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Reading Challenge: 2014

December 20, 2013

Hello, hello.. So I am back!

This is a one off post, will do my bit of apologising for the long absence and all that jazz when I do a proper blog post later on!

For now, down to brass tacks. Without much ado, here’s the list of books I will read in 2014:

1. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Have read 1/4th of it 3-4 years back, and it is already one of my top 10 favourite books of all time. The rhythm and tempo of the book are beyond comparison.)

2. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkein (Can’t watch the movies till I read it, can I!)

3, 4, 5. The LOTR Trilogy – JRR Tolkein (Have watched the movies, but feel I missed a lot of the story because I haven’t read the books. Will read them and have another go at the movies..)

6, 7, 8.  Harry Potter & The Order of the Pheonix, Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows – JK Rowling (Somehow these are still pending. Can’t have so many 11 year olds being better read than me! 😛  Also I really love JKR’s writing.)

9. Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes (Just really really want to read this. It’s part of Prof. Manikutti’s course at IIM Ahmedabad, AND James Marsh’s course at Stanford. ‘Nuff said.)

10. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (Just to know what all the hoopla is about!)

11. Shantaram – Gregory Davies Roberts (Living in Bombay should be reason enough. Also that I can’t be in a position where everyone around me has read a certain book, and I haven’t. That’s also why I read Chetan Bhagat. Sacchi.)

12. Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri (Really like Calcutta, and Jhumpa writes well. Also bought it at a 50% discount from Flipkart and I’d promised myself to read it ASAP.)

13. Inferno – Dante (Can’t really read Dan Brown’s Inferno without reading this one, can I?)

14. Hamlet – William Shakespeare (Own a pretty copy. Also feel the need to know Shakespeare beyond Merchant of Venice, which ICSE pushed down my throat. Maybe I will read a play a year. Let’s see.)

15. 1984 – George Orwell (Have the highest respect for Orwell. Have been wanting to read this one for the longest time.)

16. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks (Own a copy. Heard loads of good things about it.)

17. The Count of Monte Christo – Alexandre Dumas (Because one must read at least one 700 pager in a year! :D)

18. The Honorable Schoolboy – John Le Carre (Has been a while since Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. And this is as classic as spy-fi gets!)

19. The Songs of Distant Earth – Arthur C. Clarke (The sci-fi rep in this list. Also own a copy.)

20. The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Fiction – Henry James (Another book that’s been on my to-read list for much too long!)

Moving on to non-fiction now:

21. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey (Can’t believe I still haven’t finished reading this potentially life altering book. This year I will.)

22. Getting Things Done – David Allen (Same as above. Shit. No wonder my life is such a mess.)

23. The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg (Because I am a sucker for pop-psychology. Much more of that to come.)

24. I am OK, You are OK – Thomas Harris (Didn’t I tell you?)

26. Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman (More pop-psy!)

25. Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman (More of the same. Also this is one of those books that is going to form the foundation of the way we live in the future. In fact, all the non-fiction books so far listed are going to do that.)

26. The Goal – Eliyahu M. Goldratt (I have this ongoing itch for continuous improvement, TQM, TPM, and all that jazz. Also have the highest possible respect for Goldratt as a thinker.)

27. Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki (Because I need to start thinking about my money better. Currently I use it the same way I used to use pocket money in school and college.)

28. First, Break All the Rules – Marcus Buckingham (Supposed to be a must-read for us corporate slaves!)

29. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – Marshall Goldsmith (Same as above. Plus I own a copy.)

30. Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott (Because I love books about writing and the discipline of it.)

31. Your Brain at Work – David Rock (Because the hardware is as important as the software!)

32. How to Solve it – George Pólya (Because in the heart of hearts, I am just a puzzle nut!)

33. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith (Because economics interests me, and this is one is a bible of the subject.)

34. A Bank for the Buck – Tamal Bandopadhyaya (It’s the story of how HDFC Bank came about. Should be interesting!)

35. The Simplicity Survival Handbook – Bill Jensen (Another back to the basics book!)

36. Big Data – Viktor Mayer-Schonberger (Because can one NOT know all there is to know about this!)

37. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl (Been on the to-read list forever)

38. Meditations – Marcus Aurelius (Because Stoic philosophy seems to be the only way out for me!)

39. Bhagavad Gita As It Is – Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (This man’s search for meaning! Next year I read the Bible.)

