How do you sum up a year of reading? Everyone has their own way of doing it – fiction and non fiction, the best, the worst, the surprising and the disappointing, books of the month, the quarter or in the case of what I think I am going to do basically a bit of everything!
First I need to start back and relook at my list of what I have read and also my monthly round-up posts. I have certainly developed my round-up posts looking back! Everything sort of fits into categories, some in more than one but I am hoping that I have summed my year of reading up in my own way.
New Authors Lucinda Riley & Linda Gillard
2011 I was introduced to two new authors by two very differing means. Lucinda Riley’s first book read in January Hothouse Flower was part of the Richard and Judy Book Club and whilst I do miss seeing any of it on television I do like to see what there choices are as they have introduced me to some great books and authors over the year. In this case it was no exception and Hothouse Flower was a wonderful book, my sort of book. This was followed up by The Girl on the Cliff in October which I can say was even better and I have been very fortunate enough to have had some correspondence with the author and cherish my signed copy of The Girl greatly.
Linda Gillard came by electronic means in the first instance. I saw her book House of Silence in April advertised on amazon not long after getting my kindle and when the front cover of a book features a big house I am immediately drawn to finding out some more. So I thought in for a penny as they say and downloaded it and had completed it in 2 days. I was pushed to write to the author and Linda kindly sent me two of her other novels, Emotional Geology which is fantastic and for which anyone who has suffered or knows some suffering with any form of mental illness, then this is a book which must be read. The second Star Gazing is sat on my shelf to read but only because she then brought another ebook out in the form of Untying the Knot and I just had to read it! A wonderful author and one where I hope the publishing industry try to stop fitting people into categories and publish books based on the fact that they are good and not because they fit a particular genre pigeonhole
Most months of 2011 have featured some sort of ‘Cosy Crime’ and I have read a many varied of these types of novels. The most well-known to many readers and bloggers no doubt is M.C. Beaton and Agatha Raisin – with a bargain offer for her first ten books and then her second ten I set up and ready to go and slowly making my way through them. A similar offer introduced me to Daisy Dalrymple by Carola Dunn. I have also discovered more in the versions of Joanne Fluke and Maggie Sefton, cosy crime but with a theme, cooking and cookies with the former author, knitting with the latter. Apparently whatever your hobby you can do doubt find a cosy crime to fit the bill. Do check out the website dedicated to cosy (I go with the English spelling) mysteries.
I have read many blogs this year who have participated and continue to participate in many reading challenges. It is something that I have been tempted into but not thrown myself into as I know I would get stressed out in what I should be reading and when and getting reviews in. Reading is a
obsession pleasure and not a chore. The only sort of challenge I suppose is the Amazon Vine books I receive and the only challenge there is if I want to choose more from following newsletters then I need to have read and reviewed the previous books to be allowed to pick again.
However I did want to participate in some challenges and readalongs in the blog world. The first was the Persephone Weekend and I was introduced to these lovely grey books and some wonderful authors are now on my wish list. Then there was reading Persuasion, which after I have read it wondered why I had not read it and other ‘classics’ a long time ago. I am remarkably unread when it comes to these types of novels.
From this I set myself two little challenges – to read another classic and also to read another Daphne du Maurier having only read Rebecca. I completed Jamaica Inn and know I need to find some more du Maurier off my mum’s shelf. The other classic was brought on by watching the new Jane Eyre film and I am into reading this, and again wondering why I have left these books for so long. My theory – I think you have to be at a certain point in your life when reading some of these books makes perfect sense to you. Being force-fed them at school sometimes puts you off them for a lifetime. If this sounds like you, I say take a dip in the water again and see how you get on.
Through blogging I also got to participate in two Transworld Challenges – The Crime Caper one which introduced me to new crime authors in particular the eccentric Bryant and May by Christopher Fowler. I have now passed this recommendation onto my mum. I hope Transworld carry on this in 2012.
Cosy or otherwise, crime I realise is a big read of mine at any time I think but certainly in 2011. I ventured into the world of translated fiction with Jo Nesbo reading the first in his Harry Hole series, The Redbreast I hope to read more next year. Allan Bradley and the wonderful Flavia de Luce is a cross between Enid Blyton and Miss Marple I do hope anyone I have introduced her (Flavia) to likes the books as much as me. Agatha Christie came in a different form with Parker Pyne Investigates – a lovely set of short stories that I could read again and again.
