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Archive for the ‘Book Reading Challenge’ Category

It is October. And it is time for #RedOctoberRussianReads. This is the first time I am participating, and I am so excited! I love Russian literature, and books on Russia, and it is wonderful to take out the books I have on this theme, dust them and make a book stack. These are the books I have on my stack.

In the picture

(1) We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

(2) The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy

(3) Ruslan and Ludmila by Alexander Pushkin

(4) First Love and other stories by Ivan Turgenev

(5) Notes from Underground and The Double by Fyodor Dostoevsky

(6) The Shooting Party by Anton Chekhov

(7) Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov

(8) Natasha’s Dance : A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes

(9) One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

(10) Rasskazy : New Fiction from a New Russia edited by Mikhail Lossel and Jeff Parker

(11) Second-Hand Time by Svetlana Alexievich

Not in the picture

(1) The Anna Karenina Fix : Life Lessons from Russian Literature by Viv Groskop

(2) Olesya by Alexander Kuprin

(3) A School for Fools by Sasha Sokolov

The big five – Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Pushkin, Turgenev – are all featured on the list. There is also contemporary fiction and nonfiction. There is even science fiction. So, I am quite happy πŸ™‚ The only problem I have with this list is that there are only two women writers in it. I will have to do something about that. Hoping to get started soon on this list, by doing what I do normally – reading the slim books first πŸ™‚ So excited!

Are you participating in #RedOctoberRussianReads? What are you reading?

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It is October. And Diverse Detectives Fiction Month hosted by WocReads is starting today. So, I thought it was time to plan my reading and make a book stack πŸ™‚

These are the books currently on the planned reading list.

In the picture

(1) Shadow in the Mirror by Deepti Menon

(2) The Walter Mosley Omnibus (includes Devil in a Blue Dress, A Red Death, White Butterfly)

(3) Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong

(4) Kolayudhir Kalam (The Murder Season) by Sujatha

(5) Deadlier : 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women edited by Sophie Hannah

Not in the picture

(1) Byomkesh Bakshi stories by Saradindu Bandyopadhyay (Three Books – Picture Imperfect, The Menagerie, The Rhythm of Riddles)

(2) Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely

(3) A Meeting on the Andheri Overbridge : Sudha Gupta Investigates by Ambai

Can’t wait to get started! Are you participating in Diverse Detectives Fiction Month? What are you reading?

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Women In Translation Month‘ is hosted by the wonderful Meytal Radzinski and it happens in August every year. I haven’t participated in WIT Month for a while. This year I told myself that I will participate and read books by wonderful women writers in translation, and find out what others are reading and discover new books through their posts.

One of the exciting things about participating in a reading event is making reading plans. I always loved that. So I looked at my book collection, looked at all the books that I wanted to read which fit this theme, and made a reading list. There are 10 books in the list. I don’t think I’ll be able to read them all this month. But I hope to read atleast some of them.

So, here is the list.

(1) Collected Poems 1944-49 by Nelly Sachs (German) – Nelly Sachs is one of the great German poets. She wrote beautiful, moving poetry. She left Germany when the Nazis came to power, and moved to Sweden, from where she continued to write. She won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1966. But, unfortunately, she is virtually unknown today. I have dipped into this collection before and read some of her poems, and found them very beautiful. Now I am hoping to read this collection properly from the beginning to the end.

(2) Land of Smoke by Sara Gallardo (Spanish) – This is a collection of short stories by this new-to-me Argentinian author. It looks quite fascinating.

(3) The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena (German) – I have started this book multiple times and got distracted everytime and left it halfway through. Not because of the book, because the book is really good. I hope to do better this time.

(4) Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (Polish) – I have wanted to read this book ever since it came out. I love Fitzcarraldo Editions – their minimalistic style, with all books having blue covers, no introduction or notes or anything about the author inside, they just let the book do the talking.

(5) Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto (Japanese) – I have had this book for years. I have never read a Yoshimoto book before. Can’t wait to read my first one.

(6) I Hid My Voice by Parinoush Saniee (Persian) – I discovered this book serendipitously while browsing in the bookshop. This new-to-me Iranian writer’s book seems to tell a moving story.

(7) Child of the River by Irma Joubert (Afrikaans) – I was excited to discover this book because it is written by a South African writer, but it is not written in English. South Africa is a culturally rich country with multiple languages, but unfortunately the literature written in English from that country overshadows everything else. I can’t wait to read my first South African non-English book.

