Anura Shrestha, a fourth year undergraduate student at National College, claims that she cannot live without books. “Books have been great icebreakers for building most of my friendships. The first thing I ask whenever I meet someone is about the kind of books they like to read,” says Shrestha. She also prefers having a printed copy of any book. “There is something about holding a book in your hands and reading it. A kindle or any other digital platform cannot give me the same kind of satisfaction,” she adds. Here she lists the five books she finds herself recommending time and again and also gravitating towards every time she herself wants to be comforted.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry A senior at work recommended this book to Shrestha back in 2015. “I still remember, I started reading this book to distract myself just a day after the earthquake,” says Shrestha. “After I read this book, I felt very fortunate. I had finished reading an amazing book and survived the second huge aftershock at the same time,” she adds.
The Little Prince is a children’s book written for adults to help us see the world through the eyes of an innocent child. This book gives us crucial life lessons in love, friendship, loss and humanity with the help of an allegory. It draws a stark contrast between children and adults.
“This book made me reminisce what is was like to be a child, pure, guiltless and inquisitive. But as we grow up, we are tainted by prejudice, vanity, domination and greed,” says Shrestha. This book, according to her, is a wakeup call for adults who, in trying to strike a balance between numbers and figures, have forgotten that the most important things are not seen but felt.
Kathmandu by Thomas Bell “Kathmandu by Thomas Bell had been in my to-read list for a long time. And when I finally got my hands on it, it took me two whole months to finish it. It has been my slowest but nonetheless a thought-provoking read,” says Shrestha.
According to her, this book gives a detailed description of the city over a span of ten years. She says the author has beautifully woven his observations and experiences into a tale that makes Kathmandu come alive.
The most critical aspect of the book is the author’s honest narrative about Nepal. He describes this place as bare, poignant, and haunting. From the Malla Kingdoms, royal massacre and a decade-long Maoist insurgency to the struggles of the new democratic constitution, failure of foreign aid, the city’s rapid modernization and superstitions of Kathmandu’s inhabitants, the author explores it all. The author also talks about how our capital city is riddled in corruption, fear and uncertainty of the future.
“For me, this book was a time warp that was entertaining and equally draining to comprehend and accept,” says Shrestha.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie “I was drawn to the world of books back in school through mystery and thriller novels such as Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Famous Five. So, I have always had a soft spot when it comes to riveting murder mysteries and psychological thrillers. It reminds me of my childhood days,” says Shrestha.
According to Shrestha, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is her all-time favorite mystery novel. She says it is one of the finest books she has ever come across.
This book is based on a mystery on an island and an old spooky nursery rhyme. The rhyme kills the visitors on the island one by one. One of the darkest aspects of the novel is the fact there is no hero. All characters appear to be equally guilty in one or more ways.
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh Hyberbole and a Half is a graphic novel that Shrestha discovered when she was surfing through her Good Reads account in search of a funny and light read. At that time, Shrestha was slightly disappointed with her life and wanted to read a humorous book to lighten her mood.
“What started out as a regular funny comic soon turned into a valuable reading for me. The book made me laugh and helped me come to terms with my own emotions,” says Shrestha.
In this book, the author recounts her adventures, mostly in her head, which revolves around her problematic childhood days, adventures with her dogs (one of which might have been mentally impaired), and her own character flaws. All her illustrations and depictions of struggles in everyday life is something we all can relate to. But the chapters on her battles with severe depression and suicidal tendencies were what stood out for Shrestha.
According to Shrestha, it is an insightful book on issues regarding mental health that can be empowering for those who have struggled with depression or may know someone who does.
The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices by Xinran Shrestha came across this book accidently during high school. “Back then, my knowledge on gender roles and gender inequality was extremely limited. This book has been one of those many books that shaped my perspective on women’s issues,” says Shrestha.
The author of this book is a former radio journalist. In the book, she presents 15 moving stories, of ordinary women, talking about their lives filled with horrific incidents. China, in the second half of the twentieth century, was a country where one could be exiled for falling in love with the wrong person.
This book contains stories of rape and child abuse, forced marriages and sexual humiliations, abduction and forced parting of parents and children. It also shares stories of women who survived decades of civil conflict and lived in a highly restrictive society.