Chiki Sarkar: Best Reads of 2017

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I had a baby late last year and was up all night for large parts of the year – it gave me plenty of time to read! Surprisingly I found myself turning to the books I read as a kid and teenager and re-reading old favourites. It was a year of nostalgia and comfort reading.

The Standouts

1. I re-read a lot of the books I adored as a kid. The Narnia series, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Astrid Lindgren. Little Women and Anne of Green Gables really disappointed. They were so priggish. I can’t believe I loved them so much as a child.

anne of green gables

2. I got sent some gorgeous retro editions of Agatha Christie by HarperCollins and re-read her after almost 25 years. She’s terrific, what a storyteller. I was completely hooked. Death on the Nile was a special favourite as was Poirot’s Christmas. In my exhausted state, she was exactly what I needed. Light as a souffle, but terribly clever and accomplished.

death on the nile

3. After my Christie obsession, I wanted more of the same thing. One of my editor’s recommended Anthony Horowtiz’s Magpie Murders. Horowtiz writes in the mould of the classic crime stories of the 30s and he’s wonderful. If you liked Miss Marple, you should read this.

magpie murders

4. I re-read The Remains of the Day post-Ishiguro’s Nobel and thought it a near perfect book. Careful, decorous, tragi-comic – it tells the story of a butler who once ran a great manor house in the 30s and watched his employer flirt with the Nazis.
remains of the day
5. Two new reads. Patti Smith’s Just Kids is a glorious account of New York in the 70s, and a portrait of two young struggling artists and an extraordinary friendship. I can think of very few books that capture the lives of young artists as well as this book does.
just kids

4. And then  I found myself reading another book about New York last week – Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries. Tina Brown was the most legendary magazine editor of the late 80s and 90s, the woman who revitalised and created the most celebrated magazine of that era. Her diaries of the decade are sharp, acute, sparkling and great fun and really capture New York’s glamour. Underneath the glitter of her account was a surprisingly soft centre – Brown was managing babies, nannies, and a marriage even as she socialised and hustled each night, and produced an extraordinary magazine by day. I found myself amused, charmed and moved.

tina brown

One Comment

  1. Vishal Bagaria / January 10, 2018 at 4:37 pm /Reply

    I’ve read Magpie Murders & found the mystery quite a bit diluted, especially because of so many years of devouring crime fiction. The ‘story-within-story’ had a far better suspense than the actual story, and way more predictable.

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