It is the last Sunday of the month, and of the year. Perhaps more importantly, it is the last Sunday of the decade.Would you imagine, 10 years has past by without most of us noticing it?
I am one of those who is still trapped in a time machine, somehow. It seems like yesterday when I was struggling to finish my college degree. To think that it was just at the start of the decade. But time moved on. In one swift but ironically tumultuous motion: I graduated from college, I passed my licensure examinations and I got employed.
Finding The Groove
In between, I was able to insert doing some of the things I am passionate about, particularly reading, writing and traveling. The first one is a carry over from the previous decade. But because of the torrent of motions, there was a slow down in my reading at the start of the decade. A wise man once said, priorities first.
But despite the buzz of activities during the first few years of the decade, I was nevertheless able to sneak a couple of books here and there. The staples were the Danielle Steels, the Mary Higgins Clarks, the Nicholas Sparkses and the Nora Robertses. To most, I know, I had quite a very pedestrian reading experience. I used to believe that I was already having a great reading journey because I am reading popular works.
To be fair, I enjoyed some of these authors such as Steel’s Zoya, Higgins Clark’s All Around the Town, and Sparks’ The Notebook. While indulging in their works, I started expanded towards other authors such as Pat Conroy whose pseudo-biographical works I enjoyed and loved. Perhaps the biggest reading feats I had in the first five years of the decade were:
- Reading the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy;
- Starting reading the seminal English classic works such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Charles Dickens’ The Great Expectations; and
- Falling deeply in love with Agatha Christie’s brand of mystery and suspense.
I also fell in love with Charles Dickens’ prose and it is just unfortunate that I haven’t read any of his works since my college days. I included two of his works in my 2019 Beat the Backlist challenge but sadly, I never got to them. I will, however, include them in my 2020 Beat the Backlist challenge again and hopefully, I will be able to read them.
Dive into the Depths of Literature
With my move to the Big City, my reading has begun to take a different form. From the profound works of the mainstream authors, I started venturing into the works of authors I have never heard of before or whose works I have never encountered before. Being in a diverse environment turned me into a risk taker. With this venture, my reading has taken a more prominent shape in the last five years.
It started with Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, a book that I really had a difficult time appreciating and understanding. Then came Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, followed by Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. These are works I never thought I’d ever dip my fingers into before. These are works which challenged the inner reader in me. I had difficult time unraveling them but all the difficulties proved worth it in the end as they opened the literati in me.
My journey into the depths of literature continued further when I begun perusing must read lists through which I encountered books and authors I have never heard of before. These authors include Yasunari Kawabata, Kazuo Ishiguro, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, David Mitchell, Barbara Kingsolver, the Bronte sisters, Franz Kafka and a whole lot more. This opened more avenues for me to broaden my horizon and reading perspective.
The last three years, in particular, has been a dash towards ticking off books in the expansive 1,0001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. There are actually about 1,300 books in the list because it got revised about three times. Ever since encountering this diverse list, I started purchasing these books even though I barely have any iota on what they are about.
I also started including books in this list in my annual Top 20 Reading List. There were several books in the list that made huge impact on me such as Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Charotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to name a few.
Having completed just a measly 150 books from the list, I realize that I am still far from completing all of these important works. However, it is important to note that I am slowly gaining momentum and making some significant progress. Whilst I am still torn on whether I will read all the books, I just want to enjoy the journey for now and hopefully I get to complete at least half of the list in the next decade.
It is not only the titles and authors that are diverse. By reading different works from different parts of the world, I started learning more about the histories, cultures and traditions of various places. These works have transported me to different periods. They also gave me deeper insights into various profound subjects such as sexuality, gender, racism, war, violence, mental health and a whole plethora of subjects and themes.
My venture into must-read lists has also introduced me to literary awards like the prestigious Pulitzer Prize and the Man Booker Prize. Without a surprise, many of the winners in these literary awards are part of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. I even dedicated two whole months in the past two years to reading books who won these awards. I also begun digging into the works of Nobel Prize in Literature winners such as Orhan Pamuk, Naguib Mahfouz, Yasunari Kawabata, and Mario Vargas Llosa.
Apart from my dive into the depths of literature, one of the greatest development in my reading journey is my decision to share my thoughts on books I have read. Through this blog, I begun reviewing books, sharing to the world one of my passions. But it is not just a one-way street. By doing book reviews, I am learning and expanding my boundaries through fellow book bloggers.
To Ten More Years
There are still a lot of books I want to read and a lot more things I want to do. I have started a journey in the past ten years and I am looking forward to making more progress in this journey. The road maybe long and, at times, dark, I know that I will have a pleasurable time. Because it is something that I love and something I believe I can do.
Here’s to more meaningful books and read in the coming ten years!