Friday, January 4, 2013

the year that was missing a few months

They say that time speeds up as you get older. I remember summers, for example, being ages and ages long; days that went by like molasses in which there never seemed to be enough activities to fill the hours and boredom would set in. As an adult, I find summers go by in the blink of an eye, and I have a list of things I'd like to do as long as my arm by the time a day is over. So this is my excuse for missing posting entirely for three months this year: April, August and September have nothing at all going on, as far as blogging went. The days were too short. Of course, that doesn't mean that nothing was happening. I was even reading during that time, but for the first time ever I didn't blog each book I read. I discussed the completed books in my annotated list, but part of me still feels almost guilty for never getting around to doing those books justice (Bird and Reaper Man in particular.) I even forgot a few for that list and have never bothered recording them publicly.

In the past year I've gone back to work, after several months of waffling about whether or not I wanted it at all; it's been both a blessing and a curse. It turns out that taking a year away from your job means missed opportunities and vast changes, all of which I am still, after four months of being back, trying to catch up on. That's hard. (It also shouldn't be shocking. But the knowledge and the reality are totally separate things.) That said, I'm loving the day-to-day work -- seeing my regular patrons again, helping people with big questions and small ones, advising people on what to read next, and having tens of thousands of titles at my fingertips is all as awesome as I remembered it being. I'm running more programs than I ever have, including a new after school book club for an age group I've never had success drawing in, and my other book clubs are taking off like wildfire. Being back at work has inspired me to get back to blogging and reading, too.

The work/not-work split has meant that looking back at January of last year I feel almost as though I'm a different person from the person who wrote those reviews and read those books. Perhaps putting together this post will help unify things. Numbers! I still love them!

Books read in the past year: 54
Fiction read: 53
Nonfiction read: 1 (really?!)
Adult books read: 21
Young adult books read: 31
Middle-grade books read: 2
Graphic novels read: 23
Audiobooks listened to: 2
eBooks read: 13
Series started: 8
Series finished: 0 (though there are several of the above series I'm not intending to go any further with)

Canadian: 4
Japanese: 23
American: 21
British: 5
South African: 1
Brazilian: 1

Books read by decade:
2010: 17
2000: 30
1990: 4
1980: 3
1930: 1

Aaand... I have to admit I'm surprised by some of those numbers. I can't believe I only read one nonfiction book in the whole of 2012. That seems crazy. I really like nonfiction. But it must be true. I'm also a little startled by how little Canadian fiction and nonfiction I managed to read last year. I don't pay a lot of attention to that sort of thing, but I do try to read locally, at least a little bit. Apparently I need to try a little harder. It occurs to me that most of the nonfiction I read does tend to be Canadian, so if I'm not reading as much nonfiction, I'm probably not reading as much Canadian.

Incidentally, though it looks like I read more books than last year, those numbers are heavily padded with manga series -- seven books of The Story of Saiunkoku and fourteen of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. And while I believe those books have a place on my list, they are short and generally easy reads, and it makes my tally look more impressive than I feel it is.

Beyond the numbers, here are my favourite reads of the year in the order I read them:

  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa - The one Japanese book that I read that wasn't manga, and such a wonderful book it was, too. Slow, and not a lot happens, but beautiful in writing and beautiful in character. Has to be the only book about baseball that I've ever actually enjoyed. Possibly the only book about math that I have ever finished. A very special book that makes one look at the world with fresh eyes.
  • The Story of Saiunkoku (manga series) by Sai Yukino and Kairi Yura (review of Volume 8 pending) - I am enjoying this series so very much! The art is great, but it's the story and the characters who have me hooked. Shurei is a fantastically determined woman, and if some of the plot points stretch believability (okay, that's putting it mildly) that's all part of the fun. Feel good storytelling with enough excitement and [melo]drama to keep me on my toes.
  • Lakeland by Alan Casey - My only nonfiction of the year! But it deserves a place on this list for more than that reason. It's well-written, engaging, and about a topic near and dear to my heart. Very Canadian, but not necessarily exclusive; a good primer for anyone wanting to know more about Canada, as it delves into our collective psyche well.
  • Green Grass, Running Water by Tom King - A great, and different, reading experience. Reads more like an oral story than a novel in some ways, and navigates those waters well. About a segment of the Canadian population that is poorly understood by the rest of us and poorly treated, but the book doesn't wallow in self-pity. Also extremely funny. Probably should be required reading for Canadians, especially right now.
  • The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker - A surprise, and am I ever glad I saved it from the ignominy of being discarded into the rubbish heap when we did some aggressive weeding of our library collection a couple months ago. For whatever reason, no one seemed to be reading this in my community, and that's a shame. It's a quirky little book with a fantastic narrator and a lot to say about little things. 

Not bad, for a year missing a couple of months. There is a notable lack of Discworld on this list. I did read Reaper Man and of all of the books I read this year, it was certainly a good one; but I didn't get around to reviewing it, and in the Discworld canon I wouldn't suggest it was one of my favourites. Don't get me wrong, though, I'd read it again. And probably will.

As always, the TBR list looms. Looking at last year's list, I actually checked off three of the eight I meant to read immediately, which isn't bad... the others either got started and left unfinished because they weren't working for me at the time (three) and some of them never got started (the remaining two). Actually, the following list might be better classified as a list of books I have started and hope to finish sometime this year. I have discovered that e-readers really facilitate starting books and dropping them, forgotten. I don't think this is a good thing.

  • Paradise Under Glass by Ruth Kassinger
  • Small Gods by Sir Terry Pratchett
  • The Silver Pigs by Lindsay Davis
  • The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
  • The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill
  • Venetia by Georgette Heyer
  • The Virgin in the Ice by Ellis Peters

Lots of mystery on that list. And one book of nonfiction! Hopefully that won't be the only one all year...

Thanks again to all of you who wander by regularly to read about what I think about what I've read. I'm returning the favour if you've left a comment or two and have a blog of your own... I just might be lurking instead of commenting. And this year I'm okay with that. I'm hoping to read more books, write more reviews... those are my two goals for the year, and I'm leaving it at that. Low pressure, and I'm more likely to be able to manage it!


Ana S. said...

Yep, low pressure goals are definitely the way to go. I know what you mean about the knowledge of something and the reality being completely different, though not of course in the specific context of being away from work. I'm glad you're enjoying being back, though, and I'm glad to hear it has inspired you to blog more again. I stand by what I said about no pressure, but selfishly I hope for lots more reviews from you in 2013 :P

Unknown said...

Ha! I will do my best. First I have to finish reading *anything* which is... going very slowly at the moment! But I'll get there. I have such good stuff to read, not sure why most of it isn't catching me right now.