Past and future

21 01 2017

2016-highlights

2017-motto

 

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2016 in books (Goodreads)

19 12 2016

 

reading-challenge-2016Goodreads has provided an insightful “My Year in Books” infographic of all the books I read in 2016. I’ve set a goal for myself to finish reading 50 books this year, which really didn’t mean to be a challenge at all because I typically read over 50 books per year “without breaking a sweat” 😛 . But 2016 actually proved to be quite challenging, as “life” took over, leaving little time and energy for indulgence.

I would still do my yearly post on reading with details and visualizations. Stay tuned! Meanwhile, below is what Goodreads has to say:

goodreads-2016





2015 reading

1 03 2016

2015 was a rewarding year for me in many ways. As far as my reading is concerned, my preferences definitely got matured. I moved away from my comfort zone and picked up a greater number of non-fiction and audio books last year. Their proportion is still very small  but I have observed a  decreased, albeit slight, fondness of fiction and increased penchant for different types of non-fiction. Or maybe I became better at picking up appealing non-fiction. Consequently I also became pickier when it came to regular fiction. Most fiction I read last year was for book clubs. I’m sure this pattern evolves further in 2016.

Despite an eventful year, both personally and professionally, I managed to read 57 books in 2015, 2 of them re-reads (No Country for Old Men, which I have enjoyed thoroughly this time, and Animal Farm). I almost read nothing in Telugu, my native tongue, until the end of the year, when I was desperate enough to grab some random free e-books, which I read to my heart’s content. 😉

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Without much further ado, let me list the winners here 😛

Best Fiction – Goldfinch by Donna Tart  It’s a masterpiece. Enjoyed and got immersed in each one its 700 and odd pages. Do I need to say anything else?

Best Non-Fiction – Wild by Cheryl Strayed Wild is inspirational. I admire Cheryl for her courage; for pulling herself up from the abyss and coming out of it as a renewed person. In many ways, the hike was life altering.

Best Short Stories – There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In By Lyudmila Petrushevskaya

Best Thriller – I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes (Special mention) Oh my god! It’s the best page turner I’ve read in so many years. I still feel the adrenaline rush.

Best Book Club Selection – The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch (Special category) This needs a special mention. It’s a book I would never have picked up myself. It’s young adult book written from the perspective of a 13 year old boy who loves ocean and its creatures. It’s so refreshing and strangely magical.

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Though I had grand plans for visualizations that I usually include in
this yearly post, I honestly couldn’t find time to learn a new skill and experiment. I go the easy route this time and use Power BI, one of the newest tools in the market. Excuse me for not being creative with the analysis though.

2015_Reading_Power_BI_Desktop_Selection

The year started off well with An Uncommon Reader, a subtle humor from UK. It depicts, in a very funny way, what if Queen Elizabeth at the age of 70 discovers the pleasures of reading and becomes an avid reader. Kazuo Ishiguro’s (my favorite author) The Buried Giant surprised me. It’s a fantasy novel.Fantasy isn’t usually my type. But when it comes to Ishiguro, it doesn’t matter what genre it is. Reading Ishiguro is pure, unadulterated pleasure any day. Amen.

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I discovered Lyudmila Petrushevskaya accidentally. In the local library. Her short stories are honest and dark. I found the  bestseller “The Girl on the Train” creepy. It’s genius. I both loved and hated it. I tried two chick-lit (not so) new releases – Landline and The Husband’s Secret. I can’t say I enjoyed them much, despite their popularity. They are definitely good, but just not for me. I liked the former better than the latter though.

2015_Reading_Power_BI_Desktop_Gender_Rating

One book I found amusing and enlightening is “How to Travel the World for Free” by Michael Wigge. It indulged my day dreams :P. I learned good stuff from it. ;). I wish I could write about each and every book I read and loved last year, but I’m feeling lazy now. 😛  You can breathe a sigh of relief. I’m signing off. 🙂

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2014 in review

31 12 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,900 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.





2012 reading

6 01 2013

I’ve read a meager 53 books in 2012, owing to several academic and personal commitments. I’m not very happy about the overall reading (not just the quantity but the quality and variety) of this year but I’m glad that I utilized the services of my university’s library to read some good literature, especially Telugu. Find below some of the statistics drawn from my personal database:

Category_2012 Mode-2012

It can be observed that only 5 of the 53 are non-fiction. I wish I read more of them. I read a greater proportion of Telugu books (21 out of 53 i.e. 40%)compared to previous years.  Also, majority of works are from India, just like last year. I have to make a conscious effort to read stuff from different nations, at least in 2013. I haven’t read any translation works this year, with the exception of two; Short stories by Premchand and a novel – South of the border, West of the sun by Haruki Murakami.


