My Reading Resolutions For 2018

First of all, let me wish you a very Happy New Year! May you find joy and success in all your 2018 endeavours. 🙂

If there’s one thing we all like to do in the beginning of a new year, it is reflection and planning. (...ok ok that’s two things)

ref

You know how terrible we readers are when it comes to remembering the books we read, but a little throwback to my 2016 bookish resolutions and the very helpful summary provided by Goodreads tells me that I’ve had a rather good reading year!

In 2016, although I surpassed the number I had set for myself, I basically didn’t make conscious decisions when it came to choosing books, I’d just picked whatever came my way. That changed in 2017 and I’m happier for it. I didn’t quite reach my goal of 70 books, but I did discover new authors, read a few classics, and explored different genres. All this combined made for a very satisfying year indeed. 🙂

plan

For 2018, I’ve decided not to worry too much about numbers. 30 books or 70 books – it is all the same. Ultimately, what matters is what you read and what you take away from it rather than how many books you read.

I have also decided to NOT give in to the temptation of new books and finish the very many unread paperbacks I have bought in the past years (before the ever-growing mountain of books topples over me, bringing instant death. Poetic justice, some might call it)

divider

To keep myself motivated, I want to try my hand at a few reading challenges this year:

Firstly, the Goodreads challenge – I’ve set my goal as 50 books this year. I know I said it’s not about numbers, but 4 or 5 books a month does seem achievable, doesn’t it?

reading challenge

Secondly, the Brunch Book Challenge, courtesy of the HT Brunch magazine. Incidentally, they have challenged readers to complete a minimum of 50 books too, including 10 books by Indian authors. I have been wanting to join this challenge since 2014, and 4 years later, I have finally arrived. 😀

Third, the Popsugar reading challenge. I have never done this challenge before either but the 2018 edition has some very interesting prompts that caught my eye! Yet again, this challenge include 50 prompts for 50 books. I shall try my best to get through at least 80% of these. 😀

divider

I’m entering these challenges only to keep myself on my feet, and to help me when I feel like I’m stuck in a reading slump for too long. I wouldn’t advice fretting too much about not being able to complete challenges like these. We read books for the joy, knowledge, and the experiences they offer; wouldn’t want reading to turn into a chore. 🙂

I also want to be more active on my blog and bookstagram than I have been in the past year. This is going to take some serious motivation and discipline, but I hope I can make it through.

Here’s to a fresh start and great books!!

tyrionlannistercheers

What are your reading goals for 2018? Share with me in the comments. 🙂

~ Mathangi

1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35

 

 

Advertisements

2017: My Year In Books

As we draw closer to the end of 2017, I look back at the books I’ve read this year and realise how good 2017 has been reading-wise. Initially, I had set my Goodreads challenge goal to 70 books, but I changed to 60 later because reasons 😛

Numbers aside, this year feels wholesome because I discovered many excellent new authors (like Keigo Higashino. what was I doing all my life without reading Higashino-sensei’s books?!?) and was able to read a diverse variety of books many of which I loved!

2017 is also the year I got a new Kindle Paperwhite and I believe that dramatically increased my reading speed (and possibly saved my eyesight?) !

Goodreads has beautifully captured my 2017 reads and I’ll try to reproduce that here:

my year

TOTALS

I read 18,139 pages across 60 books

img_bookstack_72-af5338cf446ae1165cc3f6436c3922d0

img_ruler-68214fa67308250e6aa96f778203068a

23301805

SHORTEST BOOK
52 pages
We Should All Be Feminists
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed on blog: Click here
23395680
LONGEST BOOK
608 pages
Illuminae
by Amie Kaufman
My Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed on goodreads: Click here
img_ruler-68214fa67308250e6aa96f778203068a
Most popular among the books I read turned out to be The Hunger Games – which I really enjoyed (but haven’t reviewed because what is there left to say that hasn’t been said already? also I’m lazy)
Looks like the least popular is Toppers by Aayush – you can find my review of it here
popular
Highest rated among my reads is also one of my most favourite reads of 2017: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo!! God I loved this duology so much.
ck
Now, I definitely felt like I have given many books 4 and 5 stars this year but Goodreads says my average rating is only 3.6. I find that strange??? but okay.
avg ratingThere ya go. That was the highlights of my reading year.
Here’s the full list if you’d like to see that 🙂
1
2
3
45
6789
 Let’s make this my wrap-up post for 2017. I hope to be more active in 2018 and continue the streak of reading books that make me happy. Quality over quantity, Y’all. 🙂
Wish you a very Happy 2018!!
~ Mathangi
1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35

