Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Resolution lookback

This post is a (supposed) sequel of my resolution post (yeah! yeah! I'm still writing it and should have published it sometime in Jan but haven't yet gotten to it. Maybe I'll make that a prequel to this one! Ha!)
Since I'm still writing the prequel post, I'll give a short jist of what it would have:
A list of resolutions that I had intended for 2010.

Come on! Everyone makes resolutions in January in the spirit of the new year, right? And everyone slips out of one or two of them! I made a few of them and have stuck to them doggedly so far. One of them was to read every book in the top five of New York Bestsellers list. This resolution does not really fall under the "clearing bad habits" list or "improving oneself" list (these are the lists that most peoples' resolutions fall under). I feel that to stop a bad habit, you really don't have to wait until new year. If you think you are wrong and it is bad, then all you have to do is stop it! And improving oneself?? Hmmm... that's a discussion to be had another day!

Back to my book-reading resolution. This came more out of a need: the need for new favorite authors. All of us have some favorite authors and mine had Michael Crichton, Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, Arther Hailey, Jeffrey Archer, Issac Asimov, Robin Cook, Sidney Sheldon (now don't roll your eyes!!), Kalki, Sujatha, etc. I also read most of the current popular books like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Chetan Bhagat's books, Dan Brown's novels, etc. But they were not books that I read for the author. I read them because I had received rave reviews of them from friends and family and wanted to give it a try. I came to the point where I've read almost all of my favorite authors' books and didn't have much left to read. And, to my horror, I found that every Tom, Dick and Harry wrote on mysteries, science fiction, political crime thrillers and complex plots. But whether they could make your heart tingle with anticipation about the next twist, that was unknown.

Towards the end of 2009, I started reading books suggested by friends but found that it was a fairly small set and that I wasn't doing justice to other books. There might be that perfect book and perfect author who has not yet been read by any of my friends. And I didn't have the time to sift through the hundreds of reviews for books and then read a book. By then, I lose the enthusiasm for reading. The New Year came at a convenient time and I decided to make a resolution (to suit my needs!) to read all the random books on new york bestsellers list. I chose this list out of thin air but was sure that the books wouldn't hit that list, atleast not the top five, without being appealing to a larger cross section of people across the world/USA.

To be fair, I didn't buy most of them. Thanks to the wonderful public library that I'm a member of, I can lay my hands on them for a tuppence. So all these impressions are my first impressions of the books and what I still feel about them (long after returning them back to the library). I feel that the test of time is the best test for anything - time shows if you really love something, if you like it, if its okish or if its plain bad. My assessment of some books might have been different if I had read and reread them a few times.But for me, reading the same book a second time, especially when the first time didn't make me like it, is a huge non-possibility. Most of the books that I've read a second time (or more) have been ones that took my breath away the first time. I would have to be so awed to actually go back and reread to get that feeling of awe again.

