3 Popular books which almost made it to my Favourites List (but fell short)

And all it would have taken is – Tighter Editing

Keerthana K
4 min readDec 29, 2022

A book which works for one might not work for another. So these are purely my opinions of 3 books which I loved reading this year but which fell a little short of greatness simply because of one main reason- lack of tighter editing. Of the many tasks involved in book writing, I feel editing is one of the toughest, which is why it has my greatest sympathies. Do I regret reading them? Absolutely Not! Could these have been better? Yes!

1. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Sea of Tranquility, which made it to Obama’s list of favourite books of 2022 this week, has a separate fan-base. This science fiction book is about time travel, with shifting timelines- all closely tied to Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. The book goes back and forth in timelines ranging from 19th century to 25th century — being creative, effortless and non-confusing all the way. And it has an ending which blows your mind! The problem with the book is that it could have been half it’s size- making it a novella instead of a novel. The text in the book is unnecessarily spaced out and has many unexplainable blank pages. There are certain chapters which are dragged out without adding up to the final plot.

P.S.- The way the author takes clever digs at the patriarchal society which seems to exist even in the year 2203 deserves a special mention!

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Lightspeed magazine is a digital science fiction and fantasy magazine which contains some of the best short stories and Hugo award winners. Highly recommended is the book ‘The Paper Menagerie and other stories’ by Ken Liu (few of which also feature in this magazine). The story ‘Paper Menagerie’ in particular is a magic realism fantasy story which is the first to win all of the Nebula, the Hugo and the World Fantasy Awards.

2. Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

Every once a while there comes an extremely important book which makes a powerful impact on the world. Ronan Farrow broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s power abuse, covering many heart-breaking stories of rape and sexual assault, through his investigative journalism. He covers the rampant sexual harrasment which exists in film, media and politics, which also led to the #MeToo movement. It has the chilling description of how even Israeli spies with connections to Israeli military intelligence are involved in shutting up these women and also threatening any journalist who would try to break this story. There are deep media connections involved, so that the image of any woman who dares to come forward, is completely tarnished. Parallely, the women are also forced or cornered into signing non-disclosure agreements, thereby killing their stories forever.

Although extremely important, the problem with this book is that it indulges a bit too much into Ronan Farrow’s personal hardships dealing with the top executives at NBC for breaking this story (who, no points for guessing, were themselves plagued with workplace sexual misconduct). As such the book fails to be crisp where it needs to be, so as to not dilute the critical subject in hand. The author reiterates that it is the story of these women, and not his place to shine- but fails to do exactly that.

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Bad Blood by John Carreyrou is the perfect example of what investigative journalism should be. It keeps you at the edge of your seat while avoiding to indulge in anything but facts. It may be because I read Bad Blood right before this book, that it’s(Catch and Kill’s) lack of crispness was staring me right at my face.

3. Down Under by Bill Bryson

Being in Australia I was curious to know what others think about the country, which lead me to reading Bill Bryson’ Down Under. It is a travelogue about his (mis)adventures in Australia during his travels through road and rail. Long revered as the funniest travel writer, Bill Bryson does not fail in cracking you up many a times. His accurate description of even the most insignificant events will have you laughing out loud and then checking your surroundings to ensure no one thinks you are mad. But it seems he gets too caught up in his own game. After the initial fun, it starts to get exhausting when you realise that he tries the same trick again and again, and that there is no much content in the book. He moves from elaborately describing one insignificant event after another, all to elicit that final laugh from his readers. It has a few gems and wow-moments when you get to learn something interesting about the country you live in, but such moments were too few and far in between.

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Kangaroo Dundee by Chris Barns is your book if you want to know about the Real Australia. It made me truly appreciate the vast intriguing Australian Outback, and made us plan a trip to the certain accessible parts of it. The beauty of Outback is something to be experienced, but this book comes a close second.