So, there’s this Seven Day Book Challenge that has been doing the rounds lately. I have no idea where it started from or by whom, but people have been challenging fellow readers around the world to click and share pictures of seven of their favorite books. You need to be challenged by a friend, and in turn challenge another bibliophile to continue the game of tag. (The terms ‘nomination’ and ‘invitation’ have also been thrown around.) The criteria involves taking a photograph of only the book cover – no blurbs, quotes, excerpts, reviews, narratives of how you came across the book, who gave it to you, where you picked it up from, or any sort of explanation related to why that particular book is one among your favorites. All one needs to share is a picture of the book cover.
Now as avid readers, we always have a lot to say about our books. We would read anyways, even without being challenged. And for someone who reads about seven books in two months, identifying seven books from those read over a lifetime is quite a task. I personally don’t follow any of these “challenges” that do the rounds on social media – It means having to take out time to perform the activity, and log in daily to share updates of the same; something I don’t usually have the time for. Even when it comes to “Reading Challenges” which set themes for books to be read, I prefer setting my own reading goals. Books are always handy, though, and bookworms love showing them off – new books bought, visits to bookstores, thrift scores from second-hand shops, gifts from friends – we love sharing and seeing what others are reading which can be discussed at length if read, or added to the list if not.
Here’s what I came up with for the Seven Day Book Challenge. I read just about anything – across genres and languages – and I’m usually intuitively good at picking great reads, so most of what I read is highly recommended. I could come up with these “seven day” lists everyday! For those of you who haven’t come across this book challenge yet, the pupper above challenges you – Which seven books would you list, if you had to recommend a book for each day of the week? Here’s my list, or rather pictures since that was the requirement of the challenge.
These are the books that will keep my weekend occupied – a novel, a collection of short stories, and a non-fiction book. The first two are English translations of Czech and Assamese language works. Has anyone read these? Feedback is always appreciated. What are your bookish plans for the weekend?
Running season resumed here last month, post the scorching summers, and the next couple of months are going to be busy with race strategies, nutrition regimes, schedules for running and cross training – all in preparation for the upcoming races. Our running events here cater to various distance categories – 10k races, half marathons, 25k races, full marathons, 12-hr ultrathons, 24-hr ultrathons. In keeping with the race mood of the season, I have been looking up race scenarios around the world, and the escapades of long distance runners who spend hours on the road, trail or hills. Nothing like a little fun read to tide over all the serious training. In yesterday’s blog-post I wrote about canines who unwittingly entered races in the US and Australia – making themselves at home on the route, running side-by-side with human participants. Today, I came across a parody on the Mumbai Marathon (scheduled for January 2019). Marathoner and author Cdr. (Retd.) Bijay Nair presented a novel take on the marathon race, the route of which covers prominent landmarks in the city of Mumbai, enabling runners from around the world to breathe in the city as they run the distance.
Now the full marathon distance in the TataMumbai Marathon begins in South Mumbai, reaches up to the Western Suburbs till the half way mark at Bandra, from where there is a turnaround to return back to South Mumbai – the start and finish points are the same, thereby taking runners on a tour of the city. To avoid overcrowding at the start line and ensure participants are spaced out, registered runners are allotted race categories. Amateur runners begin at 5:40 am, while the elite start the race at 7:20 am. Unsurprisingly, the elite runners overtake the amateurs at certain points on the route (in spite of starting after them.)
Cdr. Nair has composed a hilariously novel approach to estimate one’s timing in the full marathon category based on where the elite athletes overtake you on the route – usually the Kenyans and Ethiopians who win the race. Using prominent city landmarks as indicators, one can calculate what the finish time would be depending on where you were on the route when you got overtaken. Below is his esteemed analysis from years of racing at the same event, and having the elite overtake him at various points of the city landmarks as he edges closer to the finish line. Cdr. Nair has humorously added emojis to aid this “serious” analysis from years of racing experience on the same route. The race literally takes you around the city, as evident from each of the landmarks on the route.
“The Amateur Full Marathon kicks off at 5.40 am and the Elite begin at 7.20 am, thereby providing a difference of one hour and forty minutes.
If the Kenyans cross you at Worli Seaface while they race towards Bandra, then you rather stop running and play kabaddi.
If they cross you at the start of the Bandra Worli Sea Link, then your finish time will be 6.40 hrs.