40. Winning! – Jack Welch (One of those business books that everybody reads. I shall do it too.)

There. That’s the list. I hope to read all of these and a few more easy reads (Wodehouse, Hiaasen, McCall Smith, Grisham) along the way, and bring the total to 52. I know. That’s a very tough target of a book a week. Let’s see how it goes. Wish me luck.

Till next time.



April 15, 2012

As I have mentioned before on this blog, my favourite genre of writing is the kind of books that are broadly classified as thrillers. However, they are reality difficult to fit into any one particular group. To start with, the term ‘Thriller’ itself is a misnomer, as nobody would call Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy a thriller. Not by a long stretch. But  that does not mean that anybody who does not like it is not fit for exile in Siberia. These favourite genres are usually clubbed together either as as spy fiction, or as crime fiction (which can be subclassified into detective fiction, police procedurals, etc.). This does not mean pulp, mind, as many of these books are examples of the best fiction writing there is, with practitioners ranging from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Isaac Asimov to Fyodor Dostoevsky.

So coming back to the point – I love reading crime, detective and spy novels, even though I have reasonably cultured reading tastes which I generally advertise by sneering at fans of the Twilight series, and quoting randomly from hard to read books. I feel that crime novels speak best and most truthfully about the human condition, because as someone has said, a society is only as good as it’s worst crimes (I am not sure if somebody actually said that – maybe I am just extrapolating the “weakest link” concept). The people inhabiting these pages are all trying to get by in less than perfect circumstances – the victims (that is, if they aren’t dead), their families, the criminals, the cops, the private eyes, the moles, the spymasters, and specific to spy-fi, the occasionally sweaty Presidents of nations on brink of war. The detective / police novel,  even more than the others, is a microcosm of what life can be at it’s worst. And how people still learn to accept their lot and move on. Often after justice, or a semblance of it, prevails.

I was reminded of this when I completed Mind Prey by John Sanford this morning. It is not a path-breaking book, like Tinker, Tailor.. or The Alienist, but it is definitely superb entertainment. An out and out thriller, with a menacing villain, believable (and mostly likable – unless they are not supposed to be liked) characters, and of course, Deputy Chief Lucas Davenport of the Minneapolis PD as the protagonist hero. Davenport, like most of the famous detectives of fiction (and mind you, the Prey series has a lot of fans), has a strong personality quirks. He has this felicity with technology, especially computers – he moonlights as a computer game designer with a loyal fan-base amongst the geeks and has his own company – which has made him rich. He dresses nattily, drives a Porsche and believes that criminals have it coming, and the ends will justify the means. An Amazon comment mentioned that “what about the victim’s rights?” is a phrase he is very likely to say.

What I liked best about the book is the easy camaraderie between the cops working on the case (which is in fact true for most cop capers – but the banter here was exceptional), brought out by some crackling ripostes between Davenport and his boss, Chief Rose Marie Roux. This really helps relieve the tension coming after some of the most brutal crime sequences I have read in recent times. The language throughout is easy-going, freely peppered with slang – just like I imagine tough cops and criminals should speak. Which also sort of brings me to the title of this post. “Huh” as a word used by almost every character as a response to somebody, whether in agreement, sarcastically, or as a statement of understanding – which is so much like real life! I wonder why no other author has used this interjection and common “filler” so effectively before this? The amazing “fitability” of this word is best brought out when Davenport spots a very subtle comforting action by one of the secondary characters towards another – an action that their apparent relationship does not justify.  Davenport’s only reaction is to say “Huh” to himself, but you can visualise the gears spinning fast in his head at that moment. It is little things like this that have raised this book a notch above the standard police procedural and kept it from becoming hackneyed like, say, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

All in all, very much recommended for readers who like crime stories, but with the stomach to take some very sickening scenes of rape and violence.

(I know it has been a long while since my previous post. Hope to be much more regular from here on and to continue writing more and more, especially book reviews!)

