Here’s the thing, guys. I’m reading Norse Mythology right now and I have a couple of non-fiction books I want to read after including The Big Short. So I thought I’d make the rest of May a non-fiction fortnight. But. BUT. IS a book about mythology truly non-fiction?! Or is it fiction? Help me figure it out. Please! I NEEDS TO KNOW. If I can’t figure it out, the rest of May will have to be called “Fortnight”.
Give May a makeover, guys! Give me your opinion in the comments!
So, this year, I’ve decided to do the Read Harder Challenge that’s run by Goodreads. Some of the categories of books that it requires me to read have just made me go “wut”, which is, I believe, the charm of the challenge.
Please follow the link above to get a hold of the list (and downloadable document) of all the categories of books you need to read to successfully complete the challenge. There are 24 in all, which adds up to a reasonable two a month, especially since it is permissible to read one book that fulfills multiple categories.
I always think it’s a good idea to read books diversely and outside my comfort zone and outside my genres of choice even if I’m reading for pleasure because it’s helpful to me as an aspiring writer. However, even I weren’t an aspiring writer, I think it’s a good idea to learn something about the points of view of people who don’t think the same way as me. With the world getting smaller each day, and with social media becoming an echo chamber of our thoughts and ideas, varied perspectives have become more valuable than ever before. Varied opinions are rarer still. Varied thoughts, varied priorities, varied ideas are all something that can be picked up from books. Even if I’m only reading for pleasure, and I don’t want any sort of information or knowledge from the books that I read, I feel like reading diversely makes me a different person; maybe even a better person. Maybe.
Serious thoughts aside (Earnest is not a colour that suits me), who knows where my new favourite book or my new favourite author may be hiding, right?
From the comfort of our homes and cosy cafés (or taxis or metros or buses or offices under our desks or in line at the bank. Demonetisation, amirite?), let’s dive into books and go exploring in 2017. Come #readharder with me, guys. Journeys are always more fun with friends!
Watch out for the hashtag #readharder on my social media, guys.
Some context: I am reading A View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman. I am at the part of the book where he talks (has written?) about people he’s known.
I’ve just read the one about Diana Wynne Jones.(I have also flipped to the next page and seen that the next essay is about Terry Pratchett and I’m itching to read it. But first; this post.) I read the first few lines and then I said, “Who the fuck is Diana Wynne Jones?” I almost said it out loud, which was problematic, because I was in court at the time.
Then I googled her.
Apparently, she is wildly popular, and has written a large number of books in the fantasy genre (which I adore). She’s been compared to J.K Rowling (whom I adore) and to Gaiman himself (whom I have stopped adoring and started worshipping.). Neil Gaiman seems to delight in her writing, and it seems to be right up my alley. But I have never heard of her!! I’m in shock, if that wasn’t already evident.
But eh. Better late than never, right? Neil Gaiman said that he read her books in his twenties and it felt like coming home. I am in my early twenties. It seems to me to be a clear sign.
So… I went ahead and bought one of her books off Amazon and will be getting on to the task of remedying my ignorance as soon it is delivered.
Yes, it breaks my oath to not buy more books until my birthday.
No, I have no shame.
No, this isn’t even the first book I’ve bought since I started reading this book. I also bought Coralline on my Kindle earlier today. Heh. Whoops.
(Should I simply stop reading non-fiction, guys? It seems to be a downward spiral of more book-buying every time. Don’t answer that.)
Have you guys read Diana Wynne Jones? What do you think of her? What do you think of A View from the Cheap Seats? Do you like Neil Gaiman? Do you think I’m insane for buying so many books? Let me know in the comments!
I am sitting in court and reading The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman while waiting. God bless the day I decided to install the Kindle application on my phone
I came across a delightful idea in one of his essays which I wanted to share with you guys. In the days when I was at college, I would have run to a friend’s room and gone into ecstacies. Now that I’m an adult, I am forced to attempt coherence in my excitement
(It occurs to me that the worst thing about adulthood is not the waking up early or the responsibility but the loneliness. What do you think? But I digress.)
