Thirty Five Books in Twenty Eighteen

The good folks (or the good app, sil vous plait) at Goodreads have duly informed me that I have completed my 2018 Reading Challenge of 35 books this year. Thirty five? How did that happen? When did I?

To tell you how I got to that number, I would have to rewind a bit to the beginning of 2018. Back in the old days of January 2018, the time of wide-eyed resolutions, high spirits, optimistic world views, I made a Keep note, where I wrote five things I wanted to accomplish in the year to come. Three were totally materialistic ones, and two were areas of self-development – one related to fitness, and one related to intellectual improvement. The latter of these was a (looking back now) humble “10 fiction and 6 non-fiction books”. Yes, I thought reading 16 books in a year was a lofty goal, worthy of being written alongside things like regular workouts and a new suit.

Well, it was lofty back then. And I was aware of this goal constantly. It was something I would enjoy doing, and something that would lessen the amount of Tsundoku in my life. So I kept up the streak of reading that had started a few months back. Before then I had enjoyed reading books, felt a minor sense of accomplishment on finishing one, but never kept track, and have been irregular with continuing books that I had started. As a result, I can proudly claim at least a dozen books to be a part of my “currently reading” category.

I kept reading, kept keeping a note in another Keep note (I hadn’t re-discovered Goodreads then). Meanwhile, the good wife gifted me a Kindle for the birthday. And the tinkerer in me got down to getting all types of ebooks in my possession on to that device.

The speed with which I kept finishing books astounded me – I had never managed to complete books this fast. Somewhere around April or May, the figure of sixteen was crossed, and the Keep note kept getting longer and longer. A few months down the line, I realised I have a Goodreads account, and it’s so much better than using Google Books and an Android app I was using called My Library to keep track of books I own. Additionally, I could keep track of my reading status. Without writing the name of the books and authors in Keep.

And there was a reading challenge too! I needed one more number target, and this challenge thingie gave me that. I had finished 20 books by then, and going by that rate, I could have finished a total of maybe 27, maybe 29 books. I could have set the challenge at 30, and coasted nicely to the end. But what fun would that be? So, I decided on a nice round number like thirty five.

Why not thirty six? Because who wants to read an even three books a month? That’s boring.

The challenge stayed in the app. I had 15 days to go, and I realised I am two books short of the target, and didn’t have enough time for two whole books. I could have picked up two thin books and be done with it. But no, I didn’t. Well, I did pick up the 112-page play by Vijay Tendulkar, Khamosh! Adaalat Jaari Hai. But I also picked up William Dalrymple’s In Xanadu, which I managed to finish by Christmas. And the play took another couple of days. In between, I also finished the teeny-tiny The Adventure of the Dying Detective by Arthur Conan Doyle in this period, which can be discounted, lest the count actually reaches thirty six instead. And who would want that?

I have been spending the last few days leafing through some books (A Book of Simple Living by Ruskin Bond amongst others), and not really paying much heed to any need to finish n number of pages in m number of days. And thinking of how to share the list of books I have read with all of you.

Now that you have read through the enthralling story of How I Read Thirty Five Books in Twenty Eighteen, why don’t you go to the next post to read about the best ones I read.