28 December 2010

The End of the Year Wrap-up that got out of hand...

    
My annual recap turned into a bit of a mind explosion.




I was going to wait until 2011 to do my year-end recap. But I am pretty certain I am not going to finish any more books in the next three days. Versions of this year end wrap-up have been floating around the book blogosphere of late. Here is my contribution.
 
How many books read in 2010?
A measly 68. Far fewer than the 110 I read in 2009. I put this down to working more, buying a house, and taking on both War and Peace (1,352 pp) and The Golden Notebook (640 pp). Oh and my misguided attempt to read all the Penguin English Journey series in April really undercut my reading mojo.

Fiction/Non-Fiction?
Ha! When I first saw this one I assumed the number of non-fiction books read this year would be a whopping great zero. But I actually read about 11 non-fiction books this year. Mostly memoir-ish type things. A history of Penguin Books, and of course some of the previously mentioned Penguin English Journey series.

Male/Female authors?
I assume this means the ratio of male to female authors as opposed to male to female transgendered authors. Not surprisingly for me, the ladies edged out the gentlemen. I read 30 books by males and 38 by females. Even more telling is that 8 of my Top 10 for 2010 were by female authors.

Favorite read?
See my Top 10 for 2010. I think if I had to pick just one that provided the most unqualified reading groove it would have to be Dorothy Whipple's collection of short stories, The Closed Door.

Least favorite read?
Keep in mind that I tend not to finish books I don't like. I use Nancy Pearl's Rule of 50. So if I don't like it by page 50 I don't keep reading. This is why so few clunkers end up on my books read list. As mentioned, I certainly struggled to enjoy the Penguin English Journey Series. I did enjoy many of them and bits and pieces of most of them. But taken as a whole (which was a mistake), it felt more like pain than pleasure. But if I had to choose just one book that I would be least likely to ever want to re-read, it would be Sophie's Choice.

Most read author?
Both Dorothy Whipple and Maggie O'Farrell provided four titles each. And both were new to me in 2010. Doris Lessing, Anita Brookner, and E.M. Delafield both provided two titles each.

Least read author?
Ha, ha, I just made this category up. Just imagine, I would have to list every author whose work I didn't read this year.

Author read this year I would most like to meet
I was going to take some time thinking about this, but then I realized I read an E.M. Forster book this year. Not only is his work spectacular, but I would love to chat with him about having to live a closeted life. Plus I would want to sit with him while he watched all the film adaptations of his books.

Favorite reading experience of the year (warm weather)
Reading and dozing by the pool of our private sala in Phuket.

Favorite reading experience of the year (cool weather)
Snuggling on the couch reading Little Boy Lost with Lucy laying across my chest.

Favorite Penelope read this year
Fitzgerald. Other years it could have been Lively, but this year in the Penelope face off, Miss Fitzgerald wins.

New books purchased in hardcover?
Only 3. Cunningham's By Nightfall, Ferris' The Unnamed, and Simonson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.

Best blogging related experience?
Meeting two great local bloggers for a fun book shopping get together, and meeting seven more great book bloggers in London.

Author crush?
Joshua Ferris

Biggest disappointment?
That my Barbara Pym fantasy is unlikely to come true.

Blog posts I am most likely to read?

1. Anything to do with a list. Even if I don't agree with the criteria or the subject, a post about lists will always get my attention.

2. Anything with pictures of books. I prefer the stacks of owned books. For some reason piles from the library fail to inspire me.

3. The more personal and newsy the better. I love hearing about your hobbies, your travel, your cooking and baking, your pets, and even your kids (unless it falls into the "children are our future" camp of over adulation).

Blog posts I am least likely to read?

1. Anything with vampires. I just don't dig the paranormal and I find this genre tedious.

2. Young adult fiction being read and reviewed endlessly by grown women. I am not dissing YA, and I am not dissing those who have a professional interest, those who review them for a YA audience, or those who review one or two of them in passing. But this year I was a judge for the YA category in a blog beauty pageant and it really soured me on the legions of twenty-something females who appear to be frightened of leaving their tween years behind them. One expects them to have Justin Bieber posters on their walls and fluffy pom-poms on the ends of their purple pens.

3. Reviews of audio books. I read and enjoy reviews of TV shows and films, but I just pass over audio book reviews.

4. The one million Booker Prize recaps. I used to pay attention to these, but there just seem to be too many of them these days.

