Best books of 2019 that’s sure to evoke emotions in you – A Navarasa inspired RRKReads recommendation

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Best of 2019 Navarasa books

Namo Namaha, welcome to my blog. Another Gregorian calendar year has passed signaling the end of a decade, allowing us to learn from the past and plan for the future. Last week I posted my future reading plans and in this post, I am revisiting my past reads.
Of the 57 books I read in 2019, all of them were either in the love-hate or the couldn’t care less category. But some books managed to evoke a rainbow of emotions in me and possibly in every reader reading them. So this post is a list of best books based on the variety of emotions they managed to tease out of me. I specifically am using the Navarasa concept to categorize the books.

What’s Navarasa?

Navarasa in Sanskrit means the nine juices (literal translation) i.e. nine forms of emotions that flow from sentient beings such as Love, Happiness, Sadness and so on. Wikipedia describes it as an

Indian concept about the aesthetic flavor of any visual, literary or musical work that evokes an emotion or feeling in the reader or audience but cannot be described.

So without any further ado let’s jump into my Navarasa inspired list of Best books of 2019, shall we?

1. Shringara

Shringara LoveThe first rasa is Shringara which denotes Love or Beauty. There are 2 types of Shringara: Sambhoga (Where the lovers are united) & Vipralambha ( Where they are separated). The two books that displayed Shringara for me were:

      • Heartstopper by Alice Oseman – A very sweet boy love story, it has beauty and love in equal parts. I loved the characters and the story. It was beautiful and memorable. An amazing display of Sambhoga.
      • Me before you by Jojo Moyes – I bawled my eyes out while reading this book. It was a beautiful love story and there was nothing I didn’t like about it. This book tore me up with the Vipralambha rasa.

2. Hasya


Is happiness; The following books were high on happiness quotient:

      • The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren – This was cute and super funny. If I was not outright laughing I was feeling quite cheerful the entire time I read this book.
      • Things my son needs to know about the world by Fredrik Backman – As mentioned in my review, I was laughing for most of this book. The rest of this book was a testament to Shringara rasa.

3. Karuna

Karuna Sadness

Is Compassion, Empathy, Sadness, Loss; Books that made me reach for the handkerchief were:

      • Me before you by Jojo Moyes – This was a heartbreaking read. I knew the characters were fictitious but I still was inconsolably sad by the end of it.
      • Before the coffee gets cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi – As I mentioned in my review, this was a short story collection and two of the stories were so poignant that it was impossible not to get affected by it.

4. Raudra

Raudra Anger

Photo Credit: Manyu Varma

Is Anger; it’s a rare book that evokes anger or even irritation in me. I usually DNF a book or stop reading it altogether if I feel a book triggers something unpleasant in me. But, two Indian books did evoke anger in me, maybe because it felt a bit too close to home.

      • Aavarana by S.L. Bhyrappa – A Kannada book authored by the illustrious S.L.Bhyrappa, I read the English translated version of the same. This book is a quagmire of emotions. Though it is a fictional story, the story itself is based on real-life situations so it’s more of a quasi nonfiction book. There are enough glowing reviews on this book so I’ll not get into a commentary on it. But, this book managed to evoke righteous anger in me. Do not read it to feel angry read it to understand the fault lines that still cuts at the core of India to date.
      • Why I assassinated Mahatma Gandhi  by Nathuram Godse – This book was one of the best books I read in 2019. Every child, man and woman who’s even remotely interested in the bygone Gandhian pre-Independence era and the tumultuous post-independence era of India must give this book a try. I was seething with righteous anger for a few hours after I completed this book. It was a harsh introduction to my ignorance of the reality of those times.

5. Veera

Veera Courage

Photo Credit:  Sammie Vasquez

Is Courage; I can pick all the books from the Fantasy genre for this category but the best ones that displayed Veera rasa for me were:

6. Bhayanaka

Bhayanaka Fear

Is Fear; If I had read any books from the Horror genre they would have been easy representations for this category, but I didn’t, so the next best thing is from the Mystery Suspense Thriller Genre. Though none of the books outright scared me I had my moments with:

7. Bhibhatsya

Bhibhatsya Disgust

Is Disgust; Most of the books I read last year were lighthearted ones except for one or two books that had some trigger warnings and despite the trigger warnings, they didn’t evoke the emotion of disgust in me.

The only book that managed to disgust me in parts was Aghora by Robert E Svoboda, which paradoxically is also one of the best books I read in 2019. It’s a nonfiction book and some sections in the book disgusted me so much that I was tempted to skip over the entire chapter just to avoid reading those parts.

8. Adhbutha

Adhbutha Surprise

Photo Credit:  Mpumelelo Macu

Is Surprise or wonder;

      • Beyond the Black door by A.M. Strickland– The characters and the world in this book is wonderful.
      • Scythe by Neil Shusterman – The world in this book. Oh, I love the Scythe! The entire book was a surprise win for me.

9. Shantha

Is Peace; Have you read any books that instantly calmed you down? Made you feel a bit more tolerant of faults, made you feel a little less irritable? Shantha PeaceOf the 57 books I read in 2019 the one book that almost exclusively made me feel calm and peaceful was:

    • Ancient Chants of Modern Living by Aatmanika Ram – This is the last book I read in 2019 and I couldn’t have found a better book to end this year with. This is a tiny book I found in kindle that lists Shlokas, popular temples, and songs you could include in your playlists, to have a positive and relatively peaceful life. It is a self-help book in its basic form but I loved every page in it. Some of them are shlokas I have sung/heard since childhood. Many of the temples mentioned are well-loved popular ones, most of them invoking nostalgic feelings. I loved it and I am sure I’ll grab this book every single time I feel out of focus or distracted which probably is the intention of the Author.

So those are the book recommendations picked from my 2019 reads. I hope some of them excite you enough to read them. Which books affected you the most? Which books are your 2019 favorites? Do any of the books I have mentioned in the list figure in yours too? Do let me know your thoughts in the comments section. Till then, stay blessed and happy. Om Shanti.

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