Friday, 1 January 2016

2015: The year I didn’t read much

My reading went completely haywire in 2015. It was The year I didn't read much. I’m not putting a number to it because it hardly counts for anything. I probably read less than 25 novels and short stories and most of those in the first-half. I did read a lot, of course, just not books. In contrast, I read 41 novels and novellas and 31 short stories in 2014.

Ditto for reviews and sundry posts on my blog, down from 142 in 2014 to 76 in 2015. I wonder what I did with the extra time.

Something happened. I’m not sure what or why. I simply lost the desire to read, or write. Job transition and a new work routine played a role, I think.

I’m trying not to feel bad about it, because I enjoyed the books I read, and that is how reading should be. I certainly don’t want to be an apologist for tackling fewer books.

In November 2014, I announced a self-styled challenge to read and review at least 50 ‘First Novels’ by writers across genres. Tall order, for my final tally is just 10. I intend to continue with the challenge and see where I will be at this time next year.

My book of the year is British writer Sarah Ward’s debut novel In Bitter Chill, which made it to the ‘First Novels’ category. I reviewed the book and also interviewed Sarah, who was generous with her answers.

I’m looking forward to doing more author-interviews in 2016.

The 10 ‘First Novels,’ some of which I had read before, were:

01. In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward, 2015
02. The Thirteenth Day by Aditya Iyengar, 2015
03. Noble Beginnings by L.T. Ryan, 2012
04. Run Girl by Eva Hudson, 2014
05. America, America by Elia Kazan, 1962
06. No Orchids for Miss Blandish by James Hadley Chase, 1939
07. The Case of the Velvet Claws by Erle Stanley Gardner, 1933
08. The Sheriff and His Partner by Frank Harris, 1891
09. War Against the Mafia by Don Pendleton, 1969
10. The Hardy Boys: The Tower Treasure, 1927

I also read some interesting short stories, including:

01. The Blood of the Fallen by James Reasoner, 2002
02. Harvest of War by Charles Gramlich, 2012
03. Blackskull’s Captive by Tom Doolan, 2012
04. First Offense by Evan Hunter, 1955
05. The Spider by Hanns Heinz Ewers, 1915
06. The Fog Horn by Ray Bradbury, 1951
07. Gladiator by Philip Wylie, 1930

You can read all the reviews under the ‘Rewind’ button on the right.

The other highlight of the year was my interview with prolific writer James Reasoner based on his fascinating story The Blood of the Fallen, an alternate history about Lincoln. I plan to read his westerns and historical fiction in future.

I will finish on a solemn note by remembering my dear blog friend Ron Scheer who passed away last April. He was very supportive of my blog and gave me a new perspective on westerns, or frontier fiction as he called it. I miss him.

36 comments:

  1. It's kind of odd how a year sort of takes on a certain character. I suppose it's just us going through changes. I've had years where my reading dropped way off, almost always due to something work related.

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    1. Charles, the sudden transition from an old job to a new one and a different routine than the one I was used to took a toll on my reading. Hopefully, this year will be better.

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  2. Prashant, I had several years in the 1990s when I did not read fiction at all and I think the only reading I did was work related. Work was extremely intense for me in those years. I learned new skills and was responsible for a major project, and it took over most of my life for a while. It took me awhile to get back into reading for pleasure after that. I look back and wonder how I got along without reading for fun those years, but that period was beneficial in my life too.

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    1. Tracy, same here about the nineties though I read an awful lot of books in my teens in the eighties. The years have just passed by. Now I have blogging and all my blog friends to thank for "encouraging" me to read more than I used to and looking at books and authors in a whole new light.

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  3. You are absolutely right, Prashant, that the point of reading is not how many books you read, but how much you enjoyed them. I'm very glad you enjoyed the books you did read, and I wish you a very good year of reading in 2016.

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    1. Margot, thank you. I don't plan to write about the books I read every quarter or so and will, instead, write about them at the end of the year. That way I can concentrate on reading and not keep track. I will, of course, make a note and review as many books and short stories as I can.

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  4. Happy New Year, Prashant! And good luck on your reading in 2016. It isn't the number, it's the quality.

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    1. Thank you, Oscar. And a very Happy New Year to you too! I agree about the quality of books we read. I'm not going to let the numbers bother me anymore.

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  5. Happy New Year Prashant! You still read more than most people... I think we all have years where the numbers aren't that high. Can we look forward to more from you in 2016?

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    1. Happy New Year, Moira! I definitely hope to read more books than I did last year and also review them as often as I can.

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  6. You enjoyed what you read which is the main thing. All the best to you and your family for 2016!

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    1. Happy New Year to you and your loved ones too, Col! I need to introduce some method in my reading, not just the numbers but the authors too. I seem to be reading all over the place.

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  7. I have gone though periods where I somehow did not feel like reading. Thanks so much for your comments on my blog, they help sustain my interest

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    1. Mel, you are most welcome though I ought to visit your fabulous blog more often than I do. Your reading and reviewing are amazing — a true inspiration for me.

