18

The year that was…in books

Hello lovely bookish people!

We have made it into 2018 and for me personally, it’s a massive relief. I know last year was a slog for many people, for a variety of reasons and I was right there with you. What I wasn’t expecting, while I was dealing with a whole bunch of crap in my real life, was that my reading love would also take a hit.

I alluded to some of that in this post. I’m very much an avoider so when things get hard, I just don’t deal with them. In many ways, that was true for this space.

But it’s 2018 now and a lot of the stuff that was a problem for me last year has resolved itself. I’m still climbing out of the anxiety spiral I was in but it’s getting brighter every day.

And even in all of that, I still did manage to read some great books so let’s take a look at my reading in 2017 anyway, shall we?

Stats-wise, I finished 114 books. Out of those 114, 76% were written by women and 31% was non-fiction. My representational or diversity reading could have been stronger – only 23% counted as that.

Last year I wanted to re-read more books and I only managed to do that twice.

What were some of my favourites?

  • Anything I read by Roxane Gay. This included An Untamed State, which I read in January and was confident was the book to beat. I still think about it now. Roxane Gay is just…I can’t put into words how much her work means to me. I also read her short story collection, Difficult Women, and her unflinchingly honest memoir, Hunger. I say this all the time, but please, if you haven’t already, read her work.
  • Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge
  • One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway by Asne Seierstad
  • The Break by Katherena Vermette
  • The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante. You may recall that I wasn’t a huge fan of the first novel, My Brilliant Friend. But the way that book ended, eventually I found my way back. The rest of the series blew me away. I recommend these books to people all the time and I know that I’m going to a) buy the rest of the books (a case of having borrowed them from the library) and b) read them again one day.
  • Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine. I went down a Bette and Joan rabbit hole this year thanks to the FX Series. This one was my favourite.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book is going to be everywhere the closer we get to the movie. Do yourselves a favour and pick up a copy that doesn’t have a move cover.
  • Beartown by Fredrik Backman. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Backman. Beartown was written in a completely different way and I wasn’t sure that I was enjoying it. But then it clicked and I loved it. A book about hockey in a small-town and what happens when sports dreams are achieved at all costs, it felt like a timely read. Enraging, but timely.
  • Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Peterson.
  • Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza.
  • My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
  • The Break by Marian Keyes
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This book was a f*&king delight. Jenkins Reid has caught me off guard twice now with the depth of her ‘fluffy’ girl books.
  • How To Stop Time by Matt Haig. Haig always seems to write the books you need without your ever realizing you needed them. This one is no exception and it should be out in Canada in a month or so!
  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. I’ve loaned this out twice already.
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
  • Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga. It’s been long-listed for Canada Reads 2018 and I can’t think of a more deserving book. This one changed the way I see Canada.

For a year where reading was hard, I still ended up reading some books that really stood out for me.

For 2018, I’m not setting any blogging goals. I want to focus on loving reading again.

Plus, I’m honestly not sure what my reading year will look like. In June, we’re expecting a new little bookworm to join our family. I hear conflicting reports on ease of reading with a new baby. If you have tips or tricks, let me have ’em!

3

The 2012 Review

This is the time of year when everyone looks back on the past 12 months and looks at the best and worst of etc.

I’d like to pretend like I’m different, but I’m not.

This was a big reading year for me.

I’m working through my Top 5 or other arbitrary number list in my head, but in the meantime I thought I’d look back at my reading trends and feelings this year.

Up for it? It’s happening, you don’t actually have a choice.

Like I said – big reading year for me. I make a goal for myself each year. In the past it’s been a bit lofty and I’ve handicapped myself by having to choose books that I think will get me to my goal. At the same time if I choose a goal that’s too low, it’s not going to be any kind of a challenge. This year I settled on 50. Left me room to play around with bigger books but also, 50 books is a lot.

I surpassed my goal. By a lot. As of today I’m working on finishing my 81st book. Which is the most I’ve ever read since I started keeping track of the books I read each year. And let’s face it, probably ever.

This year I discovered the delights of Agatha Christie. I never thought I was a murder mystery kind of reader but I am. I really really am. Aside from Agatha Christie, I devoured works by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Camilla Lackberg (The Ice Princess, The Preacher, The Stonecutter, The Stranger). I even read a real life crime book about a serial killer in Paris during World War II. That book was a lot more difficult to read. Like terrifying.

My failure to read Les Miserables in time for the movie’s release notwithstanding, I did seem to be drawn to books about the French Revolution. Charles Dickens and I came to an understanding when I fell in love with A Tale of Two Cities and I gave Michelle Moran a chance to wow me (she did) when I picked up Madame Tussaud despite the awful cover. While I was fascinated by the French, I became enamoured of Russian Royals, learning all about Catherine the Great thanks to the incredible biography by Robert K. Massie. That turned into a bit of an obsession with Nicholas and Alexandra and I just picked up a book about Royal Russian women by Julia P. Gelardi (which I’m really excited about because she wrote one of my very favourite royal biographies about the five granddaughters of Queen Victoria who each became a Queen in her own right).

My book club had a big impact on my reading choices this year. Our selections ranged from so-so to downright scandalous once we started on the Fifty Shades phenomenon. I was also on the hunt for anything that might have something to do with Downton Abbey and I finished off all of the available Song of Ice and Fire books. I caved and read The Hunger Games books (which I loved), and tried my best to read War and Peace, but was ultimately foiled when my copy was missing a sizeable chunk of pages. I still haven’t managed to sort that out – when I took a copy out of the library to read the missing pages, it was a completely different version.

It was a pretty low key year for non-fiction, something I plan to work on in the New Year. I did manage to continue my love affair with Malcolm Gladwell (he kind of changed my life with Outliers this year) and was completely fascinated by the lives of the Kennedy Women (Lawrence Leamer) and members of The President’s Club.

This was also a year when I made a lot of book mistakes, which was kind of a first for me. There were a number of books that I read that I just didn’t care for. A couple that I abandoned altogether (Catch-22, Little Shadows, The Vampire Lestat) and others that I struggled through that I wanted to abandon (The Stranger’s Child, The Prague Cemetery, Bride of New France, The Firefly Cloak).

But in the end, I read almost 81 books. And that’s pretty badass.