2016 Wrap Up

It’s that time of the year again!

Unfortunately I fell into a deep reading slump sometime around November, and I have not gotten out of it. I was quite on track for a lot of my goals for 2016 at the beginning of the year, but it just petered out badly at the end of the year.

So in 2016, I read 35 books. One of my main goals was to read at least 50% female authors. Sad to say that I badly failed on this. I thought I could count graphic novels separate to novels (as the majority of graphic novels authors are male) and have a more balanced number. But even after having graphic novels in separate group, the female author number stayed stagnant almost the whole year. I could blame other factors, like how my book groups tend to choose male authors over female. But hey, it is what it is. It may just be by setting goal I set myself to failure. Maybe a more natural approach works better for me. So I’m not setting this goal again for 2017, and I’ll see if I do better that way.

Of the 35 books:

20% by women, 54% by men, 26% by both genders

51% translated works (even though high percentage was not a goal)

I started Middlemarch as planned, and read halfway. I intend to continue, but accepted a couple of months ago that I wouldn’t be able to finish it this year.

Also cant’ read because my cat uses Middlemarch as paw-rest.

The following are 2016 reading goals that I kept on my personal notebook. Might as well share them:

Completed goals

3 books from 500 great books by women:

  1. The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi
  2. The Lover – Marguerite Duras
  3. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

6 African books (The World’s Literature GR group – African Festival Challenge):

  1. Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka (Nigeria)
  2. The Meursault Investigation – Kamel Daoud (Algeria)
  3. Season of Migration to the North – Tayeb Salih (Sudan)
  4. Palace Walk – Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt)
  5. The Book of Chameleons (Angola)
  6. Aya of Yop City (Aya #2) by Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie (Ivory Coast)

3 new-to-me African Countries:

  1. Season of Migration to the North – Tayeb Salih (Sudan)
  2. Palace Walk – Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt)
  3. The Book of Chameleons (Angola)

2 countries I’ve visited and not yet read:

  1. The Summer Book – Tove Jansson (Finland)
  2. The Vegetarian – Han Kang (South Korea)

2 new-to-me Nobel winners: 

  1. Death and the King’s Horseman – Wole Soyinka
  2. Palace Walk – Naguib Mahfouz
  3. No Man’s Land – Harold Pinter

5 books from 1001 books You must read before you die:

  1. A Room with a View – E. M. Forster
  2. Season of Migration to the North – Tayeb Salih
  3. The Lover – Marguerite Duras
  4. The Summer Book – Tove Jansson
  5. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  6. 1984 – George Orwell
  7. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Incomplete goals

1 New Zealand: 0

2 new-to-me Caribbean / South American countries: 0

3 books by Women of Colour 

  1. The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi
  2. The Vegetarian – Han Kang

5 books from 100 best novels written in English

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  2. 1984 – George Orwell
  3. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

10 classics (pre-1966)

  1. The Waiting Years – Fumiko Enchi – 1957
  2. A Room with a View – E. M. Forster -1908
  3. Season of Migration to the North – Tayeb Salih – 1966
  4. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde – 1890
  5. Palace Walk – Naguib Mahfouz – 1958
  6. Orwell, George – 1984 (1949)
  7. The Book of Tea – Kakuzo Okakura (1906)
  8. Hell Screen – Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1918)
  9. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath (1963)

1 Persephone: 0

1 Peirene: 0

1 Pushkin: 0

Looking forward to 2017

I’m going to bring over the incomplete goals to the new year and see if I can finish them by the middle of this year. I already finished 1 Pushkin book, and review is coming soon.

I have the usual few perpetual goals (on my top and side bars) to keep me busy. Apart from that, I just want to keep reading, and reading diversely. I also want to pick up writing again, and realise that once I do, it will eat my reading time, and I’m okay with that. I’ve been picking up games again, games with good, immersive stories, and I love it. I’ve also been catching up on TV series I’ve been meaning to watch.

I think my goal for 2017 is to keep the pressure off and let myself be immersed in whatever form of storytelling I feel like being in that time, and it’s okay if it may not always be books.

Year 2015 Wrap Up and 2016 Plans

Happy new year good readers!

Oxford St, London
A picture I took on Christmas Eve at Oxford St, London

I haven’t done stats for a long time on this blog, but with all the diversity talks that seem to happen recently *cough* #diversedecember #ReadDiverse2016, I feel inclined to do so.

