So many books, so few read
2019 has been one of my least successful reading years for a variety of reasons, all of which I have discussed at length in earlier posts. I was able only to marginally reduce my monstrous TBR mountain (in fact, it probably grew somewhat as the months progressed), and I became desperately behind schedule with reviews and features.
Viewing the past twelve months from a slightly less critical perspective – one in which the quality of books read takes precedence over the quantity devoured – I was at least able to tackle several titles on The Classics Club list, and I also took part in a handful of exciting challenges (albeit in a limited way), which enabled me to read:
- 1930 Club: Le Bal (1930) by Irène Némirovsky
- 1965 Club: The Millstone (1965) by Margaret Drabble
- Daphne du Maurier Reading Week: My Cousin Rachel (1951) by Daphne du Maurier
- Margaret Atwood Reading Month: The Edible Woman (1969) by Margaret Atwood
- Nonfiction November: In the Dream House: A Memoir (2019) by Carmen Maria Machado
- Women in Translation Month: Moominsummer Madness (1954) by Tove Jansson
I attempted the ever-popular 20 Books of Summer for the first time, aiming only to complete 10 books on the list between 3rd June and 3rd September. Sadly, I missed my goal by two.
The very first Wales Readathon (aka Dewithon 2019) was far more successful than I ever could have hoped, thanks mainly to all of those who threw themselves into the challenge with such gusto. The book chosen for the official readalong was The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by W.H. Davies, which was read and discussed over a five-week period, plus there were fabulous posts from all corners of the book blogosphere pertaining to the writers and literature of Wales. I hope everyone will join me once again for the next Wales Readathon in March 2020.
Another bright spot in the year was the commencement of Tove Trove, my latest open reading project, arranged to tie-in with what would have been Tove Jansson’s 105th birthday on 9th August. I shared in a post my hopes of building a library of books written by and about this remarkable author – creator of the Moomins – and was instantly inundated with declarations of love for a woman who remains (arguably) Finland’s most famous export.
The release in September of The Testaments, Margaret’s Atwood’s much-hyped sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, was immensely exciting – especially as I was able to read it on the beach in Northern Cyprus (I travelled there the day following publication). I have long admired the author’s work but harboured reservations over the likelihood of her living up to readers’ media-stoked expectations. Could she hold her nerve and match the success of her classic dystopian novel? The answer was a big fat yes! What’s more, she did it with wit, intellect and perspicacity.
Looking ahead to 2020, I have booked a room in Hay-on-Wye from 23rd to 31st May, which means I will be able to attend a variety of happenings at Hay Fest from day three until the end. I have thus far obtained Early Bird tickets to see Ali Smith and Hilary Mantel, so I’m already buzzing with anticipation. Look out for my daily Hay Happenings during the event.
Finally, here is a brief breakdown of books I enjoyed reading this year (rather shorter than usual, I’m afraid):
OUTSTANDING READS BY CATEGORY:
Autobiography/Memoir: Autobiography of a Super-Tramp (1908) by W.H. Davies
Biography: Into the Wild (1996) by Jon Krakauer
Children’s Fiction: Moominsummer Madness (1954) by Tove Jannson
Contemporary: The Museum of Modern Love (2018) by Heather Rose
LGBTQ+: In the Dream House: A Memoir (2019) by Carmen Maria Machado
Literary Fiction: The Millstone (1965) by Margaret Drabble
Mystery/Thriller: My Cousin Rachel (1951) by Daphne du Maurier
Sci-Fi/Speculative Fiction: The Testaments (2019) by Margaret Atwood
Short Fiction: Public library and other stories (2015) by Ali Smith
Translation: A Nail, A Rose (1985) by Madeleine Bourdouxhe
Women’s Fiction: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008) by Mary Ann Shaffer
Intimate Ties: Two Novellas (1911) by Robert Musil
My overall book of the year is, perhaps unsurprisingly, The Testaments (2019) by Margaret Atwood.
May I take this opportunity to wish all my book blogging buddies and followers a very happy New Year!