5. Anything by bloggers who seem to be completely devoid of any sense of humor.

6. ARC reviews. I won't say that I never read them, but I prefer to see what bloggers read when they get to choose for themselves. (Full disclosure: I have reviewed one ARC. But I would have picked up the Maggie O'Farrell novel anyway.)

Biggest shortcomings as a book blogger?

1. My over the top, intolerant, un-nuanced pronouncements that make me feel temporarily smug (see the answers to the previous question).

2. My inability to recap plots in a way that isn't boring or overly reductive.

3. I am sure there are more...but I am too lazy to think of them.

4. I get lazy.

One thing I wish every blog included?
Geographic location of the blogger. I don't need to know the street you live on, but I really like knowing where a blogger lives. And unless you live in Gibraltar it would be nice if you could be a little more specific than just noting thecountry.

Things that puzzle me

1. British bloggers tend to get lots of influenza. What's up with that? I worry about you all.

2. Mailbox Mondays. Who is sending all of these books? Is there an international directory of mailing addresses that I don't have access to? I don't necessarily want to get books, but I sometimes want to send books. But I feel like sending books unsolicited would seem a little creepy. How does one ask for an address without seeming to be a stalker?

3. Feeds.

4. Mincemeat.

5. Why I am using up months' worth of blog post topics in one out of control stream of consciousness.

 

39 comments:

  1. Fun post, Thomas. I agree with you very much on vampires and YA fiction. I would not want to have to read anything other than my own choosing, so I don't pursue ARCs and free books from publishers like many of the "real" book bloggers.

    Thanks again for all your travel hints and tips when I went to London. I love that city and I can't wait to go back. Cheers to a great 2011. (I have refrained from using exclamation points because I know you don't like them.)

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  2. And what a wonderful freakin' explosion. Where do I even start? Well, 68 books sound pretty good to me. You read more than book a week even with the doorstops thrown in, and as we all know, you read deeply and well so... 68 is a banquet in my book and not "measly." But I am in agreement about the April project you set for yourself this year. Kind of crazy thing I do to myself and then I find myself stuck in the middle of my big wtf moment.

    And funny that you mention E.M Forster because I am sitting here staring at a copy of Where Angels Fear to Tread and dreaming about re-reading Forster this year. And enjoying all that unspoken angst.

    And my outing with you and Teresa was a highlight for me this year too. Looking forward to game night. (It is not as hard as we all imagined. Feel super competitive bookish bloodbath coming up. At least I hope so.)

    If you run through all your post topics at once does that mean you can takes weeks off?

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  3. A nice long newsy post! Thank you.
    Agree with you on the vampires and paranormal and fantasy but then I am old!! That seems to be a prerogative of the very young.

    You did not add one subject to your list - the weather. All the bloggers love to talk of the weather in their part of the world. This is strangely enough interesting for me - imagine humid, hot Sri Lanka and then someone talks about being buried under the snow and ice and not being able to get out of the house! talk about contrasts.

    Also, thank you for the various links - the Pym recommendation was really appreciated. I just read one and am about to start on another.

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  4. This is the best end of the year post! I don't understand the YA obsession and, honestly, I feel that people read YA for how quickly they can finish the book.

    And what the heck is Mailbox Monday? I've seen it on blogs and I've no idea what it is. Do they buy all those books every week?

    Anyhoo, happy new year to you and I'll be posting my end of the year reading post soon (I hope).

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  5. Another interesting post Thomas. I always enjoy them. Happy New Year, Kathy (in Philadelphia)
    Bookdiary2010.blogspot.com

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  6. Love this post, even if you do feel that you used up blog topics in one post. You can always revisit them again :-)

    Also, I too am astounded by Mailbox Mondays. These people get a TON of books! Where do they all come from? I receive the occasional review copy... but not enough to make a weekly post about.

    That said, I review ARCs quite frequently - when I feel like picking them up. Whenever a publisher approaches me about a review, my policy is to accept (if it looks any good) as long as they are ok with a review "whenever." Surprisingly, most are ok with this. So I read a lot of advances and review them, but only when they are what I'm itching for at any given moment.

    Anyway, great year - wishing you the best in 2011!

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  7. Once again, you have made me laugh and laugh (and I'm thrilled to make your highlights list--meeting you and Frances and a handful of UK bloggers were highlights for me too.)

