26 December 2012

Bits and Bobs (the year-end edition)

This has nothing to do with this post. I was combing through old images
on My Porch looking for something compelling to grab your attention.
Nothing came close to this picture I first posted in October 2007.
Top ten books of 2012
Every year around this time I do what every good book blogger does. I compile list of my top ten (eleven, twelve) books of the year. But as I scroll through the list of books I read in 2012, I have a hard time mustering the energy to make a list this year. I did read some good books, especially of the Persephone and Virago type, but overall the year didn't yield much in the way of books I feel like raving about. And those that I did like seem so long ago, I feel like I read them in another year. So, no top ten this year.

You know what, the paragraph above is all hogwash. I did read some really good books this year, Pym, Whipple, Shute, Sarton, Stevenson, I loved The Ladies of Lyndon, I thought Midnight's Children was well worth the effort, I reread two wonderful Brookners and one of my favorite books of all time, 84, Charing Cross Road.

It seems that my unwillingness to make a top ten list this year is not lack of inspiration, but lack of will to make the effort to write something.

Reading recap
I think I may still finish one or two more books this year, but overall it was a rather slow reading year for me. It looks like I will only have eked out sixty-one books. Many things played a role in this rather lacklustre showing but I think the biggest reason was the nature of my job over the last twelve months. It was very research and writing oriented. Didn't leave me as much brain space for reading and even less for blogging. The good news is I have a new attitude toward books that I feel that I must read. If I don't like them, I am going to kick them to the curb and not feel bad for doing so. Among other things, no more Conrad for me.

A Century of Books update
I continue to inch along to finishing one book from each year of the 20th century. I have had all kinds of strategies about how I wanted to approach the challenge. In the end though, I decided I needed to lighten it up and that I would need more than finish it. So far I have finished about fifty-four. My stretch goal is to finish the remaining 46 by the end of the TBR Double Dog Dare. I could do it if I really apply myself, but more likely I will finish by the end of 2013.

You can see my progress below on my ever changing reading list.  One thing that surprises me is that I have yet to finish any decade. I almost have the 1980s done with only 1989 left to go. It also surprises me that I have read so many from the 1980s already. I would have assumed I would have finished the 1930s or 1940s instead.

 I have them all lined up on my mantel in chron order so I can see the pile slowly shrinking. I've read the ones in red.

1900 - Claudine at School by Collette
1901 - Claudine in Paris by Collette
1902 - The Immoralist by Andre Gide
1903 - The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
1904 - Peter Camenzind by Herman Hesse
1905 - The Duel by Aleksandr Kuprin
1906 - Young Torless by Robert Musil
1907 - The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (ML100)
1908 - Love's Shadow by Ada Leverson
1909 - Martin Eden by Jack London
1910 - Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett
1911 - Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (ML 100)
1912 - The Charwoman's Daughter by James Stephens
1913 - T. Tembarom by Frances Hodgson Burnett
1914 - Penrod by Booth Tarkington
1915 - The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela
1916 - Under Fire by Henri Barbusse
1917 - Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
1918 - Patricia Brent - Spinster by Herbert George Jenkins
1919 - Consequences by E.M. Delafield
1920 - Queen Lucia by E.F. Benson
1921 - Dangerous Ages by Rose Macauley
1922 - The Judge by Rebecca West
1923 - The Ladies of Lyndon by Margaret Kennedy
1924 - Some Do Not by Ford Madox Ford (ML100)
1925 - Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
1926 - Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
1927 - Rhapsody by Dorothy Edwards
1928 - Quartet by Jean Rhys
1929 - The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen
1930 - Angel Pavement by J.B. Priestly or The Deepening Stream by Dorothy Canfield
1931 - The Square Circle by Denis Mackail
1932 - Young Lonigan by James T. Farrell (ML100)
1933 - Frost in May by Antonia White or Ordinary Familes by E. Arnot Robertson
1934 - The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan by James T. Farrell (ML100)
1935 - A House and Its Head by Ivy Compton-Burnett
1936 - Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner or Eyeless in Gaza  by Huxley
1937 - Lady Rose and Mrs. Memmary by Ruby Ferguson
1938 - Princes in the Land by Joanna Cannan
1939 - Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter
1940 - Sapphira and the Slave Girl by Willa Cather
1941 - The Castle on the Hill by Elizabeth Goudge
1942 - Clark Clifford's Body by Kenneth Fearing
1943 - Gideon Planish by Sinclair Lewis
1944 - Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp
1945 - The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
1946 - Every Good Deed by Dorothy Whipple
1947 - Not Now, but Now by MFK Fisher
1948 - The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
1949 - Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
1950 - Our Spoons Came From Woolworths by Barbara Comyns
1951 - A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor
1952 - The Far Country by Nevil Shute
1953 - Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
1954 - Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins
1955 - The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
1956 - The Flight From the Enchanter by Iris Murdoch
1957 - Angel by Elizabeth Taylor
1958 - A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym
1959 - The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley
1960 - The Bachelors by Muriel Spark
1961 - Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (ML100)
1962 - A Clockwork Orange by A. Burgess (ML 100)
1963 - The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy
1964 - The Garrick Year by Margaret Drabble
1965 - Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor
1966 - The House on the Cliff by DE Stevenson
1967 - My Friend Says It's Bullet-Proof by Penelope Mortimer
1968 - Sarah's Cottage by D.E. Stevenson
1969 - The Waterfall by Margaret Drabble
1970 - 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
1971 - A Meaningful Life by L.J. Davis or My Own Cape Cod by Gladys Taber
1972 - Augustus by John Williams
1973 - After Claude by Iris Owens
1974 - House of Stairs by William Sleator
1975 - Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Crucial Conversations by May Sarton
1976 - The Takeover by Muriel Spark
1977 - Golden Child by Penelope Fitzgerald
1978 - The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym
1979 - The Safety Net by Heinrich Boll
1980 - The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
1981 - Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (ML100)
1982 - Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar
1983 - Look at Me by Anita Brookner
1984 - Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
1985 - Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson  
1986 - Anagrams by Lorrie Moore
1987 - Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher
1988 - The Temple by Stephen Spender
1989 - Passing On by Penelope Lively or Summer People by Marge Piercy
1990 - Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman
1991 - The Translator by Ward Just
1992 - Arcadia by Jim Crace
1993 - While England Sleeps by David Leavitt
1994 - The Longings of Women by Marge Piercy
1995 - Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
1996 - Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood  
1997 - Grace Notes by Bernard MacLaverty
1998 - The Book of Lies by Felice Picano
1999 - Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson


