Monday, October 01, 2012

Quarterly Review and my Reading Projections for October

September Reads
In September I was in my elements. Not that I did something that I've never done before. No! That isn't it. I just did my usual reading; however, it was better than it had been for the last five months, that is from April to August, where I hardly hit the required fifty pages per day (except in April where it was 52.30). Perhaps, finally, the vacation I took from work helped.

I was able to read four out of the five books I projected to read and two others that weren't in the list. This six books gave me a total of 1,691 pages, which works out to 56.4 pages per day, though it isn't up to my January to March stats where in the latter month alone I read a total of 2,424 pages (or 78.2 pages per day). I love the reading stats though I don't let it ruin the joy of reading.

The following are the books I read in September:
  1. Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih. This has been on my Top 100 list for a long time. It tells of Mustafa Sa'eed, a bohemian and a bon-vivant whose life was wasted even in his death and his doppelganger, the narrator of the story, who had to exorcised the ghost and memory of Mustafa in order to live a worth living.
  2. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Finally I get to read this tome. I understand why people love it and hate it in equal measure. At the beginning I was hating it but couldn't also put it down due to Franzen's compelling and powerful prose. Again, such a disquisition of American society needs to be read and understood if one is not to fall victim to it. However, what can one do if life becomes a Procrustean bed? I will entreat all to read this. Don't trust any review. Read it for yourself.
  3. Growing Yams in London by Sophia Acheampong. This is a Young Adult novel by a British-born Ghanaian. She explores life as a second generation British living with a first-generation immigrant parents who wish you will know more about your roots and culture. Again, it is that dilemma most second generation immigrants face; yet it is more than that. Acheampong explores technology and how it aids friendship and more.
  4. Journey by G. A. Agambila. This is a story of migration, of life and of moving against the cold currents of penury and of traditions. It's somewhat complex but so are the lives we live where decisions have to be made at each point, where disappointments are common and plans don't go as they should.
  5. The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Every month I try to read at least one non-fiction. I don't know if I've followed this religiously. In this superb book with numbered paragraphs which reads like aphorisms, Sun Tzu explains strategy and what it takes to win wars. In fact, this book has a wider application. He admonishes 'Know your enemy and yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.' He also admonishes Generals to treat those they capture in battles magnanimously.
  6. Portrait of the Artist, as an Old Man by Joseph Heller. This is a fantastic book and it has a huge surprise at the end. What if an author tells you at the end of a book that the author in the book you're reading (the book is about an old author struggling to write a master piece before his death) is trying to write the book you've just read? Fantastic. Heller captures the torments and struggles that most authors go through especially after they've had an initial success with their first book. This book was completed just before the Catch-22 author passed. It could be very autobiographical or at least will have traces of himself in it.
These are the books I read. Currently, I am reading Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks (writing as Ian Fleming). Another thing: I have reviewed and scheduled five out of the six books I read.

Projections for October
Actually I've not thought about this and hence have not selected the books; but I might read the following
  1. Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks. Currently reading this book;
  2. Amsterdam by Ian McEwan;
  3. Fathers and Daughters, an Anthology of Exploration by Ato Quayson;
  4. IPods in Accra by Sophia Acheampong;
  5. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi; and 
  6. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
These are only projections and may change.

Quarterly Review
This is the end of the third quarter and I have to take stock of all my reading challenges and report if I'm on track or not. By sharing it with my readers, I put the power of supervision into them so that I won't keep off track or stop altogether. Once I know my readers are 'waiting' for my progress report, I will get to work and complete them.
Uncompleted Challenges:
  1. The 70 book Reading Challenge. This challenge is a year-long challenge whose aim is to read 70 books (not single stories; could be fiction or non-fiction) in the year, from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. I have excel sheets with formulas that determine whether I'm on track or not and also I have a GoodReads account to help me on this. Currently, I am 74 percent into this challenge and that translates into 52 books (I'm on my 53rd), which means that, including what I'm currently reading, I have 18 books to be read in three months or six books per month. The challenge therefore is to keep all the months at least as better as September; anything less and I will not reach my target. If I read all the 70 books, 2012 will be the year I read the most books, at least since 2009 where I started keeping records of my reading.
  2. 100 Shots of Shorts. This challenge is also a year-long one and it is aimed at reading 100 short stories in a calendar year. This short stories include both collected stories (in anthologies) and uncollected stories (or what I often call single stories). I'm 82 percent into this challenge and I am sure to complete it since one anthology alone could have more than 18 stories required for completion. And I have more than one anthology. At least I have one - The Ghost of Sani Abacha by Chuma Nwokolo - that has 26 stories.
  3. The Commonwealth Writers Prize Winners for African Region. This is an infinite challenge where I try to read winners of this prize and, unless the prize is cancelled, I'm not going to complete this. Again, most of the books are not available hence commitment level is low. Only 1 (Harvest of Thorns by Shimmer Chinodya) of the 52 books read so far qualifies for this challenge.
  4. Top 100 Books Reading Challenge. This challenge began somewhere in 2009 with the aim of reading a listed (from different top 100s) books of 100 to be read in 5 years. So far I'm only 40 percent through this challenge and I'm in the third year; though I have one or two of the books on my shelf most of them have eluded me. Reading this year has contributed 11 books to the challenge which is better than all the years except last year.
Completed Challenges
  1. Chunkster Challenge. This challenge asked readers to read four books whose pages are 450 or higher. This was the first challenge I completed and since my completion I've read three more books. Thus it is 173 percent complete.
  2. Africa Literature Reading Challenge (ARLC). I participated this challenge knowing that I could complete in a month, after all my focus has been African Literature. Consequently, I didn't add any other books to the chosen list. It is therefore 100 percent completed.
Other Trivia
  1. Forty-two percent of all books I've read this year were authored by an African and the remaining is non-African-authored. The question is why the disparity even though I say I am promoting African Literature? It's difficult accessing African books. Besides, other books draw people to the site who will then have the chance to read the African books. Lame reason but believe me, the African books are difficult to access, especially the quality ones.
  2. Non-fiction - 12 percent (8); translation 10 percent (7); Poetry anthology 3 percent (2); short story anthology 7 percent (5); novels (> 150 pages) 38 percent (26); novella (<=150 pages) 4 percent (3); plays 1 percent (1). I end here.
  3. Total pages read is 13,593. 
I will give more details in the end of year review.

4 comments:

  1. Excellent advice regarding Franzen's The Corrections! I think the same can be said of Freedom... I loved them both.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks JoAnn. I look forward to reading that one also.

      Delete
  2. Fantastic breakdown of the last quarter,I've considered doing this myself before but that was as far as it got.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can. But it needs time to fill in and always tweak. But I love it. Once you prepare it you use it every year and only add columns when necessary. Currently, I learning MS Access so that I can transform them into that platform.

      Delete

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