Friday, December 31, 2010

Last update on resolutions - Books

Books - the one hobby that has been with me ever since my first grade! My secret wish growing up was to get a job where all I had to do was to read novels day in and day out (sigh! how far I've come since then!) This resolution was to read books that hit the New York bestsellers list and other books suggested by friends. The reason for this resolution was that I was running out of favorite authors and books. After all, there are only so many Michael Crichton books and Sujatha books in this world.

The book journey has been really good and I've added a few authors to my favorites list (Nicholas Sparks! Steig Larsson! James Patterson!). Also, I tried various books like Push and Dear John and The Shack (I would read them but not if I had had other choices) that I usually wouldn't choose. Goodreads helped me track the books I've read and has been great at finding other similar books. Generally, I like most of the books I read - simply because they let me imagine how things are and how things can be. So, its hard to classify as like and don't like in books. Here are some best ones I read this year (this list is by no means comprehensive, I'm just listing those that I remember after a long time - for more books that I tried this year, check my previous posts under resolution/books tag or my Goodreads page(link on the side)):
1) The Complete Persepolis - really good book - I can't wait to try other graphic books in different genres.
2) Princess: A true story of life behind the veil in Saudi Arabia - one of the best books I've read to date!
3) Twilight books - I finished the series this year - though I loved the first of the series, its been interesting to see how the entire series played out! But there are so many spinoffs of vampires and fairies and nymphs and other worldly characters that I just don't want to read any more of these stories. One series was good but they've beaten this topic to death.
4) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - the best of the trilogy - you connect to the characters and their quirkiness. The books become darker as they go and I ended up not really liking the last one.
5) Stephanie Plum novels - this series is light reading and had me reading all the ones that came out. It is funny and looks like Nancy Drew novels for adults :D
6) Under the Dome - one of the most original ideas for a novel - Stephen King rocks!
7) The Help - one of the books that required some serious reading and it was worth it all.

There were a few novels like The Shack that, though written well, were not to my liking. I don't think I'll read them unless I have so much time that I'm pushed to reading them. Also, this year I've started reading more blogs and online article sites. So the amount of stuff I read this year is really good (yeah, yeah! I'm patting myself on the back ;)). All this wouldn't be possible without the wonderful library system in Neverland. I've gotten almost all books from the library (though it IS some work to reserve them regularly, finish them on time and return back for more books - sometimes I've run fines when I couldn't finish books on time). I've also bought a few books at Half Price books (a godsend for older books) and Barnes & Noble (the best place for newer ones). I considered buying a kindle or a nook but decided against it for various reasons. Now, with my library going e-books route, I'm getting tempted to revisit that decision. However, nothing is as satisfying as the feel of paper and the smell of books when you read them (yeah, I'm old school in that issue).

Though I'm not going to continue this resolution in 2011, I'm sure going to keep at reading books off the bestsellers list. The only difference would be that I wouldn't be pushing myself to do it. Even though it was fun doing it, it did take some discipline to read the boring and tedious books instead of reading just what catches my fancy at the time. One thing I've noticed: things I'd have read diligently a few years back (the long and boring ones especially), I now find myself impatient when reading them and wishing I could finish them faster. The average attention span has gone down and the authors have to work harder to keep the reader's attention to the subject. This is especially true for novels with long descriptions of things and places. I've lost the ability to lose myself in George Orwell's descriptions or Ayn Rand's long monologues (Francisco's speech in Atlas Shrugged or John Galt's speech in the end). This is similar to losing a comfortable position with an old friend - you may be discovering new things about your friend but yearn for the older days together. 

This seems mainly due to the large amount of options we have at any given time. When I read something, my brain does know that there are other options that can give instant gratification (Facebook refresh issues anyone?) and cannot get into the serious reading mode(strangely, I can still read the work related stuff and papers without loss of concentration - it does require effort though). When I checked with other friends about it, they reported similar things. So, I'm going to scale back my reading a bit, try to space things and see if I can recapture that ability to read long passages. But no pressures!

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