  1. I can't quite muster up the motivation to do a favorite reads list this year either. I'm not sure why, though, as I've enjoyed a lot of the books I read this year. I think instead of book burnout I'm having list burnout. Also, I do wonder if a book I read this last week of the year could sneak onto the list--it's happened the last two years!

  2. Your blog is so refreshing. Your goals are attainable but you don't berate yourself too much for not getting through them. I have set up challenges for myself but if they quit being fun I will also as you put it..kick them to the curb. I need to try to quit keeping up with all the other ambitious bookworms out there that devour books at the speed of sound. Hope your New Year is just plain lots of fun!! Pam

  3. You are just darling, really. Because of you, I finally read 84 Charing Cross Road. Now it is one of my favorites. And because of you and Mary's Library, I finally read Miss Buncle's Book which had been on my bookshelf for more than two years--what a treat. Now I'm reading the follow-up to that book.

    Thank you, thank you for producing such an enjoyable and worthwhile blog.

  4. Not being a book blogger, I don't have an official top 10. But Layla and I were discussing our favourite reads of the year and I argued for: The Brooklyn Follies (Auster), A Visit From the Goon Squad (Egan), A Perfectly Good Man (Gale), The Hopkins Manuscript (RC Sheriff), In One Person (Irving), Sweet Tooth (McEwan), Bring Up the Bodies (Mantel), Music and Silence (Tremain), Angel of Repose (Stegner) and Heft (Moore). But that excludes Anthony Trollope and Dickens (both of whose books seem wrong to in in a top 10 list) and my new favourite Persephone book Miss Ranskill Comes Home (Barbara Eupham Todd) (because I'm not sure if it was a great book, or if I just loved it). And is out of the 71 books I have managed this year (less than I usually read).

  5. Teresa: As much as I love a list, I think I might agree with you on being burned out at the moment.

    Pam: If I could really conquer my OCD I would kick the Century of Books challenge to the curb. I still feel a bit hostage to that one.

    Kim: So glad you liked two of the best books ever. Didn't it make you wonder why you waited so long?

    Molly: I am glad I have a shiney new copy of Sweet Tooth to read. I too liked Miss Ranskill, but not as much as Hopkins. And you, with your new job and all your extracurricular activities read about 10 more than I did this year. I might be watching too much TV.

  6. I argued for In One Person, A Visit From the Goon Squad, Annabel, The Hopkins Manuscript, Joy In The Morning, Tiny Songbirds Far Away, Maphead, This Perfect Day, On the Beach, and Last Night at Twisted River. And a runner up was The Burma Chronicles, which is rather off piste and probably only features as is topical...

  7. I love the titles you've got coming up on your century reading in 2013, there's some really interesting authors on there. :)

  8. Making my Best Of list is a definite highlight of each December for me! I was pleased to see so many books I loved, as I overviewed the ones I've read this year - because there were more duds than usual.

  9. There's a lot more red there, Thomas. I wish you progress in 2013!

  10. Lots of great reads already finished in this long challenge...but I agree, books that you aren't enjoying need to be tossed. Or passed on to another reader if you prefer that terminology! There will always be another book that you might enjoy more.

  11. I didn't post more more than a month, just too much to do (and not terribly inspired). 61 books is a wonderful accomplishment, especially if you're busy with other projects.

    I'm not attempting a century of books but I have been keeping a list organized by year. I have just too many 19th century books to read (this means Trollope) to consider keeping my reads to the 20th century.

  12. neat! you will find my list in this post:


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