New year, new books, new resolutions! This month, the Desi Writers’ Lounge team is sharing its reading resolutions: goals for the new year, finally tackling those to-be-read piles. Join the conversation by sharing your resolutions in the comments and on Facebook and Twitter.
After finishing a book I like, I usually read more by the same author, or her contemporaries, influences, letters. Basically other stuff in the genre or written around the same time. Reading books in conversation with each other helps me get into the writers’ states of mind better, and access their world of literature in (what I think is) a more meaningful way.
Last year, I picked up Zia Haider Rahman’s In The Light of What We Know, and now want to tackle writers he heavily quotes and is influenced by, specifically Somerset Maugham and W. S. Sebald. The second writer (poet) whose world and influences I want to explore is Agha Shahid Ali.
Others who have piled up on my bookshelf are Carson McCullers, Teju Cole, Milan Kundera, Italo Calvino and Soren Kierkegaard. I have read one book by each and fallen in love with them, so it’s time to get to the complete works.
I’m not very good at sticking to lists, especially since books I like often lead me in new unplanned directions. But if I have to commit for this year, and if I’m being idealistic, I’d like to tick these writers off my list completely. Closer to home, Haroon Khalid’s A White Trail and Mirza Waheed’s The Book of Gold Leaves are next on list. Farther away, The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin. But I have started the year with (or carried on from last year) Ghalib Islam’s Fire in the Unnameable Country and Sartre’s Nausea, a combination that somehow works.
I also want to make it a point to read more writing by photographers and artists (journals, essays, letters), read writers’ journals, and definitely read The Brothers Karamazov again. Poetry is always around — Urdu mostly — to read and reread, and I’ll try to plunge in a bit deeper this year.