A Reader’s Guide To Surviving 2019

Nirbhay Kanoria

January 3, 2019

Many of us were more than happy to bid farewell to 2018. A lot went down and it was, to say the least, an exhausting (and interesting) year. It seems that 2019 is going to have a lot in stock for us and, much like we did in 2018, we’re happy to provide you with a snapshot of some interesting events that are lined up, along with the books you need to read to survive them. From world-famous art fairs to elections and countries exiting unions and from sporting events to never-before-read short stories, 2019 promises to be exciting!

surviving 2019
  1. Eight years ago when artists Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari founded the Kochi Biennale Foundation and launched the Kochi-Muziris Biennale they could not have expected it to become the world famous art fair it has turned into. With artist residency programs, workshops, talks, and musical and cinematic experiences, the Biennale turns Kochi into one of the most exciting cities to visit in the first quarter of 2019. This year, however, was mired in some controversy as Komu was accused of sexual harassment and had to step down from all the management positions he held at the Foundation. Now, if you want to educate yourself on the 5000-year history of Indian art, read the aptly-titled Indian Art by famous art-historian Partha Mitter, but if you want to become aware of the more modern Indian artists pick up Art Of Modern India, which will tell you all you need to know about the resurgence of the Indian art scene and which artists you should know about.
  2. Unless you’ve been living under a massive rock, there is no way you are not aware of all the political drama that is going on with Brexit. On June 23, 2016, the U.K. called for a referendum in which 51.9% of Britons voted to leave the EU and literally shook the world. If the current U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has her way, at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 29, 2019, the U.K. will cease to be a part of the EU. While the main opposition party in the U.K.- the Labour party, is trying to call for a general election to topple the current government and renegotiate the terms of Brexit, as things stand today, Brexit is still very much going ahead. To get up to speed on everything Europe related- from the current struggles of the EU to the potential impact of Brexit, read former editor of the Washington Post, William Drozdiak’s defining, albeit a bit alarmist, book- Fractured Continent or if you want a quicker read focused purely on Brexit peruse Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now?.
  3. Come April, look forward to possibly the biggest television moment of the last decade, if not ever- the final season of The Game Of Thrones begins. Fans of the show and the book have been eagerly awaiting their dose of Westerosi drama and to know the final fate of the Starks, Lannisters and Targaryens, who the ultimate ruler of the Seven Kingdoms will be, and of course, who will finally kill the Night King, if at all. While the show may have overtaken the book and may possibly be on a different tangent altogether, it will serve you well to read the original series- A Song Of Ice And Fire– to understand a lot of subtle references or get the deeper meaning behind seemingly innocuous storylines before watching the final season. Or, you can become an expert on Targaryen history by picking up Fire And Blood, the recently released first part of a two-parter book chronicling the Targaryen line.
  1. If reel-life political drama isn’t exciting for you, you will definitely get a lot of it in real life with the Lok Sabha elections in May. BJP and Congress are going to be at it, fighting tooth and nail, mudslinging, abusing, name-calling and potentially even having a few fist fights. The BJP failed to deliver on many of its 2014 promises and Narendra Modi’s popularity has definitely dropped. At the same time, very few can accept Rahul Gandhi as a serious Prime Ministerial candidate. Furthermore, many are expecting Modi to pull off something spectacular to increase his odds of being re-elected, such as bringing back Nirav Modi or an all-out war with Pakistan. Modi has also been trying to endear himself to voters in a multitude of ways- not least by writing a children’s book, Exam Warriors, teaching them basic yoga and other tricks to deal with the pressures of exams. But really, at a stressful time like the Indian elections, give yourself a laugh and read The Competent Authority– a hilarious satire on Indian politics.
  2. Once the Lok Sabha elections are over and you may have ruined a few of your relationships thanks to your political views, get ready to mend them by watching the one thing that brings Indians together like nothing else- cricket. England and Wales are hosting the ICC World Cup this year and we have high hopes from Virat Kohli and his boys in blue. Starting May 30 expect your electricity bill to shoot up as the TV is likely to be on for at least eight hours every day. Interestingly, cricket was originally considered a ‘gentleman’s sport’ and Indians were considered far too uncivilised to play it. Now, however, India dominates the cricket world and the IPL is one of the most valuable sporting franchises in the world. To understand how India came to take this position, pick up A Corner Of A Foreign Field: The India History Of A British Sport– it’s bound to get you excited before this mega sports event.
  3. Lastly, there are a bunch of exciting sequels and book-to-movie adaptations lined up in 2019. So you want to make sure you catch up on all the books before the sequels or TV shows/movies releases. Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, releasing on September 10, is easily one of the most anticipated books of the year. The book is set 15 years after the original ended and may be different from the TV show. André Aciman announced that he will be releasing the sequel to the coming-of-age romance novel about two young men in love- Call Me By Your Name, which will pick up where Elio and Oliver’s story left off. As far as movie adaptations go- in January, Sanjaya Baru’s The Accidental Prime Minister, a book based on Manmohan Singh’s life, will be brought to the big screen with Anupam Kher portraying Singh, while C.S. Forester’s World War II classic, The Good Shepherd, is being adapted into a movie called Greyhound and will be released in March. Directed by Aaron Schneider, it stars Tom Hanks, who has also written the screenplay. In May, you’ll get to see Stephen King’s horror classic Pet Sematary in yet another movie avatar. Eoin Colfer’s YA bestselling novel Artemis Fowl is getting its own movie in August. And lastly, in December, the movie adaptation of the classic, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, will be released. Directed by Greta Gerwig, it features an all-star cast including Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper and Meryl Streep. While we don’t have release dates yet, we are also terribly excited about the silver screen adaptations of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, Alan Moore’s graphic novel, Watchmen, and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (directed by and starring George Clooney).

We’re sure you are now as excited about 2019 as we are, especially as you now know which books you need to read to survive it. As an avid reader, you’ll probably be wanting to read more than just these books, so we recommend you sign up for The Extraordinary Reading Challenge, 2019, where you will be challenged to read 24 books, each following a different theme, during the course of the year. Or if you need some literary help sticking to your new year’s resolution(s), we also have a handy little infographic, which will tell you which books you need to read to make you sure you achieve it. So here’s to a rollicking literary and bookish 2019.

As a young boy, Nirbhay had the annoying habit of waking up at 5 a.m. Since television was a big no-no, he had no choice but to read to entertain himself and that is how his love affair with books began. A true-blue Piscean, books paved the path to his fantasy worlds- worlds he’d often rather stay in. Nirbhay is the co-founder and publisher of The Curious Reader.

You can read his articles, here.