“Reason? Does one even need a reason to READ? It’s your soul’s daily diet. And let me tell you, I have a big appetite!”
*scoffs at the utter lack of intellect in the other person*
It was the dialogues like these which earned me the coveted title of “the girl who reads, and it has lingered on me till date — because, once a reader, always a reader, they say that. I’m still recalled as the girl who adjusts her spectacles as she turns a new leaf of the book and the one who begins to twirl her hair around her finger as the story approaches the climax.
Years back, the title felt like an invisible crown that I carried everywhere with grace and sheer pride. People looked at me with enormous respect.
The girl who read!
“People looked at me with enormous respect.”
They still do.
But, I have to admit, with great dismay in myself, that though the crown has clung like ivy, the habit of reading hasn’t. I’m NOT a reader, at least not the kind who qualifies for that title.
I read other things now — ecommerce, marketing, finance, business, news, tweets — some of my last reads. I was never into these. I was a hardcore fiction girl, the one who would fall in love even with the villains of the story and would sulk for weeks on being pulled back into the real world after the read is over.
Why am I saying all this today?
Two years back, I jumped on the HT Brunch Book Challenge of reading 24 books in a year, which meant finishing a book every 15 days. Seemed like something I could accomplish in sleep, considering my track record of finishing The Da Vinci Code in 12 hours and devouring more than 3 books in one week.
To my utter surprise, the challenge rolled out like a real challenge. After every three pages, I was dozing off. I couldn’t finish even a single book!
That year, I shrugged the shock, excusing myself that it’s probably because of my masters which left little time for “reading for self”.
Next year, it was 30 books a year and again, I excused myself that my working hours wouldn’t allow me that much personal space. I’m a workaholic, by the way. So after having hit hard by reality, for that year, I resolved to get my piece published in The New Yorker — a more achievable target.
The year of The New Yorker
Whole of 2015 was spent reading every single article that was published on The New Yorker, but not finishing any book I picked up.
16th Nov, 2015: I realized that until and unless I submit my entry to the magazine, my resolution to get published at my favorite magazine would never come to reality. And so I returned to all my past write-ups, selected six decent pieces and shipped them to the magazine.
31st Dec, 2015: I felt overjoyed to hold my annual resolution for the year and not excusing myself. The confidence and happiness catapulted me into deciding to set two resolutions for the forthcoming year.
I thought and thought, and thought…and thought.
I couldn’t shortlist. The time just seemed so less to do all the things I wanted to do in my life. Hence, I resorted to this:
“This year, each time I want to do something, and wonder if I could do it, I would ask myself — What’s stopping you? (so that this year becomes a year of no regrets)”
Now, I want to do every-fucking-thing. Bleh!
Fortunately, for now, I’m doing all of them-
- I took on the HT Brunch Reading Challenge once again — I have finished seven books and three are in progress (Updated on May 26th, 2016) (I have read even 4 books simultaneously without mixing their plots or characters, wo “coveted” title aise hi nahi mil jata);
- I’m learning a new language from my colleague;
- I have visited a place for the first month, Neemrana (blog post in progress);
- I have jumped into sponsoring a college fest (at a minuscule level of course);
- I’m working on my first two anthologies (Two Hundred and Coffee Tales); and
- I’m writing a post about all that I’m doing! 😀
So, for now, this is my list of resolutions
- Read two books a month and review them — ensures that I read AND that I have two blog posts/month that resonate with my blog’s overall theme. (Update: May 26th, 2016 – Reading 40 mins each day and loving it, but no time for reviews 🙁 If anybody wants to contribute a critical book review, please visit this page.)
- Visit a place I’ve never been to, each month, and write about it — cheers to another post physical exploration. (Update: Apr 12th, 2016 – Seems unfeasible now, money constraints you know! Update: Dec 5th, 2016 – Only 6 places covered, but still it’s a good job I think.)
- Interact with random, new people — ensures that I make new contacts.
The problem with resolutions
You really need guts to go after your dreams and a lot of extra cash. Not to mention the time, effort and management skills.