Neil Gaiman has a brilliantly put opinion on the differing roles of a creator and an academic.
It is the job of the creator to explode. It is the task of the academic to walk around the bomb site, gathering up the shrapnel, to figure out what kind of an explosion it was , who was killed, how much damage it was meant to do and how close it came to actually achieving that.
I agree with him completely. What do you guys think? Do you think you’re better suited to being a creator or an academic? Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!
When I was a kid, before the usage of the internet was popular, I bought my books exclusively by browsing through the bookstore and picking up what looked interesting. I didn’t always buy and read books belonging to series in the right order, allowing my imagination to fill in the bits that didn’t quite make sense. But the overleaf or the last page of the book would contain the names of the other books in those series and I would keep an eye out for them. When I finally found and read the prequels of the books that I had read first, it was a cathartic experience. I’ll never regret reading my books in this strange way. But it did mean that I ended up getting stuck reading a certain author or publisher a lot.
The only reason my reading didn’t stagnate is because I tended to gravitate towards books about people that read a lot and write a lot and want to be writers or are writers, as a kid. (Whom am I kidding? I still gravitate towards such books)
In these books, there would be those treasured times when these fictional people that I felt I could relate to so much, read real books by real authors. And then I would get extremely excited and go hunt down those books. I found one of my all-time favourite children’s books, A Little Princess, this way. New books! New worlds! So magical.
To date, I adore reading books about obsessive readers and writers; about people who didn’t drop their reading habits, blaming adulthood for their default. And I adore books about writing and the writing process even more. My all-time favourite book (Spoiler alert: It may be toppled soon by a new book) Bird by Bird is about writing. And nothing– NOTHING– can beat the joy of getting book recommendations from such books even in the age of Goodreads and Booktube.
One such book that I had been reading for a while now is M Train by Patti Smith. It’s her second memoir, and it released in 2015. I took some time to get my hands on it because of Amazon’s idiocy, and it took me some more time to make myself read it because of the enormous number of unread books I have. I decided to start it over after reading about a third of it because I wanted to annotate it. After all of these obstacles keeping us apart, I finally finished reading it last morning. She reads like me, but more so; getting obsessed with authors, with stories, with the lives of the fictional people in those stories, etc. And she has made me fall in love with her and with all of the things she loves. She thinks of writing as prayer, the way I do. I feel like she just gets me. I got so many book recommendations, so many author recommendations from her, that I felt cross-eyed. I wonder how many books I’ll own and have read by the time I’m her age.
In one part of the book, she speaks about how much she loves Mikhail Bulgakov, and I’ve had one of his books on my shelf for absolute ages and I bought another one recently. So… I’ve decided that it’s time to give this Russian writer a chance, even though I have a rubbish record of finishing Russian books. I haven’t finished anything by Tolstoy, I didn’t finish Doctor Zhivago, or anything by Gogol till date. I just think that the Russians have a style of writing that involves a hell of a lot of backstory and digression, and I’m unused to that style. Maybe once I’m accustomed to it, I’ll actually be able to read the other authors too: Especially Pasternak, because Doctor Zhivago has such an interesting premise, which is right up my alley and I really, really want to be able to finish it.
So get tuned for two Bulgakov books in a row, and stay tuned because it’ll take me forever at the speed I’m reading these days.
What do you guys think of Patti Smith’s books? Her music? Do you like Bulgakov? Do you read any Russian literature? Tell me in the comments!
I lost my grandfather, my only living grandparent, to a losing battle with Parkinson’s on the 21st of this month.
On the 22nd, I gave in and picked up a novel and read a chunk of it. I never ended up finishing it though. I never picked up any non-fiction books either, after.
On the 28th, I had a job interview that could have gone either way. They haven’t told gotten back to me yet. I got home, feeling drained, and Career of Evil finally arrived very, very late even though I’d pre-ordered it. (Thanks for that, Amazon!)
