Tag Archives: Reading

Even though I’m predictably irregular with year end resolutions which were only put through proper observation during few initiated months of the new year and logarithmically dissolved into daily soup of chores by the time year ends; I can still count myself pretty overachiever while considering challenges related to reading. Reading has been emerged with renewed ferocity with each passing year. With end of the one more successful reading year 2018, here’s summary of good, bad and ugly with courtesy to goodreads.com for organizing it in accessible way with spiced-up stats.

As evident below, 2018 is the year with most number of completed reads of all time which is due to large numbers of graphic novels and comics.

Most popular read this year was, as expected, belongs to literary classics: Crime and Punishments from Fyodor Dostoyevsky which is in continuation to my ongoing tradition with Russian classics after Anna Karenina.

Let’s take the trip down the reading lane for past year and have some reminiscences of most special and most boring read.

1. Tomie by Junji Ito: Scary-cum-body horror mix is potent and effective. Weirdness is mutually offset-ed by Japanese manga presentation and horror heightened due to minimalistic but effective black & white clean art.

2. Miracleman Book 1: Collection of short stories told artistically in universe of Miracleman. Some are really strange and some allegorical considering Gaiman at the helm.

3. Origin by Dan Brown: Dan brown can still connects real location world-wide with real scientific research and some interwoven fictional tale with most famous “symbologist” doing what he is good at. But still Origin was balloon whose air is fizzling out as time passes. Still good for Dan Brown fans.

4. Swamp Thing Vol. 2: This years my Alan Moore read continuing brilliant Swamp Thing saga.

5. Patience: Time-travel story with emotional central plot. Bit muddled and not as good as Clowes’s Ghost World.

6.wytches: Completely new urban take on traditional witches with eye-popping color splatter art in the wake of Jackson Pollock.

7. Murder on the Orient Express: Foray into Agatha Christi’s world. I am fan of closed room mysteries and this is as good as I was looking forward to.

8.Fun Home: One of the best read of 2018 or of any year. Sharp, poignant and at the same time touching.  Bachdel’s quest for exploring her complex sexual leaning along with relationship with her father, in turn makes her understand her father more profoundly. It is the tale which sounds more serious than the way its told.

9. Grindhouse: Cheap comic-con “earn” which was good considering value for money.

10. The Trip: One more new-stand pick-up fast read; picked up in Comic-con 2018.

11. Whiteout: Nice wintry chilling read.

12. The Alienist:Victorian age serial killing mystery set in Newyork – And I’m sold. Though it missed the mark of hitting the “Jack the Ripper” goal. Still readable for clever writing and historical research.

13. Summer of Night: Homage to Stephen King’s very popular “It” with very similar horror plot involving kids in some suburban US town. But its very good homage at that. Dan Simmons has uncanny ability to advance story through characterization. And that is very good sign of any famous author. Story take its own time to get into grooves, but that’s what the recipe of the good taste; let it be cooked on slow burn.

14. Harley Quinn Vol 1,2,3 (New 52): Dripping with feminism and bravura of style and art. Incorporating various artists for single story seamlessly is fun to read (and goggled over)

15.Maggie the Mechanic: One more title which celebrates the feminism with tale of band of girls in futuristic world where large complex machinery is the way of life and effective mechanics are reverential. Its collection of short stories, characterized by light weight tone of its nature even in the face of sheer calamity.

16. Crime and Punishment: Every year I shall indulge myself with one (or more) literary classics and I was flattened by last year’s Russian take of classics like Lolita and Anna Karenina. So continuing the trend, I attempted Fyodor Dostovesky. If the whole year reading list was consisted largely of comics and light read then it might be because of Crime and Punishment, as if I could not afford more serious read. It was dark, satirical and at the same time brilliantly translated as well as elaborated.

17. Preacher Book one: Garth Ennis’s pulls no stop in this ultra-violent offending story. Its good and serves what reader expected from such adult comic read.

18. Zero Hour: Short sci-fi story collection of the early comic golden age era. Some good, some thoughtful and some borderline geeky; but all entertaining.

19. The Outsider: Stephan King’s latest (but not best). Story is gripping and if it could have been 100 pages short than it would be more fun. Still lovely King experience all and all.

20. The Revolutionary Genius of Plants:  Humankind actually not liking the spicy taste (spicy is not actually a taste belongs to primary tastes but sensation), we are addicted to it. And plants of pepper family has deliberately made us addictive. Interesting !! There is lot more in this revolutionary new book throwing new light aided by latest research. Excellent and enlightening.

