In Defence of 2016

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard some (or many) people complaining about the trainwreck that was 2016. Many famous people died, Brexit happened, Donald Trump got elected President, we’ve had a number of terrorist attacks and a coup in Turkey, etc. And yeah, sure, these are all bad things, but that doesn’t mean the year was any worse than any other.

2016

People forget that bad things happened in 2015, 2014 and every other year before that. Why, we’ve had a lot of famous people die before… Leonard Nimoy and Christopher Lee in 2015, and Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2014. Plenty of terrorist attacks occurred… in fact, I feel that 2016 has been calmer on that front than 2015.

On a personal level, I had an uncle pass away in 2016… compared to an aunt and uncle in 2015. I know it’s not a nice comparison to make, but I’ll still take the year with the one less tragedy.

But a lot of good things happened this year too. People simply choose to forget them.

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2015 in Reading

At the beginning of 2015, I challenged myself to read 60 books, upping the number from 50 books in 2014. Unfortunately, 2015 was difficult. Very difficult. Though I tried to maintain a positive attitude throughout the year, I think now that it was mostly all on the surface, and my happy façade started deteriorating towards the end. Many things happened, and Рcaught up in the midst of it all РI was only able to read 33 books.

Goodreads believed in me till the very last minute, but I sadly failed it.

Goodreads believed in me till the very last minute, but I sadly failed it.

Actually… some may argue that I didn’t really read 33 “books”, because 22 of these were graphic novels and manga volumes. Now I don’t know about you, but I consider these to be books, because creating a graphic novel requires the same work and trouble that go into creating a novel, if not even more. So they do count towards my challenge and that’s that! Continue reading

If I wasn’t a writer, what would I be?

I had a weird dream last night… as is typical with all my dreams, but I digress. I dreamt that I was a writer, traditionally published and successful and famous beyond my wildest dreams. Then along came a witch, and for some unknown reason she cursed me, sent me back to my childhood, took away that one moment that turned me into a writer.

My alarm went off then, and I didn’t know what had become of my dream self, but the mere idea of leading a life without books and writing kinda freaked me out. I have been a bibliophile for as long as I remember, and it never occurred to me that I could’ve been thrown into a reality where I wasn’t. I suppose I’ve been fortunate enough to have parents who liked to read, who took me to book fairs and allowed me to buy the books I wanted. If our circumstances had been different, if they were uneducated or poor, then I might have never learned to embrace books. I would have never considered seeing what my own words would look like on paper.

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It’s my favourite month again.

It’s been a year, but the best month has finally rolled around. Of course I’m a bit biased. Okay, very biased, but my birthday month trumps all.¬†Around this time of year I list down reasons to try and convince you of the glory that is October. I’ll be doing that again this time, only… I have one more reason to celebrate.

You see, on the 18th of October, I will have made it through my first year of living here in Dubai, by myself, completely independently. This is a huge milestone. One of the biggest in my life. Many thought I couldn’t do it, that I’ll cave and go back to the shelter of my parents’ home in a few months, but… here we are. I don’t have everything figured out yet, but I feel genuinely proud that I’ve managed to come this far. Despite all the hardships and the struggles, I’m happy.

Now that we’ve got all the mushy stuff out of the way, let’s get on to the list. I know everybody likes a list.

tumblr_mtjjk0PQAT1qaxstho1_12801. FALL. In Dubai we don’t get to experience all the lovely colours of autumn, but the temperatures have definitely dipped. On my way to work¬†the other day¬†I actually enjoyed the littlest of cool breezes and didn’t arrive to the office in a melting mess. Continue reading

Introducing my new bookcase!

I raided¬†my local¬†IKEA recently, and part of my loot was a gorgeous black-brown BILLY bookcase. It arrived on Saturday, and I have spent the last couple of days contemplating how best to arrange my books. You see, I’m not used to having so much space. Usually my books have to double-line or sit on top of each other or squeezed super tightly together, but this bookcase is big… bigger than anything I’ve had.¬†Of course, it helps that I don’t have all my books here with me; I had to leave them all behind in my parents’ house when I moved, but I am planning to rectify this.

When my friends asked how I plan to arrange my shelves, I promptly said, without any hesitation, “By height, of course!” They groaned and called me old-fashioned and told me to think of a more original way to arrange everything. And… well, I thought they could have a point there. New bookcase, new rules, right? This is the result.

The bookcase is six shelves in total, but I don't have enough books with me to fill 'er up.

The bookcase is six shelves in total, but I don’t have enough books with me to fill ‘er up.

There are two things to note here:

  1. For the first time in my life, I did not arrange my books by height. Just you wait though, I’m sure my OCD will drive me nuts by the weekend.
  2. The pretty colour transition! I love looking at it! I experimented a bit, tried arranging them by series, then by genre and by author name, but then turned back to this pattern. True, it means that books of the same series aren’t nestled together, but… for now I think it’s lookin’ good!

What do you think? Should I keep it this way or switch to another shelving pattern? How do you arrange your books?

Fantasy isn’t literature.

“People who write fantasy and science fiction, like you [Brandon Sanderson], J. K. Rowling and many others… you aren’t authors; you’re writers. And these books are definitely not literature because they’re not real.”

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion on¬†the merits of children’s literature and how reading and a sense of curiosity and wonder should always be nurtured. The wonderful Brandon Sanderson – author of the Mistborn¬†series – ¬†was there, and he spoke about his own experience with books and writing, and how – as a kid – he only became a reader when his teacher introduced him to fantasy. When all was said and done, one crusty critic blatantly told Sanderson that he doesn’t consider him or the likes of J. K. Rowling to be proper authors, just writers, and fantasy, science-fiction… that’s not literature, simply because it isn’t real.

A fantasy writer myself and a huge fan of Rowling and Sanderson’s work, I was seething.¬†How dare he?¬†But then Sanderson gave such a gratifying answer that left everyone clapping and the man looking around in defeat. He questioned this obsession with reality, what’s so wrong about things that aren’t real, what’s so wrong about imagining things? After all, there were many things that we currently have that weren’t real at some point, and would never have been if man hadn’t thought about them and imagined to be real. That power, that sense of wonder, is important to hold on to. Of course, he didn’t answer in so few words, but that was the gist of it. Continue reading

2014 in Reading

2014-12-30 01.48.33

Last book of 2014!

2014 was many things… good, bad and ugly…¬†but at least it did not throw any 1-star books at me! Of course a lot has changed in the course of this year, and I’ve had a lot to reflect upon… but the one constant has remained my love for reading (and determination to beat the Goodreads Reading Challenge). Around this time of year, I like to look at my stats and pick out the few that really stuck with me.¬†And okay, okay,¬†I’ve read some books that made me feel that¬†I’ve wasted my time, but I still think I’ve had a pretty decent share of good ones, and I wrapped up the year with a pretty book (and some amazing sweets but that’s besides the point)!¬†But first, let’s see how I checked out on the resolutions front!

DONE

  • I read 50 books in 2014! It was a close call, having finished the 50th book yesterday, but I made it!
  • I read one children’s novel and one middle grade novel and liked the latter more. That is important because the children’s one was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I wasn’t all that enamored by it.
  • I didn’t stop reading any books! On a roll for more than two years now!
  • I’ve written a review for every single book I read this year. I even went back and wrote reviews for some books I read years ago.
  • I was not lured by pretty covers. Well, I was lured by a book or two, but I think I improved!

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