    And WORD on the Mailbox Monday thing. Like Kerry, I get a review copy or two now and then, but tons per week? Then again, I wouldn't *want* tons per week. How then could I read all my classics? I do note that the YA bloggers tend to receive the most, and I suppose it's easier to read lots of YA novels geared toward adult readers.

    (I did once send a book unsolicited to someone who sent me a book. So I guess the secret is to beg for books from others and snitch the return addresses from the envelopes. Except that it sort of defeats the purpose.)

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  8. ABSOLUTE agreement on YA blogs and Mailbox Monday. I would say Mailbox Monday is my least favorite meme thing (though I tend to dislike all those things). It's kind of like, "Haha! Look what I got and you did not!" And I mean, I like YA literature, but not to the exclusion of everything else. I kind of think maybe there are more YA ARCs that go out than other books, perhaps? And so people review those more? I don't know. I don't know if that many tweens/teens even read book review blogs to get their book recommendations. Isn't that what schoolmates are for?

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  9. You have my address so feel free to send me a book on any given Monday ;)

    I am a grown woman (*ahem* almost out of my twenties) that enjoys the occasional YA novel; it makes me nostalgic for my early teens. No to Justin Bieber, however.

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  10. SO FUNNY! I want to comment on everything you said, but instead of that I'll say what I couldn't agree with more: Why DO British bloggers always get sick?! Is it our hardy Puritan roots that prevent it!?

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  11. LOL! I don't do vampires and even with a couple of young adults in my house, we read very little in the YA category. I'll second those subjects you like to read about, and I'm also with Mystica - I enjoy reading about other people's weather (maybe because ours doesn't vary all that much). As to why the British bloggers seem to get sick more, I've always thought it was because they were in a colder climate in more crowded cities? But that's my totally unscientific opinion. :)
    Thanks for the fun post!
    Happy New Year to you and yours!

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  12. Love this post. I do review YA lit, but I also teach middle school. When I retire, I'll read only adult lit.

    I also share your love of list posts.

    And for the record, I live in Vallejo, California which is north of Oakland, which is east of San Francisco.

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  13. Haha, this post made me laugh so much. When I read it last night, I thought that I didn't fit into the castegory of a brit with influenza...guess what I woke up with?! :(

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  14. Oh, Thomas, this was just too funny, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I might have to use your end-of-year format when I do mine...

    And there's nothing wrong with a little stream of consciousness explosion now and then :)

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  15. Just loved this post and was laughing out loud by the end. Those British bloggers do seem especially prone to flu. I'm changing my profile to read 'Central New York' instead of United States.

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  16. I forgot to write on how much your Brits and Influenza comment amused me even though I am one of the sorry souls currently suffering. How did your immune system fare when you lived in our cold, damp climate?! I had lunch today with a friend visiting from the States and she brought me a much-needed care package of Dayquil and Nyquil :D

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  17. I love this post! Because you said a lot of things that I think people are afraid to say. This was great. Please, let more of your posts get out of hand ;)

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  18. Fantastic wrap-up!

    I want to steal your E.M. Forster scenario, his works are high atop my all-time fave list, and it would be fascinating to learn what he thought of the film adaptations.

    I occasionally must review YA fiction (not on my blog, however), and all-too-often receive ARCs for both fiction & nonfic reviews. I really dislike the ones with plain paper covers...and if I liked the book enough, I will sometimes purchase "the real thing" on its release.

    Love the Lucy pic, & the Phuket one!

    Will be stopping in your area in a few months' time--I suppose there's a great danger that you will be travelling yourself....

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  19. In agreement with vampires and YA reviews. I'm completely sick of vampires and all those similar covers. The Booker prize wrap ups too. My eyes glaze over those and the millions of 'Room' reviews.

    Pictures of books always gets my attention. Always love your photos especially of your new library!

    And Lucy is the cutest dog. Those eyes!

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  20. Denise: I have found myself wanting to use exclamation points quite often ever since I wrote that post. But now too many people know.

    Frances: I remember really well and fondly reading Where Angels Fear to Tread on a brilliantly sunny spring day while I was in college. I was immersed in second year Italian at the time so the book was particularly romatic for me. I wish I could relive that exact experience. Have we set a date for game night? I volunteer my house if you are looking for a location.

    Mystica: Don't feel bad, I have been old ever since I was a kid.

    Amanda: I don't know how you find the time for everything. You should get an award for stamina. I look forward to your year end post.

