Time to pack away memories of old,
While we wait to unwrap what the New Year beholds.
The promise of a future that fulfils your dreams,
Hey 21st Century, Happy Sweet Sixteen!
A brand new year has dawned and while I look forward to all the excitement it promises to bring, I can’t help but look back at the wonderful year that went by, and rejoice in all the achievements it gave me. And to think that I didn’t even fulfill any resolutions!!!
Let’s be honest. Resolutions aren’t for me. I can make all the lists I want at the start of the year. But history has proven that the enthusiasm experienced in penning them down, lasts for only about a fortnight.
So I decided a long time ago, to not make any resolutions go forward. No preset targets, thank you very much. Instead, I will strive towards something and celebrate whatever I accomplish at the end of the year.
One such agenda that has been foremost on my mind for almost a decade, has been to reacquaint myself with a reading habit.
Up till college and even the earlier years of my professional career, I always managed to pull out time to read. I admit it wasn’t quite like it used to be when I was in school. Back then, we would time the days, graduating to the hours it took to finish a book. However, as life got busier and responsibilities heavier, I regretted being unable to read as voraciously as I used to.
In the last eight-nine years, I must have read, maybe ten books. (This figure is safely padded, in case I missed a title. So you get the drift.)
I did read a handful of Mills and Boon which are not included in this count – primarily because, well, they’re Mills and Boon! Reading them is like reading a magazine. You can finish one in as less as one hour. Believe me, I’ve timed it.
Fun Fact – I hadn’t read a Mills and Boon until 2007. And the reason why or rather how I actually did read one was because it came free with an issue of a home décor magazine.
So what inspired me to read again?
One of the largest national daily newspapers – The Hindustan Times, started a reading challenge in 2014 through their Sunday magazine – HT Brunch. The challenge was to read 24 books in the year and tweet your progress.
I couldn’t take part in 2014. But I decided to jump on the next train, with the 2nd edition of the challenge in 2015 – of reading 30 books. So I went online, ordered some books that were being talked about and set off on a roller coaster.
Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. I even found about a dozen dusty old paperbacks that I must have bought sometime in 2008 but never got down to reading. Long story short, I had finished reading 30 books before 6 months were up.
But that wasn’t the end. I was enjoying myself so much that I kept looking for new books – checking out bestseller lists, searching through publishers’ websites, visiting bookstores – both online and brick/mortar, for more reading material.
Twitter was also a great place for books. @HTBrunch published recommendations every few weeks. #BrunchBookChallenge revealed book titles other people were reading and what they thought about it. I was introduced to dozens of authors I had never even heard of and became part of an exciting new world – finding new books and meeting authors whose work I read and shared reviews of.
So at the end of the year, I had read 105 books in all. A staggering number I never thought I could achieve when I first set out. In fact, I read as many as 21 books in one month (that was in June and July, when New Delhi was at it’s hottest).
The fiction genres I read included Rom-Coms; Thrillers – Crime, Legal, Psychological, Spy, even Romance; Young Adult; Historic Fiction; Pure Romance. In the non-fiction category, I read books on Creative Writing and Grammar (two of my most enjoyable reads), Memoirs and Biographies, Satire/Comedy, and even a book on a true double homicide that still remains unsolved.
I know a lot of you are eager to know my top reads from this reading challenge. So I am categorizing these in two groups – Indian authors and International authors.
Indian/Indian origin Authors (in random order)
1. Anything and everything written by Anuja Chauhan (The Zoya Factor, Battle For Bittora, Those Pricey Thakur Girls, The House That BJ Built)
2. The Shiva Trilogy – Amish Tripathi (The Immortals of Meluha, The Secret of the Nagas, The Oath of the Vayuputras)
3. Ravan & Eddie Trilogy – Kiran Nagarkar (Ravan & Eddie, The Extras, Rest in Peace : Ravan and Eddie)
4. Cuckold – Kiran Nagarkar
5. If Today Be Sweet – Thrity Umrigar
6. Mrs Funnybones – Twinkle Khanna
7. Me, Mia, Multiple – Debashish Irengbam
8. Engraved in Stone – Madhulika Liddle
9. The Bestseller She Wrote – Ravi Subramanian
10. Rajesh Khanna: The Untold Story of India’s First Superstar – Yasser Usman
11. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
International Authors (in random order)
1. Anything and everything written by Richard Castle (because I am a total fangirl when it comes to Castle – the popular US TV series)
2. Anything and everything written by Joseph Finder (Power Play, Suspicion, The Fixer, Company Man, Paranoia)
3. The Millennium Trilogy – Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest)
4. The Girl in the Spider’s Web – David Lagercrantz (A continuation of Stieg Larrson’s trilogy)
5. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
6. Angel – Colleen McCullough
7. This Charming Man – Marian Keyes
8. Passing Under Heaven – Justin Hill
9. The Woman Who Stole My Life – Marian Keyes
10. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
11. Memory Man – David Baldacci
12. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
13. The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
14. Killing Monica – Candace Bushnell
15. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
16. Girl in the Dark – Anna Lyndsey
17. Pretty Baby – Mary Kubica
18. Saints of the Shadow Bible – Ian Rankin
19. Circling the Sun – Paula McLain
20. The Skin Collector – Jeffery Deaver
If you want to see the complete list of all 105 books, click here.
If you are fond of reading and would like to take up a reading challenge, join the Brunch Book Challenge Part-3. It is a wonderful experience, guaranteed. For details, click here.
I would love to hear from you about the books you’ve read, the authors you love or any favourite series. Share your experiences about reading the good or the not so good books, in the comments section below.
Meanwhile, I have started my 2nd book of the year and can’t seem to put it down!