All My Theory Complete

July 20, 2010

(The Old Astronomer to His Pupil by Sarah Williams, Annotated)

Not many people I have known have asked my what my favourite poem is. But whenever I have been lucky enough to be asked this, I have always gone on and on about The Old Astronomer to His Pupil by Sarah Williams [1]. I first read it on the awesome Generation Terrorists who only had the first four stanzas up. These are the most famous stanzas, and are commonly thought to be the complete poem, which I think is partly due to the fact that a best-selling anthology of poems called “Best Loved Poems of the American People“, published in 1936, printed these four stanzas without reference to the remaining poem, but also because the lines that end the fourth paragraphs are the poem’s chief claim to fame. Let me reproduce them here:

Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

This has to be amongst the most poetically balanced couplets in English literature. Perfect in all respects, the lines work very well on their own, but read in context of the poem, they turn magical. Over the years, I have found different lines from the poem to be more appealing to me at different times, depending on my mindet at that particular juncture, and this remains one of the few poems that I know by heart. These lines are also part of the popular culture in the astronomers’ community in the US, thanks to a paraphrased version of these lines being the epitaph of a nineteenth century astronomer couple, who did a lot to popularise astronomy there.

However, I have failed to find a single page on the internet that shares my enthusiasm for the poem, and have been meaning to write a post about it, annotating the different portions that have impressed me the most, with observations that may just be lost on a first time reader. I hope I can do at least some justice to this onerous task. I am sure to miss a lot of important details, and would appreciate any feedback that is shared on making this post more informative. I have decided to use numbers in brackets to denote places where I have added relevant notes, since I don’t know how to use hyperlinks or even superscript for the purpose of annotation here in WordPress. All the notes are together at the bottom of the page. The poem in its entirety is as below:

Reach me down my Tycho Brahe [2], I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now[3].

Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, ’tis original and true,
And the obliquy of newness [4] may fall bitterly on you.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men’s fellowship and wiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles.

You may tell that German College [5] that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant’s fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness [6], it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.[7]

What, my boy, you are not weeping? You should save your eyes for sight;
You will need them, mine observer, yet for many another night. [8]
I leave none but you, my pupil, unto whom my plans are known.
You “have none but me,” you murmur, and I “leave you quite alone”?

Well then, kiss me, — since my mother left her blessing on my brow,
There has been a something wanting in my nature until now; [9]
I can dimly comprehend it, — that I might have been more kind,
Might have cherished you more wisely, as the one I leave behind.

I “have never failed in kindness”? No, we lived too high for strife,
Calmest coldness was the error which has crept into our life;
But your spirit is untainted, I can dedicate you still
To the service of our science: you will further it? you will!

There are certain calculations I should like to make with you,
To be sure that your deductions will be logical and true;
And remember, “Patience, Patience,” is the watchword of a sage,
Not to-day nor yet to-morrow can complete a perfect age [10].

I have sown, like Tycho Brahe, that a greater man may reap [11];
But if none should do my reaping, ’twill disturb me in my sleep
So be careful and be faithful, though, like me, you leave no name;
See, my boy, that nothing turn you to the mere pursuit of fame [12].

I must say good-bye, my pupil, for I cannot longer speak;
Draw the curtain back for Venus, ere my vision grows too weak:
It is strange the pearly planet should look red as fiery Mars [14],
God will mercifully guide me on my way amongst the stars.

1. I have noticed I always love poems by people called “Sarah”. Two other classics by two other Sara(h)s are here and here.

2. Tycho Brahe has to be among the most colourful and yet one of the most hard working of ancient astronomers. The wiki page is extremely interesting and amply rewards complete reading. Tycho had a very very eventful life, which ended due to a bladder infection because he refused to go to the rest-room after drinking session, as it would have been “a breach of etiquette”. This fact was recorded by none other than Johannes Kepler, who was sort of an assistant to Tycho in the last years before Tycho’s death and who is said to have “usurped” Tycho’s work after his death. Tycho and Kepler have both been covered at length by Carl Sagan in his super-duper best seller, Cosmos (which remains the best science book I have read in my life).

3. I love how the poem assumes a heaven where there would be opportunity to catch up with the greats of the past, who have somehow been unable to keep track of their professions post death. I often amuse myself trying to imagine someone like Bobby Fischer waiting for a Garry Kasparov to kick the bucket, so that he can learn of the latest developments in chess, and maybe play a game or two!

