(Running) Bucket List

I was reading this post on Jane’s blog when the words “hello state #10” struck me. Based in USA, she is trying to participate in a run in each of the states there.

I realised I wanted a similar adventure for myself. It combines my love for running and my wish to explore more of my beautiful country.

And so, here is the number 1 item on my Bucket List.

  • To run a Half / Full Marathon in each of the states and Union Territories of India.

As this will require quite a bit of planning and travelling, I’m not putting an ‘achieve by’ date to it, but rest assured, I shall keep ticking off on the list of states and Union Territories each year.

As of now, I’ve covered the following (in order of runs participated in):

  • Karnataka
  • West Bengal
  • Maharashtra
  • Meghalaya

That leaves me with another 25 states and 7 Union Territories. Hmm.

Wish me luck, people!

Weekly Running Review -16th to 22nd Nov 2015

This week started out well, but ended up a bit of a bummer. Still, one happy realisation, which I shall share at the end of this post.

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16th Nov (Mon) – Team member’s birthday, light bootcamp. Although we’d celebrated this team member’s birthday on Sunday itself, it turned out we had an extra cake. So, in spite of it being our group’s rest day, we turned up for a light boot-camp, just so that we could have the cake later. Yay!

17th Nov (Tue) – Cadence counting + interval run. 9.2 kms. We came together for what our trainer calls a trick run. I was supposed to run at 168 cadence, and I think I did a good job of sticking to this limit. I was running with a couple of other buddies who all run at roughly the same pace and our run was so effortless that it barely registered that we had run almost 10 km.

18th Nov (Wed) – Boot camp + rugby. A day to get dirty in the mud and bring out our A-game. Lots of core and legs related exercises, followed by a super energetic and enthusiastic 5min x 2 rugby game. After the boot-camp, one would’ve imagined people wouldn’t have what it takes to to tackle, shoot or score goals, but you’d be surprised by the energy of this lot.

19th Nov (Thu) – Cadence counting. 10 km. Hmm. We were supposed to do an extra round of Victoria Memorial after our regular run on Red Road. The trainer had told me to do a 164 cadence run. Trouble was, my running buddy (whom we shall call ‘Red Bull V’) wanted to run at 180 cadence! I had to reign him in and tell him that this was not a run to test our pace, but to build stamina and discipline. He did give in (more so because I suspect he enjoys the company and banter that goes along with running :D) but towards the end, we did let go a bit and ran at about 168-172 cadence. Still, good run.

20th Nov (Fri) – Rest day. Here is where I began to get lazy. I was out till late on Thursday night and I had a presentation to make on Friday. If I really did push myself, I could’ve gone for the boot-camp which was scheduled for the day, but I decided to catch some sleep and work on the presentation. (In fact, I was working on making a presentation to a group of runners who would be running their first event in about a fortnight.)

21st Nov (Sat) – Yoga + rugby. Saturday was all sorts of fun! First, the super yoga session. I knew we were in for a good session when the warm-up of the yoga session was longer and more intensive than the warm-ups that we do before our long runs! We were sweating, despite the chill November morning. I did the best I could, but my body once again reminded me how not-so-flexible I am. Need to work on this.

Yoga was followed by a game of rugby. I thought I just wanted to sit back and sip some chai. Turns out, I surprised myself with my store of energy. Heck, I even scored a goal!

This was followed by an impromptu decision to go have breakfast with the gang. Our poor trainer smilingly kept calling the food ‘unhealthy’. Not that any of us was listening as we devoured potato/corn/cheese sandwiches and chai. 😛

22nd Nov (Sun) – Long run, 25 km. MISSED IT!! 😦 Late on Saturday evening I realised that all the yoga in the morning meant that I had really stretched my lower back. Although that is a good sign in itself, in the short duration it meant that I was left feeling funny and didn’t feel so comfortable doing squats. So, when I woke up at 4 AM on Sunday, I really wasn’t feeling up to the mark. Added to the fact that my Garmin wasn’t charged enough *and* that I would be running alone for the first 15 kms or so (the others were tapering off before their Airtel Run For Education HM next week), and I had enough reason to sleep in instead. A good day, eventually, because I managed to get in 9 hours of sleep, followed by a light breakfast and 1.5 hours of meditation. Still, I missed the satisfaction that I get after my long runs.

