Top Ten Tuesday: Books that have been on my TBR longest…

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme and these days it’s hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. 

If all Top Ten Tuesdays were about books I haven’t read yet then it’d be easy. Here are some of the ones that have been on my shelves for an embarrassingly long time:

1. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I’m not sure how many times I’ve started this and given up but I’m hopeful I might actually get through it soon. I recently read Mrs Dalloway and loved it to bits so fingers crossed.

2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Ok. That’s it. I have to read this in 2018.

3. The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I started this and gave up quite quickly about ten years ago but I’ve always intended to go back to it.

4. Stormbird (Wars of the Roses #1) by Conn Iggulden. This was a birthday present from P about four years ago. To be honest, I totally forgot I had it and I feel pretty bad about it. Soon, Stormbird, soon.

5. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. I bought this at an airport with the intention of reading it on my upcoming flight. One trip to Amsterdam and eleven years later it remains unopened. Is it any good? That’s what I’d like to know.

6. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell. This is a relic from my BBC Big Read days. I started it twice and gave up both times. I

7. For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. I just never seem to be in the mood for Ernest Hemingway.

8. Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I had the book sitting on my shelf for a few years before the film came out and now I’ve seen the film I’m not sure I want to read it.

9. Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey. I seem to have gone off the idea of reading this book almost immediately after I bought it. Maybe this year.

10. A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel. If only this wasn’t so huge!

That’s it for this time, folks. Thanks for reading!

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My bookish year in numbers

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It’s become a bit of a tradition now for me to do a final stats post to mark the end of each year. I like it; it’s only when I write these posts that I really think about what I’ve read and what it says about my reading habits.

I had a sneaking suspicion that I hadn’t read as much as usual this year but it’s nice to see that really the damage isn’t as bad as expected. Here is my reading year in numbers:

In 2017 I read 25 novels and 2 short stories.

Before cancelling my Audible subscription I listened to 2 audio books (Charlotte Bronte: A Life by Claire Harman and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain – both unblogged).

I failed to finish 1 book (Doctor Zhivago).

The oldest novel I read was published in 1848 (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) but the two short stories I read were published in 1837 and 1838.

The newest book I read was published in 2016 (The Essex Serpent).

Only 8% of the books I read this year were published before 1900.

56% were published in the 20th century.

36% were published this century.

Just over half – 52% to be precise – were by British authors but in total I read books by authors of 12 different nationalities from 5 different continents.

I visited 8 new places on my Around The World in 80 Books tour.

15 books were written by women and 10 by men.

The longest novel I read contained over 800 pages (The Luminaries – I’ve now lent it to a friend so I can’t give you an exact figure on the page numbers).

The shortest had 190 pages (4.50 From Paddington).

I read 2 more books from the BBC’s Big Read (Midnight’s Children and Katherine).

My most popular blog post of this year – based on hits received – was this post on the books I’ve struggled to finish. Since it was published last month it’s been viewed 55 times which, for this quiet little blog, is loads.

One of the things I like about these posts is being able to compare to previous years and I’m reassured to see I’ve only read one book less than last year. I read more books by women this year (a conscious effort) and far fewer classic Victorian novels (completely unintentional, I had no idea). For some reason my choices seem to be shifting back towards modern literature but I think that’s because I’m still trying really hard to read books by a more diverse range of authors. That’s going pretty well all in all; I read slightly fewer non-English authors this year but I did read books by authors from Algeria, America, Finland, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Scotland and the West Indies. I’m pretty happy with that.

I just realised I didn’t read any French or Russian authors this year. How strange.

Anyhoo, before I go I’ll leave you with an entirely smug and gratuitous photograph of all the books I received over the holidays from my lovely family and friends. I’m a lucky girl.

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They are currently piled up in an armchair while I work out where the hell I’m going to put them all. Ho hum….

Happy new year all 🙂

My Favourite Books of 2017

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It’s only as I’ve been looking back over the past 12 months of blog posts that I realised how many great books I’ve read this year. It’s made this an uncomfortable post to write – there’s been quite a bit of head scratching and agonising over the final ten – but I think I’m happy with the list now. These are the ones I think I enjoyed most, in no particular order (you can click on the title to go to my post):

1. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh. Waugh’s roller-coaster ride around 1920s London was both hilarious and disturbing. I need more Waugh in my life soon.

2. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. This was beautifully gentle and heart-warming. I loved it.

3. The Plague by Albert Camus. Not gentle or heart-warming at all but you’ve got to admire any book that makes you feel physically exhausted afterwards…. right?

4. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. All the adjectives I could use to describe this book – intense, unsettling, claustrophobic – feel a bit negative, and yet….. It’s brilliant.

5. War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans. You should read this.

6. His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. I don’t often say that I couldn’t put a book down but this was very much the exception to that rule.

7. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. It’s the hardest book I read this year and it often made my head spin but I’m so pleased I didn’t give up on this one.

8. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. Usually I don’t include rereads on these lists but I’ve made an exception in this case since it was so much better the second time round.

9. Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. Just lovely.

10. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Oh my days. I feel like I’ve done nothing but rave on and on about this novel for the past few weeks. Everyone must be sick of it.

Can you believe we’re at the end of the year already? Crazy. Here’s to some similarly brilliant novels in the new year 🙂