Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 Round Up

Achievements: This year has been my best reading year to date. I managed a grand total of 132 books. I thought 2010 was a good year when I reached 101 books. I don't expect to ever beat that or get near it any time soon. My days of being able to do little else but read are now few and far between. Still I enjoyed it whilst it lasted and I got a lot of good books in there. It wasn't just quantity.

About half way through the year I decided on a few challenges of my own. The first was to read one classic a month. I had realised that whilst I love classics I very rarely pick them up. After deciding on this challenge I managed 21 for the entire year. That's probably not for from the number I had read altogether up until then. I also decided to give graphic novels a try and spent one month reading them in between other books. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I enjoyed them. Although I still prefer an actual book and I do find them difficult to review. I have a few graphic novels still sitting there so I may do this again.

This year my blogging has taken off. Whilst I started up my blog in August 2010 my posts were few and far between. It was this year that I really took to it after coming across so many fantastic blogs and taking part in a lot of meme's. It's been fun and I hope to keep it up next year although there will be short periods when I won't be able to post quite as much. Thanks to my blog I took part in my first read-a-thon. When I came across Dewey's Read-a-Thon I couldn't help but take part. Unfortunately I couldn't take part again in October but I hope to join again in April and hopefully raise some money for charity.

Thank's to Gabe of Gabriel Reads, I took part in my first online challenge. The challenge was to read some of those books that had been sitting on my shelf for a while. At the start of the year I had 130+ (I stopped counting at 130) books lying around. I signed up for the voracious reader which meant 3 books a month with a break in December. Unfortunately I didn't complete it. I was so busy that I didn't want these books to be the only books I read that month. Having said that I managed to read a few of those books on my list after I had gave up on the challenge. Of my list of 18 books (which you can see here) only three of them are still sitting on my shelf. I think that's something I should be proud of regardless. Dawkins, Coben and Reynolds will have to wait for 2012. My tbr pile is now down to a respectable 45. Still a lot but good for me. I have to confess that two days ago I had a massive book clear out. Mainly books I had read and knew I wouldn't read again (was painful parting with them). This year hasn't been a good YA year for me so I gave away the ones I knew I didn't want to read. I kept a few but the others I felt it was better that a charity shop got something out of them rather than wasting away on my shelves. I am sure someone else will enjoy them better. The rest of my tbr shelf was read over the last year thanks to my strict book buying ban which I broke only in August. I am sure I could have been stricter but considering I have no will power when it comes to books I think I did well.

Anyways, enough of what I felt I achieved. Here are some of my book lists:

Favourite book; This is quite difficult to choose. I found it hard just picking out my top ten (and unbelievably I missed out the latest Thursday Next from that list). However, I think I am going to go with The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins. I loved every second I spent with that book. Whilst a lot of books stood out this one sticks in my mind for sheer enjoyment.

Favourite Non Fiction; This one is easy despite having read more non-fiction this year than usual. It has to be She-Wolves by Helen Castor. It's not often that I can become completely lost in a factual book but I did with this. The author told the history of these women so well that I can't help but want to know more. I am sure to do further reading on these eras just because I enjoyed this book so much.

Favourite Classic; I kind of covered this already with favourite book but I am going to go with the runner up here. Or in the case runners up. First of is The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. I've discovered another author I can't wait to read more of. Her wit was more subtle than Austen's but still put me in mind of her. The second book is A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. After my disappointment of Hard Times this one restored my faith in Dickens. Plus one of the best endings I have ever read.

Favourite Sci Fi/ Fantasy; My science fiction and fantasy reads this year is probably in the smallest minority. Shocking considering how much I once loved these genres. However, I did still read a few and my favourite fantasy is without a doubt "A Game of Thrones" by George R. R. Martin. The first book in the series was a re-read but I still loved it for it's intricate story which only increased in the following books. I have the last paperback in my tbr pile which I will no doubt read early in 2012. As for sci fi, I read fewer of those and so it's easier to chose. Has to be Ilium by Dan Simmons. I love it when a book takes classics into their plot and does it well. Ilium did that and it had me reading the Iliad not long after.