    Kathy: The City of Brotherly Love! There is a fantastic used bookstore a couple blocks from the river. I once bought about 11 Anita Brookner first editions there for a pittance. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know your location.

    Kerry: I am too stubborn to let anyone tell me what to read. Getting ARCs would be the death of me.

    Teresa: I suppose it has been a long time sing Trollope sent out an ARC.

    Aarti: I think you hit on something: would a tween/teen read a book review of a YA book?

    Claire: Your ocassional YA read doesn't even remotely trouble me. Your tastes are thoroughly and appropriately adult.

    Daniel: If I was a Republican I would say that it is their dreaded socialized medicine. Since I am not a Republican I might put it down to cold and damp? Or maybe it doesn't get cold enough. I always used to think the the biting cold in my Minnesota childhood was enough to kill any virus.

    Susan: It must be fun to have young readers in the house. Do they take your recommendations?

    CB: The Bay Area is heard from. John hails from that part of the world so I have spent many a happy trip to your part of California. I did some YA reading when I was young, but I kind of feel like I jumped from juvenile to adult fiction. Maybe I didn't read in junior high?

    Verity: Oh no. Hopefully you will have a speedy recovery.

    Read the Book: Is your blog an exhortation telling us to read the book, or is it an acknowledgement that you have already read the book?

    JoAnn: I just verified that you have indeed updated your profile. Yay! Funny story: as you know I was in Ithaca for two years and I had relatives who thought I was living in NYC. They hear New York and all they can think of is NYC. I lived there during 9/11 and got concerned calls. I had to explain I was some 4 and half hours drive from ground zero.

    Claire (again!): It is funny that you like Nyquil because John swears by Lem Sip and thinks it far superior to meds available here.

    Lu: I think it might be my New Year's resolution.

    Margaret: The house has us saddle with financial commitments so there is NO travel on the books. The first time in my adult life that I have no travel to look forward to. And I certainly won't be going anywhere until probably May. I would love to meet up with you while you are in town. Please let's plan to get together.

    Mad: Due to other projects my library improvements are not progressing. But we are getting comfy chairs soon. It is amazing how Lucy's eyes manage to convey both "I love you" and "I am going to do whatever I want".

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  21. Love this post! What a great and intensely personal way to recap the year... I am so tempted to steal some of your categories, but then I'd probably want to steal the answers too because I feel so similar to you about so many things!

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  22. Love this format, I'm stealing it (if you don't mind) and I'll echo your panting thoughts on Joshua Ferris. But honestly, what wrong with purple pens?

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  23. I love this post. I love "Least read authors," LOL and your feelings about Mailbox Mondays. I'm a book shopaholic but receive very few in the mail these days; I wonder myself about the folks who get piles and piles every week. How? LOL :-)

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  24. Thomas, in answer to your question: my blog title is both an exhortation to read the book and an homage to my first sentence as a child (that's right: I was fated to be a book lover from an early age. My first word was "magazine", and my first sentence was "read the book!"). So there you go...and I will be updating my location to North Dakota very soon!

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  25. What a fantastic wrap-up! Definitely a good sense of humour being exhibited here. I especially love the Least read author question. If only you had answered it fully...

    Mincemeat really puzzles me as well, by the way. And I ummm... buy a lot of books so that is where my Mailbox post comes from. I also send a lot too though - if someone comments that they want to read the book at some point, and I don't want to keep it, I just e-mail them. They (usually) don't find it stalker-ish!

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  26. To answer your question, yes, the kids typically do follow my reading recommendations (and they're starting to share some of their own with me). I've been very fortunate to also be their teacher all their lives so they've learned to trust me. I was determined that they would love books and want to be "life-long learners," and they are definitely well along on that path. ;)

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  27. The best 2010 wrap-up I have read - really amusing post :o) I certainly agree about wanting to meet E.M. Forster. I read a biography about him, and he certainly sounds like a fascinating person.

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  28. Glad I wasn't sipping my tea when I read the bit about British bloggers and influenza, what a mess that would have been!

    Her Fearful Symmetry was one of my favourite reads last year. It was not something I would normally be drawn to as it's contemporary but totally sucked me in.

    Lucy...you melt my heart with every glance of your sweet face.

    Happy New Year, Thomas!

