2008 Roundup

It’s the second year I am playing with Excel to review all the books I’ve read. Well, it’s no need to be a math expert to guess that I’ve read less this year than in 2007, especially in the second part of the year. I can’t say that this year has been balanced in any way since Baby Smithereens’ arrival, but that’s alright, because I didn’t expect otherwise and I have since managed to carve up some time to read (and write, but less successfully). I’ve come to appreciate my commute as a 40 minutes session of uninterrupted reading or writing. I’m not so good at writing a synthesis for such a year, but I guess the figures will talk for themselves:

  • Number of books read in 2008: 59
  • Books by American writers: 16
  • Books by British writers: 16
  • Books by French writers: 13 (really thanks to Fred Vargas: 3 books for her alone)
  • Books by other European writers: 8 (Dutch, German, Irish, Norwegian)
  • Books by non-European, non-American writers: 6 (Chinese, Japanese, Canadian, New-Zealand, Israeli, Russian)
  • Fiction: 49
  • Non-Fiction: 10 (I didn’t count What to Expect When You’re Expecting in, and countless other baby books)
  • Short story collections: 8
  • Mysteries: 18 (2008 was a year for mysteries! I’ve gone back to the classics (Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Rinehart), revisited favorites (Rendell, Perry) and moved beyond the ordinary with Scandinavian and Israeli mysteries)
  • Published in 21C: 32
  • Published in 20C: 26
  • Published in 19C or before: 1 (I am sort of ashamed)

Most challenging books of the year (that may mean difficult to read, or disturbing, or both, and also that I can’t say I really appreciated them, but I’m glad I tried them): Alfred Doblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, Bret Easton Ellis’ Lunar Park and Souvenirs Pieux by Marguerite Yourcenar.

Most disappointing books: James Salter’ Burning the Days (I just didn’t get into it), Alice Hoffman’s The River King, and Muriel Barbery’s Elegance of the Edgehog, for special reasons: I didn’t particularly like it, but by being frank about a much hyped-up book, my post about it has become the most popular one in this blog, and I have received unpleasant comments and mails about my review, which saddens me.

And my favorite books in 2008 will go by pairs this year:

Best pick-me-up books for new mothers:

Intriguing, quirky non-fiction:

Memorable short story collections by authors I just discovered :

Engrossing, suspenseful fictions with awesome writing:

If you don’t know where to start in 2009, at least I can recommend these 9!

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6 thoughts on “2008 Roundup

  1. 59 is great if you ask me. Even more impressive considering the arrival of Baby Smithereens. I have to try and remember that I want to read Christine Falls. I keep forgetting and them someone mentions it and I remember and then forget again. Oy. Happy 2009!

  2. Happy New Year, Smithereens! I like the idea of making an Excel file–I was just thinking that today and I see it works well! I agree–you’ve accomplished a lot with a newborn! Are most of the books you read in French or English (or other languages as well?). That Judith Falnders book sounds interesting, so I will be adding it to my list and I agree that the B. Black was a great read–I need to get his new one as well.

  3. I thought the Flanders book was fabulous. You’ve done a great job of reading authors from all over the world — I need to be better about that next year. And yeah, 59 books sounds like a great number, given everyone that’s happened this year!

  4. I will certainly be reading that Fred Vargas novel next. Debout les morts is just wonderful. And I’ve never read Benjamin Black or Ethan Canin – I must do something about that! Here’s to a happy, sleep-filled 2009 with ever increasing time for reading and writing!

  5. I agree, 59 books is an impressive count especially with a new baby.

    I’ll have to read Christine Falls. So many people have recommended it. And I do love a good crime novel!

  6. I have The Palace Thief to look forward to this year – I loved Blue River, his novel.
    And I will also have to read Christine Falls, since I’ve so far enjoyed both Banville novels I’ve read. I’m eager to try out his alter-ego.

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