——-

Which brings me to the happy realisation that dawned on me late last week.

Last year, I had set myself a target to run 520 kms, at an average of about 10 km/week. I failed to even come close to that target. Disheartened, I halved the target to 260 km for this year, in the hope that I would at least be able to run 5 km/week in 2015.

Imagine my delight, then, when I see that I’ve almost run 260 kms in just October and November itself! YAYY!

Oct-Nov 2015 RK

CSC Swim-A-Mile 2015 Honours Board

I had almost forgotten about the Swim-A-Mile competition that I had participated in back in August.

So imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when I saw the Honours Board put up in the Club for this year’s competition. (My name appears quite some way down in the list. :D)

The numbers against my name were a reminder that I had only swum breast-stroke this year and that I must build my strength and stamina to swim freestyle next year to improve my timing.

Till then, I’m going to bask in the glory of having my name up on the Honours Board. 🙂

CSC Swim A Mile Honours Board

Weekly Running Review – 8th to 15th Nov 2015

One of my plans with this blog was to document my journey towards my first full marathon.

However, I soon found out that rigorous training can lead to one feeling completely, and I mean *completely* exhausted by the end of the day. It is now only after a month of serious training that my body seems to have adjusted to the higher levels of energy required to get through the long days.

And hence, even though belated, here’s a start to what I hope will be a regular feature: the weekly running review, in which I try and capture how I’m progressing.

————

8th Nov (Sunday) – Long run. According to the training calendar that I’ve signed up for on RunKeeper, I was supposed to be taking it easy: 12.9 kms. This, owing to the fact that there had been a significant increase in mileage in the last couple of weeks. In fact, I had run two successive half marathons (21.1kms) on the previous two Sundays.

However, I’ve now started running in a group and I really do enjoy my long runs. And so, I decided to make it a hat-trick of half-marathons! This was one of my faster HMs and I almost clocked my Personal Best (PB). I ran a little slow at the start because I was running with a few new runners in the group who weren’t sure about the route that we had to take. Later, I ran with another lady who is preparing for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. I went at a slightly easy pace so that I could run alongside her, but honestly, I was pretty glad I wasn’t pushing myself too much because it still was pretty humid.

  • Distance: 21.85 kms
  • Time: 2:23:26
  • Avg. Pace: 6:44 min/km

9th Nov (Monday) – This was supposed to be a rest day. But the lure of a good breakfast was too much to let us stay asleep!

Unfortunately, no good breakfast places we know of open before 7:30. So, a couple of friends and I went to the lakes for a brisk 5 km walk. Of course, this was followed by a sumptuous breakfast, the details of which I shall keep to myself. 😛

  • Distance: 5.38 km
  • Time: 56:12
  • Avg. Pace: 10:27 min/km

10th Nov (Tuesday) – Interval training day. The break-up was 2 minutes of quick running (10% faster than race day pace) followed by 60 second break. This was to be repeated 8 times. I was pretty satisfied by this, my second attempt at interval training.

  • Distance: 4.94 km
  • Time: 30:45
  • Avg. Pace: 6:13 min/km

11th Nov (Wednesday) – Diwali run! I was pretty surprised and enthused by the people in our group who had turned up even on Diwali morning for a run. Since we had pretty much decided that we wouldn’t be running the next day (to avoid all the pollution caused by firecrackers), we decided to do our ‘trick run’ on Wednesday itself. ‘Trick run’ is our trainer’s lingo for ‘cadence counting’. I was supposed to do a 82 count run (164 cadence). I think my running form needs correction, since although I was running at a higher cadence, my pace wasn’t particularly impressive.