So in 2015 I read 26 books + 1 Happy Reader (the latter I don’t count for the purpose of below stats, because even though it has an ISBN and a Goodreads page it’s contributed by various people).

And of those 26 books:

10 by women (38%)

and 16 by men (62%)

of those, 11 were white men (42%)

7 PoC / BAME authors (27%)

9 translated (35%)

22 new-to-me authors (85%)

So far in my reading quests I never aimed to have gender balance (meaning I just read what I need to read) because I was catching up with the so-called “English canon” and well aware a lot of them are dead white male authors. Considering that, my gender stats in 2015 isn’t bad I think, but in 2016 for the first time I’m going to make a conscious decision to read at least 50% of female authors and I’m going to keep track of it to make sure this happens.

I was always a bit unsure about the whole PoC/BAME concept. I support diversity of course, but I didn’t see much point when one of my most important reading project is Reading the World. My aim is always to learn culture that is different than mine, that is unfamiliar, so in that regards reading from different countries fills that need. A conversation with a fellow Goodreader enlightened me that the PoC (Person of Color) term is really US-centric (while BAME / Black Asian Minority Ethnic is UK-based term), and it may not fit very well outside of that context. I don’t know about you, but apparently someone needed to spell it out for me to make sense of it, finally! In any way, I’m pretty happy with my percentage 27% when combined with the overlapping 35% translated works, considering I didn’t even make an effort.

The 85% new-to-me authors was expected, and seems I will continue the trend for many years.

What I’m most surprised of is that 50% of these (13 books) are by Americans! WHAT. I always felt I read more British authors. I was definitely delusional. The other 50% are divided between English, Irish, Dutch, Japanese, German, French, Argentine, Chinese, Malaysian, Austrian.

Of the 26 books, the majority are novels, apart from:

4 non-fiction

2 plays

4 short stories collection

1 essays collection

2 graphic novels + 1 manga + 1 illustrated book

Happy with these. It’s the first year I started reading plays, and I will read more in 2016. Reading short stories collection is kinda new to me too, as in the past years I often just picked a story here and there from a collection. Having finished 4 collections, I’m now a complete convert. I think reading short stories as a collection is the way to go. Reading one random short story is rarely satisfying in my opinion, but by reading a collection you really get the style of the author and what they’re trying to say, which you wouldn’t get by reading just one story (and that’s if it’s the *right* story).

Reading projects stats

7 1001 books

1 new-to-me Nobel prize winner

4 new countries

A bit disappointed at the Nobel project. I had Orhan Pamuk book on my night stand in the last couple of months of 2015 but didn’t really start to read. I already line up a few Nobel authors for 2016 though so hope I can make amends. Will continue doing these projects, with my new 50 Classics in 5 Years project with the Classics Club – who’s by the way doing a Women’s Classics Literature event in 2016.

I’m not even going to make an attempt to collate favorite reads this year, as they were all good, and there was no dud. But I can say my new-to-me favorite authors are Edith Wharton, Yukio Mishima, and Stefan Zweig – all of whom I already plan to read again in 2016.

For 2016, I have bits and bobs of reading goals, nothing huge, just lots of varieties. One thing of note is I try to read one big classic per year (I might have skipped 2015, but the previous year I read Great Expectations), and this year I’m going to read Middlemarch. It seems to pop up a lot in the past few months, so I got myself the beautiful Penguin cloth-bound copy, and I’m all ready to start… in February. It’s over 800 pages, so I plan to spread it out in 8 months, and maybe write a post every 200 pages. Do let me know if you want to be my reading buddy for Middlemarch.

Wish you another great year of reading!

Best of 2014 and Wishes for 2015

Happy new year good readers :)

I read 35 books in 2014, 10 short stories (that are not part of a finished short story collection), and watched 101 movies (!). I’m particularly happy with the number of books, as my book number had been pretty horrendous since I came to London 3.5 years ago. For the past 3 years, my number did not even reach 20 books per year. The last year I read this much was back in 2010, with 36 books (I came to London in May 2011). So I can’t tell you how happy I am with 2014, reading-wise :)

My year in books of 2014 is nicely summarized on this Goodreads page. Looking at those covers, the first book seems aeons ago, maybe because this year I read more than I have usually in the past years. Say, my first book of 2014 was 34 books ago – a big number of books to digest and remember.