(8) Nowhere Ending Sky by Marlen Haushofer (German) – Marlen Haushofer is one of my alltime favourite writers. Only three of her books have been translated into English. I have read two of them – ‘The Wall‘ and ‘The Loft‘. This is the third one. I have been saving it for a rainy day. But I think it is time now – to read my third and final Haushofer and then mourn that there are no more.

(9) Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto (Japanese) – This is the second Yoshimoto book on my list. One of my friends gifted it to me and I can’t wait to read it. I think I’ll probably read this one first, before the other one.

(10) Collected Short Stories by Ambai (Tamil) – Ambai is one of India’s greatest short story writers. She is the Indian Alice Munro. She has been writing short stories for literary magazines for nearly fifty years. All her short stories are written in Tamil. They have been translated into English and published in multiple volumes. This collection that I have has all her stories. I have dipped into this collection before. Hoping to read it properly from the beginning to the end now.

So, that’s it from my side. I’m late to the party but I can’t wait to start.

Are you participating in Women In Translation Month? What are you reading?

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I have been eagerly looking forward to October, because it is Diverse Detectives Month hosted by Bina from If You Can Read This and Silicon from Silicon of the Internet. The phrase ‘Diverse Detectives’ is used in the sense that the detective in question is not a regular detective like Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple, but someone who is a person of colour (African, African-American, Chinese, Japanese, East Asian, Latin American, Persian, Arab, Native American, Indian etc.) or / and someone who is gay or who has a fluid sexual orientation, or LGBTQIA+ as the current acronym for that goes. I think it is easier to find the first kind of detective. It is hard to find the second kind. I will look forward to finding out what books other participants read especially with respect to the second kind of detective. I remember Pierce Brosnan saying sometime back that it was time for a black Bond, it was time for a gay Bond. I don’t know whether Bond will ever become black and / or gay, but I can definitely say that diverse detectives have arrived, if you look at the suggested reading list for the event.

diversedetectivefiction-event

One of the fun parts of participating in a reading event is making reading plans. I always love making reading plans. Whether I stick to the plan or not is another matter πŸ˜‚ I had a lot of fun making plans for this event. When my constantly evolving reading list finally took shape, I was so excited. Here it is. I am hoping to read some of these books over the next month. I divided the list into three parts as you can see.

In English

(1) The Walter Mosley Omnibus, comprising, Devil in a Blue Dress, A Red Death and White Butterfly

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I got this book years back at an Indian version of the Parisian bouqiniste, or a platform bookshop, as we affectionately call it here. I had heard of Walter Mosley a few days back and as such things happen, a few days later the book leapt at me when I was browsing. The blue, red and white in the titles makes me think of the French national flag and its meaning and the Colours trilogy directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski. I don’t know whether Walter Mosley was trying to say something there. I loved the fact that these three colours are featured in the cover – I am sure that was intentional. I read the first few lines of the book and I am thinking that Walter Mosley might be the African-American Raymond Chandler and his detective Easy Rawlings might be the African-American Philip Marlowe. I will know when I finish reading the book.

(2) The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

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I have wanted to read this book for years. Can you believe that I haven’t read a single Alexander McCall Smith book? Time to remedy that. Can’t wait to read about the adventures of Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s finest detective.

(3) The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill

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One of my favourite friends gifted this book to me a while back and I have wanted to read it since. It features the seventy two year old coroner Dr.Siri Paiboun and is set in Laos. It promises to be a lot of fun.

(4) Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely

I first discovered this book through Eva from The Charm of It. And before I knew it, I started spotting it everywhere, like in the Diverse Detectives reading recommendations and Bina’s TBR list. It features the detective adventures of Blanche, who is a plump, fiesty, African-American housekeeper – how can one resist that.

In Translation

(5) Four Short Stories by Jorge Luis BorgesDeath and the Compass, TlΓΆn, Uqbar and Orbis Tertius, The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim, A Survey of the Works of Herbert Quaint

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I have read just one story of Borges before. I have read that he was a master at taking a traditional detective story and turning it on its head. ‘Death and the Compass‘ is supposed to be the most famous of his ‘detective’ stories. I can’t wait to read that one and the others.

(6) Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong

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I have had this book for years, since my Chinese days. I have never read a detective mystery set in China and so am very excited.

(7) Three Byomkesh Bakshi books (Picture Imperfect, The Menagerie, The Rhythm of Riddles) by Saradindu Bandyopadhyay

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These stories featuring the Indian detective Byomkesh Bakshi first appeared in the 1930s, and were originally written in Bengali. They are quite famous in IndiaΒ  and have been adapted for TV. My Bengali friends rave about them and I can’t wait to read them.