CountryOfOrigin_2012
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Here are the bests of 2012:

  • Best Novel (English): Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenedis and Mistress by Anita Nair
  • Best Short Stories (English): The Red Carpet by Lavanya Sankaran and Release and Other Stories by Rakshanda Jalil
  • Best Novel (Telugu): Maidanam by Chalam and Changiz Khan by Tenneti Suri
  • Best Short Stories (Telugu): Saalabhanjika by KuppilinPadma
  • Best Non-Fiction: Indians by Sudhir Kakar

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I wrote elaborate posts for Middlesex and Mistress after I read them. So I don’t feel the need to say anything about them now. The Red Carpet is a collection of stories based in Bangalore. Her in-depth style is a pleasure to read. The collection is very fulfilling. Release and Other Stories has a  lighter style in comparison but nevertheless deal with interesting and subtle subjects.

Maidanam by Chalam: It’s mind blowing. It would completely shake you. It’s deeply affecting too. I can say one is never the same after reading it. I can understand why it is so notorious. Words fail to express my reaction to it. I’ll leave it to the imagination of the readers. Those who have read the novel would understand I guess.

Changiz Khan is historical fiction, mostly likely to be the true depiction of the life of the great Mongolian leader. It’s a very new experience to read through the conditions and customs of those times, where physical power alone wins and war is a part of life. Thank god, we have come a far way since then. :-). Chengiz Khan was an enthralling read.

Saalabhanjika’s review is here.

One other deeply affecting book I read this year is Indians by Sudhir Kakar. He is an eminent psychoanalyst and writer. He has written several books dealing with culture and religion. I got some valuable insights from this particular book of his, which have put some doubts of mine to rest. Understanding the psychology of Indians as a whole helped me to accept and to have more clarity about certain things. I intend to read more and more of him in future.

In 2012, I got introduced to “Ampasayya” Naveen. I read several of his works during the past year starting from his famous Ampasayya to his Sahitya Academy Award winner Kaalarekhalu. Needless to say, I liked his style very much and look forward to read more of him in future.





2011 Reading

10 02 2012

I’ve been writing an end-of -the year synopsis on my perusal of books  for the past couple of years (i.e. ever since I started this blog) but this time I missed on it and haven’t posted anything about my 2011 reading. It’s not because I forgot about it or just been busy or lazy. In fact, I wanted to do something different for 2011 and I unwittingly set an ambitious task for myself. Inspired by the statistics course and visualization workshop I attended during the last semester,  I wanted to present the statistics of my reading in the form of attractive visuals. While the first part is fine, it’s the latter one which posed a challenge to me. Being untrained in visualization techniques and having made no significant efforts to acquire the required skills, the exercise took on a “delayed indefinitely” status. Finally today, I decided to present whatever crude things I came up with in my initial attempts this time and save the lofty goal for the next year. So beware of what’s coming next. 🙂

Here are a few graphs, which are (I suppose) self-explanatory:

I read 75 books in total, of which most of them are fiction(69). As you can see, I read very few non-fiction in 2011 and all of them are Indian and in English. It’s interesting to note that though I read the print material most of the time, reading in the electronic mode isn’t too insignificant. I attribute this to my dear Sony Reader. Another observation is that I own most of the books I read in 2011 and given the fact that I’m not an active member of any library currently, it’s  surprising to see that I’ve managed borrowed a considerable number of books. Given the space constraint in my house, I should actually do this more. Though my selection in 2011 largely favored Indian literature, I indulged myself in a variety of  writings from different nations. I’m usually so careful and systematic about picking my reads that there will be little chance for disappointment or frustration and this is evident from the ‘rating” chart. You can see that most of them were rated 3-5.

I prepared an excel sheet with various attributes like title, category. Author, language, country of origin, ownership status, mode (print/electronic), type (novel, short stories etc), translation, rating and remarks. Couldn’t come up with anymore interesting things. I created these graphs from Tableau Public. Being a free offering, it didn’t provide much flexibility and I couldn’t figure out how to show the percentages in the pie chart. I could have produced better analysis and presentation, but as I confessed earlier, I didn’t really give it my best shot.

Wait, there’s more to come, but not this time. I have bigger and more colorful plans for my reading data. 😉 I’ve been keeping track of the books I read for 5 years and this means I can do a time-series analysis to identify the trend(s). It would also be interesting to do some data mining (which I’m learning this semester) on it and explore for any hidden patterns (I know the data is not huge, but still, I can fantasize, can’t I?) and the ultimate objective would be to predict what I’ll be reading next. Wow, that would be really cool! Just thinking about it gives me a shiver of excitement. (You know me! I like being dramatic sometimes.)

Caught up in the enthusiasm for all the new thoughts that emerged in this context, I want to now introduce the tradition ( 😛 ) of announcing the best picks of the year. Here they are for 2011:

  • Best Short Stories – Telugu: Seela Veerraju Kathalu by Seela Veerraju
  • Best Novel – Telugu: Rachayitri by Ranganayakamma
  • Best Short Stories – English: Short cuts by Raymond Carver
  • Best Novel – English: Gone With the Wind by Margeret Mitchell
  • Best Non-fiction: Mother Pious Lady: Making Sense of Everyday India by Santosh Desai




2011 in review

1 01 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,700 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

My remarks: Not a great year of blogging for me. Did poorer than last year. I definitely could have written more often. Also, I wince every time I notice “2 States” as the most popular post or “Chetan Bhagat”, “Anusha Bhagat” as the most popular search terms that lead to my blog, year after year. A big sigh!