About a year back, I stumbled across Ann Morgan’s fabulous blog, A Year of Reading the World. I was completely blown away by what she had written there and with good reason too !
In 2012, Ann Morgan had embarked on a year-long journey of the literary kind. She read a book from every independent country in the world, which meant that she read a total of 196 books that year. Ann then went on to write Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer, a book which talks about this literary journey of hers — the stories, the research, the people involved — and how it changed her thinking and her perception of the world.
Reading Ann’s literary journey first on her blog and then in her book, got me thinking about reading my immediate world that is, India. Reading India’s diversity and sub-cultures through her 29 States and 7 Union Territories. Reading India one book at a time would be a literary journey with a difference, a reading challenge with a difference.
I was so inspired and excited that I discussed this idea with my co-founders at The Sunday Book Club (TSBC). The result of that discussion was the introduction of this unique India-centred reading challenge on TSBC. And that’s how the hashtag #TSBCReadsIndia was born in February 2015.
So, how does #TSBCReadsIndia work? The premise is quite simple: anyone taking up the challenge has to read at least 36 books — one book from each State and UT of India. What the book is all about or the kind of book to be read depends entirely on the reader. One can choose to read a translated work or in the original language; fiction or non-fiction; a mix of genres or a single genre… what is important here is that all the States and Union Territories of India be covered.One can start reading alphabetically or in reverse order or go region-wise or randomly. Basically, in any which way you wish to proceed. That’s it.
#TSBCReadsIndia has garnered quite a bit of interest in the TSBC community and many of those participating in it have already completed 10 books. As for me, I’m just starting the journey of reading India ! Though I wanted to start this take up this journey in February, I decided to work out some guidelines for myself to choose the books to be read, and also the order of reading them. With regard to the former, I decided on reading translations, preferably recent, wherever possible, and also books I had not read before. This was the easy part.
Deciding on the order of reading was quite tough. I could have read them randomly, but well it was too random for my liking. Reading in alphabetical order or reverse alphabetical order of States and Union Territories seemed too boring and predictable; ditto for reading region-wise. I finally decided on a reading order that probably will make sense only to me. But I’m happy with it.
I will start the #TSBCReadsIndia reading challenge with a book from my native state, then move on to the state I was born in, followed by books from the States I have lived in and/or visited, and finally to those I have not yet been to. Therefore, the order of reading books for will be something like this:
- Book from my native State: Tamil Nadu
- Book from the State I was born in: Maharashtra
- Books from States I have lived in: Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan
- Books from States/Union Territories I have visited: Telangana, Delhi, Karnataka, West Bengal, Goa, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Kerala, Daman & Diu, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam
- Books from States I have travelled through: Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Punjab, Meghalaya
- Books from States/Union Territories I am yet to visit or travel through: Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
Of course, this order is likely to change if I travel to it visit a particular State/Union Territory. I also spent the last few months researching and then choosing and finally purchasing the books to be read. So far, only the books for the states highlighted above have been identified and purchased.
The book selection is an interesting mix with every single one of them just waiting to be read. 🙂
Fiction and non-fiction across genres
Award-winning books, some that I had not even heard of.
Slim volumes and some not-so-slim volumes.
Hardbacks and paperbacks.
Classics and contemporary works.
Controversial books and quiet books.
The process of selecting the books was great fun and I don’t think I have enjoyed ‘shopping’ for books as much as I did while selecting and buying books for #TSBCReadsIndia. This process also revealed so much about literature and availability of translations from different parts of the country. For example, the sheer number of books from the northeast region of India was overwhelming. In fact, I had a tough time narrowing down my choice of books for the states selected so far in this region. Then the surprise of not having enough books to choose from in Gujarat and Rajasthan. However, there were no surprises with regard to the southern Indian states — as I expected, there were too books to choose from.
One Union Territory is giving me trouble though — Dadra & Nagar Haveli. I haven’t come across a single book. Right now the only option I have is reading the latest Census Report for this UT !
But I’m not complaining. Though I may have chosen only one book for every state, many others have found their way to my wish list to be eventually borrowed or purchased and then read. Ah, the joy and the anticipation. 😀
I have just started reading the very first book of this reading challenge — the book from Tamil Nadu. Beginning July, I will be posting accounts of my literary journey across India, one State or Union Territory at a time in the form of book reviews.
I’m very excited to be part of #TSBCReadsIndia and am looking forward to sharing this literary journey with you right here on the blog. Hope you are too !
PS: I would be really grateful if you could suggest books from the states that I have not yet found a book for — these are the non-highlighted ones. Thank you.