If they cross you at the Bandra toll point, you will finish in 6.10.
If they cross you at Mahim Junction, it will take you 5.45 hrs to complete.
If they cross you at Hinduja Hospital, then your finish time will be around 5.20.
If it’s at Shivaji Park, it will be 5.05.
If it’s at Siddhi Vinayak Mandir, then it will be 4.50.
If it’s at the Passport Office, it will be around 4.39.
If it’s on the return of Worli Seaface near INS Trata, it will be a 4.37 finish.
If it’s near Worli Dairy, it will be 4.33.
If it’s at Mela restaurant, it will be 4.30.
If it’s at Mahalaxmi Race Course, it’s 4.28.
If it’s at the Haji Ali Seafront, then it’s 4.26.
If it’s on the Peddar Road flyover, it’s 4.23.
If it’s at the Antilia building, then it’s 4.21.
If it’s at the Babulnath temple, it’s 4.18.
If it’s on the Marine Drive Seafront near Wilson College, then it’s 4.12.
If it’s near Taraporewala Aquarium, then it’s 4.06.
If it’s near Jazz By The Bay, then it’s 4.00. 🍸🍷
If it’s near Flora Fountain, it’s 3.55.
If you find yourself crossing the finish line before the elite runners, congratulations!!! You win two nights and three days at Nairobi or Addis Ababa. “
*kabaddi – a team sport from South Asia, played on a field
*Bandra Worli Sea Link – a cable-stayed bridge which literally connects the city from South Mumbai to North Mumbai, and is only accessible to pedestrians on the day of this marathon.
*Antilia building – a twenty-seven storied skyscraper in South Mumbai which is a private home in it’s entirety.
Some pictures I found online of different sections of the route.
If you ever find yourself racing at the Bay, now you know how to pace yourself!
The sports section of yesterday’s newspaper featured the Goldfields Pipeline Marathon in Australia. It was not the runners, however, who were the focus of the article. A dog called Stormy took up the challenge and diligently ran the half marathon route (21.097 kilometers or 13.1 miles), completing the distance in two and a half hours. The crossbreed was said to be very friendly, and prior to the start of the race was even seen at the half marathon section saying ‘hello’ to his “fellow competitors”. When the event took off, the doggo promptly raced alongside the humans, revealed race organizer Grant Wholey. At race stations along the route, he was seen having a little runaround and greeting the volunteers and participants who had paused for a water break. Stormy kept following the crowds, keeping to the middle or back of the pack, and finding running companions by teaming up with random runners on the route. Wholey added the black and brown canine came from a nearby Aboriginal community, where school teachers revealed the locals called him Stormy. He belonged to a community rather than a single owner, and was said to be a year old. Stormy successfully completed his half-marathon near the West Australian town of Kalgoorlie in a time usually taken by amateur runners. He was awarded a medal for completing the race, and winning the hearts of his human competitors. Rangers impounded the pooch when no one claimed him after the race, and Wholey revealed some of the runners are keen on adopting him. Some podium finish for this doggo who stood up to the long distance running challenge!
In similar news, a canine from Alabama accidentally ran a half marathon and finished in seventh place. While human racers train ahead of a race for months, the two and a half year old pet hound dog completed the distance in an impressive 1:32:56 for 13.1 miles (21.09 kilometers). Ludivine was said to have snuck out of her owner’s garden and joined runner’s at the start point of the Trackless Train Trek Half Marathon (in 2016. It is now known as the Elkmont Half Marathon.) Her owner April Hamlin admitted to Runner’s World that her pet regularly wanders off without her in the town of Elkmont, and was embarrassed that her canine companion may have got in the way of race participants. Ludivine was seen bouncing around in her collar, so racers assumed she belonged to someone and would turn back home after a head pat. The canine racer was seen running off to romp through streams and sniff around yards for a while, before she got back in the race and decided the challenge was on again, determinedly passing fellow runners. Volunteers at the race happily clicked pictures of every participant, including the non-human one, and sent proof of Ludivine’s long distance running prowess to her owner. The finish line picture at an impressive seventh position was also captured. Hamlin explained this was the first half marathon in Elkmont, and the organizers and participants were parents of kids who regularly run cross country and wanted to raise funds. Ludivine unwittingly brought more publicity to the event. Doggos continue to win hearts all over!
