All posts tagged: Reading Challenge

woman on a chair reading a book with a cat on lap

Around the World in Books

I got the idea from a newspaper article about a teenager reading at least one book from each country in the world. What a novel thought! Why hadn’t I thought of that? All my life, I’ve read about the adventures of various White kids and adults.  We’re told how Enid Blyton books are quintessential childhood stories even though my childhood didn’t resemble it in any way. Even contemporary writers widely available in my adulthood were White. I have written previously about my quest to diversify mine and my son’s bookshelves. Here, I talk about this in detail. I’ve also added my list here, so if anyone’s interested in expanding their reading list or even help me with recommendations.  What I learned about what I read When I started paying attention to who I read, I decided to make an Excel Sheet by region and country. I was pretty surprised by what I saw, although I shouldn’t have been. The UK and US columns overflowed, while the India column was relatively modest. Even within the UK …

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Fiction) Part 2

How’s your reading habit? Are you in a reading slump where you want to read but are not able to for whatever reason? I had been there for a very long time. When I decided to get back to reading, I had to schedule it, like I would do any other work. Can you read a book a week? It is possible if you set a goal to read 25 pages every day. If you read fifteen minutes daily, you will finish a 250-page novel in just over one week. Make a start. Pick up books you know are going to be easy to read or are about topics you love to read about. Here are some more fiction books I read this year. These are all long books, mostly dealing with difficult life situations. Each of these books takes you on a journey over years of the lives of the people involved. A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende: How do you begin to tell the story of a friendship that has …

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Fiction) Part 1

Read more fiction. It truly broadens your mind. There’s no better way to get a deeper understanding of the human condition than through stories. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: This is a story about mental health. It’s about how people with similar experiences, feelings and emotions can make each other better just by being together. It’s also a story about loneliness, and overcoming challenges, and learning to become comfortable with yourself. It is a bit long and the author’s writing style almost reads like a journal. The story is good, but it felt too simplistic.  Grown Ups by Marian Keyes: She tackles the everyday challenges faced by ordinary people like you and me. From faulty brain wiring, siblings, friendship, family and love. Just some of these struggles are addressed by her lively and entertaining characters. Living in Dublin, they are responsible adults that sometimes make bad decisions and turn their lives upside down. It was a fun and thoughtful read. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes: The Giver of Stars is …

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Indian Authors)

I’ve been trying to read more books by Indian authors. What I am trying to do is create a quintessential reading list of Indian authors that can provide a mental road map for Indian literature and can be used as a reference for anyone seeking stories that are rich in Indian culture. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie: This book is a great example of magical realism, which is a style of writing that shows something almost unreal yet seems very real at the same time. Magic and other unnatural forces are part of reality in this story. It provides an account of the partition of India and Pakistan, a story of love across the religious divides during and after 1940s. The story weaves around a group of kids born at the exact moment and share a bond. It’s a unique concept but it feels grounded in reality. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth: It is a panoramic and insightful treatise on twentieth century India, an adventure that embraces myriad family conflicts and political intrigues. Arranged …

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Fantasy Fiction)

The thing that makes fantasy fiction great is that it lets us imagine things we can’t or dare not imagine in our real life. Reading and writing fantasy make us find the parts of ourselves we didn’t even know were there. The mystery, magic and beauty of fantasy stretch out across the ages to touch people who never meet. It connects them on a level beyond words, and that’s what we consider important: finding, connecting and celebrating wonderful stories. Reading a fantasy is like being sucked into another universe. It can be intimidating, especially for adults, who often judge it to be less engaging, or simpler, than fiction that tries to represent everyday life. Fantasy Fiction is my escape from this reality. I love finding new books in the genre that take me to newer places. These are some of my favourites this year. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: Matt Haig’s latest book, The Midnight Library is about the power of stories. It asks: what happens when someone has read so many books that …

banner with 3 books

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Poetry)

