Another Book Reading Update

Here’s another book reading update, since nothing else is happening in my life other than, you know, living life.

I finished In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust and immediately realized something was wrong. See, when I track an audiobook in StoryGraph, I do it by percentage completed. StoryGraph then translates that into number of pages read for some reason. It was reporting that I was reading something like 1200 pages a day. I do not have that capacity OR time. Turns out, In Search of Lost Time is a massive book! ISOLT is about 4000 pages. Compare that with War and Peace, which peaks at about 1400 pages depending on the edition you’re reading. It took me the better part of two years to read War and Peace. Yet I was done with BBC’s radio rendering of ISOLT in, oh, under a week!

I then started wondering if I should read the original text, just to get the parts I didn’t cover in the audiobook. I have shelved that project for now. I want to refresh my memory of this story some other day year.

Since then, I finished Flux by Jinwoo Chong – a wonderfully sad story about Korean identity in the US, a female protagonist who is eerily similar to Elizabeth Holmes, and some sci-fi thrown in for good measure. It reminded me of Embers, which too was about a life not well lived.

I’m currently listening to The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis. I picked it up in Libby on a whim and it’s been a nice ride! I’m still on the fence about historical fiction, though leaning in than out at this point.

I’ve also started reading Scent of a Garden by Namrata Patel. I am not sure about Diaspora authors. I’ve tried before and failed to find a footing. Maybe this one will change my mind?

Slow progress on Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon, which is an excellent retelling of the lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley. I am surprised to discover the details of the lives of these two extraordinary women. The only reason this process is going slowly is because of changes at home. I no longer have the ability to sit and read for a long period of time. Instead, I’m able to use that same time to audiobooks. This may change over time. Let’s see.

I’m at day 148 of reading daily.

Book Reading Update

Finished listening to Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa yesterday. It’s a sad little story but it’s got its highs and lows. There’s some meta-book discussion, since the story revolves around a used-book store and therefore, used books. There’s even (I think) a whole fictional story inside the story and that’s a beautiful touch!

Now I’m listening to In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. The audio version is produced by the BBC as a radio drama. It’s very well done and I’m left wondering if reading the book(s) would give me the same sort of experience as listening to it. One funky thing though was that I totally forgot that the story is set in France, since it’s all spoken in very English accents. At one point when I was keenly listening to it, the realization came to me and tickled me so!

100 days

At the beginning of this year, I thought I’ll get going on two goals – 

  1. Reading more often, 
  2. Writing more often

For the second goal, I setup a secret public facing blog using the Ghost blogging platform. I tried posting something daily, with the idea being that I’ll just put the title as the day I’m on, and that’ll give me enough push to write every day. That fizzled out at the twenty second day mark.

Sometimes I feel like I need a blogging setup where I have no titles. It’s silly, but titles being in the way feels real. But more than titles, I think it’s the blogging platforms themselves. I have been feeling the weight of WordPress’ Gutenberg lately. It’s too unwieldy to be a clean blogging space. That’s why I went to Ghost. But that’s no better. Now I’m on the prowl again, for something simpler and easier to mess with. Heck, I even went with Classic Editor on WordPress to see if that helps me make writing easier. Let’s see how that plays out.

As for the first goal – reading more – I don’t just want to read more. I want to read daily.

I started the year with StoryGraph’s January Challenge – read a page or listen to a minute of an audiobook a day, and be entered to win something. I didn’t win anything but I enjoyed the process and it made the habit that much easier to adopt. It coincided with me finding some really well written Harry Potter fan-fic, so I spent the month burning through some really fun writing. Now I’ve settled into something longer and deeper. I like this tracking thing because I’m not really worried about the number of books I read but rather the number of pages I read. It’s a welcome change in how I gamify my reading habits.  

I know that for many, it’s not much of a milestone, these 100 days. But reading consistently for almost the third of the year isn’t a bad milestone at all and I’m proud enough to blog about it.