21. Black sad: With popularity of Graphic novel medium arising immensely, aided by large number of adapted movies, some of the European gems are sipped to mainstream US market. Blacksad is one of the lot. Blacksad has to be seven course meal laid out for eyes. Excellent color filtered panels with water-color feel should leave you keep staring at each page for eternity. Noir crime drama is perfect match for such beautifully presented panels. Must read for anyone.

22. Four Color Fear: One more anthology of short campy horror tales from 50’s and 60’s decades. Not all are very enticing, but still comfy reads on wintry dark nights.

23. Sherlock The Great Game: Last season episode of very famous series Sherlock presented in Japanese manga style. Artist has done great job with sketches which resembles real characters of the series precisely.

24. A Study In Emerald: One more story referencing most famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Given the fact that Neil Gaiman has written this short, expect lot many other famous literary references and allusions. Not for everyone but Gaiman fans.

25. Magpie Murders: Anthony Horowitz has done some great job to revive the classic characters like Sherlock Holmes in House of Silk or James Bond in Trigger Mortis. Magpie murders was homage to Agatha Christi’s style of murder mystery. Though written well, for me, it was bogged down by its own set high expectation. Little vapid all and all.

26. The Troop: Story is waffer-thin. But you don’t read horror for only story. Story of band of children stranded at island with something inexplicable- sounds very familiar and scary. It is more of body horror and sometimes King-style snippets of news articles and interviews embedded between chapters, won’t have desired effect. But still good beach read all and all. P.S. Go for classic “Lord of the Flies” to which Troop pays homage.

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One more year passed by in blink and here we stood again at same conjecture to review gone year, wearing reading glasses with courtesy of goodreads.com.  Passed year in terms of reading could be summarized in short as “the year in prose”. Where I still clung to tried-n-tested authors for modern literature; number of classics raised in significance.

I deliberately set reading challenge to one book per month so not to include short, anything on the way to reading list, just to complete the challenge. I had inclination of devoting time for classics. And reading classics can take time. Still I was ahead by 3 books at end of the year 2017.

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Let’s see what was hit and what was miss among these.

Book with most pages I read (Frankly speaking completed) in current year was “The complete collection of Sherlock Holmes”. It was long reading project. The book contains all the four novellas and almost entire collection of stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Though started reading long time back, I could only conjure up enough time to return the salutation to Holmes “Last Bow” in the year of 2017.

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There are two candidates for “most surprising and enlightening read”. One is old world Russian literary classic “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov and the other modern world literary supreme “The Voice of Fire” by Alan Moore. Let me clear one thing. Lolita is controversial. But there is not a single word, prose or snippet which could be classified as vulgar or titillating. It is masterfully crafted in monologues. And served with one of the best prose writing competing to Charles Dickens. I had never had such eliciting experience of reading the word-formation in such delight.

 

When we are talking about prose writing, then let’s not forget only modern era master class in prose writing or any kind of writing; Alan Moore. “Voice of Fire” was his first novel after very successful writing history in Graphic Novels (From Hell, Watchmen, V for Vendetta are just few gems). Moore experimented heavily with first novel in terms of writing were interconnected stories’ timelines vary from initiation of mankind to Alan Moore himself; incorporating various historical events in process. He had started something called Geo-psychology where he traces the history and events of particular place and put it in more weird, contextual, and sometimes magical view. Not spending much time as it will take forever to discuss Alan Moore.

“You can always count on a murderer for fancy prose style” – Back cover of Lolita

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Other notable reads are “1984” from George Orwell (Again classic) and more Russian literary classic “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy. One short, depressing Orwellian account of dystopian world  which has started “All seeing Big Brother” concept; while other was sprawling storytelling covering Russian aristocracy and class divide intermixed with love, family values, relationships and marriages (along with issues).

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In terms of Graphic Novels, it was dominated by well-knowns. Great was the wine soaked narrative of Eddie Campbell on existence of Greek gods in modern times in “Bacchus”. At the same, though I’m crazy of such stuff, to-much-meta references has killed my interest in Grant Morrison in ” The Multiversity”. While Alan Moore’s “Top 10” was pleasingly light read, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier” (again by Alan Moore) was fun take on his own brilliantly conceived original TLEG.