4. What a lovely phrase is “obloquy of newness”! It was a top contender for the name of this blog, being a phrase which somewhat mirrors the sentiment of a favourite quote of mine.

5. Tycho himself was educated in German colleges, so our mythical old astronomer can also be assumed to have had a similar background. I am not too sure of the influence of German colleges and universities on Renaissance era European scientists. If it was considerable, the old astronomer may not have had much to do with such a college before they decided, much too late, to confer some sort of an award upon him.

6. “Set in Darkness” is the name of a novel by Ian Rankin (just realised how much he looks like Rick Castle!), featuring the excellent Inspector Rebus, who has to be one of my favourite police detectives in contemorary crime fiction.

7. “Set” in darkness. “Rise” in perfect light. “Loved the stars too fondly, to be fearful of the night.” Sigh! Perfection.

8. The poor pupil starts to weep, thinking of the old astronomer’s death. The old man is characteristically brusque and practical. Maybe he wants the pupil to focus on the furthering of their science, so he can learn of the advancements once the pupil passes on. These six stanzas after the famous couplet are extremely touching and it’s a shame not many people know they exist.

9. If these lines were better known, some dumbass critic would have read “homosexual motifs” into it. It is a pet peeve of mine how these idiotic critics often miss the forest in pointing fingers at individual trees.

10. Another favourite couplet. The past two paragraphs capture well the kind of relationship shared by the astronomer and his pupil, which I guess develops between people who work together for long periods of time.

11. Reference to Johannes Kepler. Kepler far outshone Tycho in achievement (a greater man may reap), thanks partly to the meticulousness and vastness of data collected by Tycho (sown like Tycho Brahe), but also due to his use of the telescope. Tycho was the last of the great astronomers to carry out his observations without the aid of a telescope.

12. Noble lines – a Gitaesque directive to focus on the task, rather than the reward (fame, in this case).

13. Lovely symbolism – Venus, the planet of love and beauty, looks like the “fiery” Mars, the planet of war and death. Also makes sense from the physical point of view that the old astronomer, in his last moments, probably in pain and with failing vision should only be able to see his beloved sky dimly and unclearly. Again, an extremely poetic paragraph, made more so by the underlying pathos.

The poem as a whole is a great comfort to me over the years, especially since in the five years of having known of it, I have only started to like it more and more. This, as everyone knows, is a feeling to be treasured, as often favourite books and poems of yesteryear  lose their lustre as the reader experiences and learns new things. This fact is very well brought in this Yahoo! column by Sanjay Sipahimalani.


Disclaimer: I really am no expert, either on poetry or on astronomy, so do let me know in case there is anything to be added / corrected in the post above.

Seene Mein Jalan, Marks of Woe

July 8, 2010

Funny how two artists, separated by decades and continents, sometimes communicate the same emotion, though through different completely different media and to completely different audiences (at least by intent).

I am referring to this beautiful poem by William Blake (best known to most people as the writer of the superb The Tyger – thanks to the poem being a favourite of school poetry textbook compilers). The poem in question is called London and it goes like this:

I  wander thro' each  charter'd street,
 Near where the charter'd  Thames  does flow,
 And mark in every face I meet
 Marks of weakness, marks of woe. 

 In every cry of every man,
 In every Infant's cry of fear,
 In every voice, in every ban,
 The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.

 How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
 Every black'ning Church appals;
 And the hapless Soldier's sigh
 Runs in blood down Palace walls.

 But most thro' midnight streets I hear
 How the youthful Harlot's curse
 Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
 And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

I don’t really want to critically evaluate this poem (however, there’s a reasonably good “explication” – as they’ve called it – available online). I usually am too lazy to think by myself about the inner meaning of these things – I just end up liking stuff that moves me in some manner – if there is a deep meaning somewhere, so much the better!

In any case, from the title of the post, people familiar with Jaydev’s classic from Muzaffar Ali’s Gaman would have guessed what I’m referring to, after having read the poem above. For people not familiar with the song, here it is:

I have been captivated by the song since the first time I heard it and when I read London, the first thing I thought of was this song. The emotions conveyed in their first stanzas are so similar! Of course, the text veers later, but I believe both, Blake, and the lyricist Shahryar had similar thoughts in their minds when their pens first touched paper. By sheer magic, the feelings were translated into music by Jaydev through singer Suresh Wadkar without losing any of the emotions.