Though I’m a bit scared to pick favorites, I shall do so. My favorite books of 2014 are, in the chronological order of my reading them:

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth — Reza Aslan

Zealot - Reza Aslan

I did not post a review for this book, which I read very early in the year, and has probably become one of the most influential books in my life. I did write a post, but at the end just decided to keep it private. I did not think this book is offensive in any way, but it is in many ways challenging the religious interpretation of Jesus of Nazareth, and I worried that what I wrote could offend or provoke arguments, which I won’t be interested to delve much into (religious argument is one of the things I take least interest in in this world). But if like me you have interest in history and want to know more about Jesus the person as a historical figure, this book is for you.

This is London — Miroslav Sasek

this-is-london-cover

A great picture book that will surely make me continue on the series (I’ve been eyeing This is Britain). I have also passed my copy to my nephew and mom :)

Song of Achilles — Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller

This book reminded me how I love Greek mythology and the time I used to read the stories when I was younger. It’s also possibly the first book that I read featuring gay main characters.

Things Fall Apart — Chinua Achebe

things fall apart

Many people seem to have read this book in school and remember it as one of those books you’re forced to read in school and therefore did not fully enjoy it. Well I only read it last year and absolutely loved it. For me this is as good as a classic can go.

Oscar Wilde: The Complete Short Stories — Oscar Wilde

oscar wilde complete short stories

Love Oscar Wilde. The more I read his works the more I love him.

Fictions / Ficciones — Jorge Luis Borges

Fictions - Borges

This book opened my world about what fiction could do.

Gone Girl — Gillian Flynn

gone girl

I don’t read many mystery drama at all, so maybe that’s why I found this so compelling? I couldn’t stop reading and finished the book in only a few days — completely exhausted at the end of it that I could not get myself to start a new book in a while. For enjoyability factor, I rated Gone Girl very highly!

I read more great books in 2014, but based mostly on impact and lasting factors, I would pick these books to be the top … seven — an arbitrary number, I know.

I don’t usually give any mention for the worst book of the year, but I will this year because it is so clear for me (some years I did not have the worst book) and I really, really, disliked it. It is also a very popular book that has one of the highest rating on goodreads and it’s only on the bestseller list for a million weeks, so I’m sure nobody will care about my unfortunate award.

*drum roll*

The Book Thief — Markus Zusak

book thief - markus zusak

Hate. Just hated it. A very long melodrama about what is a very little story, with silly gimmicks all over the place. What a big waste of time.

But let’s go back to being happy.

Apart from the number of books, I’m also happy to have read 3 new-to-me Nobel prize winners, read from 3 new countries, 9 books from the 1001 books list, and 10 short stories — all of which I would really like to do again for 2015.

For 2015 I’m not gonna set myself any kind of goal or reading resolution or challenges. Let’s just say I wish to read another 3 new Nobel prize winners, 3 new countries, at least 10 short stories, and however many books from the 1001 books list (as I’m already quite happy with the percentage I’ve read). So if I don’t reach these numbers I’ll be totally fine, as there is always another year :)

Hope you’re doing well too and wish you a good reading year ahead!

 

2012 and 2013 Stuff

Happy belated new year y’all! I just came back from my 17-days road trip around Spain, Gibraltar, and Morocco a few days ago (follow Wandering Mee for travel related content), got a bit ill, got back to work, and overall am just trying to catch up with real life!

2012 has been an okay year reading-wise. As older blogging friends probably know, my reading has gone down terribly since I came to London in May 2011. But in the past couple of months I feel like I start getting a bit of the groove back. So I’m feeling good about 2013!

