“OUR life experiences and the current space that we are in will often impact what we seek out to read. That is why my list of favourite books, aside from a few, keeps changing as I evolve as a reader, writer and human being. At this time, the following are on my top 10 list in alphabetical order,” said Sweta Srivastava Vikram.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: There were so many things I loved about this book, especially Hosseini’s ability to tell moving stories of family, culture and friendships with poetry-like prose.
I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb: Nobody gives us power; if we want it, we have to grab it. This inspiring story of a young girl who fought for her right to an education and almost died in the process stays with you long after you are done reading the book.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov: One of the themes in my writing is raising awareness about violence against women and gender inequality. Nabokov’s ability to write a controversial book and astonishingly making us pause to consider the perspective of a paedophile, Humbert Humbert, speaks to Nabokov’s mastery over both language and writing.
Love In The Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: This book stayed with me, especially because of its first line: “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen: This is one of those timeless books. Elizabeth Bennet (the female protagonist) was my hero growing up. Smart, beautiful and independent, yet compassionate in an unobvious way. Right from Ms Bennet’s character development to the emotional journeys of other characters involved to the family brouhaha, everything about this book representative of the British regency period is so applicable even today.
Still Writing: The Perils And Pleasures Of A Creative Life, Reviews by Dani Shapiro: This memoir focuses on what it means to be a writer. I read this book a few months after my mother suddenly passed away when writing and practicing yoga were the only way I could make sense of my profound loss. Shapiro’s words: ‘I do believe everything you need to know about life can be learned from a genuine and ongoing attempt to write,’ made me feel less crazy and more anchored in my grieving process.
The Life-changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*ck by Sara Knight: When a colleague first recommended this, I wasn’t sure. And it was mostly because of the title. Boy, was I quick to judge! This is a hilarious and brilliant book. If you are fed up of pleasing people, feeling overwhelmed, wanting to take better care of yourself and wondering about your own place in life and what people think of you, this is a good read.
WELLTH: How I Learned To Build A Life, Not A Resume by Jason Wachob: What I like about this book is the holistic approach to wellbeing, happiness and success. The pain, the recovery, the healing, the wellness journey and the aha-moments were all relatable on some level.
When Breath Becomes Air by Dr Paul Kalanithi: This book is a soul-stirrer. It is vulnerable, reflective, thought-provoking and impacted me in more ways than one. It reiterated that life happens when we are busy planning it and leaves you wrestling with big questions about mortality.
You’re a Bad Ass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero: This was a helpful book during a time when my self-sabotaging beliefs were coming in the way of my own growth. Good kick to the butt.
- Sweta Srivastava Vikram is a New York-based author of 12 books, mindfulness writing coach and a certified yoga and Ayurveda counsellor who helps people lead creative, productive and healthier lives. Louisiana Catch (Modern History Press 2018) is her debut US novel. Visit Twitter: @ swetavikram, Instagram: @sweta vikram, Facebook: @words.by.sweta and www.swetavikram.com for more.