2017 January and DiverseAThon Wrap Up

I know I’m super late to this, but ta da! here’s my first Wrap up post of the year – January and DiverseAThon wrap up.

This January started off on an encouraging note because I have read a total of 6 books. I’m combining the DiverseAThon wrap up with this because the DiverseAThon was the reason I read an extra 2 books and exceeded my normal count for the month (I’m a slooow reader)

So here are the books I read :

percybattlelabyrinth Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth

Author: Rick Riordan.

Fourth and penultimate book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. I enjoyed this book more than the previous ones in the series and gave it 4 stars. Check out my full review on Goodreads.


I’ll Give You The Sun 23573418-_uy200_

Author : Jandy Nelson.

This is a YA Contemporary standalone book that I read on my friend’s recommendation. I have seen lots of reviews where people loved this book but unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them. My rating : 2 stars. Here’s the link to my review on Goodreads.


23395680 Illuminae #1

Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

The MUCH hyped up first book in the YA Sci-fi series The Illuminae Files. One of those books where the exaggerated hype kinda ruined it for me. I still feel like I would have liked it better if not for my sky-high expectations. I rated with 3 stars and reviewed on Goodreads.


Manga Classics – Pride and Prejudice8b609845cf0bb734e753d779a73e10fd

Author: Jane Austen, adapted by Stacy Kind and art by Po Tse.

I discovered the Manga Classics through Netgalley and I’m really glad I did! It’s the classics done in a manga format that makes it an easy, quick read while still giving you the satisfaction of having read the whole book. I loved reading Pride and Prejudice in this format! I gave it 4 stars and wrote a short review on Goodreads. I’d probably write about these later on here too, because I’ve read a total of 3 classics from Manga classics now.


51yyxjjitjl-_sx350_bo1204203200_ We Should All Be Feminists

Author: Chimamanda Adichie.

This is a powerful essay on why the idea of feminism is important in the modern society and how it should be embraced by everyone. I absolutely loved it and have reviewed it here on the blog.


The Masala Murder 16082083

Author: Madhumita Bhattacharrya.

This book revolves around a part-time journalist Reema Ray, whose passion in life is to become a successful detective. Reema hits upon two cases and how she solves them forms the crux of the story. I rated it with 3 stars and you can check my full review here.


~ Mathangi.

1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – #DiverseAThon 2017

Author : Chimamanda Adichie
Genre : Essay
No. of Pages : 52
Publisher : Harper Collins India

I discovered Chimamanda Adichie through twitter only a couple of months ago, and have been wanting to read her writing ever since. I was aware that this book is essentially a transcript of CNA’s TED Talk in 2013 but I hadn’t watched it (only because I’m a spectacularly ignorant, lazy bum) ANYWAY, so I bought the book finally at the end of December 2016. It was worth every penny I spent on it.

This essay is laced with humour and carries a lighthearted tone but that does not deter the subject, the widely disliked and disputed subject, from being driven home convincingly.

Adichie’s account begins with her regaling an incident from her childhood where her best friend calls her a “feminist” – in a tone which she describes as one in which you might accuse someone of being a supporter of terrorism.

She goes on to talk about the varied reactions she gets from people when they learn that she identifies as a feminist : of how feminism is for women who hate men, of how it’s a “western influence” and not “part of our culture”

Growing up in the deeply patriarchal culture of India, this resonated with me greatly. This same “western culture” argument has been used by the ‘culture police’ ad nauseam. It doesn’t even make any sense!

Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.

I just about sprained my neck during the one hour I spent on this book because, my goodness she raises some really great points and I couldn’t stop nodding my head in agreement.

