Reading India with #TSBC

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
  • Books from States I have travelled through: Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Punjab
  • Books from States/Union Territories I am yet to visit or travel to: Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, 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.

#TSBCReads India, Book pile, Books from India and on India, To be Read Books
Some of the books selected for #TSBCReadsIndia

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.


Join me in this literary journey on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.


Notes:

  1. If you need more details on this reading challenge, please head over to the TSBC blog. You can also leave a comment here.
  2. If you want to know more about The Sunday Book Club then you can read more about it on my blog here or head over to the TSBC Blog.

32 thoughts on “Reading India with #TSBC

  1. I have the Legends of Pensam for my Arunachal Pradesh read too. Cobalt Blue is also on my list. Have you thought about reading Perumal Murugan’s controversial “One Part Woman” for Tamil Nadu. I would highly recommend it. It is very poetic. If you can read it in Tamil, it would be better ( or so I feel). Read it for the poetry and the beauty of the people and land. Story-wise it is not great but as I mentioned it opens your eyes to what we really don’t see happening much.
    Good luck reading! My #TSBCReadsIndia is going slow. I am not even looking at the list. There are some places where I find more than one book I want to read about, so I read multiples for a single state/city. More reading is always fun

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Vinitha, so nice to see you here.

      I just finished reading “One Part Woman” for the Tamil Nadu challenge and loved the book. Unfortunately, I cannot read Tamil, so an English translation is the best that I can do.
      My #TSBCReadsIndia is going slow as well, not because of my reading speed, but because I’m taking such a long time to choose a book to read from a particular state or Union territory. So while I may ‘officially’ read one for a state/UT, there are many more that make their way for future reading. And as you said, more reading is always fun 🙂

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  2. ooh! lovely set of books, Sudha! needless to add, I am borrowing them, one at a time, after you have finished them of course! as you already know, I am not participating in this challenge, as i am not sure i can do it right now… that said, i have bought books from every state i have been to, and hopefully will actually read all of them sometime….. looking forward to reading more about these books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to see what books you have from the states you have travelled to, for there are some states I have been unable to find books for yet. And of course you can borrow the books from me. 🙂

      To be honest, I dodn’t think I can complete the challenge in this calendar year. I will probably take a year maybe even more considering the time I’m taking to select the books and the time I know I will take to write about the ones I read. 😛

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  3. Though I am not part of the challenge, I am trying to read Indian books as much as I can. And in the process discovering some real good Indian authors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great, Latha. I’m sure you must be having a lot of fun exploring and discovering new books and authors. While I always read literature from India, I think I fell headlong into it when I discovered the Katha translations. Every new volume that came out was eagerly waited for, purchased and read. I still have all those books with me now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good luck, Sudha! My #TSBCReadsIndia has not properly started unless I stop #IshitaReadsItaly 😛 Kidding.. it will start soon… Btw I loved Cobalt Blue.. Let me know what you think. Also, Temples of Himachal I was so smitten by some of the temples in Kinnaur! I need your review of “These Hills called Home” when ur done 🙂

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    1. Confess now, Ishita. Can you really stop #IshitaReadsItaly 😛

      Cobalt Blue has been on my TBR for almost 2 years now, and I’m glad that thanks to #TSBCReadsIndia I will at least get around to reading it sooner rather than later ! The book from Maharashtra that is, Cobalt Blue, is my next read. Will tell you what I think of it and also “The Hills Called Home”.

      Himachal Pradesh is some time away as per my reading order, but it is extremely tempting to pick it up now and read it. Let’s see how long I last. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is and it isn’t. The number of books can be intimidating and for someone who dislikes numbers, like me, I take it as a travelling-cum-reading challenge, one state/UT at a time.

      I will be sharing my thoughts on all the books I will read as part of #TSBCReadsIndia. The first book review will be up sometime in early July (I hope). Look forward to your feedback as well. Thanks. 🙂

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    1. Yayyy. Jump into the challenge right away and tell me what books you are reading. I was planning on asking you for book suggestions, especially for Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

      And will talk to you soon. 🙂

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    1. That’s a brilliant suggestion, Nutsure. Thank you so much.

      My next read is Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar from Maharashtra. Will set up the appropriate ambience to enhance the reading experience. 🙂

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        1. Though a time frame helps, let it not stop you from taking up a reading challenge. Don’t tell anyone, but there is no way I’m going to complete all the books in the specified time. 😉

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  5. Ananthamurthy’s “Samskara” is my favorite book from any state in India!
    May I suggest K M Munshi’s “Master of Gujarat” for the state of Gujarat? (You can snack on batata wadas while reading it, ha ha)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Samskara” is my chosen read for Karnataka and it will be read after the books on Rajasthan, Telangana, and Delhi. I have already read and published the book for Gujarat, but will definitely read the suggestion you have given. Thank you so much, Anon. 🙂

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