Books were my best friends in childhood. I loved snuggling up to a classic fiction book after coming back from school and getting lost in between its pages. But someway down the line, as I metamorphosed into adulthood, I ditched fiction books. Maybe I had too much of it! I don’t have a definite answer.
There was a phase when I thought I’d outgrown fiction completely and preferred to read a handy nonfiction book or magazine instead. I’d read fiction sporadically. But all that’s changed this year as I’ve vowed to read fiction with regularity, and openness.
My biggest investment this year has been in books – fiction and nonfiction. To give you a sneak peek, some of my recent book investments include HBR on People Management, Bossypants by Tina Fey, and Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. I buy the paperback version if the books seem to be a keeper and the Kindle version if I don’t want to clutter my home.
Like my childhood, books have proved to be my most loyal friends in this pandemic, helping me to cope with it one day at a time. I’ve found joy and solace in poetry, particularly lately, and more so during the pandemic. Music, movies, and TV shows come a close second.
#BlogchatterA2Z Challenge 2021 boosted my reading goals
One way I reclaimed my love for reading fiction this year was to participate in the #BlogchatterA2ZChallenge. I tied the theme to my reading goals and decided to read and analyze one short story every day.
This year’s challenge was hectic considering that the news of the pandemic affecting loved ones and beyond took a mental toll on me. Also, the fact that reading was a fraction of my challenge. The other parts were writing the story analysis and designing the blog creatives. A single post took nothing less than two hours to an entire day. Sometimes it spilled over to the next day with my juggling work commitments.
But it was well worth it! It introduced me to even more eclectic reading recommendations to keep me busy for a long time. I’ve also realized that I’m not the slow reader that I thought I was. When you read consistently every day, your reading speed improves drastically. What’s more? I’ve got my childhood days back again.
Let’s do a quick recap of my short story reading collection last month.
I started with Sticks by George Saunders that makes you explore the complexity of the human psyche and empathize with its flawed (almost bordering on mental instability) characters.
Girl by Jamaica Kincaid is a feminist story of a daughter and mother wrangled in a patriarchal society.
Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway offers a lesson on using the Iceberg technique for writers and a substantial and thought-provoking story for the readers.
The Girls In Their Summer Dresses by Irwin Shaw is a thoroughly entertaining story about the male gaze and pretension in some marriages.
If you’re too scared to read horror, then maybe The Haunted House by Virginia Woolf can make you change your mind. It’s a story that’ll make you fall in love with ghosts and literature. Be warned that this horror story reads less like one and more like literary prose. It’s Virginia Woolf that we are talking about here! Hello!
Want to know how to throw a solid punch into your story? Read The Story Of An Hour by Kate Chopin, where the author makes every single word count. If brevity is the sign of wit, then this story makes a fine case example.
An Astrologer’s Day by R. K. Narayan takes you to a bygone era in a fictional Indian town. Narayan has a knack for weaving absorbing stories that leave an indelible impression in his readers’ minds.
I thoroughly enjoyed this utterly crazy and ingenious story titled Sredni Vashtar by H. H. Munro (Saki.) Saki subverts childhood and all the attributes attached to it like simplicity, innocence, or goodness in this fun, satisfyingly devious read.
The Falling Girl by Dino Buzzati is a whacky, light, and lingering short story. What Buzzati does in The Fallen Girl is extraordinary, and how he makes a social commentary via the course of Marta’s life.
Eveline by James Joyce plays upon the dichotomy of fear and hope among women in toxic relationships. Which emotion wins? You’ll have to read this well-crafted story to find out.
Julian Barnes uses the techniques of literary minimalism and symbolism in Marriage Lines, a sweet, tender, poignant love story. The irony is that the author talks about everything in the story but love. Yet, what a great tribute it is to love and the institution that is marriage!
A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings by Gabriel García Márquez is a straightforward story narrated with a detailed description in chronological order. It takes an anti-establishment stance with elements of magical realism and satire.
There’s nothing like a good old classic tale like The Last Leaf by O. Henry in the current direst pandemic times. The Last Leaf is the kind of story that you will keep coming back to from time to time for hope, strength, and love.
Bharati Mukherjee has written The Management of Grief with admirable sensitivity and empathy. I highly recommend this outstanding story despite it being a discomforting read.
The Smallest Woman In The World by Clarice Lispector is a beautiful, fantastical story about diversity, inclusiveness, humanity, and the art of living.
In A Hunger Artist, Franz Kafka explores the theme of hunger as it takes on different meanings and interpretations, delving into metaphysical realms. It’s written in a style that’s reminiscent of the biblical parables.
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is an atmospheric horror story that portrays the dark side of tradition, the isolation of its women, and their continued persecution for society’s well-being and honour.
God Sees The Truth, But Waits by Leo Tolstoy is a deep, philosophically rich story that reminds you of the mortality and futility of life and the preparation for the real journey thereafter.
The Swimmer by John Cheever is a brilliant satire on the great American dream, the privilege and facade of the upper-middle class and the elite, the crumbling of the family system, and the moral degradation of American society.
The Velds by Ray Bradbury is a dystopian science fiction story that makes a surreal read in 2021. It shatters the notion that humans are the most superior beings on earth.
Sultana’s Dream by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain is a futuristic sci-fi feminist story far ahead of its time, a progressive story that deals with the subjects of feminism, education, and environmentalism.
Counted among his greatest short stories, Winter Dreams by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a story of lofty ambitions and unbridled passion. It’s storytelling at its best. Highly recommend it!
The Lady With The Dog by Anton Chekhov is a story about a clandestine love relationship between Dimitri Gurov and Anna Sergeyevna, who are unhappy with their marriage partners. Gurov and Anna’s love story is messy, complicated, beautiful, and defies all logic.
One of his earlier stories, A Thousand Deaths by Jack London, is a bizarre Frankenstein-style science fiction story.
Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman is a chilling retelling of the old German fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers in 1812. A must-read for all Gaiman fans and definitely not for children!
The Signalman by Charles Dickens is a psychological horror story that will stay eerily in your mind and haunt you forever.
With that, I’ve completed my third A2ZChallenge with Blogchatter this year. I feel so accomplished already and cannot wait to participate again.
I will continue to read short stories and poems and mix that up with novels and thought-provoking and relevant nonfiction.
It’s a whole new exciting world out there that beckons. Stay safe and happy reading, folks! Until next time!