(8) The Complete Adventures of Feluda by Satyajit Ray

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Satyajit Ray is one of India’s greatest filmmakers. But like many other artists, he was a man of many talents, and one of them was writing mysteries featuring the detective Feluda. The original stories were written in Bengali and first appeared in the 1960s and have delighted generations of Bengali readers, young and old alike. The collected Feluda stories come to around 1600 pages and I wouldn’t be able to read them all in one go. Hopefully I will be able to read some of them.

Not Available in Translation

Time to look at some of the books in my language, Tamil πŸ™‚

(9) Manimozhi, Forget Me by Tamilvanan

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I read my first Tamilvanan book when I was in my preteens and promptly fell in love with his works. Tamilvanan was probably the greatest detective mystery / crime fiction writer in Tamil in the twentieth century. He wrote from the ’50s to the late ’70s. He started his career writing literary fiction, but after a not-very-impressive start he shifted to crime fiction. (I don’t know why he didn’t hit it off as a literary fiction writer, because I have read his literary fiction and it is pretty good.) One of the fascinating things about Tamilvanan was his prose. He wrote Tamil which didn’t have the slant of any regional dialect. It didn’t have any English words. It wasn’t the way anyone spoke. It was the ideal version of Tamil, somewhat like the ideal version of the Queen’s English or the Parisian French. It was an absolute pleasure to read. I remember spending many an hour of my teen years taking in the delightful pleasures of Tamilvanan’s prose. Tamilvanan wrote books which spanned the complete range of crime fiction – detective mysteries, noir crime and every other genre in between. Half of his stories featured two detectives and the other half were standalone crime novels. His main detective was called Shankarlal. He was a combination of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and James Bond – sometimes he would go to the crime scene and collect evidence and look for clues like Holmes did, at other times he would call everyone and sit inside a house and run thought experiments and solve the mystery like Poirot did and at other times he would be travelling to exotic locales and would be speeding away on boats with a damsel-in-distress in tow with the villains chasing them. When I think about it now, it all seems illogical and unbelievable, but when I read these books, I loved all the different facets of this detective hero. Tamilvanan was the inspiration for all the detective mystery / crime writers in Tamil who followed him. I don’t know how many books he wrote, but I think I have around a hundred of his books, all stocked up for a rainy day. Most of his books went out of print, and I got some of the last copies available. These days, his publishers are trying to bring some of his famous works back into print, which is great. ‘Manimozhi, Forget Me‘ is a crime novel. A father one day calls his twenty-something daughter and tells her that he is not the good guy she thinks he is, and bad guys are going to kill him, and he asks her to leave town. What he is, really, and what happens to the daughter forms the rest of the story. I read it the first time years back and it was gripping and page-turning like the best detective/ crime fiction is and I loved it. I can’t wait to read it again.

(10) The Sea Mystery by Tamilvanan

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My english translation of the title doesn’t really say anything about the story. I still remember the first scene – a man hires a boat in the night to take him to a ship, which is at the outer anchorage. While the boat is waiting quietly this man boards the ship. Ten minutes later he comes running across the ship’s deck being chased by gunmen, jumps from the ship onto the waiting boat and the boat speeds off to safety. It was a scene straight from a Bond movie. I loved it when I first read it. I can’t remember much of the story now except for that first scene. I hope to read it again and rediscover it.

(11) Detective Sambu by Devan

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Devan was the Tamil Dickens. He wrote books about everyday middle class people, his descriptions of life were realistic and authentic and his stories were told with lots of humour. This is one of his famous works. Sambu is a clerk in a bank. He is forty years old. His boss calls him an idiot – in the sense, when his boss wants to speak to him, he tells his secretary – ‘Call that idiot.’ Sambu is frustrated with his life and his career, when one day surprising things happen. How this clerk becomes a detective – I can’t wait to find that.

(12) The Murderous Autumn by Sujatha

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Sujatha was one of the great Tamil literary masters. His fans called him ‘Vaathiyaar‘ – an affectionate way of saying ‘Teacher‘. Detective mystery was one of the genres he wrote in. He also wrote literary fiction, feminist fiction, historical fiction, short stories, plays, nonfiction books on science for the general reader, literary essays, translation of ancient Tamil epics into modern Tamil and all kinds of things in between. He even wrote screenplays for movies. He was a true allrounder. His detective mysteries mostly featured the lawyer duo of Ganesh and Vasanth. They were probably modelled after Perry Mason. This is their most famous story. My translation of the title is not perfect – the original title ‘Kolaiyudhir Kaalam‘ can be more accurately translated to ‘The season in which people are murdered and drop dead like leaves during Autumn‘. I don’t know how to shorten that into a few words. I read this book years back and I remember it being a combination of murder mystery, paranormal, science and an unexpected ending. I can’t wait to read it again.

