Archive for the ‘Book Reading Challenge’ Category

I have wanted to read Cao Xueqin’sA Dream of Red Mansions‘ for a long time. I tried once but got distracted after reading 50 pages. When Di from ‘The Little White Attic’ invited a few of us for a readalong of the book, I couldn’t resist and jumped in.

A Dream of Red Mansions‘ is one of the four great Chinese classics. It is an epic novel. The translation I have by Yang Hsien-Yi and Gladys Yang runs into three volumes and a total of 1900 pages. If I finish reading it, it will be the longest book I’ve ever read, beating Vikram Seth’sA Suitable Boy‘ comfortably.

The book follows the fortunes of one family and their relatives and their near and dear ones. But the book doesn’t start like that. It starts with a goddess trying to repair a hole in the sky and using many big stones to do that. When she finishes it, one stone is left. She abandons that stone on earth. Across time over the eons, that stone becomes sentient, starts thinking and it feels depressed that it is alone and it is not able to experience the world. A Buddhist monk and a Taoist priest pass by and when they hear the stone’s story, they take pity on it and decide to place it in the middle of a human family so that it can experience worldly joy and sorrow. This is the reason why the book is sometimes also called ‘The Story of the Stone‘. What follows is the story of one family as the stone perceives it.

A Dream of Red Mansions‘ is a very classically Chinese book. If you have read a Jin Yong book, you’ll know exactly what this means. That is, there are only three things in the book. The sentences in the story describe events in the story and move it forward, or they describe the physical surroundings and set the scene, or there is conversation between characters, lots of it. There are just these three things. There are no long monologues, or philosophical musings, or exploration of the inner worlds of the characters. Sometimes there are philosophical musings which are part of a conversation, in which the characters quote classical poetry and old Chinese proverbs to make a point, but that’s it. Everything contributes to moving the story forward. So once you get into the flow of the story, the pages fly. Atleast they flew for me. But there is one thing that might slow down one’s reading pace. There are lots of detailed descriptions. If there is a party, it is described in a lot of detail. If a guest visits home, we get a primer into Chinese culture on how a guest is received and treated. If there is a funeral, there is a description of every detail and ritual. The book depicts 18th century Chinese culture in rich detail and it is probably based on the author’s own experience. It is fascinating to read. It might also be overwhelming if you are not into details.

The other thing about the book is that there are lots of characters, hundreds of them. It is sometimes hard to keep up with who’s who. Sometimes the characters’ names are so close to each other that if you are not familiar with Chinese names it can get confusing. For example, there is Chia Cheng, Chia Chen, Chia Chiang, Chia Chian. At one point, I didn’t know who was who. One way of handling this is to make a family chart and include atleast the important characters in that. Another way of doing it is to go with the flow. I decided to do that. At some point, I discovered, for example, that Chia Cheng was Baoyu’s dad and the other three Chias weren’t that important. Then there are Hsi-feng and Hsi-jen who were important characters and their names looked close to me and so could be potentially confusing. But after reading for a while, I could recognize them properly – Hsi-feng is an important daughter-in-law in the house, and Hsi-jen was Baoyu’s maid. They were two of my favourite characters and so it was easy for me to remember. One more thing that was confusing for me was that the translation I read used the Wade-Giles naming system, while I am more comfortable with the modern Pinyin system. In some cases, translation of names between Wade-Giles and Pinyin was pretty straightforward. For example Pao-Yu in Wade-Giles was Baoyu in Pinyin, Tai-Yu in Wade-Giles was Daiyu in Pinyin. But at other times it was not that straightforward – for example, Hsi-Feng in Wade-Giles was Xifeng in Pinyin, Chin Ko-Ching in Wade-Giles is Qin Keqing in Pinyin. Sometimes the names were so far apart that I couldn’t guess the Pinyin names. This posed problems when I was discussing the book with fellow readalong participants, because I had to be sure that we were discussing the same character. There was a further complication here, because in a newer translation, the translators had changed the names of some of the characters – Hsi-jen was called Aroma in that. No one, of course, can make this leap from Hsi-jen to Aroma 😁 One has to consult the Wade-Giles to Pinyin dictionary frequently to get a sense of things. I hate doing that and so I just muddled along.

A Dream of Red Mansions‘ has also been described as the love story of Baoyu and Daiyu. That is, of course, part of the book, and it is fascinating, but because it is an epic book, there cannot be just one story in it. There is Baochai who is as important a character as Daiyu and till now, it is not clear whether Baoyu likes Daiyu more or Baochai more. Both Baochai and Daiyu write beautiful poetry, but while Daiyu is deeply emotional and gets affected by the smallest happenings and bursts into tears, Baochai is more mature and more graceful. My two favourite characters till now though are Hsi-feng and Hsi-jen (or Xifeng and Xiren, if you prefer Pinyin). Hsi-feng is a strong woman who manages her relationships with her family members skillfully, takes additional responsibility when required, is tough when required. The way she handles the maids in the family is interesting to see – tough at times when they slack at work during important occasions (sometimes a bit too tough – on one occasion she gets a maid whipped for coming late, to set an example – I felt the punishment was too much and too cruel), and kind and friendly at other times during informal occasions. I am looking forward to seeing how her character arc develops. Hsi-jen is Baoyu’s maid and is almost like his best friend, governess and lover. She is the closest to the perfect character in the book – all nice and nothing bad. It is hard not to like her. I am looking forward to finding out what happens to her as the story progresses.

