Game by Stephen King- I was skeptical about this one initally, but I was wrong. A really nice twist in the end although I would mention, a little gross. a horror-lover would love to read this novel!

It’s good to have listed 15 today. 15 tomorrow and 15 the day after and so on..I complete my journey of book reading in 2017. More in my next post!

Written on January 11, 2018