I forgot about “the girl who reads”
If you talk about conventional reading, this girl is long dead and has been put to ground a long time back.
However, if you take into account all that I have read from The New Yorker to understand the kind of stuff they would accept, or all the online research I do to “ghost-write” one high-quality piece (includes reading research papers and writing eBooks), I’m still that girl. I just wear a larger frame of spectacles now, literally and figuratively.
Some would argue that it’s not reading for the soul. Might be right, because where’s the joy in that sort of reading?
What if I tell you that I enjoy all this non-fictional, factual reading?! I even read books on grammar!
Time out: Those having WordPress blogs, can recall a phrase at the end of “writing space”, Just Write.
Learning from that, I, hereby free myself from the label of “the girl who reads”. *breathes out*
I’m going to “just read”. That’s it!
A little fact about me: I’m an obsessive, compulsive reader — I read all sign posts, all hoardings, the number plates of vehicles, pamphlets, restaurant menus (cover-to-cover), medical reports (top to bottom), tweets, messages, Whatsapp status messages…arey tum kisi bhi chiz ka naam le do, maine usko bhi padha hoga. *says like the drunk Kangana Ranaut in Queen*
Oh! I’m not escaping from the reality.
I still love the smell of new books and memories that pale pages of previously read books hold.
It’s just that I have come to accept that a lot of people lose their habit of “conventional” reading with time and I’m one of them. Probably, that’s why challenges like reading 24 books a year are being thrown our way.
To remind my soul the nostalgia and charm of reading a hard copy, I have accepted this year’s reading challenge, and the following is my list-
- Twenty Love Poems & A Song of Despair, Pablo Neruda (Poetry) – Done!
- Love & Misadventure, Lang Leav (Poetry) – Done! (Read the review)
- Lullabies, Lang Leav (Poetry) – Done!
- Bridget Jones – Mad About The Boy, Helen Fielding (Fiction) – Done!
- Us, David Nicholls (Fiction) – Done!
- Lajja, Taslima Nasrin (Fiction) – Done!
- Dalai Lama’s Cat, David Michie – Done!
- Dalai Lama’s Cat & The Art of Purring, David Michie – Done!
- Dalai Lam’s Cat & The Power of Meow, David Michie – Done!
- Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Lynne Truss (Non-fiction) – Done!
- The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith (Fiction) – Done!
- Delhi, By Heart, Raza Rumi (Travelogue, Urdu Poetry) – Done!
- The Guest Cat, Takashi Hiraidi (Fiction) – Done!
- Damn Good Advice, George Lois (Non-fiction) – Done!
- Lovemarks, Kevin Roberts (Non-fiction) – Done!
- Hegarty on creativity, Sir John Hegarty (Non-fiction) – Done!
- Hegarty on advertising, Sir John Hegarty (Non-fiction) – Done!
- My Gita, Devdatt Patnaik (Non-fiction) – Done!
- A Crowdfunder’s Strategy, Jamey Stegmaier (Non-fiction) – Done!
- The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (Fiction) – Done!
- A Room of Her Own, Virginia Woolf (Non-fiction) – Done!
- Mrs. Funnybones, Twinkle Khanna (Fiction) – Done!
- The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri (Fiction) – Done!
- Two Graves, Zoe Kalo (Young adult, fiction) – Done! (Read the review)
- The Grownups, Gillian Flynn (Fiction) – Done!
- The Girl on the train, Gillian Flynn (Fiction) – Done!
- To show and to tell, Phillip Lopate (Non-fiction) – Done!
Some of these are also the ones which I started last year, but couldn’t move past the first ten pages. Though I’m not able to dedicate an hour or so every night to reading, I’m going through their ePUB versions on my laptop during the breaks I take while “work-writing”.
Will I be able to do all that I planned for this year? Time will tell. But the conclusion of this damn, long post is:
- A title that people give you and you embrace with open arms can bog you down someday leaving you disappointed by self.
- Nothing can bog you down if you refuse to carry its weight and run free.
- If I can still try to do it, you can also try to do it. Who knows, at the end of 2016 you might be patting your back for this!
So, maan lo meri baat, try toh karo!