My plan is to KISS – Keep it Super Simple ;). Read books I’ve always been meaning to read. I’ll be prioritizing British authors and books that are set in London/Britain. Fall in the categories are Philip Pullman, Jeanette Winterson, The Secret History, Sherlock Holmes, Rudyard Kipling, Wolf Hall, The Hobbit / LOTR, more Oscar Wilde, more Bill Bryson, more Jane Austen, finishing Jane Eyre (I’m currently in the middle of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and Londoners, both of which are set in London/England and I’m feeling really good about them). Will occasionally fit in American or European authors and book that are set in Europe like Hemingway (Fiesta, Moveable Feast). (update: also E.M. Forster, Graham Greene)

Some books I read in 2012 that I would love to mention:

peter panhalftheskyShortcomingsneither here nor therethe handmaid's tale

Peter Pan — J.M. Barrie
Half the Sky — Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn
Shortcomings — Adrian Tomine
Neither Here Nor There — Bill Bryson
The Handmaid’s Tale — Margaret Atwood

Three of them I never talked about in Bookie Mee, oh no! Though I’m sure I will mention some of them again, like Peter Pan, which I absolutely completely and utterly fell in love with. Words of J.M. Barrie pierced my heart, just like Oscar Wilde (who I also read this year, but have not mentioned, because I haven’t finished his whole collection of short stories). You know, the type that make your heart vibrate and hum. Love <3.

Half the Sky, what an important book. I am not new of stories of hardships in third world countries, but I admit I had to stop a couple of times when reading the book because it got too difficult to swallow. Very painful at times, but also very hopeful. Each chapter is closed with a hopeful inspiring story of real people doing real work out there. I have the deepest admiration for the couple journalists Nic Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn and am now following their social media to get updates and opinions from the field.

Shortcomings in many ways surprised me in its rawness and honesty in portraying Asian Americans. I definitely will look out Adrian Tomine’s books again anytime in the future. Bill Bryson is another wonderful finding in 2012, an author whose books I want to read all now! I have to stop myself binging his books too soon. The Handmaid’s Tale helped me in getting my reading mojo back by being extremely readable. What to say, Atwood does good stories.

So there you go, sort of mini-reviews of much loved books :)

I also feel like mentioning some books that were out in 2012 that I’m dying to read below. I’m such a bad reviewer, I would rather wait until everyone reads first before deciding that I want to read them too! So note that I have NOT read the books below! :)

building storiesgrimm talessong of achilles
Building Stories by Chris Ware, Grimm Tales by Philip Pullman, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I’m dying — DYING I tell you! — to read Building Stories! Graphic novel that comes in board-game-like packaging?! I just need to wait until I succumb and buy it! The same with Grimm Tales. I’m a BIG sucker for original fairy tales — I devour them like candies, so original Grimm tales with notes sound like absolutely my thing! Mine! (I’m probably more excited about the notes than the tales even) The same with Greek mythology, nom nom nom! It’s really only a matter of time before I get to these three books!

gone girljoseph antonready player one

Another three that intrigue me: Gone Girl — Gillian Flynn, Joseph Anton — Salman Rushdie, Ready Player One — Ernest Cline

Both Gone Girl and Ready Player One are highly influenced by my favourite podcasters Michael from Books on the Nightstand and Gavin from The Readers :).

I haven’t read many, or any reviews at all in fact, for Joseph Anton. But Salman Rushdie is someone I had heard since I was small, from my dad. Far before I knew his books, far before I read in English. I heard the stories of him being chased after by Ayatollah Khomeini for writing Satanic Verses, and it stuck with me until now. So it was rather an out-of-this-world experience when I had the chance to see him talk about Joseph Anton a few months back, somewhere near Soho. He was a childhood story then, and he is a living author now. Living to tell the experience of being hunted by the Muslim extremists and going into hiding (Joseph Anton was the fake name he used during that period). I may not get to read Joseph Anton anytime soon, but it’s definitely one I would read in the future.

Just a little personal story, after I went to his talk that night, I wrote my dad an email after: dad, do you remember when you told me the story about Salman Rushdie, back when I was in primary school? He’s able to write his story now after 15 years in hiding and I went to see him talking about it.

And he was quite impressed to say the least. First probably because I do remember everything he told me, and second that I have now seen him in person.

*cough* excuse the little father-daughter moment :)

 

A 2010 Wrap-up Meme

from Matt:

The first book you read in 2010: Waiting by Ha Jin

The last book you finished in 2010: Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks

Your favorite “classic” you read in 2010: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

The book series you read the most volumes of in 2010: Bone by Jeff Smith (the last 2)

The genre you read the most in 2010: Literary Fiction and Comics

The book that disappointed you: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (just because expectation was high!)

The book you liked better than you expected to: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (my first experience with GGM was lukewarm)

The hardest book you read in 2010 (topic or writing style): The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (because of all the swearings)

The funniest book you read in 2010: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (did I laugh!)

