India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha (2007)
Guha's tome is the best kind of history. It's accessible, thorough, and well-researched. I knew next to nothing about modern India before reading this book. I was afraid that I was going to be tackling more than I could handle, what with the mammoth size of it and the excessive footnoting. Turns out that I was able to digest it pretty easily. It's still a heavy non-fiction book, so it wasn't exactly easy reading, but it taught me so much, and brought to life some of the biggest figures in democratic Indian history. Difficult-to-understand concepts like the role of religion, the patchwork of cultures, and the geographic differences of India are explained clearly enough I could figure them out with ease.
For those looking for an introduction to modern India, this is a great book to start with.
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh (2013)
It's a bit of a cop-out to nominate a book that started as a webcomic, but this book is quite incredible. There's a lot of great stories here, including the favorites from the webcomic, but also some new stuff. It's also just plain old nice to have an actual book to read.
Brosh is excellent at getting to the darker parts of the psyche, the parts we don't like to show people. She's willing to put it all out there, and the result is a vulnerable and exciting connection that you feel with her. I don't know many other comic artists that can appeal across as wide of a spectrum as can Brosh. She's one of the most talented of her generation, and I will happily read anything she puts out.
Trend: Fewer books read
For the second straight year in a row, my books-read list was way down. Part of it was that I have been reading heavier stuff and longer books, and part of it is that I just don't read as much as I used to in book format. A lot more of my reading time is devoted to reading longform articles and news articles on the internet. I feel mostly okay about this, although I do miss being able to say "Look at all this stuff I read" when this time of year comes around. I do think that I've begun reading a bit more recently, so we'll see if this will turn the pace around, and I get more read next year.
Complete list of what I read in 2014
India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)
Things Fall Apart (The African Trilogy, #1)
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)
Travels with Charley in Search of America
Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)
Look at Me