Happy New Year to everyone out there!
In 2010 I read a total of 48 books which is 17,455 pages all together.
TBR currently standing at 447 books.
It is yet again, another new year which means new calendars, a new diary, another birthday to celebrate and a new number to memorise when filling in forms.
Twenty-Ten has been a mixed bag for me. Book-wise there has been nothing exceptional. I have read some really good ones, but none that have blown me away in amazement. Personal-wise a lot of things in my life has been changing in small ways – I’m starting to deal with things rather then burying my nose in a book all the time, so I am hoping 2011 will bring more fulfilment my way.
So let’s begin.
The Books I Really Enjoyed:
- The Road Home by Rose Tremain
- From Hell by Alan Moore
- The New Jackals by Simon Reeve
- The Hidden Roads by Kevin Crossley Holland
- The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor
Newly Discovered Authors that I will be reading more from:
- Sebastian Barry (The Secret Scripture)
- William Boyd (Any Human Heart)
- Chris Bohjalian (Midwives)
- Natsuo Kirino (Grotesque)
- Yoko Ogawa (The Housekeeper and the Professor)
Due to chronic uninspiration over the last few months there are a few 2010 reviews I still need to write so please look out for those in the future. It feels a bit of a silly start to the new year catching up with the old one but better late then never, I always say. (I would be late for my own birthday.)
I took part in the Japanese Literature Challenge for the first time and I read four books by Japanese authors – Haruki Murakami, already a favourite and two new ones: Natsuo Kirino (already owned) and Yoko Ogawa (completely new to me). I didn’t read as many as I hoped I would but I did pick up a lot of new recommendations I had not known about before who I will explore hopefully this year.
I started this blog in May 2010 sometime after very littler persuasion from a friend of mine. I think my favourite blog post, and the one I am most proud of is my special edition Character Connection featuring the Four Men in Harry Potter. Even with my long blog-funk I feel really happy that I started writing this as I have really began to enjoy myself.
I hope that any reclusive readers out there come forward because I love to know what people think – criticisms, praise, improvements etc.
And here is the part you have all been looking forward to, my pie charts. You may remember me talking about my spreadsheet obsession in July shortly after I started this blog. If not please refresh your mind here where you will see some pie charts detailing my 2009 reading data. I had one for setting and genres and this year I have a new one – publication date.
Now I understand not all of you may be quite as fascinated by percentages as I am when it comes to books (when it isn’t about books I couldn’t give a hoot about percentages) but I like to track my reading. Not necessarily for improvement, but just as a way to reflect on what my year looked like in the form of books. I have a theory that I can learn something from the kinds of books I read over a certain period. I started the spreadsheet in 2009 and so I am now in my third year of recording my reading in such a way and I really enjoy doing it.
I do not feel as if I have widened my horizons this year. I still seem to stick to English settings rather then ranging further afield. In 2009, 44% of what I read was set in England and this last year is a rounded 50%. In 2009 I read books set in 13 different countries and this year I read 14, which is no major leap. Fantasy, Japan and the USA are still my most popular settings to find myself in and last year I read more books set in fantasy lands (as opposed to fantasy still set in England).
The YA fantasy is slightly skewed as it includes my month long re-read of Harry Potter, but I do feel as if I have read a lot more fantasy in 2010, although not necessarily by new authors and none that I have really enjoyed. In 2009 I read 12 different genres and only 10 last year. However, in 2010 I seemed to have read more widely in each genre. In 2009 50% of what I read was crime and historical fiction.
Again, as with settings I have not really ventured outside of my norm as much as I would have liked.
My third and final pie is of the decade each book was first published in. I did not do this last year so this one is new. I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of books I generally go for. I want to read more classics and so this is a way of keeping track of the timelines I’m reading within.
As you can see, the vast majority of books I read have been published within the last two decades and a pitifully small amount during earlier times. I do not think I naturally go for the newest thing out – I am usually five years behind most of the time.
Long-Winded Semi-Analysis & Reflection on Books and Self
I think from looking at these pies and comparing them to 2009, I can see that I am still very much set in my ways and reading what I find comfortable. I would like to extend my boundaries more, so we shall see what 2011 will bring, whether I will be able to go beyond my comfort zone.
However, saying this – I don’t really think that is the most important part about reading. I want to enjoy the books I read. Maybe it has just been the place I’ve been in for a while that I seek books I enjoy rather then taking myself into unknown areas. I move slowly. I will extend myself but it might not be evident until a few years down the line. Reading is a long journey and one where there is now map to guide your way. I hope through my pie charts and journals however, that I’ll be able to track my journey and maybe see a little bit into myself.
Who am I? Can books tell me this? Not literally of course because who I am changes constantly. I want to connect more with myself – this is one of my resolutions – not just for this year but for the rest of my life. I have realised as of late that a lot of my problems come from ignoring myself, ignoring other people and not letting people in, or myself out. I think we should all be able to reflect on ourselves and question who we are, what we’re doing and why.
Having this book blog gives me a way to express myself in a way that might be interesting to others. My life is dull as dishwater, but the books I read are not. So finally I think I have found my reason for blogging – and what my blog is to me.
Anyway, before I chase you all away with this pseudo-spiritual soft sappiness, let’s just move on into 2011 and get reading!
I am still reading a biography of Adolf Hitler by Ian Kershaw. It’s a massive great book of a thing and comes in two parts, each part as massive as the other. It is very interesting and well written, but I do not read non-fiction very fast and it can be a bit heavy at times. It is very interesting – I have always enjoyed history related to the second world war and have been meaning to read more non-fiction books on history.
So, in a way it is a good thing I have a backlog of reviews to write because it might take me a while to finish this one. I’d appreciate any more recommendations for non-fiction about the first and second world wars – ones that are accessible to non-historians. No long bearded, babbling authors please, just someone who can educate the uneducated.
Musical Discoveries and Re-Discoveries
And finally, seeing as I have written a vast amount and that if any of you are still reading perhaps your eyes have dried up and you’d like to be revived with music. Well, I love music, doesn’t everyone, but I like sharing and discovering new music too as I don’t listen to the radio so need other avenues of discovery!
In 2010, music really did get good for me. I found my all time favourite band Mumford and Sons. People who can sing!
And look, they’re in a bookshop. Many of their songs (Timshel, Dust Bowl Dance) are inspired by John Steinbeck, one of my favourite authors. Marcus, the lead singer also hosts a book club on the Mumford & Sons website. How awesome is that? Great music and books. It’s like finding out that Heaven does in fact exist and it’s here on earth.
I also rediscovered Linkin Park. I used to like them a bit when I was a teen and they were singing things like Crawling and Papercut, lots of shouting and angst, but recently just felt like them again. Well I’ve grown up since first liking them and so too have they. I just love how creative they are and how they all get involved in every bit of the music they make.
This is from the most recent album ‘A Thousand Suns’ and it is one of my favourites.
I love how everything is so different but together on this album, going between loud and shouty and passionate and inspiring. I know The Messenger is rather soppy – and I guess I’ve just been in that mood recently.
Another of my favourites. The mood I’m in presently (and I go through some weird music obsessions where I listen to nothing but) I could just list every song they have ever created here… but I won’t.
Just one last track… I promise. Rachid Taha. Actually, can’t remember if I found out about him in 2009 or 2010… hmm anyway I really like music from other cultures like this and I really love the Arabic and Western rock/pop mixed into his songs.
So, how has everyone else’s 2010 been any great books you want to press on me, any good music you’d like to share? Or any good anything that you’ve discovered, books music, food, thoughts… anything, whatever.
All my best wishes to everyone that they have a wonderful 2011!