The book depicts Chinese culture of the 18th century in a realistic way – the good and the not-so-good together. Sometimes the not-so-good things are heartbreaking, like when someone is unhappy with a maid or a page and gets them whipped, or sometimes gets them dismissed from work. Getting dismissed was the worst thing for a maid working in a distinguished family, because it means she is disgraced and she has slid back into poverty. One of the maids in the story is so heartbroken after she gets dismissed that she commits suicide. It was heartbreaking to read.

There many beautiful scenes depicted in the story. There are frequent quarrels between Baoyu and Daiyu, and sometimes we feel that they are being silly, and at other times we feel that they are just spoilt brats from rich families who don’t realize how lucky they are. But sometimes their fights remind us of ourselves when we were young and being silly and fought with our partners or siblings or cousins and sulked for days and wasted lots of time which could have been spent in more pleasurable ways, and it makes us feel young again and we identify with our silly younger selves, and it makes us smile. Cao Xueqin captures the way young people behave towards each other quite beautifully and it is one of the wonderful parts of the book. In one of my favourite scenes, Daiyu feels heartbroken after a silly fight (or rather about something she imagined) that she composes a poem and recites it and the poem is beautiful and moving and heartbreaking and Baoyu who is hiding behind a tree, listens to it, and bursts into tears. It is such a beautiful scene. Another of my favourite scenes, or rather chapters in the story is when Baoyu’s sister tells him that they should all start a poetry or literary club, and all the young people get together and decide what they’ll do as part of the club, and they meet again and compose poetry and recite them and discuss their merits and decide whose poems are their favourites. This chapter comes out of the blue and almost feels like a digression from the main story, but it is very beautiful. Another of my favourite scenes is when Keqing is seriously ill and one day when Xifeng is deep asleep, Keqing comes in her dream and they have a beautiful conversation which is very moving. Of course, this kind of dream is almost always a dark premonition, but I won’t tell you more, you have to read the book to find out what happened next.

A Dream of Red Mansions‘ was hard reading after the first few chapters. The hundreds of characters and the rapid succession of events and the infinite number of details was overwhelming and it nearly sunk me. But halfway through the first volume, at around 300 pages, the story acquired a life of its own, it started flowing smoothly like a serene river, I wanted to turn the page and find out what happened next and what my favourite characters were up to, and then I knew that the book had started to grow on me and I’d fallen in love with it. It took some time but it was worth it.

I have finished reading the first part of ‘A Dream of Red Mansions‘ now. That is 40 chapters, 600 pages in. I’m loving it so far. Two more parts, 80 chapters, 1300 pages to go. Wish me luck 😁

Have you read ‘A Dream of Red Mansions‘? What do you think about it?


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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.


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


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


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


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


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


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



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



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


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


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


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


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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My fellow book bloggers Michelle and Emily are participating in the Read-a-thon this year. I decided that I will do that too. It is scheduled for theΒ coming Saturday (Oct 24). There seems to be a symmetry to it – a 24-hour read-a-thon on the 24th πŸ™‚ I don’t know whether I will be able to read for 24 hours straight. I have not done an all-nighter in years. I will probably get up early and read till late, have lots of coffee in between, and have a short lunch and dinner and lock myself up in my room for the whole day and avoid all distractions. I don’t know whether it will work, but I am going to try. While I am reading, I will try to postΒ my favourite lines from the book I am reading.Β I will also try to cheer fellow bloggers as they embark on this read-a-thon. The following are the books that I have chosen to read during the read-a-thon.Β 

Read-A-Thon Book Covers

Read-A-Thon Book Covers

Read-A-Thon Book Spines

Read-A-Thon Book Spines

  1. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin
    • (Note : Heard about Ursula Le Guin when I saw the movie version of ‘The Jane Austen Book Club’. She seems to be an interesting science fiction writer)
  2. Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
    • (Note : A swashbuckling adventure story with pirates and gold in the Alexander Dumas tradition! Have been wanting to read it for years, but could get hold of a copy only now)
  3. The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain De Botton
    • (Note : Alain De Botton is an interesting commentator on contemporary life. Looking forward to reading what he says about work).
  4. And God Created Cricket by Simon Hughes
    • (Note : A history of cricket written in an easy conversational style).
  5. Being a Scot by Sean ConneryΒ 
    • (Note : Sean Connery’s biography + his take on Scottish culture and history)
I will probably start with Ursula Le Guin’s ‘The Lathe of Heaven’ (it is the thinnest) and then read Simon Hughes’ ‘And God Created Cricket’ (I am hoping that it will be an easy read :)) If I still have time after this, I am planning to tackle one of the other three.
If I finish
  • One book – I will be satisfied
  • Two books – I will be happy
  • Three books – I will be thrilled
  • 3+ books – I will be <insert all superlatives of thrilled here> πŸ™‚
Please pray for me πŸ™‚
If you want to participate in the read-a-thon, you can register here.

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