Yes, it’s time to dust off the annual book meme …
How many books read in 2010?
2010 isn’t yet over, but I’ve chalked up 156 thus far. That’s partly thanks to a number of long train journeys, and a few determinedly efficient sessions at the British Library.
There’s a full list, if anyone is sufficiently curious.
46 non-fiction and 110 fiction – a slightly suprising ratio, as I seem to have spent most of the year with my nose in a potboiler. Actually, I’ve counted only books read cover-to-cover, so there was a lot more non-fiction in the form of odd chapters.
Hmm, there were only 33 by men, and most of those were Mr Trollope. This certainly wasn’t a conscious decision, but probably can be explained by the prodigious amount of reading I did for Notable Women Authors of the Day.
Favourite book read?
I’m going to discount re-reads, otherwise Diary of a Nobody would be my answer every year.
It would be fiendishly difficult to choose an overall favourite, so my top three, in no particular order, are:
We Two by Edna Lyall
A Blameless Woman by John Strange Winter (Henrietta Stannard)
My Life by Annie S. Swan
The first two are novels by forgotten authors and were a revelation. They’re never going to be considered literary greats, but it’s a shame their work is seldom read, as both contained interesting ideas and were incredibly moving.
Annie Swan’s autobiography was simply her account of an extraordinary life as a popular author, campaigner and politician. Her fiction hasn’t really stood the test of time, but her other achievements have been unjustly overlooked, and her life story is better than a novel.
Controversially, I would have to say Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I know she’s a demi-god to some, but it’s two hours of my life that I won’t get back.
Oldest book read?
That must be Persuasion again – arrrggghhh.
Love Well the Hour: The Life of Lady Colin Campbell by Anne Jordan
Longest book title?
How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell.
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell, which was also a contender for Least Favourite.
How many re-reads?
17. My greatly advanced age means I can barely recollect the classics I read in my youth. I was very cross with myself for having forgotten part of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, then remembered I last read it 20 years ago.
Most books read by one author this year?
Incontrovertibly, and unsurprisingly, it’s Florence Marryat. I read 35 of her books during 2010, and have now read all 68 of her novels.
Any in translation?
Just the one: Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Normally there are a few Zolas, but I appear to have got him out of my system for the time being.
And how many of this year’s books were from the library?
29, which is quite a high proportion for me. I also managed to get free Kindle versions of many books, so my acquisitions are significantly down this year. Good news for the Papal coffers.