Earlier today, just hovering on ‘My Books’ section on Goodreads I found an astonishing stats page that tells you about the authors you have most read, ranking according to the amount of books read of each author. It helps to recall a lot of involuntary memories of when I read those authors, and how I felt about their work. This stats does not show those authors for whom I have read only one book.
Thus, I conclude a list of some those writers and the number of books written by each I have managed to read, and a recommendation from my part, in that order.
The previous post I selected Ten Books I read last year and I would recommend to anyone. On recalling about the books I read did bring back a lot of memories, some related to the books, some not, the good ones, the hard-to-forget-yet-creepy ones as when I had a thought about writing this post. I haven’t revealed here or anywhere before that I did made some reading resolutions before the year started. At first, I was afraid of writing them somewhere and then disappointing myself at the end of the year by not completing them. Though, later on, I did made a list of some of the reading resolutions. Here is a glimpse:
Diversify my reading by focusing on other genres apart from Crime/Mystery Fiction. (which I did, by reading a mixture of non-fiction, tried paranormal, poetry, science-fiction books)
Read Ten Books Written by Indian Authors. (Jhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy, Anand Neelakantan, and a few more)
Pick Two contemporary authors and read all of their works. (Jhumpa Lahiri)
Read at least twenty non-fiction books. (I ended up reading more than forty)
Read at least fifteen authors that you haven’t read before. (Charles Bukowski, Nora Carroll, Adele Waldman, Ava Dellaira, Ken Kesey, Mary Shelley, Andy Weir, Walter Isaacson, J. D. Salinger, Gustav Flaubert, Anna Quindlen, Henry Miller, Thomas Harris, Cornelia Funke, Sara Maitland, and many more)
2014 has been a mixed bag year for me in reading. I have read a variety of authors, especially a lot of new authors this time, took non-fiction seriously and some interesting books on recommendations. My challenge to myself to read 100 books this year is on track and so far, as the year comes to half, I have read 49 books.
The challenge bar on the goodreads.com tells me that I am “one book ahead of the schedule” which means I am doing well. Thus, here I am evaluating ten best reads I had so far in the year.
10. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Winner of Man Booker Prize 2009, Wolf Hall is amazing story written surrealistically from the POV of Thomas Cromwell.
9. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
An exciting thriller, unfolds the story of an identity-less man. If you like the movie, you will love this book.
To complete my target of reading 100 books this year, so far I have read 18. The party I gave last month was not bad but also not a successful one. The whole month was spent in hangover, day after day. The weather was pleasant last month, as well as my mood. Both reading and writing. Though I never spent much time in writing, but in reading as I feel I should have. Best example, I could manage to read only one out of three books which I mentioned earlier. The serious culprit is my own laziness. I am trying to find some ways to omit it but it seems to have a very powerful base inside my body and has taken control on some part of my brain. Laziness has become my reality and the reality is my laziness.
Still, very much I’d like to conclude–
Best book I read last month: THE LOVE AFFAIRS OF NATHANIEL P. by ADELLE WALDMAN
Worst book I read last month: PAPER TOWNS by JON GREEN
This month, I am including two books only for the party, and I hope to read more than the number six. I might throw another one later this month, who knows?
I feel lucky that I have become an avid part of #BrunchBookChallenge which is a Hindustan Times Brunch Magazine’s initiative to promote reading. The idea is to read at least 24 books in 2014. To participate one must tweet about his/her progress by tagging @HTBrunch and using the hashtag #BrunchBookChallenge.
There are surely some rules to follow:
1. Unless you are a child, you cannot include children’s books.
2. No textbooks. Just so we’re clear, a textbook is any ‘manual of instruction for any subject of study’, you can’t include it. In short, your engineering/GMAT/IAS books don’t count.
3. Graphic novels are allowed, encouraged in fact. If you’re reading comic books, then one volume (or a set of 10 comic books) may be counted as one.
They also recommend books as they did to me once, The Love Affairs of Nathaneil P. by Adelle Waldman, which I am thankful to them. You can read whatever you want. More than 400 people are already participating. And if you get lucky, they’ll surprise you with goodies and stuff.
