Friday, 3 January 2014

2013 in books

Well, 2013 was a near-disaster in blogging terms, with an all-time low of 30 posts -- not even an average of 3 a month! On the other hand, I am just about surviving, so I mustn't complain. But it has been worrying at times, with parents getting ever more frail, and as the new year begins I find myself wondering what the immediate future holds. Devon sometimes seems a very, very long way away...

Anyway, this is supposed to be a book round-up, so let's get on with it, even if I don't have many reviews to refer to. One of the brightest points of the year is the continued reissue of Angela Thirkell's books, and I've been chatting regularly to friends on FaceBook about her work (where we've held fairly gentle group reads) and keeping an eye out for reviews, so that we can list them for Angela Thirkell Society members, who like to know such things are out there. This was my first year as ATS journal editor as well, which has been fun, although it's sometimes taken my attention away from blogging. This was also Barbara Pym's centenary year, and I went to Oxford to attend the Alliance of Literary Societies' AGM, which was hosted by the Barbara Pym Society. On FaceBook a virtual birthday tea-party was held and people got together to eat tea and cakes in Pym's honour -- my contribution was a cup of what I still think of as "British Rail" tea and a shortbread biscuit, while sitting in the waiting room at King's Cross on my way home:

It's nice that the refurbishment of King's Cross Station is finally almost complete!

In September the UK Angela Thirkell Society held its own AGM, where Rita Rundle, the author of last year's Society Christmas present, described how she set about writing a guide to present-day Barsetshire, which has proved very popular with members.

As far as books went, my actual reading rate wasn't a lot lower than usual in most months, though -- contrary to what you'd expect -- when I had a very severe and prolonged attack of sciatica after Easter the number of books I read went down. I was very grateful at that time for my new Android tablet, because I had the powers of concentration of a butterfly for some weeks. Even my usual go-to books for comfort weren't much help, and it was July before I was reading normally again. This affected blogging as well, as I couldn't sit at a computer for long, and as soon as I'd recovered, I had to go haring off to Devon for a couple of weeks of brisk dog-walking.

One of our favourite places, the churchyard is also a mini nature reserve

And here we are again in November...

Back to books again! I've decided to do what a number of people have done this year and just pick out my top ten -- no categories, no particular order, just the books I've enjoyed most this year. The only requirement I've imposed on myself is that they must all be hitherto unread:

1. Let's Kill Uncle by Rohan O'Grady
2. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
3. Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell
4. Deep Magic by Diana Wynne-Jones - Kindle
5. The Salt-Stained Book by Julia Jones
6. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
7. A Lifetime Burning by Linda Gillard
8. I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
9. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
10. A Crowded Coffin by Nicola Slade

I'm not even going to try to pick out a "most favourite", they all have so much to recommend them and it would change with my mood. I was surprised, though, to realise that all but three are recent -- pleased, too, as it means there will be new books by most of these authors to look forward to.

What about resolutions for 2014? Well, I do mean to read more off the TBR pile, and a lot of that means Kindle reading (all those bargains snapped up!), which may be useful as I expect to be away from home quite a bit. I'm limiting challenges, knowing that time may be an issue, but I'm greatly looking forward to participating throughout the year in Melwyk's Postal Challenge. Also, I want to finish my Century of Books -- I see Simon, who started the challenge, is off on his second run through the twentieth century. I shall have a look at posts by people who have finished it to help me fill in some missing years, but first I need to run through what I've read in the past twelve months and work out where the remaining gaps are!

It only remains to thank all the lovely people who have visited my blog in the past year, and to wish everyone a very happy and fulfilling year of reading!

25 comments:

  1. Good luck with your goals for 2014. I hope you have a wonderful reading year.

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    1. Thank you, Kailana - I hope you have a wonderful reading year too.

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  2. Don't let your low posting rate discourage you. We would rather see less of you than to have you disappear entirely from the blogosphere.

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    1. Thank you, Thomas, what lovely, encouraging words!

