2009 Round-Up

I love reading other people’s round-ups but never quite know what to say when it comes to my own. I had a good reading year. I usually have good reading years – I love reading precisely because it is one of the more predictable things in an unpredictable world. In the end I read about 100 books (I have no way of counting accurately, as I’m too lazy to list during the year) and I read about the same amount last year, and the vast majority were published in either the UK or the USA. I’ve already posted on the good and the bad. In some ways I wish I read quicker, but if I did that, I wouldn’t reflect so much on what I’m reading as I go along, and I don’t think I could give that up for the world – it’s the best bit as far as I’m concerned.

As for blogging, it’s been an average year, too. I started off last January interested to see if I could write about more than just books, and for a while I did. But that got kind of old, and the usual late summer slump meant I considered giving up the blog for a while. But as you see, I’m still here and I would hate to give up sharing my reading life now with all my dear blog friends. The key to blogging is to genuinely want to say something, I think. And what it is I want to say seems to change quite frequently. Blogging is still an experimental platform for me – it’s a wonderful place to try things out, but that means having an experiment in prospect. At the moment I’m still thinking about how I write about books and considering the best way to use the blog with regard to reading. That should tide me over well into 2010.

Do you want to know what books I got for Christmas? Of course you do. I’d hoped to have a photo, but my computer support is at the cinema, watching Avatar, so it will have to be a list instead. I was a very lucky girl, and am most fortunate in having a family prepared to raid my amazon wish list. I got:

Kathryn Stockett – The Help
Ursula Le Guin – Lavinia
Charles Nicholl – The Lodger; Shakespeare on Silver Street
Joshua Zeitz – Flapper (the story of the flapper girl in 1920s America)
Patrick Leigh Fermor – A Time of Gifts
Fred Vargas boxed set (or coffret, such a great word) with three Inspector Adamsberg novels.
Matthew Rice – Rice’s Architectural Primer (lovely book full of labeled pictures to help you identify architectural details.)
David Roberts – No More Dying (a crime fiction series set between the wars that I like a lot.)
Kate Atkinson – When Will There Be Good News
Carol Goodman – The Night Villa
Iris Murdoch – The Bell
Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus – Memoirs of a Highland Lady (19th century memoirs – utterly charming, funny, historically intriguing.)
Dorothy Whipple – Someone At A Distance
Alan Bennett – A Life Like Other People’s (his memoir)

And I would like to start them ALL at once.

January is the month when I make a concerted effort to read uplifting, cheering books, and I’ve been thinking about what would be good for this January. One book I recently read was Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl, a retelling of the old fairy tale, which I enjoyed a great deal. Fantasy is something I rarely read, but retellings of myths, legends and fairy tales seem to appeal very much at the moment. This is the kind of writing that is emotionally robust – a quality I was talking about a while back. I’m also going to read a little travel writing and some non-fiction and start a year-long quest to find the very best comic fiction writers. If all that doesn’t see off the winter blues, I don’t know what will.

And finally, in the sense of most importantly, an enormous thank you to the people who stop by the reading room, take the time to plow through one of my over-long posts and (even more wonderfully) join in the discussion. You make it all worthwhile. The kindness and support of my virtual friends, as well as your funny, insightful, clever comments, are a continual source of pleasure and encouragement to me. It’s still amazing to think people read what I write at all – so thank you, thank you, thank you. May you all have fun seeing in the New Year tonight, and may 2010 bring all the good, sustaining, nourishing things that you deserve.


20 thoughts on “2009 Round-Up

  1. Happy New Year Litlove! I’m so glad you didn’t give up blogging and hope you find lots to talk about in the coming year. You write so well that even the most pedestrian topics come out inspiring though that’s maybe not always what you want to write about! 🙂 If you find some good comic authors do please share–I’ll be joining you in cheering books this January–it can be such a long bleak (and by all appearances cold and snowy) month! I hope you enjoy the Flapper book–it was very entertaining–lot of anecdotal stuff that you can pick and choose from. I’ve also got the Goodman book to read. Do you know I only got one book this year (a complete surprise though it does look like a fun read–a memoir of growing up in the 70s I had never come across). But I did get a few gift cards that I’ve been contemplating how best to use. Have a wonderful 2010 and many good wishes to you and your family!

  2. Oh, and rereading my comment–what you choose to write about is in no way pedestrian–just sometimes the stories you tell about say shopping while on vacation are so well done–well, you know what I mean–I’ll stop here before digging myself in deeper! 🙂

  3. Happy New Year, litlove, and happy reading! I so enjoy everything you write about what you read, what you see and how you see it. You’ve made me laugh, cry, and truly think this year (also scribble many book titles onto scraps of paper). Thank you so very much. My best to you.

  4. Happy, happy new year to you and yours…and I so know what you mean about wanting to start reading all the books at once 🙂

    Thank you for adding your insight, humor, and grace to my reading world! I look forward to all your thoughts on books (and otherwise!) in 2010.