  • Distance: 8.31 km
  • Time: 54:57
  • Avg. Pace: 6:37 min/km

12th Nov (Thursday) – Rest day.

13th Nov (Friday) – Boot camp. Started with a short warm-up run and proceeded to get our backsides kicked, as per usual.

“What the hell, it helps in the long run, right? And that’s all that counts. Quit complaining!”

  • Distance: 3.48 km
  • Time: 23:03
  • Avg. Pace: 6:37 min/km

14th Nov (Saturday) – Foam Rolling Recap. I had never imagined a foam roller could be so painful or so pain relieving at the same time. Trust me, there’s nothing like the kind of pain one feels when using the foam roller, especially if you’ve got shin splints the way I do. But yes, the trigger release that happens afterwards is worth all the pain. Onlookers will remain sceptical about the use of this innocent looking equipment, but I can vouch for all the knotted muscles that it has helped me loosen up. Recovery from long runs is way sooner when you use these.

15th Nov (Sunday) – Long run. As per my RunKeeper training schedule, I was supposed to run 22.53 km. But when the mind has already made the decision to run a round figure, the 25 km mark was the obvious decision to make. We started early, at 4:30 AM and this required some adjustment to the pre-run eating pattern. To add to this challenge, there was no bread or bananas in the house. Silly me, for not having checked the previous evening. I improvised and finished half an energy bar and couple of almonds and walnuts.

The run went very well. I only occasionally pushed myself for a faster pace. Also, I realised once again how much of a mind game long-distance running actually is. In the previous weeks, when I was targetting a 21 km run, I would start feeling cramps and/or fatigue after the 17-18 km mark. Today, since I was looking at a bigger target, I didn’t even stop to realise and 21 km went by without any complaints. It was only around the 22 km mark that I started struggling.

I paused at two points during the run, at the 14 km mark and at the 22 km mark, to do a runner’s stretch. I wish I had taken a couple of extra seconds and stretched more, since it did actually help. At the 21.1 km mark, I realised I had finished the half marathon distance at a PB of 2 hours 7 minutes, a clear 10 minutes (!!) better than my previous PB of 2 hours 17 minutes at the Mumbai Marathon earlier this year.

Also, the last time I ran a 25 km run was at the Tata Steel Kolkata event last year, which I had finished in 2:59:29. Today, I had obviously improved and hit a PB here too! I think I can push myself for a better pace next Sunday, when I plan on running 25 km again.

  • Distance: 25.01 km
  • Time: 2:37:10
  • Avg. Pace: 6:17 min/km

An interview with Runners for Life

It’s been a crazy birthday month!

Wow! It feels as if it were just yesterday that I came back from Bangalore and wandered straight into a city which was preparing itself for the annual extravaganza that is the Durga Puja. And although I did get a break of a week from office, there was no shortage of work to be done at home, what with Diwali just around the corner.

The bigger thing, however, which has been keeping me occupied and away from the blog and books has been me joining a running group. Early mornings and rigorous runs and workouts means I’m left with very little energy at the end of the day to be able to do any justice either to my books or to my blog. Thankfully, though, I seem to have identified a pattern and maybe in the next couple of days, my mind and body would both have made the leap required to push for more productive days.

In the meanwhile, the purpose of this post: a strange and wonderful set of circumstances led me to be introduced to the good folks at Runners for Life (also the people who organise the Kaveri Trail Marathon, which I recently ran and wrote about here).

An excerpt:

We interviewed Kolkata based runner Shekhar Ruparelia who has been running since 2013 and is seeing his dream of running the full at the Mumbai Marathon in 2016 coming true. Read about his passion for running

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your reason for running.

Ans : I guess the best word to describe me in the last decade would be ‘wanderer’. I grew up in Calcutta, but after my 2 years of MBA in Ahmedabad, I’ve worked in Calcutta, Bangalore and Mumbai, before moving back home to Calcutta. I’ve been running long-distances only since the last couple of years. I took it up initially to test my discipline and resilience, but slowly it’s become more about challenging myself to improve all the time, both physically and mentally.