So, this is my reading list for Diverse Detectives Month. Are you participating? Which books are you planning to read?

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Hour 2 : Have been busy today and so have been able to start my read-a-thon only at the start of hour two. It is really difficult to decide which book to start first. I want to start a book, which I can quickly finish. I am tempted to start ‘The Arrival’ but I want to save it for later – I want to read it slowly and savour the pictures. So, I am starting one of the Agatha Christie books – ‘Murder in Mesopotamia’.

Hour 8 : Have got sidetracked by other things – some errands and domestic crisis situation at home and some not-to-be-missed sport on TV – and so have not been able to read as much as I wanted during the first 3rd of the read-a-thon. But managed to finish one Agatha Christie graphic novel – ‘Murder in Mesopotamia’. It was the first Christie that I ever read and I liked it very much when I read it, but unfortunately, the graphic novel version doesn’t stack up to the original. Scenes shift a bit too abruptly and I didn’t like the way Poirot was depicted. But ‘Death on the Nile’ which I am hoping to read later, seems to have better artwork. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Thanks to all cheerleaders and blogging friends for stopping by and cheering me πŸ™‚

It is late night in my place now, and so I will take a nap for a few hours and come back re-energized and try to do some serious reading during the home stretch.

Hour 20 : Back to reading during the homestretch of the read-a-thon. Have not been having a good read-a-thon till now, but hoping to remedy that a little bit during the homestretch. Starting ‘The Arrival’ now. I initially thought that it is a book which can be read quickly, because it is a graphic novel without dialogues, but when I looked at the first few pages, I felt like I was looking at pictures in an art book. The pictures need the reader’s attention, time, curiosity and affection. Maybe I will read it quickly now and slowly again a bit later to savour the pleasure better.

Thanks to all the cheerleaders and my blogging friends for dropping by and cheering me!

Hour 23 : Just finished Shaun Tan’s ‘The Arrival’. An awesome book! It is also an awesome work of art! I thought I will read it quickly, but I couldn’t and didn’t want to. So looked at the pictures for a while and turned the pages slowly – it was such a wonderful reading (if I may call it ‘reading’) experience! Hope this book wins a few awards. I think I will read it again before writing a review of it. Now I am wondering what to do next, as probably only around an hour is left for the read-a-thon – should I start a new book or should I go around and cheer fellow read-a-thon participants? I am leaning more towards the second one πŸ™‚

Thanks to all the cheerleaders and my friends and blogging friends for dropping by and cheering me!

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This weekend is Read-a-thon time πŸ™‚ The twice-a-year Dewey’s 24-hour Read-a-thon is back in April. I participated in the Read-a-thon in October and had an awesome time! It was also wonderful to get in touch with book readers across the world and be cheered by them and also cheer them to the finish. So, I thought I will participate in the read-a-thon this year too.

One of my friends (and if I may add, philosopher and guide), who is a personal coach, says that we should explore extremes in life to discover what fits our concept of balance in life. Last year, I selected a few regular books to read during the read-a-thon, but could finish reading only one of them and half of another. So this year, taking my friend’s advice, I have decided to explore the other extreme, and will try to do my own ‘graphic novel reading fest’ during the read-a-thon. I think it will be consistent with the spirit of my graphic-novel-reading-spree recently πŸ™‚ It will also give me enough time to find out what others are doing during the read-a-thon and cheer other readers in this reading adventure.

So, here is the list of books, from which I will be reading some, during the read-a-thon.

