Friday, December 27, 2013

102 books in 2013

My 2013 goal was to read 100 books. I read 102! Not that I earned bragging rights. Scan the list, you'll see several Asimov's, Dahl's, Hornby's and even two Kinsella's...the classics!

Here's a list of the 16 books I gave a full five stars on Goodreads. My absolute favorites are Someone Somewhere, Beside the Sea, The Jungle, Rebecca and Friend of my Youth. I read Dune for the third or fourth time. Just seeing Dune on the list makes me want to read it again. The author Jean Rhys was the best discovery of the year. I will read more Barnes, du Maurier and Munro. I am also reading children's books to my son...many of them for the first time.
  1. Beside the Sea - Olmi, Véronique  
  2. Blindness - Saramago, José  
  3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Dahl, Roald  
  4. Dune - Herbert, Frank  
  5. Friend of My Youth - Munro, Alice  
  6. Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas - Fagan, Cary  
  7. Rebecca - Maurier, Daphne du  
  8. Seeing - Saramago, José  
  9. Someone Somewhere - Mills, Dana 
  10. Swimming Home - Levy, Deborah  
  11. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Twain, Mark 
  12. The Bell Jar - Plath, Sylvia  
  13. The Jungle - Sinclair, Upton  
  14. The Secret Garden - Burnett, Frances Hodgson  
  15. The Sense of an Ending - Barnes, Julian  
  16. Wide Sargasso Sea - Rhys, Jean 
    What did I learn?
    I picked up some knowledge here and there, although that's not really the point of reading fiction. I'm looking for insight and great sentences. When the author has a greater understanding of themselves or this world than I will ever. Take Barnes...when he talks about life in The Sense of an Ending:
    "But time first grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time...give us enough time and our best-supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical."
    Then there is Rhys' Paris set of novels, we meet discarded women who cling to men for support and think of beauty (aging beauty at that) as their only means for survival. In Good Morning Midnight, she is walking about Paris, haunted by memories. The first person narration invites you deep into her melancholia, and it's wonderful:
    “...I know all about myself now, I know. You've told me so often. You haven't left me one rag of illusion to clothe myself in.” 
    Of course, I also read to be entertained by stepping into a story and taking part in another world. When I read Asimov, I enjoy the plot and strange reality. Other times I need a lighter story after reading something particularily dark, and this is when I turn to Hornby.

    Finally, I select books that you are supposed to read. The ones that land on the 'Top' lists. I read them to understand why they are considered great. I want to have my say. If there was a checklist to complete in order to be given the title 'well-read,' I would steadily work through it. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. So many lists, so many different genres. Then, of course, biographies and other non fiction as well. So many books!   
    Now what?
    I'm glad I meet my goal, but I won't repeat it in 2014. I want to spend more time with each book to digest it. Read some Victorian novels (currently reading Bleak House, by Dickens, I doubt I will finish before year end). I'd like to be able to discuss literature intelligently, so I plan on reading critical essays or analysis after the book. Well, this is the plan, anyways. The goal in 2014 is to get more out of what I am reading.

    The list:

