Thursday, January 09, 2014

A Bookish Outlook for 2014 - No Challenges, Almost!

Unlike previous years in which my readings have followed, but not dictated by, certain objectives, this year is to be a year of free reading. By 'free reading', I mean it would be challenge-free, direction-free, and anything free. Almost. I am sorry, but almost. A reader has to read. 

Reading Target. I have discovered that setting yearly reading targets have improved my reading tremendously. In 2012, I set a target of 70 books and read two more books; in 2013 60 but read 3 more (albeit more pages than in 2012). In both of these years, I have been spurred on by a determination to not disappoint myself. Thus, I feel that I should once again set a target towards which my reading will be directed. Though not in the current year, it is my life-long dream to read a 100 books in one particular year. And with this fantasy away let's get back to reality; I hope that even together with the necessity to write more this year I will be able to read 60 books. I will aspire but should I fail, I will attribute it to writing.

Country of Focus. I am not very sure if I have read any French author of literary merit. I am in doubt because I cannot recollect all the books I have read and among those I do there is no French author. Alright, I just remembered that I have read Angelique, Marquise of the Angels by Anne Golon. But this was such a long time ago, probably in 1997, that it is safe not to consider it. Whatever it is, just as last year was to Russian authors (which might continue this year), this year will be to French authors. Here, I am more likely to read the classics as they are easily available through the Penguin Popular Classics. Already, I have two books by Victor Hugo - Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. I will look for others.

Big Books. Again, judging by the few unread books on my shelves, I am likely to read big books this year. I have the two popular books by Ayn Rand - The Fountain Head (1943; 704 pages) and Atlas Shrugged (1957; 1069 pages). Apart from the sheer size of these books, the font are below average, the results of profit maximisation, that I shiver to think the length of time it will take me to read this tome. Add to this is the heavy philosophical theme of her books. Furthermore, I intend to read that controversial Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses (itself over 540 pages) and the highest-selling and most-popular trilogy of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (at an average of 400 pages per book). I have had this hard-cover collection for a long time but have not come around to reading them. I read the Book I - Fellowship of the Ring - about a decade ago. In the light of these, should I be able to read 50 of the target of 60 books, I would consider it as a great accomplishment.

African Books. As it stands now, I have not yet decided on the direction my reading of African books will take. The fact is that I am slowly reading my way through the Heinemann AWS, this couple with the almost complete absence of new African books means that I might fail to achieve much in this direction. However, I am not going to give up entirely. I have heard of a place where I could get Taiye Selasi's Ghana Must Go, should everything go as planned I will be reading this very book. I have also seen A Fine Madness by Mashingaidze Gomo in some bookshops.

Non-Fiction. I intend to also focus on non-fiction this year. Though I failed to do so last year, I would try as much as possible to keep the focus. The reading areas would be what I should have done last year:
  1. Development, Culture and the Human Mind;
  2. Thought and Language;
  3. Philosophical, Political and Economic writings about Nation States and Humanity.
The Book and Discussion Club. In the midst of these all, I will also be reading whatever book that The Book and Discussion Club of the Writers Project of Ghana will select for each of its monthly reading, unless I have read the book most recently to be able to effectively contribute to the discussion. The selected books for the first three months, beginning from February to April, are The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Testament of the Seasons by Mawuli Adzei, and 1984 by George Orwell, respectively.

The Top 100 Books Challenge. In October of 2009, I made a list of 100 books to be read in five-years. This challenge comes to an end on October 27, 2014 and I am yet to read half of the listed books. As it stands now, I either have to extend the deadline or to terminate it and unofficially continue with it since there is no way I am going to complete that challenge. I will give an full update on October 27, 2014.

These are just directions to guide my reading this year. They would not dictate, as they have never done, my reading. Reading should first be enjoyed and I intend to keep that cardinal principle.


  1. That is just amazing, Nana. I cannot read half the number you're talking about in twice the time. I'm the slow, picky reader. But yes, mentioning JRR Tolkien got me excited. Have you considered reading any of George RR Martin's books from A Song of Ice and Fire?

    Good luck reading, sir!

    1. Yes, picky. I have it said that quantity is not as good as quality. So there you are. You are going for the quality read. I will do that soon.

      I knew with the mention of Tolkien I will get you here. You were the very person I thought of when I wrote those lines. But yes! I should be reading these books this year. At least once in a year, I do read fantasy/science fiction. I have heard of GRR Martin's works though I must say that I have not even read a blurb or a review of it. I am not a follower of fantasy novels (is that his?) and a cautious reader of science fiction.

      Hey! but why not? A reader is just a reader. Let the books choose him.

  2. Good luck in your 2014 reading plans. Try to see if you can get any Alexander Dumas for the French reading. I'm currently doing a long read of Count of Monte Cristo on eBook. I second George RR Martin's series.

    1. Thanks Deseree... Yes, Dumas. I hope to read either what you are reading Count of Monte Cristo or may be The Three Musketeers.

      And another vote for GRR Martin. I shall see. I am totally ignorant of such themes. I once tried a fantasy/science fiction and could not read more than three pages. The people described were above what my mind could imagine and keep. But with a second, and perhaps a third, vote I am not unwilling not try this author.

  3. I'll be waiting to read your review of The Satanic Verses; I've been meaning to read it for a couple of years now, because I'm beginning to think more and more that it's a duty to stand up for such a contentious novel.

    1. Basically that's why I want to read this. I want to know whether it deserves the uproar it received, or that it was the ban and its attendant fatwa that just made it popular. I have heard mixed responses from friends. I should say at the extreme ends.


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