2. How did you decide to start running? What made you pick it up?

Ans : I did a 5km run once in an intra- college event during my MBA way back in 2006. The first Mumbai Marathon was just around the corner and I dreamt of running there some day. Nothing materialised after that, but I had always wanted to resume running. I got the chance in 2013 in Mumbai, when a friend told me about a 5km run being organised by an NGO which supports autistic children. Once the love for running got rekindled, I’ve kept it alive and now, I’ve run a 10km, 3 half marathons and a 25km event and am now preparing for my first full marathon at Mumbai. So my running life is kinda coming full circle.

Here’s the link to the full interview.

Blogger Recognition Award

My good friend Felix has nominated me for a Blogger Recognition Award.

All I can is I’m pretty chuffed, given that I’ve only just started writing here, and that too not very frequently.

Here are the rules of the award:

  1. Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post and give a brief story of how your blog started.
  3. Give a piece of advice or two to new bloggers.
  4. Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to.
  5. Let the nominees know you have nominated them and provide a link to the nomination details.

So, here goes:

Thank you Felix. I really like how well you write and also how honest your blog, Much Ado About Nothing is.

Well, as to how I started writing this blog: I had an older blog which for a host of reasons I had lost the motivation to write at.

But the bug to write, to express myself, kept biting within me from time to time. After some time, I told myself I would resume writing, but maybe not about life in general but about two things which I enjoy in particular: reading books and running.

When reviewing books, I realised I would somehow have a deeper connect with whatever I’d read as I was putting into words precisely what I liked about them and why I had enjoyed reading a particular book so much. Apart from this, there was also the satisfaction of knowing that I could spread the word about a well written book and that I would now have a link to share with friends who asked me for my opinion on books.

As for running, I thought it would be interesting to note down what I felt and what thoughts were running in my head when I go for my runs. I’m pretty certain that some day, I’m going to look back and laugh at how much I struggled at some of the shorter distances that I’ve run. Also, if this blog could in any way inspire anyone to take up the sport, I couldn’t be happier.

Piece of advice to bloggers: Be honest. Share what you feel, whether you’re writing about a place, a book, or the people you meet. Let your blog be the place which others come to for an honest opinion.

15 bloggers? Whoa. I don’t even know so many. But I will recommend my good friend Ishita’s blog, Italophilia. Ishita has recently shifted her blog to WordPress and I think she’s doing a stunning job documenting her love and passion for the country of Italy.

Cheers!

The 9th Kaveri Trail Marathon – 20th September 2015

“Don’t try for your personal bests here, because it most probably will not happen,” said the race co-ordinator at the start line as we waited for the half marathon to start.

“No fear of that happening,” I mumbled to myself.

I was so confident of my inability to put in my best for this run because of two reasons. First was a basic problem: I’d barely run or trained since the Cherrapunjee Marathon back in July.

The other reason why I was sceptical about being able to put my best foot forward was that I’d barely slept in the 24 hours before the race. It all began on 18th September, two days before the event, the day I flew in to Bangalore from Calcutta. I had only slept a couple of hours before the early morning flight and so, slept like a log that Friday night. Come Saturday evening, I knew I was in a bit of trouble.

I hadn’t slept throughout the day and the expectation of the event was keeping me up at night. The event itself is held at the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary at Srirangapatnam, which is about 3 hours drive away from Bangalore.

I’d opted for the bus the event managers had organised which was to leave from Bangalore at 2:30 AM. I had no trouble at all in finding the bus but the drive does take too long and is tiring. In fact, I was so tired waiting for it to be 2 AM so that I could leave my friend’s house in Bangalore, that I almost contemplated not going for the event at all.

Once at the venue, I was again impressed with how smoothly everything was managed; my running bib and bag was given to me without any hassle, and I’d been a little sceptical since I was an outstation runner and could’ve collected these only on the day of the event itself. Handing over my bag at the storage area, I walked over to the starting point of the race just as dawn was breaking.

  

The half marathon started punctually at 6:30, half an hour after the full marathon had kicked off.

