How do you save a drowning person?
Throw a rubber float at them.
Three weeks back WordPress wished me Happy Anniversary. It took me a couple of moments to realize, it has been a year since I started this blog. Looking back now, the one year seemed to have swooshed by. But, I know the year did not really fly by. I have endured every moment of it. And this blog has been my saving grace. My rubber float.
This is not my first blog. I had a few before, they didn’t work out. My ideas tended to fizzle out quickly. There was not enough motivation. There was no audience. There was not enough drive. Period.
It is said you have your brightest creative sparks in your darkest moment. Last year, my life had taken such an odd turn, I found myself finding refuge in one thing that always rescued me: books. I read so much that I was bursting with ideas to talk about and opinions to share. Thus came the bolt of lightning: Bookish Chronicles.I started out by writing about these weird and fascinating books I found on Project Gutenberg:The Kiss and Its History, The Bee-keeper’s Manual. There were barely ten followers, inactive ones who probably found the musings on kissing and beekeeping not very discussion-worthy, but were polite enough to stick around.
Unlike my previous blogs, this time I was more committed to writing more and creating more posts. I had to; writing for this blog was the only purpose I had at the end of the day, when all my life-goals had gone haywire. This blog kept me sane, kept me anchored. I did not have some grand ambition for this blog. I just wanted to read a lot of books and write about them. And I did.
I’ve selected your post (https://bookishchronicles.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/all-the-light-they-make-me-see/) for Discover (https://discover.wordpress.com), a space where we highlight some of the best content published with WordPress.
I loved this post! I’ve read “Tiny Beautiful Things” a few times and that book is definitely a vade mecum for me. (What a wonderful concept!) I know readers will love to consider their own vade mecums.
I am grateful to her for putting my blog on Discover and bringing Bookish Chronicles in front of all of you, my 500 wonderful lovely readers. Your constant words of appreciation and feedback always make my day, as I have been saying to each one of you. The beautiful Bookstagram community on Instagram has been my other happy place. I have seen, observed and learned a lot on these two social media platforms. I have had some remarkable conversations and made people who have become constants, somewhat shinier and cool versions of yesteryear penpals.
In all these conversations I have been often asked, how do I read so much? In the midst of work and life commitments, how do I take out time to read so many books and write about them? The answer is not simple. In fact, it bothers on extreme. The honest truth is I do not have an active social life. I had stopped binging on serials and social media out of sheer exhaustion. And this habit stayed. I began to spend all my free time reading voraciously. Even at breaks from work, I would sneak out and catch up on a couple of chapters. I read in trains, buses, cab rides, on stairwells, waiting in lines, in the middle of rush hour crowd during commute. I became devoted to (okay, obsessed with) reading so much that I have mastered the art of flipping open a book with limited movements and reading it in the most constricted of spaces.
Here I have to let you on where I got my crazy read-anywhere inspiration from. Before starting on an endeavor, you always need someone who is an inspiration, someone who you can emulate, follow and aspire to be. I started looking out of book bloggers par excellence, people I like to call my constellation of inspiration. First one was the brilliant Ann Morgan from A Year of Reading the World. I devoured her blog in two days. In one of her posts, Morgan writes about her strategy reading and writing for her blog:
…I had to be very organised. I worked out the amount I needed to get through every day (around 150 pages to keep on track to read four books a week) and made sure I stuck to it. This meant reading for two hours on my commute (I was working full-time for most of the year) and an hour or two in the evening. I sometimes read in my lunch break too.
In actual fact, the reading was only half the battle – writing the blog posts and doing all the research took as much time, so I got up early to spend an hour or two on this before I left for work…
Voila. There was my inspiration for a disciplined reading schedule. Also, Morgan’s diverse reading collection of books from around the world made me consciously seek out books beyond the best-seller’s list.
Another inspiration has been Nilanjana Roy. Her reviews are stories unto themselves. They do not just talk about the technical aspects of a book, but the story of the book and the author. She brings out the humane aspect of any book that she reviews. Roy’s reviews are a true bibliophile’s work.
However, with such a continuous reading streak, I sometimes start to worry if reading too much will take its toll on me: like Don Quixote or Mr.Iyer. After all, anything in extreme can be bad for you, even if it involves burying your face in the words and stories written by others. So, I have begun to ease my reading streak a bit. You must have noticed my posts have become less frequent. Earlier, I used to make sure I post at least one review each week. Now, I have decided to slow down a bit. I do not want to tire myself of reading. It is the only thing I know how to do well.