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In modern novels, “Metro 2035″ was satisfying but not as much as the previous two installments of Metro universe. ” “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”  was unnecessary addition to Lisbeth’s (Novel’s protagonist) journey. Dan Simmons “The Fifth Heart” was as I expected but still nowhere near Holmes magic created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Most disappointing read for me was “Black Water Lilies”. Though it might be good for others but I had somehow “guessed” whole crux of the twist and story arc from very beginning and hence just dragged myself to complete it.

That’s it for gone year of 2017. While I am slowly but progressively sucked into more of literary classics, getting into more prose reading, once a while I’ll get my hands on modern popular. With few more Russian classics in-line along with “most diverse read I had ever done”, coming year is going to be really sensuous and enthralling.

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Happy Reading. (And also new Year 🙂

PS: Ready player One was not meant to be present on “to read” list in near future, even after promising trailer of upcoming movie by none other than Steven Spielberg. But rifling through its pages in one of the book outlet at Las Vegas airport, I came across something which couldn’t be ignored. A statement; defining all geeks and nerds  and book itself a love letter to all grownups like me who spent their childhood in 80s (and 90s and 00s ….)with videogames. It was instant buy. And more rapid read. So this last-minute update changed above stat by +1 book.
Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable – Ready Player One.

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End of one more year occasioned me to slap and shake my sleeping personal blog to wide awake and review what has gone well in lost year of 2016 and what’s promising in upcoming year 2017 on measuring scale of reading. At time of typing, I am still 2 books short of my over-enthused resolution of completing 24 books in a year. And that will be the case if I am not able to finish my ongoing massive Japanese thriller Six-Four and Russian classic Anna Karenina; both few hundred pages left. Anyway so maintaining the norm and using the GoodReads provided data, following is my current challenge status.

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Though I easily surpassed all my previous years in terms of number of pages read. Also in terms of number of books.

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My Dickens-obsession grew more and finished two of his classics in 2016. And that will also give me opportunity to declare “Bleak House” as most engaging read of the year. Let’s have the read books be explored in different manner this time. I awarded some weird and whacky titled which will identify specific read absolutely pertaining to me only. Read it and see if it’s fitting to you also.

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Hate Economy, still going to love the book about Economy: The Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt

I knew Japanese Horror, but never prepared for this: Uzumaki by Junji Ito.

Never knew Indian origin Graphic Novels are this better: Devi & Ramayan 3392 A.D.

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First time ever, Movie was actually bad but still quite good than its source:  Suicide Squad

Something alluring about J. K. Rowling: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (All these Robert Galbraith adventures are not that much powerful if you compare with other thriller/mystery genre books available. But there is something in writing which will always compelled me to read ferociously once I start)

Never felt that depressed by object called Book: From Hell

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Fillers from my favorite author can be most arduous effort to finish: Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins

Scientific absurdity and enlightenment: What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

Story and deep philosophical message without speech bubbles?, Yes Possible: Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

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Gouging the current reading trend of myself, there will be lot more classics in upcoming years with more of Russian classics lit thrown in. And they all shall be huge. So number of books going to dwindle but pages going to surmount. Still best part to which any reading aficionados agree to be never premeditate anything, you will never know when you come across best read of your lifetime.

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I shall end, announcing my reading resolution as quoting the favorite

“Please sir, I want some more.” – Oliver Twist.

 

While silky smooth, molten-gold liquid silently seeping through to circulatory system, enriching the palate and nose; I must confess that year 2015 “ended” on high note. With all the New Year resolutions in-check as usual, though not completely in influence of the single malt I was consuming; I decided to be adamant enough to stick to them at least for a while in year 2016. Of all the other resolutions, I am pretty much confident enough to complete the one: Reading Challenge 2016. Last year I set goal for single book per month which I successfully completed without much fuss and hence I am doubling the target in year of 2016 so that I must have 24 books completed by the end of year 2016.

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Thanks to the lovely reading-habit supporting site Goodreads, I am able to summarize very easily my reading journey in terms of numbers and statistics for year of 2015 which I am presenting as a blog. So here is the glimpse of year 2015 in Reading.