The saddest book you read in 2010: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

The shortest book you read in 2010: The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (149 pp)

The longest book you read in 2010: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (614 pp)

A book that you discovered in 2010 that you will definitely read again: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

A book that you never want to read again: I don’t generally reread books, so almost all of them.

And you?

I Spent My New Year in a Tow Truck (Plus 2010 In Review)

Yes I spent a good portion of my new year’s eve on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, about an hour from Melbourne. It was the hottest day of the summer of 39C and our car gave up (or blew up–I saw smoke). While waiting for the tow truck we were in pitch dark, me with a tiny torchlight on occasionally. Close to midnight the truck came and off we went to the closest small town. We cheered Happy New Year with the driver, who happened to be really nice. Then we finished off the night sleeping in the car. Woke up once because it got really cold (that’s Melbourne for you–four seasons in one day) and took our sleeping bags out. Spent new year morning in the garage parking lot with nobody at sight, because everything only opens on Tuesday the 4th.

But enough of the drama. At least we’re here in Sydney again, safe and sound, save the car and half of its content. We’ll have to go back to pick up the car later and I have yet to figure out when and how. Before the abrupt end of our journey though, I had the most fantastic time revisiting Melbourne. I lived there for 6 years before and it’s like my second home. It’s the place I live the longest in apart from my birth city. Had so much fun roaming around the city and revisited my favorite places.

melbourne central

What you may not realize is that all your year-end blog posts have kept me company during my darkest hours (literally) as I was reading them on my iPhone, praying for the battery to last longer. I love reading all of the Best Of 2010 lists and statistics and whatnot. Have not commented on any of them I believe, but I’ve been reading. So thank you all, for being around, not just in that pitch darkness, but for this whole year (and for some of you, even years before). I haven’t been the most active bloggers around as I struggle to juggle (hey that rhymes) all aspects of life but I know I want to keep this blog breathing. I get such fantastic reads and recommendations from book bloggers that it’s hard to imagine going through reading life alone ever again.

So talking about fantastic reads, the year of 2010 I believe has been my most successful. Not in numbers, definitely not, as I have only managed to read 35 books (in comparison with my highest number in 2009 of 57 books), but boy do I struggle to pick my favorites as I have so many of them! I gave so many 5 stars this year I thought I might’ve been getting soft. But really, why not 5 stars, if they’re all amazing?! I think as a reader I might just start to know which books are for me and which ones are not. Anyway let’s get on to the whole wrap-up thing. The format I took from my 2009 in review, which I think works quite well.

Favorite Books of 2010

Favorite Novels of 2010 (in the order of reading)

WaitingFlowers for AlgernonA Fine BalanceThe History of Lovealices-adventures-in-wonderland-and-through-the-looking-glass-and-what-alice-found-thereone hundred years of solitudeThe-Unbearable-Lightness-of-BeingThe Remains of the Day

  1. Waiting by Ha Jin
  2. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  3. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  4. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  7. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  8. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Favorite Non Fiction of 2010

Banker to the Poornine-parts-of-desire-the-hidden-world-of-islamic-women

  1. Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus
  2. Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks

Actually, they’re the only 2 non-fiction I read this year (apart a couple of graphic memoirs), both my last books of the year (review pending for Nine Parts of Desire). But both are superb!

Favorite Graphic Novel/Comic/Manga/Picture Book of 2010

Pride of BaghdadThe Contract with God Trilogy

pedro and meOishinbo Ramenlost-thing

  1. Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon
  2. The Contract with God Trilogy by Will Eisner
  3. Pedro and Me by Judd Winick (memoir)
  4. The Oishinbo series by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki (read two, can’t pick one)
  5. The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan (could’ve as well picked The Red Tree, but I haven’t reviewed that)

Did I just pick half of what I read in 2010 as favorites? Ah well, who’s counting right? Hope this year everything I read will be a favorite! Yes, I have great hopes!

How many books read in 2010?

I read 35 books and 16 short stories. A decline in number as I read 57 books in 2009 and 39 books in 2008, but a definite increase in quality!

How many fiction and nonfiction?

31 fiction (88.5%) and 4 non fiction (11.5%). Still struggling to increase the non fiction percentage.

Format breakdown?

