Thursday, 28 January 2016

Why I took up the 2015 reading challenge

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As a kid I was always fascinated by books. It just seemed to be the right thing to do. I associated it with wise, intelligent people. Plus, it smelled so nice!

I used to read till I was around 10 years old; mostly encyclopedias and quiz books. My parents would take me to all the book fairs and I would buy a bunch of quiz books every time I went. That habit gradually faded away as school exams became a higher priority.

Interestingly, I somehow did not know much about books which children generally read at that age. I did not know of the existence of 'The famous five', 'The Hardy boys' or Agatha Christie. During my 6th standard, I saw a few of my friends reading Harry Potter so I decided I should give it a shot. That 240-something page 'monstrous' book was looking like a formidable challenge and I wasn't sure whether I could complete it during my life span. I remember the time when I was asked by my teachers to read Huckleberry Finn in the 3rd standard, and I couldn't make heads or tails of it (especially who that character Tom Sawyer was).

But I must admit I enjoyed reading Harry Potter a lot. I bought the next few books in the series and read them tirelessly. I read each of them atleast 7 times! Over the next few years I started reading other books too. I never dared to attempt long reads and kept it to Paulo Coelho's and Dan Brown's. Still I read quite a bit. But that was before college.

As soon as architecture started, I struggled to take out time to read. I initially made attempts, but these books would generally remain incomplete for months and then I would pick out another book, and the result would be the same. I barely read some 20 books during the 5 years of graduation.

Last year I pledged that it must change. I knew that even though I have missed out on so many years, it is never too late to restart. I joined and took up the 2015 reading challenge. I pledged to read 18 books (3 books in 2 months), which seems quite modest, but I wanted a realistic target, one which I can complete. That way, even if I miss out on a few days or weeks of reading due to some unavoidable issue, I can make up for it later; a daunting target would only lead to giving up prematurely. It turned out to be a good decision because amidst work and daily chores, it becomes a challenge to read regularly.

I eventually completed the challenge with about a week to spare! Still it made me really happy. It was my best reading year ever and I would like to keep that up in 2016 too. (You can check out my reading year here reading challenge 2015)

Sharing my success will definitely inspire me (and hopefully others too) to keep going. So I thought I should share a list of the 5 best books I read in 2015, which you can also try out.


It was the first book I read last year, and definitely one of the best. 600-odd pages gave me the impression that this is going to be a long, slow read. But I just got sucked into the story line and felt that it moved so very smoothly. The characters are well developed and the writing is great. It is unquestionably a timeless classic.

Not many of you might have heard of this book, but trust me, it will crack you up every page or two. The writing might not be of the Mario Puzo levels, but it is every bit relatable to most readers; simple and uncomplicated, and more importantly, funny. Random, unthinkable, and impossible events lead to more coincidences, but I feel the story has been strung well together. You will not regret reading it if you are up for some light read.

3. 1984 (-GEORGE ORWELL)
This is as different as it gets from the previously mentioned book; better too. Written 67 years ago, this master piece is as timeless as it gets. It talks about an imaginary, dark world of the future (1984). The imagination and maturity of Orwell is unparalleled. It is definitely one of the best books I have come across, as it will forever leave a mark.
Ps. Read this book and compare it to the current situation of North Korea; you will see some striking resemblances for sure.

The third book of the 'modern epic' A song of ice and fire, A storm of swords is the best book of the series so far for me. Even though I started reading the series after watching the TV series, I am often left with amazement at the intricacy and detail with which Martin has woven this 'game'. This book has so many dramatic twists that I loved reading it even though I knew so much of it beforehand. The writing, needless to say, is great, and the characters, even though they are many, are dealt with expertly.

This is the most unique book I must have ever read. It is full of random questions (asked by people at such as 'Is it possible to build a jetpack using downward-firing guns' or 'If an asteroid was very small but supermassive, could you really live on it like the Little Prince'. Munroe answers them hilariously! He considers various permutations and combinations to answer whether the questions asked are actually possible or not, or to what degree. In addition to that, he uses really funny cartoons too. The end result is a laugh riot! I had a blast reading it and seriously, it is funny.. really funny!

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