2015 in Pages


What makes the otherwise uneventful 2015 quite memorable to me is that this is the year I actually rediscover my love of reading - and actually trying to kick it up a notch, in that I actually tried to be more adventurous with my book choices instead of staying comfortable in my usual lane.

I started the year by joining a yearly Goodreads reading challenge and set my reading goal at 40 books - quite plentiful but doable (or so I thought). I ended the year with a measly 24 titles - though it doesn't include the short stories, articles, or magazines I picked up during the year. Quantity wise, I didn't live up to the challenge, but as far as reading experience goes it was quite a good year for me.

So, after quite a slow, unproductive first day of the year, I'll try to kick off my 2016 archive with something less ponderous: a few pointers of what made 2015 in pages quite an amazing year. This is where Goodreads and Path come in handy; thanks to the site and app I am able to keep track of my reading history and some little reviews I wrote on a whim (I posted it on private in Path in case you're guessing, dear Path friends). Here goes!

Starting the year with a bang

In the end of 2014 I borrowed this absolute classic from my friend (or to be precise, my friend's grandfather). Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace had been lingering on my to-read list for some time, but I had not quite worked up the courage to seek it in bookstores due to the monstrous size (haha), but when I discovered my friend('s grandfather) actually had this book, I thought why not?

I'll just quote myself from my path post since I actually wrote quite an extensive review on it back then:

Appreciations to Tolstoy: 1) His very, very realistic depiction of Napoleonic wars featuring so many historical characters, including Bonaparte and Tsar Alexander themselves, so tremendously well-written that you can't tell them apart from the fictional characters. 2) An excellent character development to the central characters of the book (especially Pierre!), something essential in a novel written on a very expansive time-setting. 3) His philosophical take on why things happened the way they did, why the wars unfolded the way they did, what had been the driving force, ponderous things like that - his narrative was quite frankly challenging on those closing chapters, but it gave me a very satisfactory feeling when finishing the book.

Pro tip on reading Russian literature: keep notes on the names! They are long, tongue-twisting, and one character can have 3 or more nicknames depending on whom they're talking to, so it can be very confusing!

Getting out of my comfort zone

So... I've been a fiction girl. I've always been a fiction girl. From those princess diaries and similarly cringey teenlits that helped me survived elementary and middle school, the chiclits and metropops the girls always loved to read in highschool, getting to know the absolute classic books in college (though to be fair till this very second I'm really still in the getting-to-know phase). I've been on the trashy end and the classy end, but bottomline is I've always been a fiction girl.

Orwell was my turning point. I read 1984 in the end of 2014 and fell in love with it, absolutely in love. But what was most intriguing is that I thoroughly enjoy the lengthy essay in the book, the one where Goldstein's talking about politics and language and those heavy stuffs. I thought it wasn't my alley, but I enjoyed it. So after War and Peace, guess what book I read? Orwell's Essays. A collection of Orwell's essays, covering a wide range of topics but mostly on literature and politics. I didn't absolutely enjoy all of the essay, but it helped me take a liking to nonfiction books.

So in 2015 there were Heidegger's Poetry, Language, Thoughts, Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel (which is my currently-read book), Monocle's extensive edition on liveable cities rankings, and Goldman's short anarchist essays to go with Orwell's Essays. I also tried to encourage myself to read more in-depth news features and op-eds on a daily basis - cue more news account on my twitter following-list. Not really much, but quite an improvement to my previously very fictitious reading list.

Discovering where to look and what to read

It's important - to get the right recommendations, to be acquainted to the right names. Getting to know classic books was fairly easier because, well, they're classics. Their names are going to be popping up in nearly every recommendation lists or absolute must-read list. Trying to move past Austens or Dickens or Murakamis (not that I've read enough of those classics tbh, but still, I'm feeling adventurous!) and try to discover less best-selling authors was the thing I was trying to do in 2015. It didn't help that the average bookstores I'd come across at malls always sell the same names.

This is where I found out literary twitter accounts (again thanks twitter my eternal saviour) that always namedrop some authors that I hardly knew anything about earlier. I discover Intan Paramaditha's account which led to her truly amazing short stories (eerie and feminist is what her works are often referred as), the independent bookstore at Pasar Santa, the most well-curated bookstore I've come across in Indonesia, the literary journal themurmurhouse (I had been lucky enough in 2015 to feature in one of their collaboration project!), and so many, so many more.


I've always had this love of reading. But before, it always felt that it came with an asterisk -- I was very particular in regards to genres, book-length, themes, and so on. 2015 was all about trying to become a more versatile reader. I haven't fully succeeded, but it's still a start. So, here's to an even more adventurous (and knowledge-expanding, and eye-opening) 2016 in pages!