Regardless, I was a tiny bit happy to see it.
Yup. Just a tad.
I finally gave in on 29th, which was yesterday, and decided that non-fiction was a bust. It had drained me mentally to read Being Mortal, enlightening though it was, because it had made me realise all the ways in which we’d failed my grandfather, who was already beyond help by then.
I picked up Career of Evil and sped through it, as one always does with Cormoran Strike novels. I finished it today. Robert Galbraith continues, as always, to amaze and awe and this installment may be my favourite one yet. I am working on a review for this book, so you can look forward to that in the next few days. 🙂
I did learn something about myself during this month though. I not only stress-eat, but also stress-read. And I only stress-read fiction. Non-fiction is an enjoyable learning experience, but fiction is my second home.
Nonetheless, I read some amazing non-fiction this month, books I may never have gotten to otherwise, in my rush of reading all the good novels I can get my hands on. I’ll continue to read non-fiction,at least a book each month or every two months. And I’ll try to do non-fiction month again next year.
Until then, I would love to hear some non-fiction recommendations from you guys. I would also like to know if you guys prefer fiction or non-fiction, and which genres. Let me know in the comments, guys. 🙂
If you guys want to stalk me, you’re welcome to. I do have a glamorous and fascinating life. Here are the links:
Non-fiction month is very hard, guys. I suddenly want to read every novel ever written; every novel that had been sitting on my shelf for ages untouched, unappealing, until this month.
I tried reading A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf but she’s so verbose and meandering and I haven’t been able to get into it at all. It’s a tiny book, about 120 pages long, and I expected to finish it in a day. I’ve cleanly avoided that possibility however, by picking it up as less as possible, for tiny periods and spending the rest of my time watching TV and browsing the internet and sleeping.
The last book that I read was Writing down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I really liked this book. As she states in the preface, this book can just be randomly flipped open to a chapter and read in any order because each one gives a different and interesting tip to improve your writing and also to keep writing. It gave me some great ideas and I think I’ll reread bits of it all through NaNoWriMo if I get stuck.
I feel like the book was a little too solemn though. Writing is a funny business, you know? You can’t survive being a writer without some humour. That is why I love Bird by Bird so much. I think I ended up comparing them in my head throughout because they both deal with writing and spirituality and life.
Writing Down the Bones is a lot more about Zen and spirituality and using your craft as your spirituality. I really like that because I’ve always thought something similar. I always write out the prayers I send out into the universe because I think it’s more effective. Patti Smith also says she did this in her book Just Kids and it made me very happy.
The chapters are super short , with some being a few pages long and the shortest ones being about three quarters of a page long. I really appreciate that because I like it when brevity communicates big ideas. Plus, it’ll make them easier to reread when I’m losing my mind with a new job and NaNoWriMo. 😛
I think I’m ready to give up on A Room of One’s Own for now even though it got a little more interesting yesterday. I’m sick, see, and my head is all fuzzy, and I’m not able to tune in to her prose. At all. I mostly want to nap some more but I miss reading. I’ll pick a book and keep you guys updated! 🙂
Since this is Non-fiction Month, and since I don’t read non-fiction nearly often enough, I’ve decided to try to review every book I read this month. It won’t be more than four or five books, but I think that’s still a big deal because reviewing non-fiction is hard, especially non-fiction I’ve enjoyed and want you guys to want to read.
Look at this beautiful cover, representing the fragility of life.
The second book I read this month (not including Bird by Bird) is Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. It was voted one of the top 10 non-fiction books by Amazon, and it was a great bestseller. I didn’t pick it up because of that though.
This is a book one of my friends went nuts about in college, and recommended to everyone. She wants to go into medical policy research, especially policy about equal opportunities for the differently-abled. She gifted the book to our Medicine and Public Health Law teacher when we left college.
