Top Ten Bookish Problems I Have

This is the second time I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

top ten tuesday

Now I don’t need to relearn the days of the week to realise that it is definitely not Tuesday. I thought this week’s theme sounded fun, but I had no time to write a post on the actual day the meme encouraged. Then I thought I’d post it on Thursday, which would still maintain the pleasant alliterative ring. But I sort of forgot, so here we are, writing a Top Ten Tuesday post on a Sunday. (I’m usually such a rule-follower that I felt I needed to offer a long explanation about this deliberate flouting of rules)

Without further ado, the top ten book-related problems I have are:

1) I’m incapable of having any sort of serious, focused conversation in a bookstore. Or a library. Or even a cafe with a decent bookshelf. I just tend to nod and mutter vaguely and make a sudden grab for any interesting-looking book I spot, completely alarming the person who thought I was listening to them.  A concentration of books renders me hopelessly distracted, instantly transforming me into a terrible conversational companion.

2) When I travel to a new place (or even an old one, really), I research the bookstores I can visit, and drop by all of them. While I love doing this and don’t intend to stop, this habit is fraught with dangers for my wallet and backpack-carrying shoulders. Every time I enter a bookstore on a vacation, I feel like I can’t leave it empty-handed. What better souvenir than a book, right?

3) I actually love lending books to people. I always want to thrust my favourites (or books I think they’ll like) in their hands and demand they enjoy it as much as I did. But I feel terribly awkward asking for the books to be returned. So now I’m constantly caught between the desire to pass my books around and the paranoia of ever letting them out of my sight. Maybe I should channel my inner librarian and make a list of the books I’ve lent, the people they’re with, and the approximate date  I should expect them back.

4) I want to read EVERYTHING. While I know this is technically impossible, it doesn’t stop me from trying. Thanks to which I get immensely stressed out by the amount of things I have yet to read and the ones I’m never going to be able to.

5) Thanks to my inability to comprehend the simple fact that it is impossible to read everything, I read voraciously in order to finish everything I can. But sometimes I start to feel that I’m reading too much, too fast. This habit coupled with my notoriously poor memory means that I don’t know how much I’ve actually retained from all that I’ve read.

6) Since I’m known as a reader among friends, people always ask me for recommendations or for a list of my favourites. I love matching books with people, but thanks to my aforementioned terrible memory, I can only remember a minuscule list of authors and books I want to talk about, even though I’ve loved many more. Fortunately, Goodreads comes to my rescue. I never kept a track of my books and reading habits before that, so I have no idea how I managed.

7) Mealtimes at home are always accompanied by a book in hand. This means that food crumbs and stains always make their way to the pages, no matter how much I try to save the book. I’ve learned that I’m a messy eater and that I’m not allowed to bring borrowed books anywhere near food.

8) In recent weeks, I’ve begun feeling uncomfortable about my ignorance and (previous) lack of interest in the Indian book scene. I’m caught up on the American book culture thanks to all the newsletters I’ve subscribed to, but my mind’s a complete blank when it comes to books coming out of India. I’m trying my best to remedy this and seek information, but the absence of access to an organised Indian book scene makes it incredibly frustrating.

9) I love my self-proclaimed bookworm cred and would love to wear it (literally wear it) with pride. But hunt as I might, it’s difficult to get bookish merchandise like tees, tote bags and mugs celebrating books and reading in India. Of course, I can order from websites based outside the country, but they’re expensive and I’m poor.

10) Because I’m largely steeped in fictional worlds, their characters have given me unrealistic expectations about interactions and relationships with real people. Does that ever go away?

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Where I Was Reading: New Year’s Eve Edition

I brought in the new year at a little-known beach in southern Maharashtra.

I mostly bummed on the sand and read (few visitors meant that it began to feel like a private beach), but I also managed to fit in walks through quiet village lanes, scuba diving to visit the fishes underwater, a visit to a sea fort, a sprained ankle (someone yelled “Look, dolphins!” and I did; nobody yelled “Look, stairs!” so I didn’t), a bonfire on the beach and dancing to stolen music.

Malvan 099Kolamb Beach in the wee hours of the morning where I followed dogs, hunted sunrises, sang entirely wrong lyrics in the water, played badminton very badly, helped build an epic sandcastle and read, read, read.

Malvan 131What the locals call Tsunami Island off the coast of Deobagh Beach. While the family we were with went off to do a series of water sports, I walked around the circumference of this miniature island (it took me a grand total of ten minutes), before settling down to read. This piece of land only came to exist 10 years ago as a result of the 2004 tsunami.

Malvan 206Sindhudurg Fort is the first fortress I’ve visited that wasn’t set atop a hill. As the neighbour at my homestay explained, when the name has the word durg in it, it means it’s a sea fort, while the suffix of gad signifies a hill fort.

What I was reading

Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal

land of the seven rivers

In an interesting turn of events, on the last day of my holiday, I discovered that my mother was convinced that our room in the homestay was haunted. So there’s that.

Parinta Shetty: The Best Indian Children’s Books of the Year

My favourite Indian children’s books of the year.

the duckbill blog

We asked some people who we know read a lot of Indian children’s and YA books to tell us about one (or more) really impressive book they read this year. We will be posting their replies over the rest of the month.

Parinita Shetty is an author and a children’s book professional.

Parinita Shetty

We are thrilled that there are so many Duckbill books in Parinita’s list, and we promise no arms were twisted–platypuses do not believe in list-fixing.

Survival Tips for Lunatics by Shandana Minhas (Hachette India)

Twelve-year-old Changez Khan and his nine-year-old brother Taimur (aka Timmy) have been accidentally left behind by their parents in the wild. Just as they’re making plans to be reunited with their parents, there’s an earthquake. A talking sparrow then appears and saves them from a ravenous-yet-oddly-polite horde of giant crocodiles. Their excellent adventure also includes a philosophical bear, vegetarian Velociraptors, a poetry-hating dragon, some…

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