  1. Dracula by Bram Stoker (adapted by Roy Thomas and Dick Giordano) – I have many versions of ‘Dracula’ in my bookshelf – one full version, one which is part of an omnibus, one comic version, one abridged illustrated classic version and this one, the graphic novel version. The art is awesome in this book. If I were an Australian cricket commentator, I would call the art ‘sensational’ πŸ™‚
  2. The Discworld Graphic Novels (The Colour Magic and The Light Fantastic) by Terry Pratchett
  3. The Arrival by Shaun Tan One of my dear friends sent this to me as a Christmas present. Have been waiting for the right time to read it. This book is an innovation even for the graphic novel form. Will write more about it after I read it.
  4. Colossus by Mark Andrews
  5. The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics (edited by Paul Gravett) – has stories by Ed McBain, Alan Moore, Will Eisner, Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett, Neil Gaiman – enough to whet my appetite!
  6. The Agatha Christie classics (graphic novel versions)
    1. The Murder of Roger Ackroydmy most favourite Christie novel. Looking forward to seeing how it is in the graphic novel version
    2. And Then There Were Nonemy second most favourite Christie novel. Have read the play version and seen the movie version. Have seen a Tamil movie inspired by this book too.
    3. Murder On The Links
    4. The Man In The Brown Suit
    5. Murder in Mesopotamiathe first Christie / Hercule Poirot novel that I ever read.
    6. The Big Four
    7. Death On The Nilehaven’t read the book. But saw the movie version after my trip to Egypt. The movie is wonderful just for showing many of Egypt’s wonderful treasures – the story is a bonus.
    8. Endless Night
    9. The Mystery Of The Blue Train
    10. The Secret Of Chimneys
    11. The Secret Adversary
    12. Murder At The Vicarage
    13. Murder On The Orient Expresshaven’t read the book. But have seen the movie version which has a star cast.

Please wish me well πŸ™‚

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The Read-a-thon day has started beautifully! This is the first time that I am doing the Read-a-thon and it is very exciting! It was tempting for me to change my planned book-list for the read-a-thon and include a YA book, a thriller and a graphic novel πŸ™‚ I resisted the temptation though and stayed with my original list.

4.30 PM (GMT) / 10.00 PM (IST)

I stared Ursula Le Guin’s ‘The Lathe of Heaven’ because it is the shortest book on my list πŸ™‚ (184 pages). Have finished a little bit more than half of it (110 pages).

Hoping to update this post periodically and also cheer other friends and book bloggers who are participating in the Read-a-thon today πŸ™‚

8.00 PM (GMT) / 1.30 AM (IST)

Finished 150 pages of Ursula Le Guin’s ‘The Lathe of Heaven’. Wanted to finish the book by now, but have got distracted by a few things πŸ™‚ It was heartening to see many cheerleaders stop by here! It has really boosted my morale and confidence for the rest of the day πŸ™‚ I also went and cheered a few participants of the read-a-thon. The internet is buzzing with read-a-thon related discussions, cheering and mini-challenges! Am loving it!

Have to take a nap now and get up after a few hours and continue with my reading πŸ™‚

5.30 AM (GMT) / 11.00 AM (IST)

Finished my first book – Ursula Le Guin’s ‘The Lathe of Heaven’. Even though it was short (184 pages), it took its time πŸ™‚ But I am glad that I have finished my first book. In my happiness scale, I am ‘satisfied‘ πŸ™‚Β  Am thinking whether I should start a second book or whether I shouldΒ cheer fellow readers who are awake late at night and continuing on the read-a-thon. I will probably browse for a while and do a bit of cheering and see whether there is any mini-challenge I would like to enter. Then maybe I will start a new book – a shorter one that I can finish, possibly a graphic novel πŸ™‚

Thanks to all the cheerleaders for leaving comments and cheering me and keeping me going!

8.45 AM (GMT) / 2.15 PM (IST)

Participated in twoΒ mini-challenges. Cheered a few fellow read-a-thon participants. Starting ‘The Wit of Cricket’ (by Barry Johnston). Don’t think I can complete this one. But hoping to come close to that as it is a light book.

For the mini-challenge hosted by Dana, the 4 favourite books are :

(1) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
(2) Narcissus and Goldmund by Herman Hesse
(3) Beyond a Boundary by CLR James
(4) The Amulet of Samarkhand by Jonathan Stroud

12.00 Noon (GMT) / 5.30 PM (IST)

Finished 187 pages (out of 274 pages) of ‘TheWit of Cricket’ (compiled by Barry Johnston). It is the last few minutes of the read-a-thon. Thought I will check in and see how others are doing πŸ™‚ Listened to Beatles ‘It’s been a hard day’s night’ post in the read-a-thon site πŸ™‚ It really has been!

My stats for this read-a-thon have been like this :

(1) Number of books finished = 1 (+ 70% of the second book)
(2) Number of mini-challenges participated in = 2

Would have been happier if I had been able to finish the second book πŸ™‚

Thanks to all the cheerleaders and friends and everyone else who dropped in and cheered me till the finish!

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