First thing first, I wish you all a wonderful new year! Things have been rather quiet over here (except for the neighbors who have a thing for firecrackers around midnight and loud music, but I can’t really hold it against them, can I?), so I am indulging tonight in a bit of nerdy navel-gazing: what did I get to read over the course of 2014 and how does it compare to what I had in mind?
2014 has been a bit of a rough year when it comes to reading and writing, but a blessed year in the family as I gave birth to our second boy in January (I can’t believe he will be one in just a few days now!). But of course I was better prepared this time around so I knew how to sneak time off for reading whenever I could (audiobooks while going to the park, kindle with one arm while feeding the baby…). So at the end of the year, I have read 53 books, which is only slightly down from the 2 years before (60). The trick is that I read slightly more graphic books and poetry books that are rather fast to read, and also included in my list some children’s books (Kipling’s Just So Stories comes to mind). At the same time, it’s not as if I was cheating as I read big books too, like The Hobbit, an Alexandre Dumas or a biography of Vera Atkins.
The change comes from the breakdown by genre, as I apparently have managed to curb down my attraction to the mystery genre. It was a third of my reading in 2012-2013, now it “only” makes for a quarter, while I have read more non-fiction and poetry (2014 was the Judith Viorst year for me). More than one book out of 2 are from American or British authors, and French authors are now more than a quarter of my books read last year.
Surprisingly, it was a great second semester for Asian books, as I started a series of Japanese, Chinese and also Korean books (the Korean was a manga, I promise a post very soon but I need to include some images for your appreciation). And I don’t count in 2 books by American women with strong Japanese influences: Michelle Bailat-Jones with her “Fog Island Moutains” and Julie Otsuka for The Buddha in the Attic.
Finally, thanks to Kindle and copyright-free books available at Gutenberg, I managed to read a lot more books published on the last century and before. A third of my reading in 2014 even! And the 2 most precious classics I read were without contest The Child, by Jules Vallès, and Alexandre Dumas’ Twenty Years After, worth every one of its 800 pages!
I know that announcing my best books of the year seem a bit like giving out chocolate medals from the comfort of my armchair. There were many good books this year and many favorite authors of mine (Tolkien, Carrère, Kerr among others), but if I have to choose the writers that I had never read before and that have dazzled me in their own way, I only have two names: Patrick Deville, for Plague and Cholera and Judith Viorst, for her witty poems by decade (another post soon due!).