Wrapping up 2009

Everyone else in the blogosphere seems to keep track of their reading stats far better than I, but I have stolen a meme from Savidge Reads.  Check it.

How many books read in 2009?

200.  More or less.  I counted from my books read page – some books I didn’t finish, and some I reviewed all at once (like Fables), and some I read but didn’t review.  200 is a nice friendly number, isn’t it?  I’m sticking with it.  Hooray for approximations.

How many fiction and nonfiction?

This was trickier to count than I was expecting.  Do Noel Streatfeild’s autobiographical stories count as nonfiction?  Do plays?  I decided no to both and came up with 47 nonfiction, which means 153 fiction.  Not as bad as I was expecting – I thought I read almost no nonfiction this year, which doesn’t prove to be the case at all.  Hurrah!

Male/female author ratio?

86 males and two halves, so then 112 women and two halves.  This is relatively balanced and I feel pleased about it.

Favourite book of 2009?

Joan Wyndham’s Love Lessons.  Sister was screwed up, but her wartime diaries are a complete joy to read.  I am particularly pleased because I found it all on my own.  I love finding books all on my own.  It makes me feel like a pioneer.  Other highlights include Patrick Ness’s two Chaos Walking books, Ordinary Victories and The Mask of Apollo.

Least favorite?

Leaving out books I didn’t finish, probably Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary, because not only did I dislike it, it felt very self-indulgent, and it made me angry when she was snotty about the South.  So.

Any that you simply couldn’t finish, and why?

Several, and for various reasons.  I talked about some of them on this blog, then decided it wasn’t right to say mean things about books I didn’t even finish; and now I’ve decided I’ll probably post about future books I couldn’t finish, because I don’t like not being able to remember why I gave up on a book.  Like Alias Grace – why on earth didn’t I finish that one?  Did I not like it?  Surely I liked it!  What happened there?

Oldest book read?

Must be Henry VI, Part 3, assuming the scholars have got the chronology of Shakespeare’s plays right.  The next oldest after that is hundreds of years later, which makes me feel I should be reading some older things now and again.


Her Fearful Symmetry – when I read it, it wasn’t even published yet.  Hurrah for books!

Longest and shortest book titles?

Longest is The Letters of Dorothy Sayers: 1899-1936.  In totting up characters, I’ve counted punctuation but not spaces, and I’ve not included the business that comes after the inevitable colon in many titles; you may notice this one has the business after the semicolon, which I think is legitimate because you can’t identify the book without that.  Shortest title, using the same rules, is Gig.

Longest and shortest books?

No idea.  I don’t keep track of pages.  I don’t think I read anything really massive; Odd and the Frost Giants was quite short but I wouldn’t swear to its being the shortest.

How many books from the library?

I would have guessed a dramatic majority of them.  It turns out only 119.  A lot of the books I read, though, I borrowed from other people or read (this is shameful!) in the chair at the bookshop.

Any translated books?

Six altogether, predominantly graphic novels: The Elegance of the Hedgehog, The Witch of Portobello, Ordinary Victories, Persepolis, Censoring an Iranian Love Story, and Chicken with Plums.  Three comics, three regular books, and all of them read in the summertime for some reason.

Most read author of the year, and number of books by that author?

Oh bother.  I forgot about this question, or I might have counted my books of the year slightly differently.  Well, it’s Bill Willingham – I posted about him four times, but in fact I read twelve volumes of Fables, plus 1001 Nights of Snowfall, plus Taller Tales.  Fourteen altogether.

Any re-reads?

Startlingly few: 39.  But I reread loads of books I didn’t review – either because I had reviewed them previously, or because they were in a series and it’s hard to do individual reviews of books in a series, or because I just didn’t find the time.

Favourite character of the year?

I liked Dion in The Mask of Apollo quite a lot; Patrick Ness’s Viola is very good also; and there was Merricat from We Have Always Lived in the Castle.  But in fact it’s the nonfictional characters I’ve read about this year that have meant the most to me – Edward Murrow, in the superb Sperber biography I read; and Joan Wyndham from her diaries Love Lessons and Love is Blue (dull titles for really superb books).

Which countries did you go to through the pages of your reading?

Oh, gosh, this is where my reading proves undiverse!  Britain, of course (lots and lots of Britain), America, and several fantasy worlds; ancient Greece, Kenya, myth-time Scandinavia, some fictional South Pacific islands, Denmark, Iran, Italy, India, France, Japan, Kuwait, Egypt, and Germany.  I guess that’s not terrible really.

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation?

Many.  I wouldn’t have read Can Any Mother Help Me? without Tara’s recommendation; The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher without Jackie & an adventure in reading; any of my DogEar Reading Challenge books without Jeane; Fool on the Hill without Nicki; the extremely hilarious Ballerina without Schatzi; or Patrick Ness without Nymeth.  That is a very incomplete list.  Just the ones that popped into my mind.

Which author was new to you in 2009 that you now want to read the entire works of?

Joan Wyndham.  I love her.  But she has only written four books, and I have read two of them; and they are apparently the best two.  So even if I can find her books, it is all downhill from here.  Bill Willingham was new to me this year, but I’ve read all of Fables now and feel quite content until more Fables appears (plus I am getting Peter and Max from Cecelia & very excited for it to arrive!).  Shirley Jackson was new to me, but I’ve read her two best books and am not sure about her others.  Patrick Ness is new to me this year and I want to read all his books but again, there aren’t very many.  Hm.

