2009 In Review

Finally I managed to finish my review of 2009. Silly me and my numbers. That just took forever!

My Favorite Books in 2009


Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

One novel, one graphic novel, and one nonfiction. Perfect :).

I would love to also mention The Woman in White as Best Classic and Corduroy Mansions as Best Audio Book (out of the two I listened to).

Now on to the stats! I borrowed some ideas from Bellezza.

How many books read in 2009?

I read 57 books and 10 short stories in 2009 (I just started to keep track of short stories a couple of months ago). A great accomplishment for me, as I read 39 books in 2008 and 20 books in 2007. I’m not sure if there would be a significant increase next year, because this feels to be my limit. I have spent most of my spare time reading and blogging. Anyway, quality over quantity I say!

How many fiction and nonfiction?

51 fiction (89%) and 6 nonfiction (11%). Uum.. I remember that I used to read more nonfiction..

Format breakdown?

I had a hard time coming up with this chart! I wasn’t sure what I was going to group the books as. I was trying novel, graphic novels, short stories, illustrated, nonfiction, but then I had graphic memoir/biography and illustrated nonfiction, and they kept overlapping each other. OMG! At the end I’ve decided to go by the format. I separated comics and illustrated books, because I think they are different. The term graphic novels is rather confusing. Would you consider illustrated book a graphic novel? Some illustrated book has more text than graphic, sometimes the other way around. Anyway, for sanity purposes, let’s just call comic as it is, okay? It doesn’t make me more literary by calling comic graphic novel.

book format 2009

I read 30 all-text books, 19 comics, 6 illustrated books (including nonfiction and short stories), and 2 audiobooks.

I’m so new at audiobooks so I’m expecting to see more of them this year!

How many female and male authors?

43 male authors (75%), 14 female authors (25%)

Why is that? Am I drawn to male authors more than female? This is rather surprising number for me. I’m guessing since most graphic novels are written by male, that skewed my numbers a bit.

How many new authors?

39 new authors. Again, an improvement from last year, which was 27.

Favorite new authors?

Jeffrey Eugenides, Shaun Tan, Truman Capote, Wilkie Collins, Malcolm Gladwell, Neil Gaiman, Bill Willingham, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lisa See, Douglas Adams, Gregory Maguire. Mmm.. a definite bigger number of male than female..

Most read author of the year?

Jeff Smith (Bone series): 5 books

Biggest disappointment of the year?

Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie, which was rather painful to read. It’s not bad compared to last year. I had more disappointments last year. Oh another big one was Kafka on the Shore, which I didn’t quite like, even though I have loved all the other Murakami’s I read. My rating wasn’t so bad, but I just had so high expectation of that book, and it didn’t go as well as I wanted.

Breakdown of Publication Years?

32 books from 2000s
22 books from 1900s
3 books from 1800s

Oldest book read?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)

Longest and shortest book titles?

Longest: a tie between The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Bone Vol 5: Rock Jaw Master of the Eastern Border.
Shortest: Silk by Alessandro Baricco (I have a lot of one word title books, but this is the one with the least number of characters)

Shortest and longest books?

Longest: The Woman in White (609 pp) — very close tie with the last two volumes of Harry Potter (at 607 pp each)
Shortest: Silk again, at 91 pp

Breakdown of Ratings?

Most books I read got 4 stars rating, which means “enjoyable”. I’m happy that the graph is slightly better than 2008.

How many challenges completed?

14! A record for me! (The earliest at the bottom)

  1. Orbis Terrarum Challenge 2009
  2. The Spice of Life Challenge
  3. Herding Cats II: Attack of the Hairball
  4. Lost in Translation Challenge
  5. (Another) 1% Well-Read Challenge
  6. Graphic Novels Challenge 2009
  7. The Dream King Challenge
  8. Dewey’s Books Reading Challenge
  9. Book Awards Challenge III
  10. R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IV
  11. Banned Book Challenge 2009
  12. Once Upon a Time III
  13. Book Awards Challenge II
  14. Japanese Literature Challenge 2

Did not complete?

None! I can’t be more proud of myself :D. I seemed to be able to focus this year. I failed some challenges last year that I promised myself not to join any more challenges, and I did anyway. But it ended up well!

Perpetual Challenges Progress

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

I read 12 books from the list this year, increasing my percentage from 1.19% to 2.79% (28 books out of 1001).

  1. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
  2. Intimacy by Hanif Kureishi
  3. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  4. Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
  5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  6. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  7. Silk by Alessandro Baricco
  8. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
  9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  10. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  11. If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino
  12. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

My absolute favorite is Middlesex, which became one of my top books of all time. I can’t be any happier with this progress, as my percentage used to be rather pathetic. My goal is to read at least 5% from the list, so with this rate I can probably achieve that in 3 years time.

Pulitzer Prize

  1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Winner 2003)
  2. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman (Winner 1992 Special Awards and Citations – Letters)
  3. Cathedral by Raymond Carver (Finalist 1984) — just part of it as it’s a short stories collection
  4. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Winner 1983)

I’ve decided to read more Pulitzer in 2010 as I was so impressed with the winners I read.

Booker Prize

  1. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Longlist 2004)
  2. Disgrace by J M Coetzee (Winner 1999)

Uum.. a bit embarassing, but I’m trying! Loved both books.

Orange Prize

  1. Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie (Shortlist 2009)
  2. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Shortlist 2004)

Didn’t like Burnt Shadows, but loved Purple Hibiscus. I’m still unsure if Orange Prize works well for me.

