Another year, and another reading challenge, and a Project 52 Books at that! I’m shaking things up a bit this year. Not going to fall back on good ol’ fiction to tide me through my reading projects (though as you will see later, all the books that I read in January ended up being fiction!!!!!). I’m trying to diversify, and make my reading experience a lot more holistic. Here’s the plan:
- 12 fiction books
- 12 non-fiction books
- 12 books by Indian authors
- 12 books of different literary genres (poetry, plays, graphic novels etc.)
I know this adds up to only 48 – the remaining 4 are wildcards. Basically, anything that I’d like to read.
One of the things I started doing last year was look up book club questions as soon as I was done reading a book. That helped me go beyond just reading the story to actually absorbing it and refining my opinions about the story, the writing style, the use of language and such like. It’s a habit I’m carrying forward into the new year as well. Do any of you do this too?
Now getting on with the books I read in January. Oh, this was a mixed bag. 2 great books, and 2 rather average ones.
- Serious Men (Indian author / fiction): This one came highly recommended and I had high expectations. Thankfully, it did not disappoint. At times mocking, at times serious, Serious Men by Manu Joseph is a wonderful take on the caste-ism, and to an extent, the sexism that continues to be prevalent even in modern day India. I found it a bit difficult to get into because it was just too claustrophobic to read… The descriptions of Bombay, the chawls, the maddening crowds, they were all so true and realistic that I felt like I was drowning in a sea of people and the daily, constant battle for a better life even as I was reading the book. But once I got past that, I couldn’t stop marveling at the brilliant writing of Manu Joseph. He makes you get under the skin of the characters. All of whom are wonderfully written, you understand their compulsions, and while they may appear comical in their own ways, you know that they are so very real. Highly recommended.
- The Japanese Lover (fiction): Nope. Didn’t do anything for me. I found the writing (by Isabel Allende) rather amateurish, and while I am usually a big fan of stories that span decades, something about the whole story seemed rather contrived and forced. Sure, it’s a story about long-lasting love, friendship, living, aging, and all that, but it just didn’t evoke any strong feelings in me.
- After You (fiction): I loved reading “Me Before You” when it came out about 3/4 years ago. Maybe my tastes have changed, but “After You” by Jojo Moyes just didn’t give me any of the feels. Sure, I raced through to the finish, but that was more just me wanted to get done with the book than anything else. It’s a light, easy read, for sure, but the book doesn’t really stand out, not on its own, and certainly not as the sequel to a vastly popular book.
- My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises (fiction): Oh, what a gem of a book. Written originally in Swedish by Fredrik Backman, it is wonderfully translated into English by Henning Koch. It follows the journey of a precocious almost eight-year-old-going-on-seventeen Elsa as she goes about delivering letters left by her dead Granny to various residents of the building that they live in. I love how the story finds room for fairy tales, a rockstar Granny, adorable wurses, soldiers, wars, references to Harry Potter and X-Men, a car named Renault, meaningful back stories for nearly all characters, and most of all, redemption. Having read this one, I can’t wait to read Backman’s first novel – A Man Called Ove.
What are you reading these days? Have you set any reading goals for yourself?