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  8. I don't read quite as much as I used to, down to a combination of work and the fact I'm a slow reader anyway.
    In the past I managed to get through more stuff, but not necessarily enjoy it. I find it much more satisfying now to go at my own pace and not think about some notional quotas - you'll find a pattern that suits you too.
    Colin

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    1. Hi Colin! I'm with you on the reading, especially the fact that I'm a slow reader too. I will see a book through no matter how boring or tedious it is. While I read at my own pace, as you note, I find it difficult to get back to reading anything particularly after a break. I have decided to read a few pages every day, in spite of work or other pressures.

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  9. Looks to me like you still read much more than the average. My students (I taught for 42 years) were often very interested and questioning when each year I would tell them I could not remember a time in my life that I didn't have a book going. Most often, in later years, they asked, "Why?"
    I told them it made my life richer, fuller, and more understandable. All of my students wrote, every day, and I made a few readers along the way. Nice post. I am going to keep track this year for the first time.

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    1. Hello Neil! Thanks for the appreciation. You have a wealth of teaching experience behind you and I can only imagine the books you read and continue to read. I began to keep track only after I started blogging. I read a lot in my teens and twenties, not much in the thirties, and then rediscovered the joys of reading in my forties. I haven't stopped since, though there is the occasional blip that I won't be bothered with any more.

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  10. What a great reading list! I see several authors/titles that I hope to read soon. Thanks for your posting.

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    1. Thank you, R.T. I didn't read as much as I'd have liked to. I have discovered so many new and unread authors in the past one year alone that I don't know where to begin. Perhaps, a book or two by each.

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  11. Prashant – Your lull in reading may be due to the new job, but it might be that you are on the brink of a creative outburst. A novel, perhaps? Something good, whatever it is. Happy New Year.

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    1. Elgin, Happy New Year to you too! You are perceptive. Thanks for the encouraging words. I am, in fact, working on my own fiction that is currently a toss-up between a novel and a novella, I haven't decided which. The long form appeals to me.

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    2. Sounds good. I look forward to seeing it. But, hey, no pressure. I too am working on something, and I don’t like friends asking, When can I read it? They can read it when it is ready. Unlike reporting, there are no deadlines, except our own. By the way, a lot of journalists have written a lot of good books. (I hope that goes for me, too.)

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    3. Thank you, Elgin. My story is a work in progress. It has gone beyond the December 2015 deadline. This is because I reworked several elements. I'm in no hurry, of course. I'd love to read your fiction when it is ready. A lot of Indian journalists, too, have written both fiction and nonfiction. I suppose it's natural, though writing news reports is one thing, a literary work is quite another.

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    4. Thanks, Prashant. I was aiming to finish by last September or October, but as a buddy of mine says, Life intrudes. And it sure did intrude on the second half of 2015. But not all in a bad way – just challenging. This year: more writing, more reading, and more blog posting.

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    5. Elgin, I know what you mean about intrusions in life. I have had my share but I could have risen above them and made time to write a few hundred words every week. I'm planning to do all of those three things too. Good luck to you!

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  12. I was sure I'd already commented on this post, but apparently not. So, you have a lot of good reading to look forward to, and I'm sure you'll enjoy what you read and the time spend doing it. That's what's important, Isn't it?

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    1. No problem, Richard. I have not been blogging regularly these past few months. I'm going to try and read as much as I can and not be too bothered by the math.

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  13. Thanks for this, Prashant. I am going to have to get Sarah Ward's book very soon. The rest of your reading this past year looks pretty interesting. Wylie's GLADIATOR was supposed to have been one of the main influences in the creation of the comic book character Superman.

    I hope 2016 will be a great year for you, my friend.

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    1. You are welcome, Jerry. I wish you a great year in every way. I enjoyed doing the interview with Sarah. She gives an insight into her debut novel and in her other writing and reading. I liked Wylie's story a lot though I have not read anything else by the author.

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  14. It's quality, not quantity. Somehow, I manage to buy many more books than I have time to read. It's something I'm working on.

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    1. Right with you, George. I want to read more paper books than ebooks this year. I see the futility of collecting books and not reading them as soon as possible. Ebooks are intruding.

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  15. My reading has picked up tenfold since I joined Patti's FFB Club several months ago, Prashant. I'd been enjoying not having deadline pressures in my retirement from newspaper writing, but it's good to be back in a harness of sorts. Plus I've made some new friends.

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    1. Hello, Mathew! I have made lots of blog friends, too, since I started blogging and reviewing forgotten books on Patti's blog and overlooked films on Todd's blog. Of course, I have been playing truant for the past few months. I discovered many new-to-me authors I'd never heard of and some of them are almost a century old. I'm also reading in more genres than I did before.

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  16. Neat to see some Ewers on my list. I've got a bunch of his books on my to-read list as they inspired so many early films. I didn't finish as many books this past year as I usually do, and I'd like to fix that, but at least I know where the time went: movies. I have so many things I have to watch for book research that at the moment it's of equal importance to reading. I find I'm reading a lot more shorts and novellas to compensate for having less time for novels.

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    1. Thanks, Kelly. I, too, read plenty of short stories and novellas to make up for the books I don't, but 2015 was a low for me, reading-wise. There is always time to read, so that excuse is out. Hanns Heinz Ewers' "The Spider" was an unusual story and I'd be interested in reading his full-length novels. I'll check out the film adaptations too.

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