    Title Author Rating
    1 The Five People You Meet in Heaven  Albom, Mitch  3
    2 Bastard Out of Carolina  Allison, Dorothy 4
    3 Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson  Anderson, Sherwood 4
    4 Foundation and Earth Asimov, Isaac 1
    5 Foundation's Edge Asimov, Isaac 2
    6 Second Foundation  Asimov, Isaac 3
    7 Foundation and Empire Asimov, Isaac 3
    8 Foundation  Asimov, Isaac 3
    9 Prelude to Foundation  Asimov, Isaac 3
    10 The Currents of Space Asimov, Isaac 3
    11 Pebble in the Sky Asimov, Isaac 3
    12 The Stars, Like Dust Asimov, Isaac 3
    13 Forward the Foundation Asimov, Isaac 4
    14 Alias Grace  Atwood, Margaret  3
    15 Arthur & George  Barnes, Julian 1
    16 The Sense of an Ending  Barnes, Julian 5
    17 Zuleika Dobson: or An Oxford Love Story  Beerbohm, Max 3
    18 Jane Eyre  Brontë, Charlotte 3
    19 The Secret Garden  Burnett, Frances Hodgson 5
    20 Bliss  Carey, Peter 4
    21 A Year in the Merde  Clarke, Stephen 2
    22 Eleanor Rigby  Coupland, Douglas 3
    23 The Red Badge of Courage  Crane, Stephen 3
    24 The Witches  Dahl, Roald 4
    25 Fantastic Mr. Fox  Dahl, Roald 4
    26 James and the Giant Peach  Dahl, Roald 4
    27 The Twits  Dahl, Roald 4
    28 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  Dahl, Roald 5
    29 White Noise  DeLillo, Don 4
    30 The Sisters Brothers  deWitt, Patrick 4
    31 Heartburn  Ephron, Nora 2
    32 I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections  Ephron, Nora 3
    33 I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman  Ephron, Nora 4
    34 Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas  Fagan, Cary 5
    35 How to Read Novels Like a Professor Foster, Thomas C. 3
    36 The French Lieutenant's Woman  Fowles, John 3
    37 Ellen Foster  Gibbons, Kaye 4
    38 I, Claudius  Graves, Robert 3
    39 The Dispossessed  Guin, Ursula K. Le 2
    40 Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames  Hạnh, Thích Nhất 4
    41 A Moveable Feast  Hemingway, Ernest 4
    42 Dune  Herbert, Frank 5
    43 In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed  Honoré, Carl 3
    44 High Fidelity  Hornby, Nick 3
    45 A Long Way Down  Hornby, Nick 3
    46 About a Boy  Hornby, Nick 4
    47 Their Eyes Were Watching God  Hurston, Zora Neale 4
    48 The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry  Joyce, Rachel 4
    49 The Bean Trees  Kingsolver, Barbara 4
    50 Mini Shopaholic Kinsella, Sophie 2
    51 Shopaholic and Baby  Kinsella, Sophie 3
    52 Travelling Light  Kittle, Katrina 3
    53 Swimming Home  Levy, Deborah 5
    54 The Call of the Wild  London, Jack 3
    55 Love and the Mess We're In  Marche, Stephen 3
    56 Rebecca  Maurier, Daphne du 5
    57 The Paris Wife  McLain, Paula  2
    58 Someone Somewhere  Mills, Dana  5
    59 Black Swan Green  Mitchell, David 3
    60 Friend of My Youth  Munro, Alice 5
    61 Starter For Ten  Nicholls, David 3
    62 Z for Zachariah  O'Brien, Robert C. 4
    63 Appointment in Samarra  O'Hara, John 4
    64 Beside the Sea  Olmi, Véronique 5
    65 Lullabies for Little Criminals  O'Neill, Heather 4
    66 The Hidden Persuaders  Packard, Vance 4
    67 The Bell Jar  Plath, Sylvia 5
    68 The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals  Pollan, Michael 4
    69 Good Morning, Midnight  Rhys, Jean 3
    70 Voyage in the Dark  Rhys, Jean 3
    71 Quartet  Rhys, Jean 3
    72 After Leaving Mr. MacKenzie  Rhys, Jean 4
    73 Wide Sargasso Sea  Rhys, Jean 5
    74 Jacob Two-Two-'s First Spy Case  Richler, Mordecai 3
    75 Allegiant Roth, Veronica  2
    76 The Little Prince  Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de 4
    77 Death with Interruptions  Saramago, José 3
    78 Blindness  Saramago, José 5
    79 Seeing  Saramago, José 5
    80 The End of Your Life Book Club  Schwalbe, Will  3
    81 Me Talk Pretty One Day  Sedaris, David 2
    82 Funny Boy  Selvadurai, Shyam 4
    83 The Jungle  Sinclair, Upton 5
    84 Zen and the Art of Faking It  Sonnenblick, Jordan 3
    85 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie  Spark, Muriel 4
    86 East of Eden  Steinbeck, John 4
    87 The Hollow Hills  Stewart, Mary 3
    88 The Last Enchantment  Stewart, Mary 3
    89 The Wicked Day  Stewart, Mary 3
    90 The Crystal Cave  Stewart, Mary 4
    91 The Joy Luck Club  Tan, Amy  4
    92 The Flying Troutmans  Toews, Miriam 4
    93 A Boy of Good Breeding  Toews, Miriam 4
    94 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  Twain, Mark 3
    95 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  Twain, Mark 5
    96 The Glass Castle  Walls, Jeannette 3
    97 Billy Liar  Waterhouse, Keith 4
    98 Stuart Little  White, E.B. 1
    99 Charlotte's Web  White, E.B. 4
    100 The Dutch Republic and the Civilisation of the 17th Century  Wilson, Charles 3
    101 Mrs. Dalloway  Woolf, Virginia 3
    102 Chocky  Wyndham, John 2

    ps. now you know what I have been up to! I am out of the habit of blogging. I am not sure how many posts I have left in me!


    1. Well done! I set a goal of 50 and I'm on 59 so that's pretty good for me! I did feel like I was rushing a lot of the time so I think this year I need to digest more too. I tried not to impose rules on what I read and just go with what I had. Almost everything I read was on the ereader, which I never thought I would enjoy, but I totally do! Sometimes I panic because there are so many books in the world that I want to read and I think that I will run out of time....not worthy of panic / stress but still I manage!
      Not sure what the year will hold for my blog either. It may be time to focus on other things.

    2. woah! so impressive. Book reading is back on my list for 2014, although not as much as you. Inspiring!

    3. Great list! That's a lot of reading. Since you like the language of Julian Barnes,I'm wondering if you've read any Martin Amis (Barnes arch enemy). He's a bit abrasive and controversial but London Fields or Money are good reads. I was so happy to hear you were going to dive into the victorian novel -I can read Dickens over and over again. And finally, have you read Wharton's House of Mirth? So so good. Happy reading! -Caitlin

    4. Sooo impressive. I'm stealing your list of 5 stars and taking it to the library with me when I have time to read
      And after the two books I have yet to start...

    5. Wow very impressive! I wish I read more. Maybe that should be a goal for 2014!