Thursday, July 29, 2010

Restarting Reading

Birthdays are notorious as they bring up the dreaded 'what am I doing' questions. I usually body-swerve these introspective annoyances as they inevitably lead to some resolution or the other. And resolutions are for commonfolk. But then haughty dismissal of the common is also getting common, so I thought I'd get one up on that this time.

I observed that five minutes into a conversation with anyone, I start grumbling about not having enough time to read. That becomes my cue to jump to halcyon student days and I start holding court . And when I pause for breath, the audience in question sports a genial party smile and says: "nice meeting ya".

If talking about reading is bragging, talking about not being able to read is worse. It would be an admission of being an - pardon the translation - asafoetida box. So, like a makeover movie's fulcrum scene, where one 'takes charge of life' etc. I made a resolution: to channel all available free time (whatever little the capitalist system allows its stooges to have at their disposal) to read and keep count. And mind you only books count- magazines don't count, not even if they are 'serious' ones. And of course officetime random browsing doesn't count etc.

And these are the Q1 results. Not bad, if I may say so myself, as my reading is quite snail-paced.

1. Chariots of the Gods - Erich von Däniken
2. அக்கமகாதேவி வசனங்கள் - தமிழ்செல்வி/மதுமிதா
3. The Makings of a Just Society - Chester Bowles
4. பேயோன்1000
5. Story of Philosophy - Will Durant
6. கம்பராமாயணம் - அயோத்யா காண்டம்
7. Following Fish - Samanth Subramanian
8. Family. The ties that Bind.... and Gag - Erma Bombeck
9. Fooled by Randomness- Nassim Nicolas Taleb
10. Shakespeare shaken and stirred - Richard Armor
11. நந்தியாவட்டம் - பழமன்
12. The Top of the Hill - Irwin Shaw
13. ஜலசந்தி - தாழை மதியவன்
14. Goal - Eliyahu Goldratt
15. Ukridge - P.G.Wodehouse
16. ஜெயமோகன் குறுநாவல்கள்
17. Lady Chatterley's Lover - DH Lawrence
18. கம்பராமாயணம் - பாலகாண்டம்
19. Groucho Marx Letters
20. Woody Allen Biography - Eric Lax
21. Booklets:
பார்த்/தெரிதா/ஃபூக்கோ அறிமுக booklets - எம்.ஜி.சுரேஷ்
EMS நூற்றாண்டு கட்டுரைகள்
நான் நாத்திகன் ஏன் - பகத்சிங்

Re-reads / Excerpts

1. Art of the Novel - Milan Kundera
2. மூன்று விரல் - இரா.முருகன்
3. The Lie - Alberto Moravia
4. மூதாதையரைத் தேடி - சு.கி.ஜெயகரன்
5. கனகதுர்கா - பாஸ்கர் சக்தி

Half Read and abandoned

1. Real Time - Amit Chaudhuri
2. Barbary Shore - Norman Mailer
4. Airavati
5. தற்கால ஃப்ரெஞ்ச் சிறுகதைகள் - Ed. by நாகரத்தினம் கிருஷ்ணா

Er...dear reader, if you are looking for a punchline I have some bad news. This post is as straight as it gets. I crave your indulgence for assuming this would interest you.

PS: I realized I forgot to mention ராஜேஷ்குமார்'s "ஒரு கொலையாவது செய் கண்ணே" which had, arguably the best line I've read in the last three months: பொருளாதார ரீதியில் நீங்க ஒரு ரிமார்க்கபிள் பெர்ஸன்


  1. Why isn't there a Manushyaputhiran or Yuvan Chandrasekar in your list? Not much into contemporary Tamil poetry?

    Rajesh Kumar is stylistic fun! I recently bought his 'Crime Novel' Thigil Kaalam and am trying to write a detective story. The quote in your post is very much Woody Allenesque!

  2. Actually my rasanai problem is quite chronic.
    Nothwithstanding the golden jubilee celebrations for pudhukkavidhai, I still struggle to enjoy it.
    With the possible exception GnAnakoothan and KalyaNji I haven't been quite swept off by anyone.
    And since poetry is all about hyper-expression, nothing feels more embarrassing than a poem that didn't click.Presumably the poet put his all into it and I draw a blank!

    Reg. Rajeshkumar, the dialogues are full of such surgically inserted English. Not a depiction of typical absurd usage but absurd depiction of usage presumed by the writer to be typical.I was reading that in the train and burst out laughing waking up atleast one co-passenger.

  3. That's the result of either a lot of spare time or a very fast and diligent reader. Good show!

    Some of these deserve another reading, I would imagine. The story of philosophy, for instance, is worth spending a few months on. Also consider reading Sophie's World, in case you haven't already.


  4. Thanks Ramsu. Will let you in on a couple of secrets. Actually except for Durant's and Taleb's all the other books are under 200 pages and rather breezy reads. And some of the ones were started earlier and only completed in the last couple of months.

    I haven't read Sophie's World but have heard nice things about it.

    Story of Phil. was exceedingly well written. Particularly the placing of each philosopher in the context of his times, the context of his argument, what his philosophy was reacting to etc. was crucial and very efficiently written.

    Without such an intro. one usually thinks of a work for its standalone impressiveness. That is less than ideal for philosophy.

    1. "Thanks Ramsu. Will let you in on a couple of secrets."

      I think any Q(n) result cannot reveal the true picture. :-) That being said, 20+ for a quarter is impressive for a slow reader. Ennoda takku is 100+ books over 17 years... match that :-)

      I cannot relate to many of the books in the list (going by the title), first round, you have sold Story of Philosophy. Will read it and then revisit other titles again.

  5. Hey you surely put some of us thirtysomethings to shame. :-) Had no idea that pheasant cry #27 connoted a birthday.

    BTW, here's some free advice (from an older, not necessarily wiser, reader): I wouldn't discount the pleasures/benefits of office-time random browsing -- something most of us surely take for granted, but some of us have to move heaven and earth to make happen, you know. :-)