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.