I. How many books are you planning to read this year?
I never set myself goals to read a specific number of books (if anything, I need to set myself goals to read less, because my free time is all about reading, as opposed to doing other beneficial activities!). I think I read around 80 books last year, so I think I may do about the same this year.
II. Name five books you didn’t get to read in 2020, but want to make a priority in 2021?
(i) Deep Water  by Patricia Highsmith;
I have always been a fan of Highsmith based on just three of her books – The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Price of Salt and Strangers on a Train, but last year I also read Patricia Highsmith’s Edith’s Diary and The Tremor of Forgery and was impressed all over again with this author’s mind, craft and talent. This January (the 19th) was Patricia Highsmith’s centenary and it is all the more reason to pick up nuanced and psychological Deep Water, which promises to be a special mystery/thriller that is well-characterised and twisty, centering on a married couple where the wife is given free rein to choose her lovers – only to see one of them murdered unexpectedly. A film adaptation by Adrian Lyne (9 & 1/2 Weeks, Jacob’s Ladder) is set to be released later this year.
(ii) First Love and Other Novellas by Samuel Beckett;
I did not read any Beckett in 2020, although I planned to do so. Goodreads says that First Love and Other Novellas are “four novellas [which] are among the first major works of Beckett’s decision to use French as his language of literary composition. Rich in verbal and situational humour, they offer a fascinating insight into many of the issues which preoccupied Beckett all his working life.”
(iii) The Exiles  by Christina Baker Kline;
This is a new book that is already gaining a reputation of being a good read. I did not get a chance to read it in 2020, but I will prioritise it for 2021 because I love books which are set in distant lands and which focus on particular time periods. On Goodreads I read that The Exiles is “an ambitious, emotionally resonant novel that captures the hardship, oppression, opportunity and hope of a trio of women’s lives in nineteenth-century Australia.” This is said to be a story which “brilliantly recreates the beginnings of a new society in a beautiful and challenging land, telling the story of Australia from a fresh perspective, through the experiences of Evangeline, Hazel, and Mathinna.“
(iv) Village of Stone  by Xiaolu Guo;
Set in China and written by a Chinese-born British author, this book is about a girl’s struggle to lead a normal life amidst all the hardship she encounters in her native China, including natural disasters and poverty. This book is about haunting memories, loneliness and finding solace within oneself.
(v) A Burning  by Megha Majumdar.
This book is said to be for readers of Tommy Orange, and I previously liked Tommy Orange’s imperfect, but convincing and unusual debut There There . A Burning is also a debut and focuses on three characters whose lives become intertwined in contemporary India. One character, Jivan, wants to rise above her poor upbringing when she becomes a suspect in a terrorist attack; another, PT Sir, wants political standing and power, and can use Jivan’s situation to his advantage, and, the third is Lovely, a social outcast, who have certain signing and acting aspirations, taking their lessons in English from Jivan. The novel is said to have much to say on contemporary India’s social problems and the criminal justice system.
III. Name a genre you want to read more of in 2021?
Probably, historical-fiction. Property by Valerie Martin, Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar and Augustus by John Williams (Stoner ) are high on my TBR list. I also want to read more authors from Africa.
IV. Three non-book related goals for 2021?
(i) To improve my Japanese even further (I now know the Hiragana and Katakana “alphabets” and some fifty Kanji characters – I need to focus on speaking and listening); (ii) to improve my piano skills and be able to finally play fluently at least two full, but simplified-for-beginner, compositions from films (I chose “The Godfather”, “Forrest Gump” and “Schindler’s List” themes); and (iii) to intensify my yoga & meditation practice (that contributes to boosting my mental health and overall well-being!).
V. What’s a book you’ve had forever that you still need to read?
I have two books by Evelyn Waugh that have now been for ages on my TBR list. They are Brideshead Revisited  and A Handful of Dust . Perhaps 2021 will be the year when I finally read these classic books.
I am not tagging anyone, and if you are reading this, I am interested in reading your answers! What are your reading goals for 2021? Do you plan to read certain authors or books?