The monsoon offers a perfect chance to curl up with some timeless classics when it is rainy and gloomy outside. Today is the 138th birth anniversary of Dhanpat Rai Shrivastava, an Indian writer famous for his Hindi-Urdu literature, popularly known by his pen name Munshi Premchand. One of the most celebrated writers of the Indian subcontinent, the novelist, short story writer and dramatist is regarded as one of the foremost Hindi writers of the twentieth century. Along with his numerous novels and short stories, Premchand also wrote essays and plays, as well as translated foreign literary works into Hindi.
As a young child, Premchand studied Urdu and Persian. He lost his mother at age eight, and his grandmother who took on the responsibility of raising him died soon after. With his elder sister already being married, and their father out at work all day, the child sought solace in books…
July came to a not-so-jolly end as far as reading goals were concerned. The monsoon brought with it incessant rains and a host of germs in the air. I was unwell for a fair bit, and hardly got in much book time during the first fortnight. The month culminated with six books and two short stories – an equal mix of fiction and non-fiction books. Here’s what I read last month. The numbers are not much, but I did get in some great quality literature. I still haven’t managed to write reviews for all of them, and will get down to it shortly.
When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see;
When the pulse begins to throb, the brain to think again;
The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain.”
~The Prisoner (Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell – published in 1846 under Emily Brontë’s pen name ‘Ellis Bell’)
For those interested in reading “The Prisoner” in it’s entirety, the poem can be accessed here.
We’ve been caught up in J.K.Rowling’s birthday and Harry Potter celebrations, but yesterday was the 200th birth anniversary of Emily Brontë – the English novelist and poet best known for her only novel “Wuthering Heights” , a classic in English literature many are familiar with.
Emily was born on 30th July 1818, and the fifth of six children. She lost…
It is J.K.Rowling’s birthday today – the creator of the widely read and loved Harry Potter fantasy novels that get the pulse racing of Potterheads the world over. Here’s a poem for those who can never have enough of Pottermania.
It is Harry Potter’s birthday tomorrow (or today, depending on where you are in the world). July 31st is also the birth date of J.K.Rowling – the creator of the series of fantasy novels chronicling the lives of the young wizard and his friends. Our book club decided to conduct a Harry Potter themed quiz – as a J.K.Rowling special on the occasion of her birthday and that of one of the most beloved characters she created. We dug into the quarry of the entire series, looked up Harry Potter trivia, searched for interesting puzzles, and came up with a variety of questions for Pottermaniacs to answer. Any fans of the books here? We prepared two sets of questionnaires – here’s a teaser of some from the list.
~What fruit must one tickle to gain access to the kitchens?
For all you bookworms who love the feel and smell of “real” books, and have never been able to or felt the need for switching to e-readers or tablets, today is your day. It’s Paperback Book Day!
E-readers carry a whole lot of more material in a smaller device, are convenient to lug around, and take up less physical space than paperbacks. But there is something “real” about physical books that makes some of us hold on to them even in this age of technological advancement.
Paperback Book Day is celebrated on 30th July because it is the anniversary of the day the first Penguin paperbacks were published in England in 1935. The day revolutionized reading when it was introduced. Prior to the availability of paperbacks, the hardcover book was considered the only way to read “good literature”. But they were expensive (like many of them still are), most people could not afford to buy the books, and being big and bulky they were not easy to carry around and read. The paperbacks existing prior to 1935 were cheap in price but also of poor quality – in terms of both writing and printing. “Books of substance” were not published in paperback form.
Sir Allen Lane realized that the reading material available to the average person was mostly low quality and unacceptable. He started what would become Penguin books in an attempt to make good quality literature available more easily and inexpensively. Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie were among the first authors whose titles were published under Penguin.
In America, Robery Fair de Graff had a similar epiphany, and decided that books should not only be cheap but small enough to carry around and be read anywhere. This venture resulted into the launch of Pocket Books in 1939. Emily Brontë, Agatha Christie and Shakespeare were some of the authors whose titles were sold by Pocket Books in the early days.
Both Penguin and Pocket Books still publish today in an era of ebooks, and bookstores still sell paperbacks even in the presence of numerous online portals. I have many fiction books on the Kindle, which are mostly one time reads or books I do not want taking up space on the bookshelves. Most of my non-fiction, academic and technical books are in the form of paperbacks.
Readers look for any excuse to read. How better to celebrate Paperback Book Day than to sit back, relax and read a book.