Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Looking back....

Devon, 2011

...with distinctly mixed feelings: 2011 was a slog. Not so much huge sloughs of despond, but just a long grind, too much work, financial uncertainty and several large and unexpected bills, worries about the health of OH and the APs being compounded by new anxieties about dogs (Senior Dog is mostly just getting elderly, while The Bolter has just had a second operation in a year) and no real let-up in sight. But reading has, as ever, kept me going, and book talk has been a pleasure. The two months of Carl's RIP Challenge VI in particular, when we read and talked about Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things - not always in agreement with each other, but with lots of stimulating ideas and a real sense of companionship. It's been followed, less cheerfully, by a real plummet in blogging time - I'm still getting through the books, but I simply haven't had a chance to talk about them. The intentions are good, but the only opportunity is just before bed, as a rule, and I'm just too tired then!

A quick summing up, though (the 2011 list is here):

Total number of books read: 110 (that's a poor year for me; August was the best month - the weather was bad and I used what holiday I had for reading)

Number of books by women authors: 89 (heavens! that's very pleasing)

Children/YA books: 19 (I'm surprised that number's not higher)

Non-fiction: 7 ( not so good, but I copyedited books on, amongst other things, history, middle-eastern politics, two on film - I get most of the serious reading I need there, and the degree of concentration required means I no longer apologise for reading frivolously the rest of the time)

Re-reads: 24 (I don't always remember to record whether I've read a book before, so the number doesn't actually tally with the list)

New-to-me authors: 35 (shows just how much I like to return to the familiar)

Worst book of the year? I don't record books I gave up on, so I can't answer this question. If I've forgotten a book altogether, I may start it again and enjoy it second time round; if I really hated it, I'll probably recognise it, if it's a library book; if it was on the TBR pile and I hated it, it goes on the Bookmooch list.

Best of the year? So hard to choose. Authors in 2011 who have gone straight onto the must-have list are: Ben Aaronovitch, Patricia S. Bowne and Kate Griffin - when did  I start to like urban fantasy, I wonder? Anyway, they are all highly recommended. And my thanks to Nan who recommended Margaret Drabble's A Pattern in the Carpet, which I loved.

Literary highpoints? Going to hear Neil Gaiman at the Edinburgh Book Festival (and having him check personally that my 10th anniversary copy of American Gods doesn't include the editing error he mentioned in his talk); hearing Mervyn Peake's sons talk about their father and read his poetry and going to the exhibition of his work in the British Library.

I neglected the Canadian Book Challenge, and will have to read hard if I'm to make it to 13 books by Canada Day. 2010 was the only year I managed to complete it, but taking part does mean that I've read 45 Canadian books in five years. For the Once Upon a Time Challenge I read Troll Mill and Troll Fell by Katherine Langrish, and for RIP VI I read 16 books and reviewed five, as well as taking part of in the discussions of Fragile Things and Jim Butcher's Storm Front.

Tomorrow (DV) I shall talk about 2012!


  1. I really hope 2012 is a better year for you with not so many worries.

    Enjoyed your round up of books for 2011... hoping to get to do one of my own this week sometime. In the meantime have noted your favourite authors for last year and will investigate. Which is fatal as you've already got me hooked on Merrily Watkins! Who else is waiting for me I wonder?

    Happy New Year.

  2. Thanks so much! I'm honored to be on your must-have list, and wanted to let you know that I've reissued one of my novellas, Kindling. It's available through Smashwords, and the link is at my web site (www.raosyth.com).

    I hope the new year is full of wonderful things for you, and far less stress.

  3. Cath, it works both ways - I keep finding books on your blog. I shall look forward to your summary :-)

    Pat, lovely! I shall acquire forthwith!

    Nappy New Year to you both.

  4. Glad to see you back on the blog and I hope this year things will ease for you.

    110 books is a huge number (for me!)

    All the best for 2012.

  5. I don't mean to sound boastful about the number, Margaret - I gauge my own satisfaction with the year by the rate of reading per month, knowing that if I don't read as much as usual, then I'm going to be pretty fed up with life :-)

  6. Your reading list is quite impressive! I am glad I have come across your blog, and looking forward to reading more from you this year. Happy 2012 to you and yours!

  7. Neil Gaiman! I did have the opportunity to see him in 2009. It was wonderful. I'm a bit jealous of your opportunity to hear Mervyn Peake's sons talk about their father and read his poetry. That is fantastic and a definite highlight.

    I understand about the lack of blogging. Just didn't have enough time myself last year. Seemed like I too would get to the end of the day and then was too tired. Hope 2012 is a better year for both of us!

  8. I have to say that my number for the year only bothered me because I had 3 months where I hardly read... So, if that hadn't have happened I would have read more and yes, it bothers me... So, I can relate.

    Happy reading in 2012!

  9. Librarian, your wish is my command! well, I'll do my best to keep up, anyway :-) I enjoy your blog too, though I don't often comment - I tend to read 4 or 5 blogs I like over lunch and the time runs away quickly if I stop to say something. I'll try to do better on that front this year, too.

    Terri, I wanted to blog about the Peake events, because they were delightful. Hope you have a better year too.

    Kailana, I'm just miserable when I'm not reading - my husband says that's how he can tell if I'm really ill! But there are lots of books for us all to look forward to this year, I think!

  10. That is a great Gaiman memory!

    And I really enjoyed the Fragile Things talk and I think it was more fun that we didn't all agree on things but were able to have civil, stimulating discussions about each story/poem. So glad you participated with us.

    Hope that 2012 is better from start to finish for you.