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  29. I really enjoyed this year end post, and your sense of dry humor is awesome IMO. I'm not a fan of vampires, paranormal, YA either, and love a blog that shares some personal stuff, and has plenty of posts that make me laugh as well.

    As for the Mailbox Monday question. Many bloggers are reviewers for major publishers like S&S, HC, or Amazon etc, so on a regular basis, one gets to select books (for review) that seem to appeal to them)....and the publisher already has name, address etc.

    Happy New Year

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  30. LOL. This post cracked me up. I enjoy YA novels (I'm partial to fallen angels, though, not vampires, haha), but, this 2011, I'm trying to read more classics.

    I've participated in Mailbox Monday once, but the "mailbox" part doesn't really apply to me since I buy my books from secondhand bookstores...

    Btw, Happy New Year! :)

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  31. What a fun post, Thomas, and one that did get wonderfully out of control!

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  32. sounds like a great year thomas ,we do get flu a lot here in the uk lol ,all the best for 2011 stu

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  33. Love your stream of consciousness... thanks for the chuckle. Oh, by the way, Im from Australia. I'd be delighted if I reached 68 books, beats my 16.5! (and I didn't buy a house or even try to read war and peace). You've covered some ground in this post, which I have enjoyed, but my last comment refers to your favourite reading experience (cool weather) - She's so cute!!
    Happy New Year!

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  34. Great post, I've just moved to New Norway, Alberta, Canada, which is a tiny hamlet. Looking forward to all the peace and quiet if not the smaller library! And definitely agree with you about the excessive teen books and advance copies -- what's more, I've heard people who use those acronyms in regular conversation (I used to work in a book store) and it drives me crazy! Do regular people know what they mean? Anyways. I've been thinking about some kind of intensive year end post, but have been too tired since moving to type it up yet.

    Also love the 'blog beauty pageant' snark!

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  35. Fun post. I'll be sitting next to you during that Pym film festival. Now you're making me want to do some rereading. It's been *mumble* years since I read her books.

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  36. Pure delight, as always!! There is no one like you.
    Where have I been in terms of these English Journey books? Oh, they are so wonderful. How can I live without them?
    I hate vampires. I hate ARCs. I read only one and the same word was used about thirty times, and the rest of the editing wasn't good. Not only did it put me off such things for life, but also off the author whose book it was. I don't know why they exist.
    I'll have to look up J. Ferris. I like his bookcase. :<)
    I hear you about house/travel. We haven't taken a trip in years. Good thing I like being home.
    The whole number of books thing is so strange to me. Do you know there are people out there who read well over a hundred books a year AND have a paying job AND a partner AND often, children. Whew. What do I do with my time?
    Looking forward to another great year of your posts.

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  37. This is such a wonderful and hilarious post! I still have to finish Ferris' first book but I already have his second on my shelf:)

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  38. Just hilarious! Happy New Year to you,Thomas. Hope you are beginning 2011 as you mean to continue...

    ps mincemeat freaks the hell out of me, too.

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  39. Steph: Steal away Steph. It will be fun to see your answers.

    Ted: Yes, but does your purple pen have pom=poms on it?

    Marie: When I was first creating the categories I did start to type the "least read" category before I realized how impossible that would be. But then I decided to leave it in.

    RtB: Thanks for the tip on your blog name. And I had no idea you lived in ND. Hailing originally from MN, I have spent some time your fair state. (Just south of Bismarck in Carson City.)

    Amy: Ah some of the books you buy yourself. I was thinking they were all gifts, ARCs etc.

    Susan: It sounds like you homeschool your kids. You must have lots of energy.

    A Bookish Space: Thanks. I actually haven't read any bios of Forster. I have a nice illustrated one with lots of great old pictures, but I haven't read it yet.

    Darlene: I am glad you didn't have a tea incident.

    Diane: Wow, that would be a lot of pressure.

    Darlyn: Thanks for stopping by. One would think angels would be too graceful to fall. :)

    Simon: Kind of feels good to limit the self-censoring.

    Stu: Happy New Year to you too.

    Tamara: Thanks for stopping by and glad to know you are from Australia. I have a few regulars from down under.

    Carolyn: New Norway. I wonder who settled that area?

    Beth: A whole Pym festival. That would be wonderful.

    Nan: I know, some people have a lot more energy than I do.

    Sakura: The two Ferris books are so different from each other. Almost like they are by two different authors.

    Stu: Happy new year to you too.

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