The following is a response to a mail I received, asking to participate in a little year-end survey. Since it was an excellent subject to make a blog post out of, here I am.
1. What event gave you the most hope this year?
Hmm… that’s a tough one, but the highlight of the year was the trip to Denmark and Sweden. Planning and going on the trip keeps me hopeful that I will be able to continue my regular travels.
2. What piece of advice would you give someone for the New Year?
Do something for yourself you really want, without worrying about other people.
3. Name the top three books you read?
- The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins): This is the first book in the trilogy by the same name, and by far in a different league than the following two books. Set in a disturbing futuristic dystopia, 16-year-old Katniss volunteers to be a Tribute in the Hunger Games to replace her younger sister, whose name is pulled from the hat. The Games themselves are a macabre reality show where the two children from each of the 13 districts of Panem are let loose in an arena to fight to the death. The last surviving child is the victor, who then goes home to glory and riches. And that’s not all — the Games are telecast to all citizens of Panem, who must watch their children kill each other as a grim reminder from the Capitol (the power centre of Panem) of where the power really lies. However, Katniss unwittingly sets in motion a series of events within the arena that could have lasting implications for herself, her family, her district and Panem at large. The Hunger Games is compulsive and haunting, and stays with you long after you finish reading.
- Echoes of the Dead (Johan Theorin): “A lost child. A buried secret. Something worth killing for.” The cover of the book itself makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Johan Theorin weaves a masterful tale, slow paced and riveting, about a child lost over 20 years ago, a disappearance that still haunts its mother and grandfather. Based in the Swedish island of Oland, it narrates how an unsolved mystery has repercussions in the present day — a crime novel, but with a creepy, supernatural air about it. It has been translated from the Swedish.
- A Cure for All Diseases (Reginald Hill): Having given death the finger, Superintendent Andy Dalziel is recovering at the Avalon Clinic in Sandytown. And we know that when the Fat Man is around, excitement can hardly be too far away. Sure enough, local business politics takes a turn for the macabre as a body turns up. In charge of things while Dalziel is indisposed, Peter Pascoe sweeps in to investigate, alternately helped and hindered by the former. Meanwhile, an old enemy of Pascoe’s also pops in to spice things up. A Cure for All Diseases finds Reginald Hill in top form, and it reminded me of why he remains one of my favourite authors. Not recommended for those new to the Dalziel and Pascoe series, but un-miss-able for readers who know and love the characters.
4. Name the top three television shows you saw?
- Sherlock: This was a late-in-the-year discovery, thanks to Swapna — a British series with only 3 (90-minute) episodes originally broadcast in 2010. (New series starts 1 January 2012. Hurrah!) This is a modern take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character, superbly crafted by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (of Doctor Who fame). Sherlock is an innovative spin on the classic characters and excellently portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.
- Rizolli and Isles: When I heard about this series from Kate — with two women lead characters — I just had to see it. The plots are pretty threadbare, but the story passes the Bechdel Test; the (misleading) lesbian subtext is entertaining to say the least; and, heck, a series about two women who are NOT looking for men to complete their lives is such a novelty. Entertaining as long as you don’t mind holey plots.
- The Good Wife: The story of Alicia Florrick, an erstwhile “good” wife, who has to take up the breadwinner’s reins after her husband (former state’s attorney) is jailed on corruption charges. Alicia goes back to work as a lawyer, and feels out of place with contemporaries who are much younger. The series explores how she finds her feet, exploring and questioning the roles she has played as a wife in the past and the life she now sees for herself.
5. Name the top travel destination you experienced?
Denmark and Sweden. 🙂 Need I say more?
6. Name the top cuisine, you enjoyed?
Oddly enough, at home. Our excellent cook (Pooja) is originally from Bihar, and very enthusiastic about whipping up her native delicacies. Even otherwise, she can make the regular dal, sabzi, roti feel like something special. In fact, she thinks we eat too healthy and has offered to make us more “exciting” stuff at least once a week! Mooli paranthas anyone?
(Must add here, the one food I sorely regret having missed out in Sweden was kladdkaka.)
7. Name the best art experience you had in 2011.
I’m not sure I’d know art if it smacked me in the face, so I’ll substitute culture: the jazz festival in Slangerup and Den Gamle By in Århus both closely vie for top spot.
8. Your hope for 2012?
Finish writing a book (or two); read lots; learn a new language (human or computer); and get a chance to travel.
So, how was your year? Blog about it!
Happy New Year!