Like I said, I wasn’t expecting miracles to happen at this race. I was underprepared and under-trained. In my mind, I was going to use this as a starting point for my training for my first full marathon, the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon in January 2016.

And so, to get myself through what I thought would be (and was) a gruelling run, I set myself a mantra. I’d recently read about how repeating a mantra can be helpful, and so I decided that my mantra for the day would be “flow”.

FLOW.

The word had a magical effect on me. I usually pay a lot of attention to my form and maintain it religiously at least for the first couple of kilometres of a run, before exhaustion takes over. Somehow, repeating the mantra made me feel like NOT keeping to the form and just going through with whatever felt natural.

As a result, I was less tired by the time the first “wave” of exhaustion hit me, which usually happens around the 5-6 km mark and which is when I enter what I call my “zone”. Once inside the zone, I usually don’t need to break much either for a short walk or for water.

I don’t know whether it was purely because of the zone or because of the mantra, which by now I was repeating with every out breath, my zone lasted for about 10 kms.

Initially, I was only telling myself, my body, to flow. To not worry too much about form, to not hit the ground hard but to just “roll” along with every foot strike. But as I went along, I don’t think it was restricted to just my physical form. I could feel the breath and the energy flowing through me. And even when I did get a little tired, the stream from the Kaveri river which was gently running past me would remind me of my mantra.

It was a beautiful run, going past sylvan fields and dusty trails. I couldn’t help but smile as I’d spot a bullock cart. Although I’d initially planned on running without listening to any music, at the last minute before the run began, I switched on a classical music concert by Pandit Ravi Shankar which he had performed at the Kremlin. Listening to the strains of the sitar as I ran past the beautiful green countryside, spotting a farmer here, spotting a stray bullock there, was immensely satisfying, as it was much different than the usual runs that I go for in the traffic on city roads. I told myself that it was a good thing I didn’t back out of this run.

But eventually, the lack of training caught up with me. Around the 15-16km mark, my lower back started hurting and I could feel my right hamstring beginning to cramp. I walked till about the 17km mark, and then tried to run a bit, only to stop immediately because by now somehow both my legs had started cramping. I was hobbling along, to be honest.

Here, I must mention the excellently organised facilities. There were refreshments at regular intervals and these were well stocked with water, energy drinks, peanuts, glucose biscuits and even chips! There were also cans of pain-relief spray which helped me to get a move on and finally finish the race.

One very heartening thing to see was that most participants had taken to heart the organisers words about keeping the bird sanctuary clean; most of the cups of water were thrown away in the bins itself. This was the least we could do by way of thanking the Ranganathittu Bird Santuary officials who had agreed to allow use of the venue for the run.

We ate a good, hearty breakfast after the run and soon, the buses to Bangalore and Mysore were ready to take us back. Here’s where I encountered the toughest part of the day. Sitting in a bus, on that hot Sunday afternoon, after having run a half marathon and then walking and figuring out my way back to my friend’s place once I was dropped off in the city really got to me. I was tired and exhausted and needed to rest as quickly as possible.

I realised that the best way to participate in the Kaveri Trail Marathon is to come over a couple of days in advance and find accommodation at Srirangapatnam, or at least at Mysore. That way, the travel time before and after the run is reduced, at a maximum, to about an hour. The body can do with that kind of rest.

I finished the Kaveri Trail Half Marathon with a timing of 2 hours 40 minutes 38 seconds, which is almost exactly how much time I’d taken to finish the Cherra Marathon. Given that that was a more challenging run, what with all the uphill running, this was strictly an average performance in comparison.

But purely because I felt more connected with something inside me, thanks to the mantra, I’d rate this as a more satisfying run. 

  

Book Review – “My Salinger Year” by Joanna Rakoff

My Salinger Year - Joanna Rakoff

Book: My Salinger Year

Author: Joanna Rakoff

Publisher: Knopf

Publication Year: 2008

Number of pages: 252

Price: Rs. 247 (Paperback on Amazon) and Rs. 125.30 (Kindle) on Amazon.in / Rs. 221 on Flipkart.