20 all-text books (57%), 15 comics/picture books (43%). No audio book for me this year, I guess I’m just not really into it. The percentage is very similar with last year.

How many female and male authors?

1 male & female collaboration, 11 female (31.5%), 23 male (66%). Slightly better than last year, which was 25%/75% for female/male percentage, which shocked me.

How many new authors?

28 new authors (collaborating authors count as one). So only 8 books are not-new-to-me authors. That’s 80% new authors. I may try to keep this up in 2011 as there are a lot of new authors I want to try.

Favorite new authors?

Rohinton Mistry, Angela Carter, Nicole Krauss, Lewis Carroll, Eileen Chang, Gabriel García Márquez, Milan Kundera, Geraldine Brooks.

Angela Carter and Eileen Chang’s books didn’t quite make it to the top list, but I’d definitely love to read more of them. GGM book wasn’t a new author to me, but One Hundred Years of Solitude secured him on my favorite authors list. Some of my favorite books’ authors are not here because I have a feeling they might just be a one-hit wonder (e.g. Waiting, Flowers for Algernon), but I could be wrong!

Most read author of the year?

Shaun Tan (3 books). Who’s surprised?

Biggest disappointment of the year?

I would say Mouse Guard Fall 1152 by David Petersen and Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett didn’t quite meet my rather high expectations. But they’re not bad books.

Breakdown of Publication Years?

2 from 1800s (5%), 16 from 1900s (46%), 17 from 2000s (49%). Expected.

Oldest book read?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)

Breakdown of Ratings?

2010 ratings

Definitely the best so far! I read so many excellent books and no bad books! A happy reader I am!

How many challenges completed?

11 challenges (link will bring you to my Challenges and Projects 2010 that I just collected yesterday)

Perpetual Projects Progress

The individual project pages are on my side bar if you’re interested.

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

I read 9 books from the list in 2010, a slight off from the ideal 10 as I couldn’t finish the last one before the end of year (I read 12 in 2009). But I’m okay with that. It increased my percentage of 2.8% of the original 1001 books list to 3.7%. Slowly slowly getting there to 5%, maybe will reach that in 1012.

  1. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  2. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  3. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  5. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (this is actually a short story, don’t know why it’s on the list. You can read this quickly to up your number :)
  8. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I must say they’re all great books that I read this year. Several of them made to the top of my favorites of the year as you can see!

Reading the World

New countries added in 2010: Bangladesh, Canada (really?), Czechoslovakia. Pretty bad. Hope to add more countries to the list in 2011.

Pulitzer Prize

  1. Waiting by Ha Jin (Finalist 2000)
  2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Winner 1961)
  3. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (Winner 1932)

Loved all of them.

Booker Prize

  1. Room by Emma Donoghue (shortlist 2010)
  2. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (longlist 2010)
  3. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (shortlist 1996)
  4. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (winner 1989)

All great books. The Slap is my least favorite, but it’s alright.

Commonwealth Writers’ Prize

This is a fairly new award that I just paid attention to last year, so I haven’t made much progress on it (full list here). But it’s an award that I would keep my eye on this year. Books read in 2010:

  1. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (SE Asia and South Pacific Best Book and Best Overall Book 2009)
  2. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (Canada and the Caribbean Best Book and Best Overall Book 1996)

Nobel Laureates in Literature

  1. Gabriel Garcia Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude
  2. Pearl S. Buck: The Good Earth (new-to-me author, sort of)

Special mention: Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus (winner of Nobel Peace Prize in 2006)

Orange Prize

  1. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (shortlist 2006)

The History of Love is on my favorite books of all time. But Orange Prize and me don’t seem to connect well, as not many books seem to interest me.

Disney Literature Challenge

Just one: Disney vs. Carroll on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Couldn’t get to Pooh. This year I’m sure! Peter Pan might be next.

I might add Guardian’s 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read to my Perpetual Projects. Like I don’t have enough, eh?

If you’re still here. Congratulations, you made it! :) Thank you for staying with me and Bookie Mee up to this point. Here’s to more excellent reading years ahead!

Update 4 Jan ’11

A couple more stats that I picked up from others, just for my own notes:

Where did the books come from?

Own 19 books (received from publishers 3 books, from other–Claire–1 book) (54.5%), 16 books from the library (45.5%).

Translated books?

7 books (20%)

POC?

17 books (49%)

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

Outliers

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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