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Though as shown, longest book I read was J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, I must say that I started reading it way back in 2005. After completing first two books (i.e. Part 1 of LotR), my mind deviated to other reading ventures. At the eve of release of first part of Hobbit Trilogy by Peter Jackson, I was intrigued again to return to middle earth and complete the entire LotR saga. So I started reading again from beginning in year 2014. So it happened that all the books of LotR had been completed in 2015, that year got the privilege to get the honor of having beautiful LotR. (And that’s why the massive page count)

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I can sense that I have very unpredictable and erratic reading pattern. 2015 was mix bag, containing all the varieties of fiction and genres; sci-fi, classic literature, historical fiction, crime, adventure, epic fantasy, modern graphic novels, superhero, noire….. To name the few. Though I missed out on non-fiction and my favorite Charles Dickens, I turn towards dependable (And Dickens’s friend) Wilkie Collins to satiate my literary appetite. Then there was also “Lord of the Flies” with other “Lord”.

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Book_list4“The Girl with All the Gifts” was most surprising and engaging read of the year competing hard and won marginally over “Hyperion”. I know that genres are totally different where former is novelty take on zombie apocalypse and the latter is hard-core sci-fi. But still “The Girl with All the Gifts” is that kind of read where once you started, you are compelled to finish it in a single swift go.

“The Terror” was my most anticipating read of the year. And it didn’t disappointed. Slow build, amazing characterization and great adventure mixed with unknown. It made me put Dan Simmons in the list of “Must Read Authors”.

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In terms of graphic novels, if you have anything with Alan Moore as writer then it is not fair competition to others. I started Swamp Thing saga and would like to continue in year 2016, but best part was “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. Wow…. How could I allowed myself to be away from such brilliant novel in Graphic medium?

In crime fiction, I am much obliged to give Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) a go.

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So that’s how 2015 ended, and now I’ll allow my mind to wander wildly, unpredictably and erratically in new Year to come up with something fresh and some classics to discuss about. Feedback/suggestions for New Year read are most welcome. Wish all my reader good Reading.

Reference Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2015/23689104

 

 

Savour: Don’t rush…

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I would like to start with the incident which acted as fertilizer with enough nutrients to sprout the idea of such blog-post.

First of all, I fall in to that rare human species who defined by their avid reading habits. Why rare? As of now, I am able to meet people who read but to meet those individual who read in abundance and to read like “worm-hole”; scrunching everything which comes in the way and nothing escapes once fall within Schwarzschild radius, is rarity. Though reading is the habit which gradually grows with passing time, I have encountered something missing with fresh readers and initiates who are keen to start but restrained by some invisible mental force. So this post is for distributing the key to unlock metal restraints and get going in the wonderful world of books. But before that….

The Incident: so one fine evening one of my family’s acquaints came to visit us and I was taking out books which were on TBR list from long time. I was planning to take up something massive since I finished out with LOTR. I choose Bleak House from Charles Dickens to take the flame from LOTR, intended for marathon reading which would span over months. I can count myself as fast reader but still speed-run is not my cup of tea. Also usually, I chose to have at least 2 books in reading parallel; sometimes more. More than achievement, I would contribute such behavior to compulsion (Yes, you are allowed to say OCD).

So this person who was not much into reading had chance to observe the tome whose covers were elegantly flashing “Bleak House” in large Gothic black font (A lovely new edition which never looked as old classics generally looked). He took the book in one hand and surprised that there are species in this world who read such 700-page behemoth (may be surprised that you need to have proper forehand and biceps exercise to handle its weight during reading). And he raised the probable question which had acted as spark to ignite this blog.

“How could you able to read it? When will you complete? I can never do that in my lifetime.”

Let’s not consider the not-so-happening later events and tackle the question head on.

I believe that reading and in some other sense all other such luxurious habits have one common trait. Don’t rush them. They meant to be tackled with slow pace. Exactly like savoring the exquisite and rare wine which could never be mistreated with “rushed on” approach. Books, especially the large ones tend to be savored “sip-by-sip” chapter or few pages a day than think about finishing them. It’s this thought of “to complete something”, itself makes one put off the idea of getting into start and much worse persevere.

If the book is going to be good (or in other sense, you are good enough fitting reader for the book) than you don’t want book to end, vis-à-vis if you are not into much than however short the book is, you can only trudge and complain later. Don’t you think this same rule apply to lot other aspects of the life and sometimes the life itself ?

Now that I realized this write-up is getting into paradoxical state where I am divulging reading habits for not-so-avid-reader in “reading format” (If they are not reader why they bother to read your blog, Villpower. Rather they should right away start with some book). So I assume all those who going to read this are themselves avid readers which will bring the importance of the whole blog down to nil. So just take the humorous take-away and savor your reading.