My rating: 5/5

This book was recommended to me and a friend (the same one who very sweetly sent me a copy of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman) by another very dear friend. The latter had highly praised this book, and I was even more intrigued when the former finished reading the book in one sitting and couldn’t stop praising it.

And no wonder. This is easily one of the more lucidly written books that I’ve read this year.

The book journals a year in the author’s life when, in 1996, she takes up an assistant’s job in a New York literary agency which, as she later realises, represents J. D. Salinger. As the year progresses, she gets to know her colleagues better, answers Salinger’s fan mail, helps her manager who is going through a tough time personally, has second thoughts about her current boyfriend and gets involved in a book that Salinger wants to publish.

The time-period and the setting of the book gave me a very post-Mad Men era feel. This is helped not only by the fact that it is set in New York in the late nineties but also by the somewhat puzzling insistence of the agency to not embrace technology: it’s 1996 and yet, they use faxes and Dictaphones instead of computers and e-mail.

Right from the very beginning, there are beautiful descriptions of the city of New York. Be it the fairy tale like day when deserted streets greet our heroine as she determinedly goes to her first day at work, in spite of the entire city being snowed in, or when she occasionally treats herself to walks inside the landmark Waldorf hotel where she breathes in the opulence; this is a very keen observer who is able to transport the reader to a different place and time.

There are also geeky insights into the world of publishing. For instance, how books usually have their names written vertically down the length of their spine. You know, how you need to tilt your head to the right to be able to read the name of the book and the author when books are arranged on a shelf? Yeah. Salinger hated that. He insisted that all his books have their names written horizontally. Which created a curious problem if the book, as is the case of the one which is under discussion to be published, is not voluminous enough to accommodate the length of the title and the author. What does one do? Do you widen the margins? Increase the fonts? (It was while reading this that I realised that I had always sub-consciously preferred book titles to be printed horizontally on the spines.)

And then, there are the Salinger mails. From young and the old, from the frustrated to the angry; they all write in to Salinger. The recluse that he is, he has specifically requested none of it to reach him. And it falls upon the author to write a standard letter back to each mail which comes. But going through the contents of the letter, she can’t help but be moved to write a little personal note to these people who are trying to get through to a great author. The letters and her responses take a life of their own and, I suspect, makes the author see things in a different light by the end of the year.

This is a beautifully written book which completely moved me. Like the author, I too haven’t read any books by J. D. Salinger (she does read his works by the end of the book, though) and this perhaps made me connect with her in a strange way. Her struggles of trying to survive in expensive NYC felt like a reality check on the beauty that she described in other pages. The voice of a young woman, living a tough life in New York City and yet having access to the great American literary scene in the late 90s. Perfect weekend read.

Lingering thoughts:

  • “Oh. That Jerry!”
  • “He was also just afraid. Afraid the way most people become when they get what they’ve long wanted.”
  • Next time I’m in a spot of bother, I too am going to stand in a doorway like Joanna’s boss and shout “HUGH!!”
  • “You can’t go about revealing your goddamn emotions to the world.”

Image courtesy: www.goodreads.com

Read more about ‘My Salinger Year’ on Goodreads. Buy it on Amazon.in or on Flipkart.

The Top Ten Authors I’ve Read Most Books From

Taking a leaf out of Book Oblivion’s post, I too thought it would be fun to check which author I have read the most books from.

Like I mentioned in the comments section of Book Oblivion’s post, I had a feeling Wodehouse and Agatha Christie would easily top my list.

The results corroborated my gut feeling, but were also somewhat of a blast from the past.

Most Authors Read

Here is my take on the authors who feature in my top-10 list:

1. P. G. Wodehouse – This was a no-brainer. I love Wodehouse. The language, the poetry-like-flow of words, the outlandish plots, the humour: all of this makes the perfect pick-me-up book, and the only surprise here is that I’ve read only 23 of his books.