I plan to write a list of books that I read every month and what I thought about them, albeit in a few words. If there comes a book by which I was heavily blown away, then I'll dedicate a post to it. [Flash warning: what suits me need not suit you and vice versa! And my opinion of a book need not reflect yours! Give the book a try if you think you might like it!] Lets start the initial list of books I read in the past few weeks.
  1. Dear John - an interesting one. This was one of the first books I read after I made the resolution and was fairly new to the whole show. The story was paced well but didn't include any mystery or thrillers. Emotional and good for introspection. But I found I wouldn't mind books of this genre now and then. (Earlier, I would've run helter-skelter from books of this genre).
  2. The Lost Symbol - don't attempt it if you are not a fan of Dan Brown; even then, it would be hard to connect if you've not actually gone through the museums and halls of DC. I did recently and relived the happy memories of the trip through the book - so I liked it; I can't say how much that affected my judgement though.
  3. First Family - racy. The loopholes were less but the story tries to show a beaten story in different light. Not very original. Think Clinton and you've hit it pretty much.
  4. The Truth About Lord Stoneville - trash.
  5. Impact - good, I loved the last twist to it. But again, science related - so my judgement may be biased.
  6. The First Rule - had some mindless wanderings in the story. Could have been cut by one-fifth and we wouldn't have missed much.
  7. The Lovely Bones - I don't like the genre. Period. The book might be interesting but the genre threw me off.
  8. The Shack - I literally had to drag myself to finish this one. Showed me that there were some books/genres that I just can't read. Was one of the books I read initially and that gave me a good perspective of the variety of genres I was going to face in this exercise.
  9. A reliable wife - very New Englandish. And meandered some too. I think I'm too young to fully understand this book (came to this conclusion after I discussed this book with an older friend - guess there is still a lot I should learn about the heart).
  10. Arctic Drift - lots of hypotheses. Finally, the author went way out with the results. There was no gradual crescendo to the climax. I'd rather prefer books like that.
  11. Cross Country - not much to say. Typical Patterson.
  12. The Devil's Punchbowl - they threw in many things and tried to come up with a gripping storyline; and failed badly. Beware the exciting title!
  13. Plum Spooky - I like the number series; I find it quirky yet plausible. One of the few series that I liked after a long time. However, this book wasn't as good as the series. Maybe because it was an in-between job??
  14. True Colors - brought out the tension between three sisters and their lives well; it started out well, flattened a bit and then perked up in the end. If you are a woman and have sisters of your own, this would make sense. Else, try it at your own risk!
  15. Shanghai Girls - read this one right after True Colors. Yet another one on sisters and their intertwined lives. The settings are different but the principles finally are the same. But I couldn't connect to it much.
  16. Street Game - again, they put together lots of stuff and tried to come up with a nail-biting story but that didn't work out well. Jaimie's and Mack's relationship was supposed to be one part of the story but I felt that it overshadowed the rest. And, frankly when I'm reading books of crime/thriller genre, I'm not looking for relationship stuff. But the mememetrics stuff was cool (effects of doing a thesis in biometrics makes you love anything bio+computers stuff - I am biased) So, okish.
  17. Under the Dome - interesting concept and an interesting way to look at everyone's life with that concept. Certainly one of the few new-idea books I read recently.
  18. Pirate Latitudes - Definitely Crichtonish. Liked it (not loved it!! This is not in his best works list! Is that why he didn't publish it when he was alive? Did he think it was not worth publishing with his name on it? I certainly felt so. Still, this book was a surprise for I had missed Crichton's works after he died and then I got this one. Hence the like!)
  19. Push - one of the books that made me uncomfortable since its a story that I just can't relate to it but know its damn true and that people meet with it daily. Though I cringed at the swear words, I understand that they are needed to bring the characters to life. If you are looking for something hard hitting, then this one would work. This showed me a new world of people - not many books have done so; but I'd rather not read such books every day and darken my mood; just a personal preference.
  20. The Associate - My first book of this exercise; liked the style. But then, this is one of my favorite genres. So, no complaints!
  21. What I did for love - okish
  22. The Templar Cross - similar to Dan Brown's books; ok for one read if you are crazy about the genre.
  23. 7th Heaven - Didn't like it much.
  24. Sizzle - Liked this one. The story is the same but the connection points were different. In the last scene, one of the guys in the book says "I gave her up so she can live". One question to him: Dei, idhu avalukku theriyumaada? Ethana per ipdi kelambi irukeenga?*
  25. Whiter Tiger - had been on my to-read list for quite some time. An interesting book; interlaced with the complexities of Indian society.
  26. The Complete Persepolis - Loved this one! A heavy story but told with comics. Thanks to Aths for suggesting it.
  27. Embroideries - I read this with the huge expectation created by the complete persepolis. But it didn't meet it. It was funny, yes; but not my recommendation list.
  28. Nerds: who they are and why we need more of them - This book was more like reading a thesis on electromagnetic oscillation pattern analysis. I had to read novels in between so that I don't get completely swamped by this one. Well written; but as an Indian, I thought many things were rather obvious. And I couldn't connect to the rest since I didn't grow up in USA. Read it at your own risk!
  29. How Opel Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life - Ha! Ha! Funny! though I guess I'm past that stage where I'd absolutely love that book. I'd have done so, had I read it some 7 years back :D
  30. The Twenties girl - now this book found a place on my recommendation list. A light read with the right amount of story!! I wasn't captivated from page one, but slowly started liking the style and what it portrayed.
  31. Camel club - Too many twists that I lost track! (or, did I read it when I was really tired?)
  32. Bleachers - This one is about letting go and settling things out. I'm usually not a fan of this genre - so not on my recommendation list.
  33. Vi Agra Falls - Paagal* story, as my roommate would put it :D
  34. 2666 - ugh! I've lost the patience to read heavy literature, even one with good amount of twists.
  35. Fired up - first book of DreamLighter series. Okish... but I'm curious to know how it turns out.
  36. Pretties - Another one from Aths' recommendation list. Though the story itself was not very exciting, I look forward to reading the next one in the series. Guess that's a big win!
  37. Poor Little Bitch Girl - I had this feeling of deja vu when I read this one; so it didn't make much of an impression.
  38. Skipping Christmas - Ha! Ha! light reading material but the final touch was good and unexpected.
I'm in the process of reading some other books currently. You'll see them in the next list. Not all of the books in the above list were from the New York bestseller's list. Some came from friends' recommendation lists and some I picked up when browsing or reading something. But I'm glad for this exercise; I get to read a lot of genres and experiment with different authors and styles. For example, even though Push is a very hard hitting book, I wouldn't have it in my book shelf as it doesn't really make me comfortable. But that doesn't mean the book is not good. It is really good about what it portrays; I fail to connect to it as a reader; or rather, the connection I make to it makes me squirm under its glare of truth and I would rather have something light and funny to read instead of something hard and introspective. On the other hand, the twenties girl had a title and back flap story that I just wouldn't have picked up. But now I love this book enough to seriously consider buying it for my collection. This exercise made me realize not to judge a book by its cover, literally! :D

I'm also glad that I read 40 books in two and a half months. I consider that amount of reading good enough (with everything else going on in life), though my mom's going to be worried sick that I only read and not do anything else. But my other resolutions took care of the "not doing anything else" part. More on that later! Do let me know if there are any books that you think are interesting and that I should read. I'm always open to reading new books and authors, not that it has to hit the top five of the bestsellers list. And, your reviews on any or all of these books if you've read them would be awesome!

Dei, idhu avalukku theriyumaada? Ethana per ipdi kelambi irukeenga?* - Does she know this? How many people have started like this?
Paagal* - Mad as the hatter


Aths said...

Girl!! Did you read all this since the start of the year?? Holy Smokes! 38 is huge! OMG!

Loved some of the books in your list, have to read Push. Also, you read Pretties (You had read Uglies first rite?) Forgive my lapse of memory if I missed this. :P

Arun said...

wow! maybe one of these, you should write one.

Ridhus said...

If you like Kalki books you might like 'The River God' - same genre - historical fiction.

Anonymous said...

Also, one of my favorite books which is not related to any of the genre's you mentioned is Siddhartha - Herman Hesse(it is not about Budha). It is a small book and should take only a couple of hours to read, but is definitely great.