Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Emerging from the undergrowth

I've been silent on here for too long, especially since I've never planned on taking such a long break from blogging. But as the days turned into weeks, then months, my lack of posting developed into a block of sorts - the more I thought about posting the less likely I was to post. I had notions about using the new year as a chance to get back into blogging (I even had my first blogiversary as an added incentive) but I got sidetracked. Between having visitors and moving from Brighton back to London my reading was sparse enough in January, let alone finding the time or inclination to post. But, since I've been reading some tremendous books recently and my life has calmed down after a few unsettled months, I've realised it's time for me to emerge from the undergrowth and start to pay some attention to my space on t'interweb.

So this quick post is my way of doing some pruning and general tidying up before I resume business as usual.

Books read 2008:

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi - Half of a Yellow Sun
Adiga, Aravind - The White Tiger
Atwood, Margaret - Cat's Eye
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Barker, Nicola - Darkmans
Barker, Pat - The Ghost Road
Barry, Sebastian - The Secret Scripture
Bioy Casares, Adolfo - The Invention of Morel
Boyne, John - The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Capote, Truman - Other Voices, Other Rooms
Cormier, Robert - The Chocolate War
Danziger, Danny & Gillingham, John - 1215: The Year of Magna Carta
Ferris, Joshua - Then We Came To The End
Gaskell, Elizabeth - Cranford
Ghosh, Amitav - The Sea of Poppies
Gladwell, Malcolm - Outliers
Grant, Linda - The Clothes on Their Backs
Hensher, Philip - The Northern Clemency
Jones, Lloyd - Mister Pip
Kelly, Julia - With My Lazy Eye
Kongoli, Fatos - The Loser
Lessing, Doris - The Fifth Child
MacCarthy, Cormac - No Country for Old Men
McCabe, Patrick - Winterwood
Miller, Candi - Salt & Honey
Pollan, Michael - The Omnivore's Dilemma
Samarasan, Preeta - Evening is the Whole Day
Sexton, Anne - Transformations
Stubbs, John - Donne: The Reformed Soul
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
Toltz, Steve - A Fraction of the Whole
Yates, Richard - Cold Spring Harbour
Yates, Richard - Revolutionary Road
Yates, Richard - The Easter Parade

Total: 34

Of which:

Fiction: 29
Non-fiction: 4
Poetry: 1
Debut: 12
Children/Young Adult: 2
Works in translation: 2
Female writers: 11

Some of the things my first year of blogging has taught me:

1. I don't "do" reading challenges...in spite of loving them as a concept, I just can't seem to finish them. Mainly because I love the excitement of choosing books - such a good excuse to have a book-buying splurge! - but as soon as I "have" to read them I'll do nearly anything to procrastinate actually picking them up. Not a good trait to have with reading challenges so I'm going to avoid all challenges for 2009. Instead I'll try to finish some of the books I said I'd read for 2008 challenges, and possibly read some of the books picked out in other challenges (I love the list of recommended titles over at The Year of Reading Dangerously 2009 http://dangerouslychallenge.blogspot.com/

2. I read far too little non-fiction - a paltry 4 books in 2008. I've always thought of myself as an avid reader of non-fiction, especially history. I even did a joint English & History degree because I couldn't choose one over the other! But tracking what I read on here has forced me out of my self-delusion. I'm facing up to the fact that I'm primarily a fiction reader. Perhaps it's because most of my non-fiction energy is taking up with the daily paper, the Economist and the New Yorker? Who knows?

3. I read even less fiction in translation - an even more paltry 2 books in 2008. But I've already set to work rectifying this in 2009 (I'm currently reading How the Soldier Repairs the Gramaphone by Sasa Stanisic)

4. I love Richard Yates. He'd hovered at the edge of my consciousness for so long but when I finally read Revolutionary Road in early 2008 I was blown away (I even enjoyed Kate Winslet acting Leo Di Caprio off the screen in the film version). Since I've enjoyed two of his other novels in the past year I think I can officially declare that he's my current literary crush. I was also really impressed with Nicola Barker's compelling Darkmans and so am tentatively planning to read something else by her this year.

5 comments:

Eva said...

Welcome back! :D

Isn't it funny how our perceptions of what we read differ from what we actually read? Before I started keeping track, I would have sworn that I read a ton of classics. But last year, I only read something like 26 out of over 200 books! And a lot of them were rereads!

Unlike you, reading challenges make me prioritise books...but then, I always liked homework assignments. :D

Sarah said...

Good to see you blogging again! I'm having a bit of an inadvertant break at the moment as well, hope to post something soon.

I can't do challenges either- to much like homework for me.

I have The Easter Parade in my TBR pile, and my sister loved it so will have to try it soon. I'm waiting for the Rev Road hype to die down before I try that.

Logophile said...

Hi Eva, crikey - over 200 books! That's years and years of reading for a slow coach like me lol! It's interesting how blogging changes our perceptions...

Hi Sarah, hope you're reading lots of good books on your blogging break :). I'm glad I read Rev Road before all the hyping got going but it's still such a tremendous book that I'm glad the movie's brought it to a whole new audience!

antipodeanowl said...

Hey there, Glad to see you back!

Thom said...

Blake Bailey's wonderful, wrenching biography of Yates, A Tragic Honesty, is a must for any Yates fan. I don't know if you enjoy short fiction, but Yates's short stories are as good as his best novels.