Notice I haven’t been posting much of late, but I do have excuses, really, really good ones, too. You see, there was Christmas, and all that leads up to it, and well, it really doesn’t end till 7 January, thanks to celebrating Orthodox Christmas (hooray for the Julian calendar!)–although, it ought not to end till then for the rest of you if you’re doing the Twelve Days of Christmas right. So you know, there was a great deal of baking and shopping and cleaning and cooking and decorating and celebrating to do. And then there’s that whole wedding thing, which is fast approaching (less than three weeks now!). And as a consequence of that, I’ve been working extra hours for the cold, hard cash, and been occupied with things like petticoats and veils, and making roses out of Persuasion and Emma, and figuring out how many waffles sixty-odd (very odd) people might eat, and what to dance to. You know how it is.
But! I have been reading, and reading plenty. I hope to buckle down and bust out those reviews this week during a lull before things get REALLY crazy and I get REALLY behind. My last book of 2009 was World War Z, an oddly fitting choice. It’s been a good year (or not quite an entire year, since I started in April), and I’ve read some good books, and complete five reading challenges.
How many books read in 2009?
129 that I counted for the blog since its inception 20 April. Plus, there was one I kept not putting on the list because I needed to scan the cover (it’s INTEGRAL) to the review!), and I did actually skim all of Julie and Julia one night (feh!), but was too embarrassed to mention it. So, 131? And I suppose I could estimate another oh, 70-80 for January through mid-April. So just about 200ish? I could have done better, but that’s a fairly respectable number, I think.
How many fiction and nonfiction?
Lucky for me, I counted as I went! This was an odd year, with only four non-fiction reads that I counted. I haven’t the faintest how much during winter and early spring was non-fiction, but probably more. I won’t hazard a guess, however. It’s been a banner year for fiction in my household!
Male/female author ratio?
83 authoresses (plus one editrix), and 51 authors/editors. I must credit my habit of reading several works in a writer’s oeuvre for the really excellent, if somewhat skewed, ratio of women to men. But hurrah for the ladies! Special shout-outs to Noel Streatfeild, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, and of course, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Favourite book of 2009?
Out of those I’d never before read, definitely The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, David Garnett’s lovely Lady into Fox, the horrifying The Terror by Dan Simmons, and the always excellent Richard Peck and Ghosts I Have Been. Also notable was Cynthia Harrod-Eagles’ Morland Dynasty, a series I have been enjoying very much.
There were some really enjoyable books, but those stand out the most.
Oh my god, by far Rhett Butler’s People, a travesty. I’ve been so disgusted by it that I haven’t been able to write about it yet.
Any that you simply couldn’t finish, and why?
I am ashamed to say that I’ve had The Lady’s Not for Burning by Christopher Fry out on library loan for MONTHS now. I started it, and after maybe a dozen pages, I put it down. And I haven’t been able to pick it back up for more than a page at a time. I have no idea why. I feel like I would love it, but I cannot make myself read it! What’s wrong with me? And I couldn’t get into Little, Big fast enough, and had to return it unfinished to the library. Bah!
I also lost interest in Stendhal’s The Red and the Black and Zola’s Thérèse Raquin. And between losing Villette by Charlotte Brontë, and finding it again months later, I haven’t been able to finish it. Oh, and fucking Waverly (Sir Walter Scott).
I am a dreadful person, uncultured and barbaric.
Oldest book read?
Jane Eyre. Almost everything else was twentieth century, with a smattering of twenty-first. Huh.
No idea, really. I guess The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. It came out in August (?), and I very patiently waited for it on the library hold list, read it early in December, then received it for Christmas. HA! (Hey, I had a birthday in November, they could have given it to me then.)
Longest and shortest book titles?
Longest, no contest: Sorcery & Cecelia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country by Patricia C Wrede and Caroline Stevemer. Say that in one breath, why don’t you?
Longest and shortest books?
Well, Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural weighed in at a hefty 1029 pages, making it the longest book overall. But the longest novel is a toss-up between The Terror (769, hardcover) and Robert McCammon’s Swan Song (956, mass-market paperback). The Terror in paperback is a good forty pages longer than Swan Song, so I’d give it the win. Plus, it’s WAY better.
Shortest … Lady into Fox by David Garnett, which packs an amazing amount of emotion and though into its 91 pages.
How many books from the library?
Oh, TONS. I didn’t get back into library use till sometime during the summer, I think, but once I did, I really used that catalog. 48, by my count. Hmm, I guess that’s not tons, but it is the vast majority of new reads.
Any translated books?
Only 3 that I notice: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, and Gigi & The Cat by Colette. Definitely good ones for any list, but a disappointingly small number, I’d say. I did start those two French novels …
Most read author of the year, and number of books by that author?
I’m pretty pleased with myself on this, having come in just barely ahead on new books and re-reads for the counted books from April to December: 71 to 59, respectively. Of course, I’m betting that the uncounted winter reads were almost entirely re-reads. But good for me for improving myself with new books!
Favourite character of the year?
Anne Boleyn in Norah Loft’s The Concubine and Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret Campbell Barnes was fantastic, and both are HIGHLY recommended. And i was half in love with Cap’t Crozier in The Terror and Alex in Everything is Illuminated.
Which countries did you go to through the pages of your reading?
There was lots of England and the U.S., but also Russia and France, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Canada, Wales, and Scotland. Even as far as the Arctic. Some books touched on more places than others (I’m looking at you, The Historian and World War Z!)
Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation?
Ooh, that’s tough. I don’t often read recommended books, because I don’t want to be disappointed (and then in turn disappoint). But I did enjoy Sorcery and Cecilia, recommended by Jenny. (And I do have both Greensleeves and Fire from Heaven sitting right here by me, and I just may be right smack in the middle of one of them.) My friend Bill suggested Anno Dracula and Hell House, neither of which I liked all that much (see what I mean about disappointing?!).
The way I come across books sometimes feels very organic, like I finally realize that the entire world has read and enjoyed something (The Historian, The Lovely Bones). Or I read them because I love the subject matter (Anne Boleyn books) or other works by the author (Cornell Woolrich). Hmm.
Which author was new to you in 2009 that you now want to read the entire works of?
I’ll probably read all of the Morland Dynasty, because I can’t not see what happens to the family, though it’s entirely possible that I’ll lose interest during the twentieth century. And technically I did read all of Emily Giffin’s oeuvre, but I wouldn’t really recommend it.I think I’ll also be looking into more Dan Simmons after thoroughly enjoying The Terror.
I also rediscovered Madeline L’Engle, and a world of novels beyond the Murray-O’Keefe books, which is fantastic.
Which books are you annoyed you didn’t read?
See above, and the books I didn’t finish. I hate myself.
Did you read any books you’ve always been meaning to read?
Not always, no. I did cross several books off my To Be Read list, but not any of the biggies. I suppose somewhere in my mind, I did always mean to read Brideshead Revisited and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. But no Tom Jones or Waverly, no Trollope or James. There’s always this year!
And that would be it! Other than all those reviews I desperately need to catch up on …