Dec 30, 2012

2012, in Books!

A super-good year for books... I touched a number that I only dreamt about touching.
Reading 120 books in 12 months is a big deal, especially to me.
That means an average of -
10 books per month
2.5 books per week 
a book every 2 days
All this combined with a very demanding job, and another demanding hobby... well, I felt like I ran past the finish line of a marathon as I closed my 120th book earlier today.

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[Do check out my book list by clicking on the pic above]

It was indeed like a marathon. I started off with great gusto, I grew disillusioned in the middle, I told myself that number doesn't matter(which didn't till I finished my 100th book, after which it was merely a challenge I threw to myself to see if I could touch 120!), I drew inspiration from other readers, my elbows ached with all the book/Kindle-holding I did, and when the finish line was visible there was exhilaration and excitement, and when I finally reached the magic number after some huffing and puffing, I was overjoyed. And am overjoyed because as I hit the number, I also know that I enjoyed and savored each book, even the not-so-good-ones.

One of the reasons why I am not able to contain the excitement is because I am not sure if I will ever be able to read 120 books in an year again. Life is busy and it will only get busier in the coming years. Also, I want to not read 120 books in the coming years... I want to concentrate on other hobbies... coz as much as I love them and think that they are really the only things that matter, I know that books alone cannot satiate the zest I have for things! I want to work on other aspects of the hobbies, like working on my cooking techniques and understanding better photography...

When I started off this year, I wasn't sure if I would be able to read even 50 books, which is why I set myself a modest target of 30, which I think I crossed by the 6th week of the year. And as the numbers kept on increasing, I kept on piling them up. I spent a lot of time on figuring out what my next books would be, where to source them from and internalizing each book that I finished reading. The last bit was particularly important because I've read some great books this year. Some books which I will carry with me forever either because of the marks they made on my mind or what they have introduced me to.

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I finished the Tome-Travelling challenge I picked up at the start of 2012, read some incredible writers for the first time, read some real duds and some life-altering-awesome books.

The Tome-Travelling aside, I have read some great books in 2012. Thankfully, there were not many young-adult books, a genre I still enjoy reading, but know for a fact that they cannot teach me anything new. There were a lot of authors I read for the first time and wondered how on earth I survived without reading them before. There were also some disappointments in the form of highly rated authors whom I couldn't enjoy as much as I thought I would.

Here are some of the best books I read this year, in no particular order -

  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – A very well researched and written non-fiction book, something that’s not my first choice but am glad I picked up, which opened my eyes to a whole new world.
  2. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – As I mentioned in my review of this book, the word ‘beautiful’ doesn’t even begin to describe this book. A very poignant love story with a lot of other elements interspersed, this is a very interesting book.
  3. A Room of One’s Own – Ms.Woolf’s account on why there are not many women in literature is a very profound book, something that aligned to the theme I chose for this year – Feminism.
  4. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle – One of the most complex works of Murakami’s that I read this year, this is also a weird yet thoroughly awesome amalgamation of worlds, in a classic Murakami style.
  5. Kafka on the Shore – Oh.My.God! What a brilliant book! Every aspect of this book will mess with your head for days after you are done reading, and every aspect of it will remain with you forever. You will talk about sardines, portals and wish you heard the title song somewhere… the book will haunt you forever and you will love it!
  6. Wide Sargasso Sea – Like the reviewers say, this is indeed the other side of Jane Eyre, a book that implores upon the story of Rochester’s first wife. You will not feel the same about Rochester after you read this book!
  7. Thirteenth Tale – What.A.Book! It’s a pity Diana Setterfield has not written any book after this, and am eagerly waiting for someone to make a movie out of this one, though I know the movie will NEVER live up to the book. As I mentioned in my review, this one is a thorough book-lover’s paradise.
  8. 1Q84 – I’ve written, spoken and thought about this for every waking moment for up to a month after reading this, and am still not done.
  9. Ines of my Soul – I took a free trip to 1500’s Chile and came back when I finished this book. Yep, Allende’s prose is as captivating as the interesting life Ines led back then.
  10. A Doll’s House – Ibsen’s short play is anything but short. Thoroughly feminist and thought-provoking, I would recommend this book to every girl.
  11. The Bell Jar – Slyvia Plath’s talent is not unknown to the modern world but I think this book is am embodiment of it all. Though the concept is depressing, Plath manages to write it in an un-depressing way.
  12. The Shadow of the Wind – A profound tale of undying love, extreme hatred, time-tested friendship, deep sorrow and above all Barcelona, this book made me a fan of Ruiz Zafon’s.

2013 is going to be about classics. I intend to read classics, both old and new. I also intend to re-read some books that I love - Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore, Harry Potter series, The Thirteenth Tale, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the likes…
Am also going to pick up the books I chose for my 2012-Tome-travelling challenge, those that I couldn't read either because I couldn't source them or because I barely couldn't finish them.
I will also read Vikram Seth's Suitable Boy and Rushdie's Midnight's Children, or at least try to read them.
There is also a plan to finish reading all Murakami's works, though I highly doubt if I will do it all in one stretch, for the fear of not having anything to look forward to if I finish Murakami.