With the above mention of Parker Pyne, it leads me into short stories of which I have read in 2011 more than I would have ever thought. Defining a short story is perhaps difficult. Does it have to be a certain page length? Only have certain characters? Whatever the definition I enjoyed and completed all the Miss Marple short stories and have ventured into the odd Poriot one. The best of the year for me was The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett – the Queen discovers a mobile library at the back of Buckingham Palace and finds she suddenly likes reading books. Pure genius and the first Bennett I have read, I am going to look out for some more when browsing the bookshop or library.
As an adult in the past I have somewhat looked on at the children’s books I used to read and wish I could read them again. Well why not? No reason and so I went back to my childhood with Enid Blyton and experienced the correct Famous Five not the sanitised version which took some hunting down and some Roald Dahl with Matilda and George’s Marvellous Medicine and witches galore with The Worst Witch. I am ending December reading Just Henry by Michelle Magorian, the author of Goodnight Mister Tom it is just delightful reading and I am hooked.
The year has been full of books which are parts of series of books. A lot of them are cosy crime books but there are also the Debbie Macomber books which I read as pure comfort reading and feel like sinking into a comfy sofa to pass a few hours. Series books especially when you know you have many more to read, and that you will probably not catch up with the rate of them being published means you have some guaranteed reading for a long while to come. I wonder if 2012 will introduce me to any new series?
Chick-Lit, Comfort and Chocolate
Having already mentioned comfort reading with Debbie Macomber, there is also the comfort of Chick-Lit that which does not tax the brain so much but touches your heart and soul. Many books did that and Trisha Ashley is one which are always full of tasting sound food, not good when you are trying to avoid such temptations. As for her Chocolate Wishes book, mmm ganache, need I say anymore. I seem to have an affinity with Irish authors and have read and up to date with Sharon Owens novels and I think once Santa has arrived Sinead Moriarty. These books give comfort, just like my favourite chocolates.
I comment on many of my round up posts about how many of books have a historical theme within them. A greater part of them is actually the Second World War. I saw some different angles this year with The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet about America and the treatment of Japanese. The Report about a civilian tragedy which happened during the war. Focus sometimes is on what war does but not what happens back home. I did also venture into China, Hong Kong in the nineteenth century with The Secret Mandarin. India at partition in 1947 and 100 years previous at the mutiny with the lovely Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark. I wonder why the Second World War features so much?
Should I have bothered?
I have not given up on any books this year and I am trying to work out which ones I nearly did give up on? The one that stands out immediately is How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. I really felt I had fallen in the trap of reading it because everyone else had – I could have lived quite happily without having read it. I did bother with Kate Morton’s new book The Distant Hours and actually had the hardback version from last year and only just got round to reading it this year. Again, it was rather disappointing and far too long. I hope that her next novel has more punch than that one did. From Notting Hill with Love…Actually was another book which did not live up to its popularity which I had read about but I hear her second novel is much better. Maureen Lee with Martha’s Journey was really disappointing, normally her books are excellent escapism and I have read all of them.
2011 was the year I got my kindle thanks to my mum. I have used it to read 31 books this year. Is that good or bad. I think it means that the ebook has not taken over my life and I have abandoned real actual books. It means that I can exist with both quite happily. I have bought books on there that have cost me very little but I have enjoyed immensely and also some that I would not have read if it was not for the kindle. There is plenty lined up on my kindle and also the fabulous way of sampling books means that I can still try them out and if they are cheaper in a bookshop/online/charity shop then so be it.
There is my year of reading, many books have gone unmentioned, some I could wax quite lyrical about. And as of this post being published I am still reading, so will be doing a December round-up post as normal. The links take you to my review of the book, where I have just mentioned the author I have not linked to any particular review but please feel free to search the blog for the author.
How have you summed up the year in reading? Can you actually pick a top five, ten or twenty? Or like me do you just want to mention them all in some way or another!
I am not sure what sort of reading I want for 2012 and will perhaps reflect that in the early days of the new year.