How many books read in 2011?
69 fiction, 63 non-fiction, which seems pleasingly well-balanced.
75 were by male authors, 57 by female authors (skewed by the Trollope Challenge and my Spring obsession with Mapp and Lucia)
Favourite book read?
There have been many literary highlights this year and I couldn’t possibly choose just one. Here are my top ten, in no particular order:
- Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
- The Somnambulist by Essie Fox
- Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt
- Little Gods by Anna Richards
- The Diary of a Murder by Lee Jackson
- Magnificent Obsession by Helen Rappaport
- The Knife Man by Wendy Moore
- Mr Briggs’ Hat by Kate Colquhoun
- The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders
- The Woman Who Saved the World by Clare Mulley
(The keen-eyed might notice that all but one of the novels were published this year, so I’ve done rather well with my resolution to read more recent fiction. Mind you, two of them were neo-Victorian.)
Joint honours are awarded to Wilkie Collins for Blind Love and Anthony Trollope for La Vendee. The former was ridiculous, even for a potboiler, while the latter was ineffably dull.
Oldest book read?
Trollope’s The Macdermots of Ballycloran (1847), which was also the maddest book read.
I think it’s probably Sally Svenson’s wonderful Lily, Duchess of Marlborough. The author was kind enough to send me a preview.
Longest book title?
Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now, As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It and Long for It by Craig Taylor. It’s also a joy to read.
Demos by George Gissing – a surprisingly sensational tale of bigamy, bisexuality and bankruptcy.
How many re-reads?
Just six this year. I have somehow omitted to re-read The Diary of a Nobody during 2011, although I did treat myself to a re-read of Victoria Glendinning’s masterful Trollope.
Most books read by one author this year?
Unsurprisingly, it’s Anthony Trollope, with a walloping 26 books. They were something of a Mixed Bag: when he was good, he was very, very good. When he was bad he was awful.
Any in translation?
Just one: The Gourmet by Muriel Barbery, which wasn’t really my cup of tea.
And how many of this year’s books were from the library?
Only five, all thanks to the magnficent London Library. I have borrowed around 50 books from libraries this year, but they’ve been mostly for reference or research purposes. Quite a few of the books read were review copies, and many were free Kindle editions. Despite having had the papal study revamped with gorgeous new bookcases, I still have no more room for books, and will be acquiring only virtual tomes for the foreseeable future.
Out now: The Meanings of Home in Elizabeth Gaskell's Fiction, a beautifully written study of this Victorian author's novels.