Favourite Crime; This was my year for crime. I read a total of 24. That might not seem a lot but for someone who once said she hated crime it's a fair number. I have to say I have enjoyed my foray into this genre and I plan to continue with it. Hopefully I will try some of the more classics too. It's hard to decide which was my favourite but I think I am going to go with the one classic crime I did read, A Study In Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. I was surprise by how much I enjoyed it and by the little detour it did into the background of one of the characters. I am going to be reading more of these next year.

Favourite Graphic Novel; I find these difficult to review because I am not sure how I should review the art work. I am far from being an expert and this makes me a little nervous. Having said that I did very much enjoy The Watchmen by Alan Moore. I loved the film but the book was so much more intricate. I can see the appeal of the graphic novel format for this alone.

Favourite Re-Read; I don't usually re-read that many books. I have too many sitting on my tbr pile that I feel guilty if I even think about it. I did manage a couple though. Whilst A Game of Thrones may have been my favourite fantasy my favourite re-read was Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. The reason being was that I didn't particularly like the book (nor did I hate it) the first time round. Reading it for the second time I was amazed by how little of it I remembered and how much I enjoyed it. I can see me reading it for a third time at some point.

Most Anticipated Book; I bet I don't really need to list the book I looked forward to most this year. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami is a book that anyone who reads my blog will know has been greatly anticipated by me for two years. Thankfully it was well worth the wait. I think the author outdid himself with this one and I look forward to reading book 3.

Book that surprised; There are a few books that probably come under this. Slaughterhouse 5 and A Clockwork Orange are two that spring to mind basically because I didn't think I would enjoy them but did. However, I am going to go with The Iliad by Homer. I was surprised by not only how much I enjoyed it but by how easy I found it to read. I was expecting to struggle with that one. I loved the poetry format too which was another surprise.

Book I wanted to toss; This last one is the easiest. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. I am actually sorry that I gave it such a high rating on good reads. I gave it three based solely on it's writing. The truth is it annoys me even months after reading it. It was one of the most miserable books I have ever read. It showed everything that was wrong with the world and yet these people somehow manage to get away with it. Even the main character in his own way. It almost celebrated greed. I know a lot of people would say that it wasn't celebrating it but to me it did. Sure some of these horrible people got what they deserved but others were rewarded for it. The book sucked me in though. Every time I would become interested in a character they would then find a way to disgust me.

On that negative note I am going to leave it here. I have rambled on long enough. My last book read this year was Notes On A Scandal by Zoe Heller. A great book but I won't get the chance to review it for a couple of days. I'll also post my plans for the New Year in a few days.

I hope you have all had a fantastic reading year and I can't wait to go round and see how everyone has reviewed their reading year. For now though I am off to spend the New Year with my sister. Hope you all have a good one everyone.


  1. I don't know if you have read a lot of Agatha Christie, but I hope you can read a few of hers next year for your crime choices.

  2. I completely flaked on that challenge. I used to try and read a classic and a non-fiction a month but I think with review books coming in, I've let that slip too. I think 2012 is going to be a year of reading more of what I want but at the same time trying to get through some of that teetering TBR!

  3. Ryan, I love Agatha Christie. I read a few last year and I have another in the pile. Definitely will be reading more. I especially love Poirot.

    Ellie, I think a lot of us stopped that challenge. Reading more of what you want sounds like a good plan.

  4. I read Tom Wolfe for the first time this year, his "A Man in Full". It left me with mixed feelings. Have you read much in the Holmes stories, other than "A Study in Scarlet"?

  5. Bonfire of the Vanities has put me off trying any other books by him sadly. The only other one I have read is Hound of the Baskervilles which I didn't really enjoy. I do have The Sign of Four sitting on my tbr pile. Looking forward to that. What about you?

  6. Woah, you've had a great reading year. I thinkwe read a lot of the same books 2011 and a few of the books I'm looking forward to have been listed here.

    I find myself thinking about A Clockwork Orange every time I have a glass of milk, but still haven't found the will (or courage) to see the film.

  7. Thank you. I don't expect it to be anything like that this year. Last year my job was part time and seasonal and this year I am full time student with little time off. Enjoying it but my reading is definitely going to take a beating.

    Yep, I read a lot more classics this year and I know you've been doing your classics challenge too. I can't get the book out my head either. I doubt very much I will ever have the courage to see the film.