We hardly ever notice this but right from the beginning, girls are conditioned to please men in every way possible. We are taught to be desirable and not to offend or cause displeasure. I still remember a male relative asking young me not to stare at my computer screen for too long because then I might have to start wearing glasses, and as a result may get rejected by all the good prospective grooms. I was THIRTEEN years old! (and guess what, I did start wearing glasses! …that probably explains the absence of the long line of suitors that would have begged for my hand in marriage otherwise. Damn.)

We don’t teach men to be likeable the same way. Instead, we impose upon them to be tough and hard. Do not show emotions. Man up.

Like Adichie says, this leaves the men with fragile egos which in turn becomes the responsibility of the women in the their lives to cater to.

We have evolved. but our ideas of gender have not evolved very much.

Another appalling societal practice we have: we teach girls to see each other as a competition in the race to be liked by men. In this age, it is paramount that women have each others’ backs and support each other instead of seeing this as a competition. It really is not.

We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.

I’m not saying all hope is lost. Today we do not cower down like our grandmothers, or perhaps even mothers did. We are standing up for ourselves. We are inching toward change. I’ve seen this on a small scale in the women I interacted with and on a large scale like the Women’s March 2017 . I believe, a couple of generations down the line, we will see a great deal of change in our ideas of gender roles. Until then, we should keep fighting.

If it were in my capacity, I’d make We Should All Be Feminists a compulsory reading text in all Indian schools. Until that happens, I will urge everyone to watch Adichie’s Ted Talk.

On a lighter note, have you come across the twitter account Manwhohasitall? It’s a hilarious satirical take on how ridiculous the stuff said about/for women would sound, if the genders were swapped.

Sample these :


Read this book as a part of the Diverse-A-Thon 2017.

~ Mathangi.

1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35

Review: The Masala Murder by Madhumita Bhattacharyya – #DiverseAThon 2017

I had wanted to be a detective. Crime fighter extraordinaire. Equal parts Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot in a fetching female frame.

Author : Madhumita Bhattacharyya
Genre : Mystery
No. of Pages : 292
Publisher : Pan Macmillan India

Synopsis :

Reema Ray is a 26-year-old who writes about food in an entertainment magazine for a living, but Reema is also a private investigator who has her own little detective agency  in North Calcutta. Writing pays, but detective work is where her true passion lies. After studying crime in the US, she comes back to India to set up a detective agency in her home town Calcutta.


I stumbled upon The Masala Murder in the recently concluded Chennai book fair, and the cover and title immediately caught my eye. I do not read a lot of books by Indian authors because the ones I have read were full of cliched bollywood tropes and bad writing.

Madhumita Bhattacharyya may have just restored my faith in Indian authors. The plot aside, the writing was really expressive and the choice of words, clever. I liked that she had also planted small details in random parts of the book for an observing eye to catch on. The author has capitalised on her main character being a food writer and strewn the book with several delicious descriptions of food throughout. I don’t even know how to pronounce most of the Chinese food (involving meat) mentioned here, but it all sounded delectable – and this despite me being a vegetarian, so that’s something right?

A girl’s gotta eat, and as long as that remains true, she might as well eat as well as she can.

My thoughts :

Being a detective is not all murders and catching mobsters, Reema realizes soon after setting up her one-woman agency. What little cases she gets are mostly the unexciting infidelity-related ones. But she does not give up on her passion just yet. Reema is also part of a group which she calls the CCC – Calcutta Crime fighters Club where they discuss unsolved crimes from the public domain that could be solved and raise funds to keep the club going. Her involvement in the club provides her some sense of purpose and drive but being the only woman in this little motley group of people (consisting of lawyers, a police inspector, and a PI) has its disadvantages. Like not being taken seriously.

To Reema’s credit, she’s good. She’s actually studied crime in an University, is ambitious and tries hard to stay true to her passion despite the discouragement she faces. She even knows kickboxing.

When confronted with the dilemma of whether to give up on detective work and become a journalist full time or give up the writing job that actually pays, not one but two interesting mysteries come Reema’s way.

One, her ex-boyfriend Amit is a prime suspect in the alleged kidnapping of his wife Aloka and he seeks Reema’s help to find Aloka before Aloka’s father pins it on him.

