04 April 2012

A Reading Challenge

Half a century ago I was an average reader who read one book in a month. But now am 50 and proud of it… Confused!!

Basically I am talking about my New Year resolution - it’s a very rare thing that I keep any New Year resolutions. I get inspired by everyone around me and jot down some for me too, as the beacons of introspection and direction in life. But most of the time they end up just ‘Feel Good’ factors where I satisfy myself that I have a goal or a To Do which I can work on if I ever feel lack of direction or purpose during the year.

But they lie there waiting to be accomplished and by the second quarter I am already wondering – What was I thinking when I wrote these!! It’s purely a state of mind. At different points of time you desire different things – while you are climbing one peak you think why you didn’t choose the smaller one next to it. But that’s with challenges they stretch you beyond the limits - your body or prejudices set for you and achieve beyond your mind and matter.

And 2011 was the year where I challenged myself to read 50 Books (Goodreads Reading Challenge). As Good Read records tell me I had read a modest 160 odd books in total 30 years of my life. Reading 50 in a year would mean at least take me another 1/3rd of my life. But a challenge is a challenge and I don’t bow out without playing and giving myself a good chance. And here I am after reading 50 books. The journey was patchy with smooth parts where I read 2-3 books in a week and sometimes not a word for weeks.

I did read in honest manner without cheating or skipping pages or chapters. Though I did do some smart picking – choosing my favourite genres, trusted authors and moderate sized book on the basis that even if it is a boring book I can still complete it quick rather than dragging myself through a long one.  When in doubt its always best to pick your favourite genre and that’s what you can observe with the list of Short Story books that I read – Ruskin Bond, Satyajit Ray, Gulzar, Bhisham Sahni, Memon, Muhammad Umar, Vikram Chandra, Arvind Adiga, Murzban F. Shroff and Daniyal Mueenuddin.

I enjoyed my favourite authors like Ruskin Bond, Satyajit Ray, Gulzar, Moni Mohsin and Amish whose books would always be a delight to read. I discovered some new authors like Namita Devidayal, Indu Sundaresan, Anuradha  Roy, Anuja Chauhan,  Murzban F. Shroff whose books are on my radar going forward. I explored prestigious Hindi literature with Bhisham Sahni, Dharamvir Bharati and Ismat Chugtai (translation).  I found Khushwant Singh’s books which will always be a good read. I fell in love with Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi’s ‘The last song of dusk’ and then he broke my heart with his ‘The lost Flamingos of Bombay’.  It was brief but thinking of our first encounter still makes me want more of him.

If we do have something like an Annual Awards for books read this year then it has to be:

Best Book of the Year: The Last Song of Dusk
Worst Book of the Year: The Blue Bedspread (I am still trying to figure out what it was!!)

Meanwhile here is my run by run account of 2011:

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