The ONLY thing I regret in all this mad-cap-reading is that I did not take the time out to review each book that I read, something which I enjoy doing otherwise. As a result of this, all I have are the ratings I gave for the books and no track of my thoughts as I was reading them, something I love to read at a later point of time to reminisce. 

2013 will have a new Kindle, the new Paperwhite one which has just been ordered(Yippee!!), which might hopefully mean undisturbed sleep for the husband who gets bothered by the reading lamp by my bedside but is sweet enough to not mention it, because he knows that I cannot sleep without reading. There will also be a new Surface later in the year, which will hopefully make updating my reading progress in Goodreads much easier.

So here’s to an exciting 2013… an year full of good books, great conversations with friends, some travel and some great work. :-D

2012–the Year that was…

Oh, it has been a good year. A very good year, indeed.
I read a lot, enough to compensate for the very less travelling I did, cooked quite a bit, learnt a bit more about photography and learnt how to knit.

Travel: There has not been a lot of travel, thanks to the very colliding holiday schedule both I and the husband kept this year. Right when I would be free from work, he would be swamped with it, and when I would be busy, he had some free time. In spite of this killing schedule, we went out twice... Delhi-Agra and a week long trip to Coorg, which was essentially a reading holiday, where we both did nothing but read in our respective corners in the charming little homestay we stayed at. And I went for a short holiday to Goa with friends where I did nothing but eat mangoes in the comfort of our hotel room, take a couple of long bike rides and squirm as usual at the thought of sitting in the beach.

Blog: No, am not talking about this one. Am talking about The Meal Algorithm, which is where I blog more frequently(72 posts in 2012!). I love to write, and the love for cooking has continued even in 2012. I discovered slowly that baking is certainly not a strength, though I can bake to save my life, its cooking that I'd like to do. Even that has suffered a bit in the latter part of the year, thanks to the house help disappearing for a full 4 months, without whom, I had to cook the basic meals of the day too after which I was too busy to think of something new to cook or even shoot what I cooked. So yeah, both cooking and photography suffered in the latter part of the year.

Books: This is going to need a whole new post for itself. Yes, reading has been the focus this year. I was busy and stressed at work. A lot of family visited us this year, I watched some mindless TV for months at a stretch (imagine watching back to back episodes of Gilmore Girls, The Good Wife and 30 Rock). I also picked up a new hobby-learning to knit which didn't really kick off as well as I thought it would and hence required me to spend a lot more mind power and time on it. During all these, reading was what I did. With great focus and lists in tow, I read every day, for atleast an hour. And thanks to the incredible speed at which I could read, I finished a great number of books (all of which will be in a separate post!) and am mighty proud of it...

Hobbies: As mentioned before, knitting suddenly piqued my interest. Well, there are reasons to it. I once saw a bunch of girls crocheting in an episode of The New Girl which I totally loved as a stress-buster-idea. And then, there was this awesome cardigan and handbag that I wanted to make for myself. Only when I finished learning knitting(I can do a decent knit and a pearl now but knitting sweaters is a long way ahead!) did I discover that it was crocheting that I should've done, if I wanted to make myself that cardigan and the handbag. So yeah, 2013 is going to be the year where I learn crocheting.

Work has been good, with even some good stuff towards the 3rd quarter of the year. As usual, I met some amazing people, didn’t lose friend (touchwood!) and have gotten slightly better at reading people. I still take things at face value, but the cynic in me is back, which I think is good. The positive attitude is still there, and I hope it will continue.

We have absolutely not been socializing, partying is beginning to look like a chore. The husband and I have been hanging out by ourselves on a weeknight , mostly in HRC to do some people-watching, and meeting some good friends at either their or our homes. I stopped worrying about this trend, which I initially thought was alarming, and have not begun to understand as yet another change age brings in. I’ve realized that I’d rather have conversations with people I like than sit with a drink I don’t drink with blazing music in my ears, and am okay with it being a sign of growing old.

Weekends are either spent reading on my couch or with family around. There have been quite a few alone-weekends what with the husband travelling a lot over the weekends initially. So yeah, there has not been a dearth of alone-time which I’ve always enjoyed. I spent most of this time by myself and some of it hanging out with friends, all of it super fun! New babies by friends are welcomed into the world and good things have happened to people who are dear to me, this year, and that has made me immensely happy.

Health has been bad. Yeah, pretty bad. Its not something that’s visible to the naked eye and people wouldn’t know if I don’t mention it, but its been bad, to the point of being traumatic in the first half of the year. There were days I was so down physically that I couldn’t even get up in the morning. I am glad persisted through it all, and now its all getting better. Only in the past 3-4 months have I been settling into feeling good. I know I have to exercise, coz only that is the solution to everything I’ve been facing, but then, that’s a problem I have decided to solve on another day. For now, Homeo is what am relying on.

2013 Resolutions:
I plan to read up a lot more on food photography, bring in some technique to the way I shoot pics, learn some photo-editing software to enhance my pics and see what I can do with my food photography.
I will aim to post atleast once a week on my food blog, this should be do-able, but lets see where work will take me!
Crocheting - learn this!
Read as usual, but not with the mad fervor! Also re-read some books.
Travel. Take another holiday in Goa and may be a reading holiday as well.
And please, for the love of God, get in shape. Exercise!