2. Sidney Sheldon – This one was a pleasant surprise. I still vividly remember picking up my first Sidney Sheldon novel, ‘The Naked Face’, from my school library, which incidentally, was also Sheldon’s first novel. This was my introduction to the world of bestsellers and contemporary fiction. Till then, I’d only been reading a lot of Noddy, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Three Musketeers and of course, Enid Blyton’s books. After ‘The Naked Face’, my reading habit completely changed.

3. Agatha Christie – What can I say about the Dame that hasn’t already been said before? I love the plots and I love the quirks. Be it Poirot, Miss Marple or any of the short stories that Christie wrote early in her career; I gobbled all of them with glee. I still feel ‘And Then There Were None’ is the BEST crime novel I will ever read, though I still have ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ on my to-read list. Nope, don’t try it. I already know who the killer is.

4. Jeffrey Archer – After I was through with my Sidney Sheldon phase, I started looking elsewhere for similar thrills in contemporary fiction. I found my answer in Jeffrey Archer, especially when I read ‘Kane & Abel’. I recently read the book again and was delighted to find that I still enjoyed it as much as I had when I was in high school.

5. John Grisham – Right alongside the Archer books, I was reading one courtroom thriller after another by John Grisham. I think the one that really got me hooked to his writing was ‘The Firm’ (I haven’t seen the film starring Tom Cruise), but I loved almost all of his novels. One which really stands out in my memory is ‘The Chamber’, which some of my friends didn’t like, but I absolutely loved. Incidentally, the first book that I read by Grisham was ‘A Time To Kill’, also his first novel.

6. J. K. Rowling – Seven books. Seven gems. Although I loved the initial Harry Potter books more because they were such light reading and weren’t filled with too much drama and menace and philosophical ideas about love and life and death, I still marvel at how brilliantly she brought so many plots together over the last couple of books. Absolutely stunning!

7. Ashok Banker – I remember stumbling across the novel ‘Prince of Ayodhya’, the first in Ashok Banker’s Ramayana series, at the library in my MBA college. I was thunderstruck by the twist that Banker had given a tale that I’d long thought as fuddy-duddy, echoes from the time that I saw the Ramanand Sagar TV series as a child. Tip: Definitely read the preface to the books, which has a brilliant argument why every Ramayana tale that you will ever hear is unique.

8. Alistair MacLean – By the time I discovered Goodreads, I couldn’t recall all the books by MacLean that I’d read. If I did, he (and Frederick Forsyth) would definitely feature much higher on this list. These were the perfect thrillers concerning war and espionage that I could’ve read while growing up as a boy. Please, please read ‘The Guns Of Navarone’ to find out what I’m saying.

9 & 10. Jeph Loeb & Ed Brubaker – The reason I’m considering these two together is because the wizardry of the author and the artist have combined to give some of the finest Batman graphic novels that I’ve read. Read Batman: Hush, The Dark Victory, The Long Halloween and The Man Who Laughs.

11. Haruki Murakami – Ever since I read ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’, I’ve been in love with Murakami’s works. Agreed, he has sometimes gone overboard (Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman), but I would still any day settle down to read any of his eccentric works.

12. Ian Fleming – I read ‘Goldfinger’ as a schoolboy and then explored the world of James Bond a bit as I grew up. But I still have a box-set of James Bond novels that I’m determined to read some day and relish the stories of this dashing spy.

13. Michael Crichton – Right about the time I was reading those courtroom thrillers by John Grisham, I’d also started reading some sci-fi by Michael Crichton. I loved ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘The Lost World’ and was chilled to the bone by ‘Congo’.

14. Oscar Wilde – The last, and by no means the least, on this list is Oscar Wilde. I have only recently started reading his books and love his works. I have a feeling I’ll be reading a lot, lot more of his stories in the near future. Love his irreverence.

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If you are on Goodreads, and want to check your list of most read authors, just go to your Read page and scroll down to the ‘most read authors’ link on the left column.

So, what are the authors that you’ve read the most books by?