Which books are you annoyed you didn’t read?

I’m cross I couldn’t get Joan Wyndham’s other books.  She is featuring heavily in this meme, but I cannot help it.  I love her so much.

Did you read any books you’ve always been meaning to read?

I don’t know about “always” but I did read several things I have been meaning to read for some time.  Some were box-tick reads (The Handmaid’s Tale, Revolutionary Road, The Witch of Portobello, and some of Shakespeare’s early plays); some I’ve been saving as a treat for myself (The Mask of Apollo, The Enchantress of Florence); and some I’ve been meaning to read since I started blogging because the blogosphere seems to love them so (The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and Bill Willingham’s Fables books).

So there you go.  My year in books.

27 thoughts on “Wrapping up 2009

  1. You had a terrific year in books. 39 re-read??? WOW –I rarely re-read anything. This year I did re-read The Lovely Bones (1st time was 2002) as I want to see the movie so I needed a refresher. Happy reading in 2010.

    • Thanks! 39 isn’t really all that few, I guess – close to a fifth of the books I read? I guess I just had it in my head that a far greater percentage of my reading was rereads, as I do reread loads.

  2. I love finding a book on my own, but I think even when I find one, it turns out I read about it somewhere. sigh.

    Great reviews, and some great books there. I want to read the Laurie R King books too, mostly because I thought Robert Downing Jr was so awesome in the movie (you can make that connection, right?)

    • I know what you mean, I have that with music. Every time I think I’ve discovered a new artist or band, I realize someone else told me about them ages ago.

      *cracks up* I can make that connection! I still haven’t seen the Sherlock Holmes movie but I really really really want to.

  3. That’s interesting about the specific recommendations. I would have said that a lot of my books came directly from other people recommending them, but I’ve looked over the past year, and I can only find three where I remember picking them up based on one person’s advice. There are plenty that I read because the general blogosphere buzz was good, but only three where one person’s review tipped me over the edge. Of course, I always get a kick when someone reads a book I’ve recommended, so thanks for the mention. 🙂

    • Thanks for the book! 😛

      I know a LOT of the books on my reading list come from people’s recommendations, but I can’t always remember which review made me actually go get a book from the library. I owe many of my reads to the blogosphere, that’s for sure!

  4. 200! Wowza!I’m so glad to see the Chaos Walking books on everyone’s lists. The more I think about them, the more I like them. I’m definitely going to have to reread them before the third one comes out. No doubts about that one!

    • Aaaaa, can’t wait for the third one! I’m so glad I learned about the Book Depository and can get it when it comes out in England, rather than waiting until, what, September for it to come out here.

  5. Impressive stats, actually! Having seen everyone’s well-kept stats, I’m glad there is someone else who had mostly approximations 😛 It would have taken me forever and a day to figure out all of those numbers for my reading.

    • Hahaha, I had a very very slow day a while back and became suddenly curious about my numbers. Hence this post! (You’ll notice I’ve still estimated on loads of them, so I guess I wasn’t all that curious.)

    • I hope you can find her books! Love Lessons is the better of the two I’ve read, though admittedly I’m very biased in favor of diaries from wartime London.

    • Thanks – I love reading your blog!

      Er, well, 39 is startlingly few for ME. Before I started this blog, the vast majority of the books I read were rereads. I guess I wasn’t aware of how much my reading habits had changed.

    • Thanks! I was pleased when I saw it was that many; but then I started thinking, oh dear, if I read 200 books a year, every year, starting with this one, then in twenty years I’ll only be reading 4000 books which is a TINY FRACTION of the number of books there are to be read in the world! And then I reminded myself to chill out because many books are terrible and not worth the time. 😛

  6. I’m jealous of all your rereads! :p

    And I hope you go back to Alias Grace; I really loved it. 🙂

    This year, I’ve decided to start recording data on abandoned books; I’m going to write about each one in a draft post as I abandon it and then publish all of that at the end of the month. Mainly because I’m curious too!

    • I’m jealous of your reading totals! What was it, something like 400? I love your idea for the abandoned books – I don’t think I abandon enough books to do a monthly post, but maybe a quarterly one…

  7. You had a great year in books! I used to re-read a lot, but now that there are so many new titles to discover (via blogs) I can’t recall the last time I re-read something. I think I ought to do this meme…

    • Thanks! I can’t do without my rereads; especially after a rather intense new book, I need something comforting and familiar. Yes, do the meme! I’m looking forward to seeing it!

  8. Jenny, I am so much fun reading your wrap-up. I have previously posted my favorite 10 books but I’ll snag this meme because it gives readers a more comprehensive picture of my reading. 🙂

  9. I’m probably going to copy this meme when I get around to it. I hope you don’t mind. I like seeing your personality come through as you write about your year.

    I always mention books that I abandon and why. The few times I’ve done that this year, blog readers have convinced me to try again at some point. So that’s why I do. Twice, though, though, most people said they couldn’t stand it either.

    • By all means use the meme! I love seeing how other bloggers’ reading year has gone. I think you’re quite right to talk about your abandoned books – I’m going to adopt Eva’s idea of talking about a bunch of them at once in a monthly/quarterly post.

  10. Pingback: A Year of Books: 2009 Wrap-Up « A Guy’s Moleskine Notebook

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