1. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
This is a children’s book for adults. What I liked the most about this book is that it manages to convey the deepest messages with the simplest words. I once read somewhere that, “Writers are those who can only express their feelings by pointing at someone else’s.” And I think this book is for those like me who prefer to communicate through written words.
2. Name Place Animal Thing by Daribha Lyndem.
This book is relatable for me, who grew up in Northeast India during the '90s and early 2000s. The story is primarily about the author’s experience of growing up as a young girl in a changing, politically charged Shillong. It also sheds light on how people and communities came to be identified as ‘us’ and ‘them’, indigenous and migrant, tribal and non-tribal, an outlook that still resonates with much of Northeast India.
3. The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak.
This book is narrated in part by the human protagonists and a Fig Tree.
The fig tree witnesses the human capacity for love, affection, hate, prejudice, and the ethnic conflicts between the Greeks and Turks in 1970s Cyprus. As I read of China’s constant claims on Arunachal, I wonder what tales of the past and the future will our trees narrate?
4. A Long Petal of The Sea by Isabel Allende.
This book is a story of loss, longing, and hope. But most importantly, it is a story of resilience as the protagonists are forced to flee from Spain during the Spanish Civil War and make Chile their new home. If you’ve liked reading the Pomelo’s Summer Issue ‘23 on Migration, then this could be on your reading list.
5. The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
This book single handedly convinced me to pour all my savings into making a trip, halfway across the globe, to Barcelona.
A dramatic story spanning multiple generations, this book is for those who enjoy drama entangled with anecdotes of history, architecture, culture and how humans communicate with their space.
6. How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino.
This book taught me that it is okay to not be at the centre but, to try and follow the ‘Copernican Way’. To be okay with being the side character and not a shining lead. Like those plain, un-exciting, filler characters in anime, drawn without any distinctive or striking features. Written from the point of views of a growing boy and his uncle, this Japanese classic teaches you to base your feelings on the foundations of your own experience and expectations, and not someone else’s.
7. The Braid by Laetitia Colombani
This was an unexpected find as I don’t think it featured on any of the ‘bestsellers’ lists but I am glad I stumbled upon this gem of a book. It is about how the lives of three women living in three different continents are so starkly different, and yet so deeply connected. How we are all living someone else’s dream.
8. Only Yesterday (1991), produced by Studio Ghibli.
After ‘Spirited Away’, this has to be my favourite Studio Ghibli creation. Whenever I watch this movie I get an urge to leave everything behind and move away to the countryside. The simple storyline, the beautiful animation, tells you to savour the small things and to live life a little slower.
9. The company of animals
Animals have so much love and gratitude to give that it is impossible not to be affected by it. I like to think that spending time with them makes me kinder and brings out the better versions of me.
Recently, we said goodbye to our beloved family dog, Chu Chu, on a warm September night. When I return home next, her wagging tail and joyful dance won't be there to greet me. It's a poignant reminder of all the times she welcomed me back, from my school days to college and work.
Life is fleeting. So read more, write more, travel more and live more!
About the writer:
Taw Yalla is a lifelong student of history and is currently working in the Arts and Culture sector. In her pastime, she likes reading historical fiction books and watching anime and pet videos.