She and I, we had this tradition where we’d go places like coffee houses, or restaurants, or anywhere really, with books in our bags, sit quietly and read together. I remember sitting with her at the little shack where we used to get coffee and instant noodles and she grabbed a pen and wrote all over the margins of this book. She couldn’t stop smiling and staring up at the sky like she’d had a revelation. Her obvious love and excitement for the book got me excited about it too.
The author Atul Gawande, is a doctor. He writes about the one topic doctors seem to hesitate to talk about; mortality and death. He says that people are living longer enjoying better qualities of life than ever before. However, people’s bodies still fail. He felt like the entire process of death has shifted from the home to hospitals and nursing homes, has become medicalised, in other words, and that the medical fraternity and society and large is unprepared for the enormous elderly population that exists today and for the concept of terminality and certain death as a whole.
This book talked about so many concepts like elder care, hospice care, euthanasia and the responsibility of doctors towards patients and the patients’ family. He opines that our priorities of safety over autonomy for our loved ones may deteriorate their quality of their lives rapidly. He brings in philosophy, sociology and psychology. And he still makes it understandable to people with no knowledge or experience in any of these fields.
It isn’t all academic though. He talks about his own failures and learning processes as a general surgeon. He talks about his interviews and interactions with people faced with mortality, both because of age and because of illnesses. He talks about his own personal experiences with death and disease.
I never expected it from what I thought of as an academic/ medico-legal philosophical book, but this book made me tear up at the end. Loss of a loved one is always a painful thing, but today’s lifespans mean that generations of family members need to learn to cope better. I haven’t been coping or handling it very well in my own life. I’ve been feeling really helpless, actually. This book made me realise that I’m not alone in feeling like the situation should be better. It also made me realise that it can be better with just a few changes, and that it’s a goal that’s achievable during my own lifetime. The wisdom, accessibility, lack of judgment and and new perspective of the book just made me think of things that had never occurred to me before.
Sadly, my sensitive, small brain has now had an over-large dose about the bleak state of affairs pertaining to our bodies and health, and will not be able to digest another eye-opening, mind-altering book for a while.
The book I was originally going to read after this is Our Moon has Blood Clots but I need to break it up with something lighter first, so I’ll pick up Writing Down the Bones for my NaNoWriMo prep now, and read something heavy after. I really, really want to just give up and read a novel right now, but I won’t. I’m sticking to my guns!
Just a small shamefaced update, guys.
Not five minutes after my lofty declarations about my heartbreaking book buying ban, I went and preordered Patti Smith’s new memoir, M Train
There was a huge discount, guys. I could never have gotten the book this cheaply if I’d bought it later. Not a new copy!
And also, I didn’t buy the new Stephen ie Meyer book because it is obscenely expensive so I didn’t make SOME smart decisions.
It has Polaroid pictures that were taken by Patti Smith, guys. Come on.
You get it, right? You get it! 🙂
Cheers, guys. :p
Patti Smith wrote another memoir!
I read her first memoir, Just Kids, last month and I really liked it.
What really came through in Just Kids is that even though she’s best known as a musician, and she is a talented singer-songwriter, she is first and foremost a reader and writer which I really appreciate.
Her experiences in New York, just meeting talented artists seemed so inspiring. I am very jealous and admiring. I don’t think I can just stop having a day job and pursue my passions ever.
I can’t help but wonder if that means I’m inevitably destined for failure. It definitely means that I’m scared and don’t have enough trust in myself right? Ah we’ll see. 🙂
Her new book is about all of the times she felt she was at a crossroads, or times that some thing in her life changed throughout her life.
It apparently opens with her sitting in a café with an open notebook, which is a stereotypical but legendary image for every aspiring writer.
It sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? I’m dying to read it. But I can’t read it now, because I’m on a book-buying ban. -cries-
Maybe one of you lucky, sensible shoppers can afford to buy it and tell me how is? Just keeping you guys updated about excited new reads that I can’t access. -cries some more-
Well, that’s all for now!
Here are my social media links if you guys are interested to see: