11 December 2017

2017 - Where am I?

This year has been unbelievably hectic with life and its demands. While it is easy to assume this is one more of the excuses I normally manage to give myself for missing out on reading, things have been happening.
The house got built and the house-warming ceremony got conducted. This required innumerable visits between the two cities, dealing with unreasonable people and shopping and managing and arranging and more.
Finally it's all done and I had promised myself December will be the month of reading and writing.
Life just laughed at me.
I have to fight back and get back on that horse.

I am currently struggling to read Philip K Dick's collection of short stories (science fiction genre), 'We can Remember for You, Wholesale'.
While many of the stories are very arresting, some are mindbogglingly boring. I have to have to finish the book. I am tired of not completing library books. I need to return it before this week.
I am going to get back to the story I stopped long ago (35K words and incomplete). I have to somehow to bring it to completion and then I can throw away that draft and feel good about it. 

30 August 2017

Reading in August

Eat. Delete. – Puja Makhija
Curiosity made me borrow this book from the library. I had never read a diet related book and this seemed interesting. The book covers a range of topics – what is right and wrong about dieting, different types of food, exercise and its importance and a lot of pep talk to people who want to lose weight and grow fit. The author also shares an exhaustive list of What to eat and what to avoid in various cuisines while travelling.
It was interesting in parts, enlightening as well. But a lot of it is a bit preachy, which, probably is required for hardcore dieters. I did learn a few important things and overall it was a decent book to borrow.

Dark Matter – Blake Crouch
A very well written book where the protagonist is a laidback scientist-turned-teacher who gave up on the chance to become a leading name in his research field in favour of family time. One fine day, he finds himself forcibly transported to a parallel world, to one of the multiverses where the possibility of getting back to his family seems nil, unless he finds a way to get back to his world. The plot revolves around how he gets back to his own world and what are the repercussions of traversing across multiverses.
Never once did I suspect this book could disturb me at so many levels. The very concept of multiverses (infinite number of universes that parallelly exist, based on the everyday choices a human makes) seemed too fantastic and the outcome of this adventure is so bizarre that one wonders, what if, this were true!?
The writing is wonderful, never once boring, and the characters and their emotions are well crafted. The only thing that nagged me was the extent to which the protagonist was willing to go for his family – I mean, I loved it and I appreciate it as well – but then I forget, pushing their limits is what makes them heroes.

I would suggest this quirky, wonderful book to all sci-fi lovers. 

21 June 2017

Not Giving up Library Membership and Other Ideas

I have decided not to forgo the library membership.
More from a sentimental point of view than anything else. Of course, I was blind to this perspective, to be honest, and the spouse wondered why I was doing what I was doing. Previously I wasn't happy about the decision of cutting it out of my life, but then, I thought I would be practical for once.
Didn't work.
His gentle admonishing made me feel horrible about the whole plan - of being practical. I guess somewhere at the back of my mind, I was waiting for somebody to tell me it was a bad idea. I am glad I changed my decision.

I am also trying Kindle Unlimited for a month - just to see if it makes sense for me to have something like this on my reader. For now I have downloaded a travel guide from lonely planet, and a couple of novels. I hope it works out for me, in the sense that it pushes me to read more and develop a strong discipline towards reading.

I am currently reading two books in parallel - 'The Vegetarian' and 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Cemetery'. Both are very interesting and belong to two different genres.

Very soon I should start writing about the books as well. I have fallen behind schedule, big time. 

02 May 2017

Four Months and the many Unread Books

The choice of books have been bad this year.

I ended up with a lot of books that I simply dropped half-way (Curious Lives, Notes to Myself), was too overwhelming to even begin (A Suitable Boy) or, too boring and make you feel cheated at the end of it (The Shadow in the Mirror) and, some that have been waiting for me patiently (Naaneke Bareyuthene?), somewhere behind many others in the ignored corner of the bookshelf.

Mostly, those books that I left without finishing tell more about myself than about the style/content/quality of writing. For example, I was eagerly looking forward to reading 'Notes to Myself' by Hugh Prather. I thought I would benefit a lot from it, considering the confusion that has hit me this late in life. Sadly, it refused to help me. Forget motivating me to change my outlook or life, it couldn't motivate me to even continue reading it further. And the blame squarely lies on me. I know. I am probably not ready to get out of my misery-hole, that murky pool of anxiety where I wallow day in and day out. I am just not ready to move my limbs. The spark of determination is still nowhere to be seen - how can I even light up my hopes?