Speaking of Blake’s Tyger, here’s a brilliant short animation capturing the very essence of the poem, by Brazillian Guilherme Marcondes.

You can download the video in the HQ at the Tyger webpage, here.


May 9, 2010

I am reading a book called Philosophy Made Simple, by Robert Hellenga. I had never heard of it before I picked it up at a whim from this bookshop I frequent, as it was available at a very discounted price, and I am a sucker for anything to do with Philosophy.

As it turns out, the book is a novel about a guy, Rudy Harrington, who is still mourning the loss of his wife, who passed away seven years back. To cut a long story short, he has far from perfect relationships with his three daughters, none of whom are living the life he would have desired for them. One Christmas Eve, he decides to sell his rambling old house in Chicago, and to move to Texas and raise avocados on a twenty-nine-and-a-half acre farm that he buys from the widow of an old friend.

In a quest to try and find an answer to his life’s conundrums, he starts to read an old book of his wife’s, called “Philosophy Made Simple” (an anthology of philosophical thought through the ages, by an imaginary Indian philosopher called Siva Singh), hoping the old Masters will help him find answers to the questions that he is unable to ask himself.

It is a beautiful book, and makes me wonder (not for the first time) at the similarity of the problems that people of all walks of life face. I mean, the particulars are different, but the basic pain areas are so easy to identify with! I find myself nodding along at the thoughts of this man in his fifties, who is living on a farm in Texas, in the late ’60s, and who is a widower with three grown daughters.

My own life could not be more different from his, but some of his conversations with himself and other characters in the book have moved me  to distraction. Sample this:

Forgive me, but my love for my wife was quite a different thing from what you propose. The pleasures you enjoy at Estrella Princesa (a high-class brothel on the other side of the border, in Mexico) is only a rough sketch of true pleasure, like my drawing of Plato’s cave. It is mixed with pain. Only when your soul follows wisdom do you find true pleasure. Most men live like brute animals. They look down and stoop over the ground; they poke their noses under the table; they kick and butt each other with their horns and hooves because they want these animal pleasures. True happiness is only when the soul acts in harmony with virtue.

How true! Then there’s another piece of advice he gets from one of the ladies from the aforesaid brothel:

This is it, Rudy. This is what you are looking for – alegria. The embrace of a woman. And the love of your daughters, your three lovely daughters… Your whole world is full of love, Rudy, and I think you know that. Gratitude is the word that should be on the tip of your tongue. Not ‘I’m worried I’m worried I’m worried,’ but ‘Thank you thank you thank you.’ For your daughters and the good times you shared with your wife, the hot water in your bathroom and this good wine, and these wonderful enchiladas. Don’t be afraid.

It is an accurate reflection of the frame of mind I am in, that these words truly struck a cord somewhere. Rudy seems to be moving along on the same path of self-pity and degeneration that I have taken up lately.

I hope both of us start moving on a trajectory for the better, by the time I reach the end of the book.


I was particularly captivated by the Spanish word alegria, and looked it up. It means Happiness. Turns out it is also the name of this beautiful song performed by the Cirque du Soleil. Watch!


The book has rekindled my itch to read Philosophy. Since there has been zero progress on the 12 books I had promised myself I would read this year, I think I will take up Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance after I am done with Philosophy.. and have read the mandatory thriller that I make it a point to read as an aperitif between two literary / non – fiction books. I am also just dying to order The Consolation of Philosophy by Alain de Botton from Rediff Books, but so far have been able to control myself. Epictetus would have been proud.

How to make the Perfect Egg Maggi

February 21, 2010

Here they are, the exact steps I followed to make the Perfect Egg Maggi. Yes, worthy of capital letters. Good enough to make a blue ribbon chef turn green with envy:

1. Generate an intense craving for egg-curry, circa 8 p.m.

2. Sit on your back-side till about 9:20 p.m., before going for a bath. (Being Sunday, the first bath of the day of course.)

3. Let natural lethargy take over after a long shower, and decide to make egg-Maggi instead. After all, the new curry flavour and boiled eggs would make it as good as egg-curry itself.

