Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Bookish thoughts for 2008

I can't believe another year has come and gone so quickly. I'm sure time speeds up as you get older! Anyway, I've been looking at the list of books I've read this year - a grand total of 64, which for me is fairly average. Not a huge number, many people read twice this amount, no problem. But I decided this year not to fret about numbers of books and more or less succeeded. (If I'd completely succeeded I wouldn't actually *know* how many books I'd read would I? ;-))

I don't think I'll list every single one of the 64, instead I'll just list those that were, for me, standout titles.

The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver

The Camel Bookmobile - Masha Hamilton

Gentlemen and Players - Joanne Harris

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith

Monstrous Regiment - Terry Pratchett

The Various Haunts of Men - Susan Hill

Myself When Young - Daphne du Maurier

All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque

The thing is, it might have been an average year number-wise, but it wasn't average quality-wise. I could easily have listed another 20 superb reads. The fact is it's been a terrific year for me book-wise. 95% of what I've read I've really enjoyed and I certainly could not say that about every year.

Choosing a book of the year is very hard but if I absolutely *had* to choose, it would be A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I loved, loved, loved it.

Apart from my 64 books I've also read over 100 short stories this year. Not all of them were complete books so haven't featured in my list. Of the complete books I'd say my favourites were:

Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint
Minnie's Room: the Peacetime stories by Mollie Panter Downes
The Ghost Stories of M.R. James

I've also read several series this year. The best of those:

The Hollow Kingdom trilogy by Clare B. Dunkle
The Wee Free Men trilogy by Terry Pratchett

But I've also loved continuing with the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King and starting the Mortal Engine series by Philip Reeve.

All in all, quite a memorable reading year for me. I only hope 2009 will be as good.


And to finish this post off - a couple of pics of books I got for Christmas.

Three books from folk who know my reading tastes perfectly. Stephen Fry in America was a Christmas gift from my youngest daughter, the book is based on his TV series of the same name of course. Nation by Terry Pratchett was from an online, and now RL, friend of about eight years, a big Terry Pratchett fan too. And Here, There be Dragons was from from my lovely friend, Deslily.

These two came from a friend in Ohio. A gorgeous cookbook based on recipes used by the governors of Ohio through the centuries. Love it to bits. And the other is full of pics of Lake Erie, a lake we've been lucky enough to visit twice, the last time spending time at Put-in Bay, which is featured in the book. Fond memories.


Sarah said...

Happy New Year! I try not to worry about the number of books I've read as well- it only makes me feel inadequate. As long as I enjoy what I've read, that's enough.

Of your list, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Guernsey book are the only two I've read. Both very good although obviously very different.

I've been meaning to read A tree grows in Brooklyn so will try to in '09. It reminds me a favourite novel of mine, The Harp in the SOuth by Ruth Park which is a coming-of-age story of an Irish Australian girl in the slums of 1940's Sydney.

I raced through the Mary Russell series when I discovered them. I'm very excited about the ninth one in the series, The Language of Bees, which is due out in 2009.

DesLily said...

Hi Cath.. I just left your other blog lol.. I did my books of the year post also! lol.. (sheesh, another sisterly thing we've done together lol)

I was thankful for the sabriel series because the last number of books for this year were not doing it for me at all .. and that's strange! One book yes, but this year it was a number of different books in a row! .. I am reading Edgar Sawtelle right now and it too is not thrilling me, I keep hoping it will get better.. I'll try it for a while yet and if nothing improves it will wind up back on the shelf! I am thinking I may need to do a reread or two of things I know don't disappoint! but I sure hate to do that right now with so many tbr books sitting in front of me! In fact I just got won a book and it came today.. a charles dickens book The Old Curiosity Shop which I've been wondering about and wanting to try. .. but i know I'm not ready for it "just yet"..groan lol..

ok I am off to try to read a chapter or two.. have a wonderful New Years Eve !! (I never stay up for it!) See ya next year!

Nymeth said...

Many of your favourites are now on my wishlist because of you. Happy New Year, Cath! I hope 2009 is great for you, both when it comes to reading and to life in general.

Nicola said...

Happy New Year! I loved The Poisonwood Bible. Your post reminds me that I must re-read it.

BooksPlease said...

Happy New Year!

The Poisonwood Bible is a lovely book - one to re-read, also Gentlemen and Players. Maybe I'll read the Guernsey Literary book this year.

I agree there's no need to worry about how many books I read - it's the quality and not the quantity that counts.

Nan said...

Oh, how I envy your tv and radio! Stephen Fry in America! Heaven. Maybe it will show up on dvd sometime. I read a lot less books, but like you, enjoyed them. Then again, if I don't like a book, I quit it, so most of the ones I read I really love. So, so nice being in touch with you via blogging.

Cath said...

Sarah: It's not a good thing, imo, to compare the number of books we read with other people's. We all read at different speeds and our lives differ in how busy we are etc. As you say, you just end up feeling inadequate!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is so worth reading. I thought it was wonderful. I'll look up the book you mentioned too.

Hi Pat! My friend in Ohio is reading that Edgar Sawtelle book right now as well. I don't know anything about it but she said she's enjoying it. Look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

Nymeth... sorry about adding to your wishlist! (not really. lol) And a Happy New Year to you too.

Happy New Year, Nicola. Yeah, The Poisonwood Bible is definitely a book that would stand a reread. I'll do that in a couple of years. I thought it was fantastic.

Happy New Year to you too, Margaret. I hope you decide to read the Guernsey Literary Soc. book this year. It was so lovely, and a quick read so it's not like you'll have spend weeks reading it. I was through it in a couple of days and I read slowly.

And I quite agree about quality not quantity.

Hi Nan. Stephen Fry in America was such a lovely programme - I really hope it shows up on one of your TV stations sometime. I loved the way he said in an interview that Americans are delightful people. I so agree with him but it's not a sentiment you hear expressed very often. I was so glad to hear him say it and I like him even more now.

One of the joys of having this blog on Blogspot has been getting to know some wonderful people, and you're one of them, Nan. I look forward to more of your wonderful posts in 2009.

Anonymous said...

Lovely book list, Cath! Happy New Year, by the way. I'm really excited that my book group is doing A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN in April. It will be interesting to see how the discussion goes.

Cath said...

Happy New Year to you too, Kay. Would love to hear what your bookgroup thinks of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It was definitely *the* read of 2008 for me.

Tara said...

I enjoyed your list. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is such a wonderful book and I'm glad you love it, too. I've just bought the first book in the Laurie King series - I wonder if I'll like it!

Cath said...

Hi Tara. Oh, I really hope you like The Beekeeper's Apprentice. To my mind the series only gets better too. I especially like book 4 - The Moor, set on Dartmoor. Mary Russell is such an intelligent, quirky heroine that I can't help loving her.

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.