Finished: Jenny Odell’s How to do Nothing. 2/5⭐️

What an absolute shitshow of a book. I went in with great expectations. The first chapter gave me even greater expectations. So much so that even before I was done with that chapter, I had ordered a physical copy of the book from Half Price Books for future reference and rereading.

It went downhill from there.

I’ve often heard that if California were an independent economy, it would be the sixth or seventh largest in the world.

Now I understand why that statement makes a lot of sense. Just like all other economies in the world, the people who belong there are often so Nationalistic and narrow minded that their thinking starts and ends with that economy. It just so happens that that economy more often than not coincides with a country.

The same is true for California. The author wouldn’t be bothered to give an international example with a gun to their head. Yes, at the outset of the book there were references to European philosophers and places. But that’s all foil. Once you are invested in the book, the author can’t get their head out of California’s ass.

So much so that the grand idea – how to resist the attention economy and do something structured as a means of protest against it – is completely lost in example after example of how fucking amazing California’s people, ecology, redwoods, and birds are.

Oh. My. God. The fucking birding. We get it. You’re into birding. Shut up about it.

No, the author just keeps dragging you through tired metaphor after tired metaphor about birding and how fucking great it is.

Seriously Jenny, get a life.

Key takeaway from this rant – don’t waste your time, energy, mind, and effort on this book. If you are desperate to know what’s in it, read the article the author has based this book on. It’ll probably have just the same amount of drivel in a concise form.

2/5 ⭐️ because while the book is a waste of space, it’s got a nice set of references which can feed my TBR for a long time to come. Goes to show that you can take some really world class reading and churn out utter drivel from it. Also, the hardcover will form a nice and light doorstopper for me one day.

Note on Jenny Odell’s How to do Nothing

I’m really loving listening to Jenny Odell’s How to do Nothing. It’s an insightful book and a pleasure to read. I didn’t go into it thinking of philosophy, but then midway in the first chapter, she starts quoting Deleuze and talking about the Ethics of Care and that’s just perfect serendipity to me!

Her lived experience around dealing with technology as an isolating and enraging medium and her ways of dealing with it, including by going to a particularly Rose Garden which I too loved when I went to California last, as well as her quoting Rebecca Solnit, just make this a must-read for me.

Looking forward to flowing with this book and integrating its precepts into my life. Also considering buying a physical copy of it after I finish the library book I have right now.


Yesterday was the first time in the year that I read a percentage point of a book just so I don’t lose my streak. I was tired, needed to get some work done, am currently in between ebooks. So I just picked up a random fantasy novel from Libby and read a few pages of it. The worst part of this is that I’m not even sure I want to actually read the book. It’s one of those pulp fiction ones where in the sidebar itself there’s the main intrigue but also the stupid love affair which the protagonist must deal with.

But maybe it’ll be good for me. A light read that maybe, just maybe will be a fast one too. Let’s see.

Finished: The Story of Hong Gildong (Korean Classic) translated by Minsoo Kang 5/5⭐️

I love reading folk classics. They’re simple yet so eloquent. This one was no different. There are some life lessons, some drama, some awesome supernatural elements. It even has a whole thing about filial piety and honoring your ancestors. I only saw this before in the Indian context, so it’s interesting that it’s actually a pan-Asian thing. We should resurrect this in societies where it doesn’t exist anymore.

There are one critique of this story. Largely to do with how repetitive it is. But can’t really blame the story for that. Folk stories have a way of saying the same thing in a hundred ways. After all, what happens when an awe-inspired Korean child asks Grandma, “and then what happened?” Grandma has to invent a whole new adventure for the little one to enjoy. So the story of Hong Gildong gets another chapter.

I found this repetitiveness in The Tale of Genji too, which I’ve tried to pick up twice, only to DNF it again and again. Luckily, the repetitions in thing Gildong’s story were fewer and more interesting.