It’s that time of the year again. No, not the next wave of coronavirus, but when publications fall over themselves to nominate the ten, twenty, or one hundred significant books of 2020. In the process, you realise how little you’ve read, and why you’ll never get to the bottom of that to-be-read pile.
This is soon followed by headlines such as “The Most Exciting Books of 2021” and “Next Year’s Can’t-Miss Books”. It’s enough to make you want to give up reading. Well, almost.
Of the several exciting titles that 2021 has in store, there are some that I resolutely plan to avoid. Here, in no particular order, are the gory details.
The Art of the Steal
A presidential memoir about how every day of the 45th American president’s term in office was marked by victories, accomplishments, and bad grammar. There is no truth to reports that the entire book is being tweeted out before publication.
I Didn’t Take the Vaccine – And Survived
A blistering polemic by an author still waiting for his COVID-19 test results. It deals with how governments are controlled by reptilian overlords who have directed them to inject citizens with mind-altering substances.
Natural Nature, Naturally
A timely manifesto about how a return to roots and simple living is the only thing that can save mankind from pandemics, panic, and pineapple pizza.
Don’t Work from Home, Work from Bed
A comprehensive guide to following a successful 9-to-5 routine without leaving your bedroom. With illustrations of time-saving contraptions such as one that charges multiple devices together, answers the door, and changes the bedsheets, though not all at the same time.
A retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth that places him in 2020. When asked to return to office after a lockdown, the titular character plans to do away with his boss, as he doesn’t want to give up a life of leisure. He is encouraged in this venture by his wife, who will do anything to get him out of the house.
Let’s Change for Climate Change
Written by an Instagram influencer, this stylish volume is packed with details of how climate change needs a wardrobe change. That means brick-thick jackets for icy winters, gossamer-thin vests for boiling summers, and waterproof trousers for navigating flooded streets. Sure to be a fashion bible for our times.
An anonymous insider’s anguished account of shady goings-on in the Mumbai film industry. With accounts of parties that feature questionable practices such as wearing skinny-fit distressed jeans, and serving dinner long after midnight.
Never Let A Good Pandemic Go to Waste
A primer on how to profit from a pandemic, with case studies on the way some of the world’s richest people multiplied their wealth in 2020. It’ll leave you with a renewed appreciation of free-market principles, and eagerly awaiting the next plague.
Belt and Road and Me
A behind-the-scenes account by a former Chinese Communist Party apparatchik. His explosive claim is that the country’s Belt and Road initiative was first devised by a Shanghai tailor who needed a way to keep his trousers from falling down while walking to work.
The Heart is A Containment Zone
A debut novel comprising interlinked tales of families in a neighbourhood afflicted by the coronavirus. Enmities and friendships are formed, romances blossom, and balconies are redecorated. Eventually, everyone comes together to ward off a real estate tycoon. A Netflix adaptation is already on the cards.
Zoom with A View
An oversize coffee table book for traditionalists with pop-up backgrounds to make every Zoom call more interesting. Expect colour-coded bookshelves, dappled forest clearings, and the interiors of the hotel from Stephen King’s The Shining. The publishers plan to bundle this with another volume, 100 Ways to Get Out of Zoom Meetings.
How to Recognise Fascism
Children as well as their parents will love this laugh-packed saga of a nefarious character who dons several disguises to evade detection. His pursuers have many fun-filled arguments about what he looks like, how he’s changed, and whether he has anything in common with others from the past. There’s no reading group guide, as public discussions on the subject are discouraged.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Algorithm
A dystopian novel written by Artificial Intelligence dealing with a caregiver reminiscing about her childhood in a peculiar boarding school in England, and the unconventional destiny of its students. Many have pointed out that this sounds identical to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. However, the algorithm has stated that this is incorrect, as it has replaced several commas with full stops, and vice versa.
Sanjay Sipahimalani is a Mumbai-based writer and reviewer.