Similarly, I wanted to complete 'Curious Lives' by Richard Bach. I pretty much enjoyed the first half of the story. But when I realised I will be jumping from one inspirational tale to the other, my pessimistic mind simply wasn't interested in continuing the book. I still don't understand why I just let it go.
I can't undo it, since I have already returned the library book. I do regret this a bit. Quite a bit.

Feeling cheated of effort, energy, focus and time by a lousy book is not new to readers - I think I should have known better and stop such attempts at reading, even if they are supposedly 'a light read' and hike up your numbers in the Book Reading Goals.

And then there is the curious case of highly interesting books from your favourite author - you have enjoyed them thoroughly till some point and suddenly it grows more complex and requires far more focus and understanding from you. That's when you lose it. You'd want to read something 'light' and 'breezy' just go get over that anxiety of missing out the real meaning behind the author's words, and end up reading lousy ones. And then you fear going back to that interesting book from your favourite author.

I am planning to give up my library membership. This trend of reading lousy books/half-read or simply returning unread books because you have borrowed it for far too long, began with the library books. Let me pretend that I am jinxed here.  The real reason is, I have too big a To-Be-Read pile of my own books to borrow from library and return unread books. By doing so, I feel as if I am being extravagant and arrogant.

27 March 2017

Reading in Parallel

Is it possible, I wonder? I mean I have tried it, and I am ambivalent about it.
Earlier, I could never read two books in parallel - I felt my focus was not as singular, but in the last one year, I have tried doing that and I did manage to read.

Is it better now? I don't know. Have I lost interest, in general? I don't know that as well. But I have noticed that if I can finish two books in the following conditions:

a. Book A is a breezy read; Book B is heavy/intense
b. Both the books A and B are breezy reads
c. I am not too interested in the book but I just want to finish it

I do know a couple of friends who read in parallel but I am not sure I can do a good job of it. I wonder what is the general split - of people who read multiple books at a time and people who prefer to finish one after the other. 

17 March 2017

Midnight All Day - Hanif Kureishi

Midnight All Day - A short story collection from the noted UK based writer Hanif Kureishi. I had not read any books by him till now so I was eager.
He is damn good - so good that sometimes you wonder what is he saying. I am not being sarcastic here. Some of the stories were difficult, to say the least. I probably would make sense of them when I re-read them again. However, I remember a quote on poetry by someone known saying that it if it requires explanation then it is not good enough. Some times I wonder if this is applicable to the short stories also. Complexity is fine, but incomprehensibility?
Anyway, his stories, thankfully are not incomprehensible. They are complex, because they are about people. ANYthing to do with people is always difficult, isn't it? Especially if it is about how well or badly they handle relationships in life.

The running theme of the book is about difficult relationships - the presence of a third wheel, in particular. Extra marital affairs, affairs with older men, difficult women, dying relationships shadowed by the presence of a lover - he has explored many angles. It is quite an interesting book. Some of the stories bothered me at many levels - which is to say, they were really good in disturbing one's equilibrium. I generally do not mind open-ended stories, but some so abrupt, it felt as if the author lead me to a mysterious house, promising all sorts of goodies and then just when I was about to cross the threshold, banged the door right on my face.

I want to read other books and stories by Hanif Kureishi. Definitely worth the effort. 

12 January 2017

The Reptile Room or Murder! - (Book #2 in the 'A Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket

A children's book is a wonderful way to begin the new year. I enjoyed this book as much as the first book.

This book deals with the Baudelair children, who were orphaned and now are being shunted to another relative's place after the disaster with the first relative, Count Olaf. The new relative is a nice herpetologist, who is kind, considerate and sometimes, forgetful. However, Count Olaf makes another attempt to get hold of the children in order to gobble up their vast fortune, and the book tells us the story of what happens then.

I like the way the writer describes the meaning of slightly complicated words to the young readers, without it sounding condescending.

I took the shorter route to achieve my book reading goals by choosing a seemingly simple and a small book (170+ pages), but I am not sorry I did. :D