It’s time for the end of year meme, in which I recount the year’s literary adventures, and wish you all a very happy 2014.
How many books read in 2013?
106, mainly thanks to having (very uncharacteristically) taken a holiday in September. I also had to re-read quite a few books for my thesis, as I appear to have forgotten nearly everything I absorbed from my early research.
47 fiction / 59 non-fiction.
39 male / 68 female (this doesn’t add up, as one title was co-authored)
Favourite book read?
Hmm, I couldn’t pick an absolute favourite, but my highlights (in no particular order) were:
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
- Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography by Roger Watson & Helen Rappaport
- Dear Lupin … Letters to a Wayward Son by Roger Mortimer
- How to Create the Perfect Wife by Wendy Moore
- Bertie by Jane Ridley
- The Unwinding by George Packer
- The Visitor by Katherine Stansfield
- On Writing by Stephen King
- The Goddess and the Thief by Essie Fox
I haven’t included any that I’ve actually published, as that would be cheeky.
I struggled with The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, and took violently against Simon Gray’s Smoking Diaries. I did try the second volume, but he made me want to climb out of the window and disappear.
Oldest book read?
Jane Eyre (1847). I last read it when I was 17, and it was just as good the second time (despite my worrying that it would disappoint).
I’m not sure as, unusually, I’ve actually read quite a few new books this year. It’s probably Katherine Stansfield’s superb first novel The Visitor.
Longest book title?
The Spy Who Loved: the Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville, Britain’s First Female Special Agent of WWII by Clare Mulley, which is also a brilliant and moving read.
Ignoring sub-titles, it’s My Lady by Emma Willsher Atkinson, a Victorian novel about the wife of an adulterous douchebag.
How many re-reads?
23, which seems rather a lot. This is mainly due to thesis revisions, and also because I’ve re-read the books I published this year.
Most books read by one author this year
Unsurprisingly, it’s Florence Marryat. If I exclude her (which would annoy her greatly), it would be Sue Townsend. I indulged in a delightful Adrian Mole-fest earlier this year.
Any in translation?
Only The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Bored Me Rigid.
And how many of this year’s books were from the library?
Only 6, I’m afraid. Mind you, I did borrow some from my partner (who believes there’s no such thing as a shared book), a few were review copies, and most were already on my groaning shelves or my infinitely capacious Kindle.
Out now: The Meanings of Home in Elizabeth Gaskell's Fiction, a beautifully written study of this Victorian author's novels.