Seemed scary that I managed 32 last year. This year I seem to have outdone that with 37! Yeah, read that again. 37. Am surprised too. Time I started doing something else along with reading. Considering there was zero tennis this year, thanks to the critical endangerment of tennis courts in Bangalore, considering that there was very little traveling and more of falling sick, the number has not entirely unexpectedly been high!
So here’s the list. As before, links point to reviews on this blog:
1. The Blaft anthology of Tamil fiction, #1 – Started this at the end of 2011 and finished within the first week of 2012. Fun read, full of short stories. Bought the second volume, but somehow not able to muster up the interest to read it.
2. ನಾಯಿ ನೆರಳು – S.L. Bhyrappa. Continuing with establishing a pattern of at least 2 Kannada books a year, a Kannada book to start the first half of the year.
3. Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh. Read this slowly during my shortish stay in the US. Decent read.
4. Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain. Having read the abridged one – the illustrated classics thing – went for the actual one by Mark Twain.
5. A shot at history – My obsessive journey to Olympic Gold – Abhinav Bindra and Rohit Brijnath. Picked this up for Brijnath.
6. A case of exploding mangoes – Mohammed Hanif. Excellent read. Fictionalized set of events surrounding Zia-Ul-Haq’s death. Thanks Bharat for the reco.
7. One hundred years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez. Absolute classic.
8. The Hungry Tide – Amitav Ghosh. Seemed to be picking up more and more Ghosh during this phase. But was led to it by his blog where he detailed the time he spent with researchers in Cambodia tracking the Irrawady dolphins.
9. The Moor’s last sigh – Salman Rushdie. The book where I finally fell out with him. Midnight’s Children was good I felt. This might just be my last Rushdie book. Or might read Satanic Verses to see what the fuss was all about.
10. Jingo – Terry Pratchett. Part of his discworld series – Pratchett at his best as always. Gift from a dear cousin. Much obliged. I had given her ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ and put her into mild depression.
11. The Financial Expert – R. K. Narayan. Somehow had a hard time finishing this. Smallish one at 220 odd pages. Took forever. Stopped reading RKN rest of the year. Might pick up something this year.
12. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami. Gift from Anush. Good stuff. Looking forward to picking up more of him. Murakami I mean.
13. Manto: Selected stories – Saadat Hasan Manto, translation by Aatish Taseer. Got on my radar 2012 being his birth centenary. Absolutely blown away. Hope to read more of him. Loved the translation too.
14. Phantoms in the brain: Probing the mysteries of the human mind – V. S. Ramachandran. Put on my radar from cousin‘s list from last year. For non-fiction, absolutely brilliant stuff.
15. The Shadow Lines – Amitav Ghosh. Most of his RTs on twitter were praise for this book written in the late 80s. Easily one of the best reads in a long time. Couldn’t recommend more if not read.
16. John Wright’s Indian Summers – John Wright. Borrowed from Anush. Superb read of one of the best phases of Indian cricket.
17. Rahul Dravid: Timeless Steel from ESPNCricinfo. Pre-ordered this as soon as it opened. Collection of articles and essays on Dravid, different innings etc. Superb read.
18. The man who would be king – Rudyard Kipling. Wanted to read Kipling. Just to see what the noise is all about. Loved it. But doesn’t count as a book in itself. A short novella maybe.
19. The Gold Bat – P.G. Wodehouse. One of PGW’s earliest works. A gift from a cousin to my brother back in 1989! Picked it up to do a re-read. Might have read it first in the early 90s. Nowhere as good as his more famous ones, but an interesting read nevertheless.
20. ಪರ್ವ(Parva) – S.L. Bhyrappa. Had planned this for the second half of the year and duly read it over 7 weeks. A magnum opus retelling of the Mahabharatha from an anthropological perspective, easily the best read of the year. I didn’t expect any less. One of those books which end and leave a bad taste in your mouth, partly because it ended!
21. The rest of the robots – Isaac Asimov. Seemed to be outgrowing his stories. Just a collection of short stories. Far too many loopholes seen.
22. The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje. Picked it up from IIWC library. Wanted to read this nice and slow, but somehow ended up reading faster than I thought I should. Want to do a reread sometime.
23. Dreams for the dying – C.K. Meena. Nice and quick read set in the 90s in Chennai. Didn’t expect much but was a pretty good one. The book I picked up from Blossom’s was even signed by the author.
24. The Village by the Sea – Anita Desai. Picked up from the library. More of a Novella and a Children’s book.
25. Falling off the map: Some lonely places of the world – Pico Iyer. Pico Iyer’s been on my radar for a while and picked this up. Sometimes boring, but for the most part quite an interesting travelogue.
26. The artist of disappearance – Anita Desai. Collection of 3 short stories. Superb read.
27. The No. 1 Ladies detective agency – Alexander McCall Smith. Got lots of recos for it. Finally decided to pick it up. Nice, light and breezy. All’s well with the world. 🙂
28. Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Picked up on a whim from Blossom’s. Turned out to be a very interesting read. Set during the Biafran war of the late 60s. Had no idea such a war had happened before I picked it up.
29. Smoke and Mirrors – Neil Gaiman. Picked up from Anush’s reco. Collection of his short stories. Good stuff.
30. The sly company of people who care – Rahul Bhattacharya. Every article from him on Cricinfo would include this book as his work. Picked it up as it kept appearing often. Lovely writing, but fell out with his lack of a deep enough plot right till the end.
31. 2001: A Space odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke. Finally found this in Blossom’s. Finished within one day. Brilliant work. Going to be moving to Clarke from Asimov looks like.
32. Tears of the Giraffe – Alexander McCall Smith. Second in the No 1. Ladies Detective Agency series. Picked it up due to the first. Slightly better than the first one. Maybe because the characters were more set in my mind.
33. Smoke and Mirrors: An experience of China – Pallavi Aiyar. Another library pickup. Mainly wanted to read about the country I spent a year in. Good stuff.
34. Conversations with Mani Ratnam – Baradwaj Rangan. I follow his blog regularly(Rangan’s not Ratnam’s), and this was mentioned as coming out around this time and he had some good write-ups on doing this book. Interesting read with discussions on each and every one of his movies.
35. Doctor Fischer of Geneva, Or the Bomb party – Graham Greene. Another library pickup. Had no idea what to expect. Absolutely quirky read.
36. Behind the beautiful forevers – Life, death and hope in a Mumbai Undercity – Katherine Boo. Had been on my list for a while. Went ahead thanks to Anush’s reco. Finished in 2 days over my time-off from work. Brilliant stuff. Also scary stuff. Much recommended.
37. The Hobbit – J.R.R Tolkien. Had to read after I watched the movie. The movie seemed to have jazzed up such an interesting adventure book. Who said only Bollywood adds Masala?!
1. Love in the time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez. Read exactly 20 pages. Just. Could. Not. Go. Ahead. Maybe later.
Phew. So it is that the count is 37. Hope to read less this year! It sure takes a while listing out 37 books and linking them up! Also because I started subscribing to The Caravan and that takes up some of my bus reading days.
Things that I want to read this year:
1. Bettada Jeeva by Shivarama Karanth. Already started. My first Kannada book for the year.
2. Cut like Wound by Anita Nair. Ordered and sitting on the shelf.
3. Ashis Nandy’s The intimate enemy.
4. The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.
5. John Banville’s The Untouchable.
6. Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong. Got two recos already.
7. Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal.
8. Murakami’s Kafka on the shore.
9. Kipling’s Kim.
10. T.S Satyan’s autobiography Alive and Clicking.
Need to see how much I accomplish.