  5. Happy New Year, Litlove! I’m so glad you are continuing your blog and will be interested in whatever shape it takes. What a wonderful ensemble of books for Christmas. I’m reading non-fiction right now. I find it restful because I’m not reading it as a reader and a writer at the same time. Well that’s not entirely true, it’s potentially research. Ah well! No wonder I’m glued to the sewing machine practising seams.

  6. Best wishes for the new year Litlove.

    I was pleasantly suprised by The Goose Girl when I read it a while back, so am glad you enjoyed it. When will there be good news? is wonderful, by turns angry, sad and hilarious. I hope Atkinson writes another Brodie novel.

  7. Happy New Year to you, Litlove! I’m also very glad you decided to blog on for another year and I like what you say about blogging being experimental. That’s a wonderful haul you have there and I’m sure you’ll have me adding those titles to my wishlist too. I’ve really appreciated your calm, reflective voice this year and you’ve opened my eyes to so many books and also ways of reading them. Happy reading!

  8. Santa and the elves were very good to you for Christmas! I’ve got Lavinia on a shelf somewhere around here. You will probably get to it before I do so I hope it is good otherwise who knows when I’ll read it. I am glad you didn’t stop blogging, my how you scared us when you mulled that one over! I look forward to following your quest for good humor writing, with the state the world is in we could all use a good laugh. Happy New Year!

  9. Danielle – your comment gave me such giggles when I read it! It’s quite okay, no holes dug at all – I thought it was a lovely compliment. 🙂 I am so glad you are going to join me in a month of comfort reading. January is such a cold dark time of year, and in desperate need of enlivening! I am looking forward to reading Flapper so much – it looks wonderful. And I can’t wait to hear what you are going to get with your gift cards. Yum. And thank you for the kind words – you are very important to my blogging world.

    Helen – what a lovely gift – to come out of lurkerdom to leave a comment! Thank you so very much and a very happy 2010 indeed to you! 🙂

    ds – the feeling is quite mutual, my friend! Thank you for such a lovely comment and my warmest wishes to you for a wonderful 2010. I look forward to reading all about it.

    Becca – I was so lucky to get such a good haul. I’ve begun one already, and will undoubtedly start a second very soon. I can’t quite bring myself to be that well-behaved! 🙂 And I send love and best wishes for a 2010 that’s a vast improvement on 2009, dear Becca. May it bring all the peace and prosperity you deserve.

    Lilian – lol! I like to think of you behind that beast of a sewing machine! And I know exactly what you mean about the comfort of reading a genre that you are NOT trying to write in. I sometimes read French for that purpose (absolutely no chance I am ever going to be capable enough to write in that language! 🙂 ). Have a very happy new year indeed!

    Qugrainne – you are such a sweetie – thank you for those lovely wishes, which I warmly return. Looking forward very much to reading about your 2010 and the lovely trips and celebrations it brings you. 🙂

    Rhapsodyinbooks – and a very happy new year to you too! I’ve given up trying to keep my hands off them and am now wondering how many to begin…. 😉

    devotedreader – a very happy 2010 to you! I’m so glad to know you enjoyed the Goose Girl. Did you review it? I shall come over and search your archives. And I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed the Atkinson. She is going from strength to strength, I think, and Jackson Brodie is a fabulous creation.

    Pete – a very happy new year indeed to you – I do hope it proves your most successful yet! Thank you for such a lovely comment. I’m so glad to have got to know you through blogging – here’s to another year where we keep an eye out for each other’s mental health! 😉

    Stefanie – Oh I am most grateful to Santa and the elves! 🙂 I’m sort of in the mood for Lavinia-type books at the moment, so I am expecting to pick that one up soon. And whenever I do contemplate the end of blogging, I think about not blogging with you every day, and know I just couldn’t do it.

  10. Well, thank you so much for the writing you do! I’ve learned so much from this blog and have been introduced to so many great authors. Your new books look great — lots of stuff there I’d like to read myself!

  11. LL, your book haul is a thing of beauty – and I know your thoughts on each one of them will blow out my own reading list into something much more wishful! Happy New Year, my dear – you’re not going anywhere, there’s simply too much to discuss! xx

  12. Just wanted to join everyone else in saying thansk so much for writing, you’ve provided lots of chances to think deeply about important issues and there’s been tons of fun as well.

  13. Happy New Year to you Litlove and your tech support (is that both Mr. Litlove and your son?). What a lovely stack of books, I can’t wait to see what you think of such varied reading material. I’ll be getting a copy of The Help soon as well.

  14. Wonderful list, Litlove. The Kate Atkinson book is pure fabulousness; she’s a wonderful storyteller and plotter and no one does character better. Enjoy!

  15. ==> “And I would like to start them ALL at once.”
    This is my problem this time of year! I’m signing up for challenges and making lists and then have no motivation to actually read because I can’t decide which to start first.

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