Reading the World

New countries added this year: Pakistan, Nigeria, South Africa, Australia (yea!), Italy, Poland. 6 countries! Not bad. Full list here. I hope to add at least 5 new countries each year.

Disney Literature Challenge

Just one: Disney vs. Dickens on A Christmas Carol

But I plan to tackle Alice and Pooh this year. Cross fingers it goes well!

What did you learn about yourself, reading, and blogging this year?

I learned that

  • I can complete challenges if I don’t make a predefined list at the beginning.
  • I’m not ready to accept books for review, because the obligatory reading ruined it for me.
  • It’s not possible to make money from affiliate links.
  • I have to keep reminding myself that I read and blog for me, that it’s my outlet of creativity and learning, and nothing else should matter that much.
  • The best thing about book blogging is making friends with fellow book readers :)

Unrelated Sudden Melancholy Reminiscence

My first post on this blog was on the 20th of October 2007. It’s kinda buried because I have migrated old reviews with backdated posts here. But that should be my official first post here. I was hanging out a lot at bookcrossing site before I found book bloggers, but then I sort of outgrew that and needed more space and control for my writing. I made some friends at bookcrossing, but they faded away since I stopped hanging out there. I’m now making friends in book blogging community. I wonder sometimes if you would fade away too once I stop blogging. Then it’d be like we never knew each other, even if we happen to cross path in real life (though that should be very unlikely to happen). That’s the thing about virtual friends. Internet is the only thing that connects you with. Once you stop “logging in”, it’d be like you never existed.

Have you ever wondered when you will stop blogging?

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19 thoughts on “2009 In Review”

    1. vivienne, I’m not sure if I’m impressed myself. I might have a slight prejudice on women authors, that their stories would be too girly (sometimes I’m conscious about it, sometimes not). I know I shouldn’t, but my stat seems to prove that. I need to do some soul searching :P

    1. In my case, I wish I’d liked Kafka on the Shore, but I just didn’t! I know you loved Kafka, so I guess we’re on the opposite sides for these two books.

  1. I’m itching to read Middlesex, but I’ve got so many library books on my shelves that I simply have to go through those before I even think of starting on the pile of books I own. At least they don’t have due dates.

    And it’s funny. Because you’ve mentioned so many times that Burnt Shadows was a disappointment for you, and yet, I have this weird wanting to read it. Must be the title. It just sounds so… it sounds like something I’d want to pick up if I saw it on the shelf. I’m a sucker for good intriguing titles..

    Anyway, congrats on completing all the challenges. =)
    .-= [Michelle (su[shu])´s last blog: [SS] Five by Endo – Shusaku Endo] =-.

    1. I often return library books to borrow again at a later date. I find it quite satisfying sometimes to just have the books in my house for a while :D

      I feel kinda bad that I mentioned Burnt Shadows so many times negatively. It’s just that the premise sounded promising (it starts in Japan!), but then it just kept going downhill. And at the end I was just pissed. Another reason is that the book was included in a few challenges, so I must’ve mentioned it in each wrap-up post :). If you’re interested to read it, you should. I know a lot of people liked it. In fact, I can’t remember reading any bad review about it. Maybe it’s just me. I’d be very interested to know what you think about the book!

  2. I’m quite embarrassed by my year-in-review post after seeing this. Congratulations on finishing all fourteen challenges. That’s very very impressive.

    Also, 12 books from the 1001 Books To Read List is quite praiseworthy. The only book that I crossed with your list was The Color Purple. However, I do have Middlesex set aside for next month, and after this post, I can’t wait to read it. It does sound amazing!!

    With respect to your last question – the good thing about the internet is that your blog will still be around, even if you stop logging in. Google will still find your blog, unless you delete your site permanently, and I really really really hope you never do that!!! I’ve been blogging for about a year now, and sometimes, I do feel too lazy to write reviews, or blog about the books I’ve read. However, I feel that I’ve finally found so many people who share my love of books that it would be almost tragic to turn my back on blogging (and subsequently, all the amazing people who keep recommending more and more books to me).
    .-= [anothercookiecrumbles´s last blog: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix {Audio Book}] =-.

    1. Thanks anothercookie, I’m very happy with the 14 challenges and 12 1001 books, yes! :) Don’t worry about your year-in-review post. I just went over the top. I hope you get to read Middlesex soon. Would love to know what you think about it.

      You’re right about my blog being around. That’s another best thing about blogging, there’s history of you that gets recorded –your thoughts and opinions at that particular time. I sometimes look back on the old posts and I’m so glad I wrote them. It also means there’s record for all the comments and discussions here, so even if people fade away someday, we left something behind to cherish in the future. You know, you just made me feel better about the whole thing. Thank you :)

    1. I do believe we have a very similar taste in reading Jackie. That’s why I pay close attention to your reviews. I like how you’re always being honest too and never sugar-coat anything. Hope you get to read those authors this year. With your speed of reading, I’m sure you can fit them somewhere in your reading schedule!

  3. I totally understand that Middlesex ended high on your list! You know I’ve read it as part of a BOOKCROSSING BOOKRING! LOL It was a long time ago though… *shuffles off to find the journal entry* August 2004!
    .-= [Gnoe´s last blog: Bloggiesta Afterparty] =-.

    1. I’m not sure if you’d like Carver actually. His prose is very sparse, so there’s not much you can say about it. But go try him, I’d love to know what you think :)

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