I am an active participant since the day one, and thus this is my progress so far:
1. Women by Charles Bukowski
2. Soccernomics by Stefan Szymanski and Simon Kuper
3. After Dead by Charlaine Harris
4. Accidental Genius by Mark Levy
5. What would your character do by Eric Maisel
6. The Evelyn Wood Speed Reading by Stanley D. Frank
7. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
8. The Art of Poetry by Shira Wolosky
9. The color of water in July by Nora Carroll
10. Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin
11. Manage your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn Glei
12. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
13. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
14. 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron
15. Paper Towns by John Green
It’s really fun to be a part of this challenge and a good motivation factor to read more. I’d like to thanks HT Brunch for starting this reading challenge and taking an initiative to motivate people read more.
After reading The Lowland in two days, not for the reason the book is easy to read. But for Jhumpa Lahiri is a natural-born storyteller. She indeed is. In this book, she introduces two brothers, close in age who are poles apart, Udayan, the revolutionary brother who gets caught up in the Mao-inspired Naxalite movement to wipe out poverty in India and his more reserved and dutiful brother, Subhash, who leaves home to pursue an academic and scientific life in Rhode Island. When Udayan inevitably gets swept into a revolutionary movement that turns out badly, Subhash returns home briefly, and picks up the pieces, including an attempt to heal the emotional scars of his brother’s young wife.
As the plot goes on, Lahiri covers about 70 years of life span in mere 340 pages. The craftsmanship is indeed good but when I was on the last few pages I truly felt that she is a storyteller, but this novel was just average product of her skill of writing. I am not saying it is not readable. The way she started the story, the details of the political conditions and living conditions in 60s of Calcutta(Kolkata, now) to provide a scenario to the reader such that he would feel the connection with story. With her writing, it’s all about making a reader feel connected with the story, the plot, and the characters are just a phase in-between. Soon they all fade away. This ideology is true with her previous books also which I have read in past two months span, The Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth. It took me three books to decipher and understand her artistic style of making a reader feel connected towards the story till the end. Many writers do not or they just partially do. At first they do try but as the plot continues to move forward, either they loose the confidence of adjoining the read or they just do not want to. But Lahiri is exceptional. Lahiri knows how to indulge a reader in her book.
Her third person narration is way to flatter and flirt with the readers. I got flattered. The plot of The Lowland is overall very generic and to some it might turn out to be addictive in some way. She is certainly my favorite story tellers of the contemporary world.
The book was nominated for the Man Booker Prize 2013, and Jhumpa Lahiri has won The Pulitzer Prize for her Interpreter of Maladies which is the only book of her left for me to read, till date.
I must say I do not enjoy reading short stories. Especially, a collection of short stories, otherwise if they are properly dramatic and structured, I would read only one or two stories from it. Rarely do I finish a whole book of short stories and this time I did. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri is the collection of eight stories which proves that she indeed is a better writer than the other Indian Authors I have read in my lifetime. She understands the experience she wants a reader to enjoy while reading her words. Her writing style is very natural and effortless and the way she care about each and every character she makes is one thing to be learn from her writing. A reader without much effort can indulge him/her-self into the imaginary world she weaves with her words and the experience in that neverland will be unforgettable.
My favorite story from the book is Year’s End which in itself is a part of trilogy of three short stories. You can also say they make a novella. But that’s not for me to decide. Year’s End is a first person narrative and the second part in the trio. All three stories revolve around two characters: Hema and Kaushik. The essence of this particular story, Year’s End, The emotional touch Lahiri has given in the story. On reading, some might find the story a bit too emotional but I say that a bit too emotions are necessary to continue the story forward, thus a big part of the plot. It is good to read emotional stories sometimes, only if they are properly written as Lahiri has done. This story in which Kaushik tells his part of the story. The way he and his father’s awkward relationship is portrayed as after one incident is the way of showing how can vulnerable and sensitive is human life. One whole incident can make the surrounding change so fast and you’ll end up fighting a paradoxical war with yourself.
It is still one of the best collections of short stories I have read. Lahiri credits William Trevor with being one of her inspiration. This is quality stuff. It is a book you will keep on your shelves and return to time and time again.