Wednesday, 1 January 2014

My 2013 reading

2013 has been a thin year for both reading and blogging.  I plan to submit my thesis in the spring, so both should pick up a bit during 2014.

How many books read in 2013?
39 books read in total; I haven’t counted books where I only read one or two chapters. 

Fiction/Non-Fiction ratio?
18 fiction and 21 non-fiction; leisure reading has been mostly non-fiction this year, probably because reading fiction takes me straight back to thinking about my thesis.  Where I have read fiction for pleasure it has mostly been crime fiction.

Male/Female authors?
14 books by male authors, and 25 by female authors.  Most of the non-fiction was written by men and I only read a couple of novels by male authors, notably Richard Aldington’s Women Must Work.

Favourite book read?
I can’t pick a favourite even from a paltry total of 38 books, but I very much enjoyed Josephine Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes and The Franchise Affair, Simon Armitage’s Walking Home, Nan Harvey’s The Living Mountain,  Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Are You My Mother? and Rachel Hewitt’s marvellous biography of the Ordnance Survey, Map of a Nation.

Least favourite?
I usually like P.D. James, but Death Comes to Pemberley was a rather dull disappointment, and a waste of some of the wittiest characters in English literature.  I bought it from a charity shop and it returned there, however, so there was some modest benefit to my having read it.

Oldest book read?
Grania: the Story of an Island, by Emily Lawless, which first appeared in 1892 and has recently been republished in a critical edition by Victorian Secrets (disclaimer: I'm a co-director of Victorian Secrets which is mainly run by my partner).  Grania, set on the Aran Islands, is the dramatic story of a young woman's resistance to the norms society expects of her, evoking a very powerful sense of a particular time and place.

Again, thanks to Victorian Secrets I read Carolyn Lambert’s The Meanings of Home in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Fiction before it was published late in 2013.  I don’t know much of Gaskell’s work beyond Cranford, but this was still an absorbing and accessible critical work.

Longest book title?
This is also The Meanings of Home in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Fiction  which just pips Erica Brown’s Comedy and the Feminine Middlebrow Novel, another enjoyable critical work which deals with Elizabeth von Arnim and Elizabeth Taylor.

Shortest title?
Counting spaces as characters, Rose Macaulay’s Potterism was the shortest.

How many re-reads?
Five this year, three E.M. Delafield novels and Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, for thesis purposes.  I read Nan Harvey’s The Living Mountain twice, a few months apart; I should really try to write a post about this book.

Most books read by one author this year?
If I don’t count the EMD re-reads, it’s P.D. James this year, with two of the Inspector Dalgliesh novels as well as her Jane Austen sequel.  

Any in translation?
Nothing this year.

And how many of this year’s books were from the library?

Four library books, one borrowed from a friend, and 5 books read on my e-reader.

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