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  3. Oh God, so many bargains snapped up on my Nook! I buy Nook books far oftener because they're cheap than because I want to read them that instant, which leads to a lot of books on my Nook that I don't feel an urgent need to read. I should make a resolution to read more from my virtual TBR pile (but I'm not going to). :p

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    1. That's it exactly, Jenny! And they get more difficult to keep track of, because they're not taking up physical space.

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    1. And to you too, Cornflower. I forgot to add my resolution to join in more with the Cornflower Book Group this year, I've missed it.

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  5. So nice to see your post -- and I do hope that things go well for you in the new year. Some posting is always better than none, in any case.
    I am also glad that you are joining in on the Postal Reading challenge this year anyhow. Will be really nice to have you reading along!

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    1. Thanks, Melwyk - and I'm determined to send more mail as well as read. If you'd like a postcard, let me know!

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  6. I agree - glad you're still here and posting when you can. Happy New Year, and good luck with your TBR reading (you and me both on that one).

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    1. Happy new year, Annabel, and good luck with your reading.

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  7. After your difficult year in 2013 I can only wish you better luck and better health in 2014. And a more certain future.

    Nice list of favourite books, I've read two of them, the Alan Bradley and the Pratchett: loved both.

    I think we're going to have fun with the postal challenge!

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    1. I think you'd like the Patrick Rothfuss books too, Cath - every bit as compulsive reading as Robin Hobb (which is a rare accolade...)

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    2. I have The Name of the Wind on my tbr mountain and plan to (hopefully) read it for Once Upon a Time in the Spring. I have a feeling I will love it.

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  8. If you want to avail a different type of pet tag then you can opt for Engraved Pet Tags as they offer some really cool choices of color, shapes, sizes and material.

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    1. I don't allow advertising here, but you have got away with it (for now at least) because it amuses me that The Wisp's dog tag must be the least obvious thing in this post. And quite serviceable, thank you.

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  9. Geranium Cat, you're a star! I've never been in a Top Ten list before and it's a real thrill to find A Crowded Coffin on your list. Thank you - and what distinguished company too! I hope 2014 finds you able to take comfort in old favourites and to find more and exciting new books.

    4 January 2014 07:55
    (Can't seem to make myself not Anonymous, but you know it's Nicola Slade anyway)

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    1. I hope you're planning more Harriet Quigley books, Nicola, because they are great fun!

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  10. Happy New Year to you, too!

    I like churchyards, too, especially if they are not in use anymore, but really turn into a small nature reserve.

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    1. I've always loved churchyards - the one in my picture has a very pleasant corner where you can sit and look out across the fields and river. Happy new year!

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  11. Happy New Year from me and The Bears. I'm sorry about your parents because I know how worrying it can be as you have to watch them getting frailer. I know I can't do anything to help but you know we're always here thinking about you. I was really pleased to see 'Seraphina' on your list because I loved it too. I was disappointed when the second volume was put back. I'm going to find it hard to wait until 2015.

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    1. Thank you to you and The Bears for your thoughts, it's very comforting. I'm glad you liked Seraphina too - what a pity we have to wait!

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  12. Happy New Year, Geranium Cat! I hope 2014 has better health and work news in store for you. You have managed to beat me to books of the year too....I'm so slow at catching up, with all the flu at our house this month.

    Thanks to you, I now own soft cover copy of My Dear Cassandra, and the Hazel Holt book My Dear Charlotte is an e book - I finally got Kindle to download onto my PC! Which means I was also finally able to get a Linda Gillard book also downloaded! Even with your 30 posts you added to my reading list every time! lol!!!

    I have to read Deep Magic, one by her I haven't gotten to yet. I am so glad you enjoyed Seraphina so much. I am disappointed the sequel is put back too, I really enjoyed this book. I have The Wise Man's Fear on my shelf to read. You have a really good list of books there, and I'm glad that you were able to read as much as you could during this difficult year.

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    1. Happy new year to you too, Susan. I'm glad you can read Kindle books now - that opens up a whole new wealth of possibilities (some of them even free! I got the Jane Austen letters for nothing, I'm sure). I've still got the sequel to Deep Magic to read, I'm saving it up a bit because it's one of the last of her books I haven't read.

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