4. Goof off while boiling the eggs, forgeting to note the time. Result: soft-boiled eggs.

5. Remind self that soft-boiled eggs can cause Salmonella, E. Coli, and what not.

6. Decide to shallow fry soft-boiled eggs in butter to cook them completely, after the Maggi is ready.

7. Attend to various phone calls while cooking Maggi, causing them to over-boil and become a little too soggy and limp.

8. Dunk some butter in a frying pan (in more quantity than necessary), and put the soft boiled eggs in, cooking them completely, but also mistakenly dropping some egg-shells in.

9. Chuck the now-cooked eggs into the saucepan with the Maggi. Since there’s a lot of butter left in the frying pan, wipe it clean with some noodles, thus effectively cleaning the pan, adding some yummy buttery flavour to the Maggi and also heating some of the already cold noodles.

10. Empty a sachet of Kissan tomato ketchup into the saucepan containing the Maggi and the eggs.

11. Eat with a glass of Kissan grape squash, with gtalk and twitter running in front of you, and the cricket match on the TV by your side.

12. Savour with delight, thinking up the perfect plan to jump-start your languishing blog. The egg-shells make the whole thing crunchy, drawing attention away from the limpness of the noodles.

13. Spend a few minutes thinking about whether it is possible that some Salmonella or E.Coli bacteria had survived on the egg-shells.

14. Blog about the whole thing, in any case.

And piles to read..

January 3, 2010

One of my resolutions in this new year is to read as much as possible. What better way to enforce this than to take up a challenge, one that would force me to publicly admit to all of the 2 or 3 readers that I hope to have towards the end of 2010 if I haven’t read even a few of the books from my list of “must-read in 2010” list. The premise of the challenge is simple – all those who take it up must read all the twelve books they have listed, to finish the challenge. And that one can’t change one’s list of books once the new year begins.

That’s it.

One IS allowed a small leeway though. All those who take up the TBR challenge can also keep a list of 12 reserves, which they can use to substitute a book on the list if they really can’t get around to reading one of those original books.

Here is my list of books To Be Read in 2010:

1. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig: Have regrettably read only a portion of this one, and it’s still one of my favourite books of all time. Have been dying to complete it, but dithering over “the perfect mood”, etc.

2. The Virtue of Selfishness – Ayn Rand: Rand has rightly been called the solace of the over-worked. Still, have been bowled over by the little that I have read of this slim volume.

3. The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged remain the big blots on my reading career, since everyone else seems to have read them. Shall finish Fountainhead and watch the movie in 2010. Atlas Shrugged shall be tackled in 2011!

4. Gods of War – Ashok K. Banker: Having bought an autographed copy of this new fantasy tome, I have decided to break a long running jinx by reading a book within a year of buying it!

5. The Iliad – Homer: Have bought myself a beautiful edition. Can’t leave it gathering dust for long. Plus it’s step one to reading Ulysses this year. I want to take it in the correct fashion – The Iliad, The Odyssey, and lastly, Ulysses.

6. The Odyssey – Homer: See point 5 above.

7. Ulysses – James Joyce: Need to see if what is repeatedly voted as the best novel of the 20th Century is worth the hype. Plus it seems just the kind of over-complicated, oh-so-literary stuff that I would like! Also see point 5 above.

8. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky: Absolutely loved the 100 odd pages I read sometime in 2008, before going into deep depression. It’s time I put the matter to rest.)

9. Rich Dad Poor DadRobert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter Part of my non-fiction quota. Hope to learn better money management from this one.

10. Getting Things Done – David Allen: Have been dying to complete this one and start implementing the magical GTD system, which I hope will miraculously improve my life.

11. I’m OK, You’re OK – Robert Harris: Supposed to be a classic on human relations and behaviour. Has been on the must-read list for long.

12. The Road Less Travelled – M. Scott Peck: Said to be a life altering experience. And God knows my life needs a lot of altering at present. Plus, have really liked the few pages that I have read so far!

That’s that then. The big twelve. Shall post the list of reserves soon. Some of the books are surprisingly well known and plebeian, but I strongly believe I can’t move to a higher level till I go through these “must-reads” first.