Two, a prominent food provisions supplier Prakash Agarwal whom Reema has interviewed as part of her work, ends up dead under suspicious circumstances.

Through the rest of the book, we follow Reema as she interviews the persons of interest to find the motive, sweeps crime scenes; her investigations dig up an almost three-decade old sexual molestation case which leads to surprising revelations. With some help, she solves the crimes rather efficiently.

That said, the book was not devoid of cliches. Be it the mother-hen of a best friend who wouldn’t stop trying to set up Reema with a man, or the very mysterious tall-dark-handsome gentleman who charms the pants off our girl right. at. the. first meeting. However, the real problem areas for me was the predictability of the crimes and the pacing of the book. It could have been at least 30-50 pages shorter. One more very noticeable thing was the lack of humour in the book. A funny moment here and some witty exchanges there wouldn’t have hurt.

I may verge on nit-picking here but there were a few inconsistencies, like the part where it is implied that car’s driver seat is on the left side of the car. In India, the driver’s seat is on the right and I feel like it’s something the editors should have picked up on.

My Rating : ★★★/5

My verdict : Though mild on the masala, The Masala Murder would make a good, lazy Sunday afternoon read.


Read this book as a part of the Diverse-A-Thon 2017.


~ Mathangi.

1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35

Diverse-A-Thon 2017 – TBR

Last week I came across this blog post on the Read Diverse Books blog regarding the Diverse-A-Thon 2017 and I thought “Why not?”

It’s a week long marathon starting from Jan 22 through Jan 29 where readers are encouraged to read books with diverse characters or written by marginalized authors.

Since this is my first time participating and I’m starting late, I’ve taken a bit of liberty with my TBR and chosen the books I already have with me.

  1. The Masala Murder – Madhumita Bhattacharyya

This book is about Reema Ray, a private investigator with her own detective agency in Calcutta who also freelances as a food writer for a magazine. She doesn’t want to give up on her agency even though writing is what puts a roof over her head. When she’s pressed on to make a choice, Reema finds herself intertwined with two mystery cases that she could not resist.

2. We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists is a book-length essay by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book aims to give a definition of feminism for the 21st century.

img_20170125_215318

I’m planning to add more to the TBR if I finish these two books within this week (work week and all that)

This #DiverseAThon is a really great initiative and I’m excited to be a part of it. 🙂

Let me know in the comments if you are joining in too!

~ Mathangi.

1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35

Of 2017 reading goals and the blog makeover

2016 has whizzed past and I’m sure it will go down as a significant and eventful year, both in the history of India and the world. Personally though, 2016 was rather uneventful. Upon reflection, it feels like it’s mostly due to lack of initiative from my side. Too many ideas killed, too many opportunities missed, too many decisions not made sooner

That won’t do this year. I’ve decided to make 2017 the year of doing things instead of just thinking them.

One of my major 2017 goals was to start a book blog. I read books and I already had a blog which was barely attended to. It really was the most obvious thing to do as soon as I realised how great it would be to document my thoughts about the books I read, keep track of my reading count, and participate in reading challenges.

So, this is me making it happen. 🙂 I spent my free time in the past weeks changing the layout, the URL, and making the blog look like an actual book blog. I realise I could have just started a new one, but I didn’t want to lose my old posts (…I’m sentimental like that)

My other major book-related goal this year is reading diverse books. Looking back at 2016, I noticed that I have picked a lot of mainstream, contemporary reads that are extremely popular in social media. This year, although I have upped my To-read count to a number considerably higher than last year (which was 30 – and I surpassed it easily; this year it is 70) I want to be mindful of the books I pick.

This year I would give preference to –

  • Books about women
  • Books authored by women writers
  • Books with LGBTQ characters
  • Books authored by LGBTQ writers
  • Books by Indian authors
  • and explore some of the books by famous Asian authors

As luck would have it, this resolution of mine aligns perfectly with the Read Diverse 2017 Challenge This is one reading challenge I’m really excited about this year!

I hope to make 2017 a memorable and soul-satisfying year with lots of bookish adventures!

Happy New Year! 🙂

~ Mathangi.

1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35