I love adding poetry books to my list of yearly reading. It adds just a good variety and unique perspective sometimes.  I’ve been curious about this for a long time now, and when I started – yikes! – my reading comprehension was poor. I had to teach myself everything I knew about poetry. In college, I got a lot of valuable feedback and support which has played a big role in helping me improve my reading skills greatly. I would encourage you to make your reading lists diverse not only by authors but by genre as well.  Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine von Radics: I first read her work on Instagram and found her words powerfully descriptive. I love this collection. The poems are short, most only a line or two, but still convey everything they mean to. “Getting everything you ever wanted does not make you want less” The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Macksey: This is not really a book of poetry but I don’t know which list …

covers of biographies by Mariah Carey, Barack Obama, and Anthony Bourdain

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Biographies)

I fell in love with biographies after I read  Jay-Z’s Decoded. It’s one of the best ones I’ve read. Not only does he talk about his origins but also about rap music. I was one of those who didn’t understand it or like it but he completely changed my perception. Now at least I appreciate it, and realise good rap is poetic. He admits a lot of the new music just caters to what’s expected out of the genre instead of being true to it. You need to pay attention.   It made me understand the power of stories, and good writing. Unfortunately a lot of good stories get lost because of bad story-telling. Indian greats like Milkha Singh and Mary Kom have such a powerful story to tell but their writers have let them down. And the movies made on them have let them down further. This year I read some good biographies. The Meaning of Mariah Carey: I loved her music as a teen but never knew her struggle. She’s portrayed as such a …

mug with coffee and strawberry on opened books

Reading Challenge: 2019 (Non-Fiction)

The Power of true stories cannot be underestimated. Stories and facts that we have not considered come together to make non-fiction a staple in your reading lists. Here are some great ones I read this year. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly: The first thing that comes to mind is the amount of talent and knowledge that has been lost (and continues to be lost) because of barriers to education and employment. Such a criminal waste. That said, this book brings to light the contributions of women, especially African American women, in the space age. Well researched and told. A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa: A disturbing look into some of the lives of people living in North Korea. The words barely begin to describe the true horror of the starvation and oppression being faced by so many in secrecy. The ending of the book is quite heartbreaking and since there’s not much information available on the author online, we don’t know how the story ends up. Homo Deus By Yuval Noah Harari: The …

banner with Books: six of crows, Crooked Kingdom, and The Priory of the Orange Tree

Reading Challenge: 2019 (Fantasy Fiction)

I love the fantasy genre. I’ve loved the fantasy book series since I read the Lord of the Rings, Terry Pratchett, and then Harry Potter. A good fantasy book takes you to a whole new world that seems strange yet so familiar.  For a long time after that, I couldn’t find anything else in the genre that I could obsess about as much as I had been consumed by those three series of books. But I’m so glad for some brilliant fantasy book recommendations from other readers. Here are some great ones I read this year. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: I loved the concept and the telling of it. A very many twists and turns makes this an exciting duology.The main protagonist is a (white) male but is surrounded by POC and the women characters are strongly written. I would still love to see more women leaders in books though. Can’t be that hard to just reverse roles. Has me convinced to pick up more books from the Grishaverse series. …

book banner with The forest of enchantment and The Dragonfly Sea

Reading Challenge: 2019 (Fiction)

This year was a good year for books for me. I had started to diversify my reading list to books by authors in different countries, and even looked into some contemporary Indian authors. My goal was to read 40 books this year but I upgraded it to 50 by August. I had given up reading books by Indian authors after being disappointed countless times (looking at you Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi). In college I’d read the likes of Anita Desai and found the subject matter morose and the writing high-brow; meant for submission to book awards and discussed in literary societies, not something you’d want to cuddle up with. Then last year I discovered the books of Manto, Perumal Murugan, and Arundhati Roy’s new work of fiction. Not to mention Amitav Ghosh. This year my journey continued. It’s a good mix of popular and hidden gems, classics and contemporary.  Once again, I divide my list into three different posts of fiction, fantasy fiction, and non-fiction. Here goes the first list: Fiction. The Namesake by …