Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Statistical Roundup

So parsing it out I didn't quite have the dismal reading year I thought I did. I read more books than last year, and traveled around the world and through multiple cultures through my reading. Book events were few and far between, but that's OK. Considering I live in what is probably the most bookish city in America if not the world, I hardly ever leave the house! But hey, that just means more time for reading at home.

How many books read in 2016?
58. I thought this was a sad number but it's actually up 5 books from last year's low of 53.Woohoo!

How many fiction and non fiction? 44 fiction and 14 nonfiction. I attribute this to committing to read nonfiction before bed almost every day, and reading nonfiction at the gym. I'm really pleased to see my nonfiction reads in the double digits for the first time in a long time. Left to my own devices I just tend to read fiction, but I love the opportunities for learning that nonfiction provides.

Male/Female author ratio? 33 written by men to 25 written by women. That's a long way to parity but an improvement over last year. My reading is driven by what I'm interested in in the moment and I don't usually worry about ticking demographic boxes, so.

Favorite book of 2016? Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart, by Claire Harman

Least favorite? The Galton Case, by Ross Macdonald. I just wasn't the right reader.

Any that you simply couldn’t finish and why?A few. Sadly The Sellout by Paul Beatty was one. And A Man Called Ove. They just couldn't hold my attention.

Oldest book read?The Barbary Coast, by Herbert Asbury, originally published in 1935.

Newest? Ill Will, by Dan Chaon, coming out in January.

Longest and shortest book titles? 
Shortest title: Ill Will, by Dan Chaon
Longest title: Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, by Sunil Yapa

Longest and shortest books?
Longest: Either Ill Will or The City of Mirrors.
Shortest: Places of My Infancy, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa.

How many books from the library?
None! I didn't visit a library all year. Sad!

Any translated books?
I read books translated from Japanese, French, Italian, Russian, Danish, Finnish, Spanish, German, Swedish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Arabic.

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading?
I travelled to France, Greenland, Italy, Ireland, Japan, England, Algeria, Russia, Germany, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Mali, Spain, South Africa, Iceland, Israel and Dagestan. I also visited several fictional countries and another planet or two.

Most read author of the year, and how many books by that author? 
Justin Cronin, with three books- the complete Passage trilogy.

Any re-reads?
I re-read Alison Bechdel's Fun Home after seeing the Broadway musical, and re-read The Passage and The Twelve in anticipation of The City of Mirrors, all by Justin Cronin.

Favorite character of the year? 
Felix of Hag-Seed was a guy I loved to hate, and was rooting for all the way.

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation?
I read several because they were book club picks. I would not have read Cinnamon and Gunpowder had it not been recommended by my friend Sarah.

Which author was new to you in 2016 that you now want to read the entire works of?
Virginie Despentes

Which books are you annoyed you didn't read? I didn't quite manage the new Ludmila Ulitskaya, The Kukotsky Enigma, but I will soon.

Did you read any books you have always been meaning to read?
The Man Without a Face, by Masha Gessen, about the rise of Vladimir Putin. This may be required reading for us all in 2017!

Bookish Events in Marie's Life
-started working at a new bookstore in New Jersey,
-celebrated my 9th year as a blogger,
-traveled to Portland, Oregon, for the first time and visited the legendary Powell's bookstore,
-volunteered for a whole afternoon at Housing Works Bookstore in New York City and
-took a class in classic crime fiction at the Center for Fiction.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Books Against Humanity

Time for end of the year book quizzes! Yay! I found this book meme on LibraryThing.On this one you're supposed to answer the questions with titles of books read in 2016. Think of it as Cards Against Humanity with book titles.

Describe yourself: The Girl on the Train

How do you feel? Ill Will

Describe where you currently live: Fun Home

If you could go anywhere...? The Barbary Coast

Favorite form of transportation: The Passage

Your best friend is: The Pirate

You and your friends are: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

What's the weather like? So Much for that Winter

Your favorite time of day is: The Twelve

What is life for you? A Season with the Witch

You fear: The Haunting of Hill House

Best advice: Chocolates for Breakfast

Thought for the day:Let the Games Begin

How you would like to die: Cinnamon and Gunpowder

Monday, December 26, 2016

My Favorite Reads of 2016

2016 has been kind of a lackluster reading year for me. Personally 2016 has been pretty good; we bought a condo, I got a job in a local bookstore and I've messed around with background acting and even shown up on TV once or twice. But reading? Meh. I've been reading at a slower pace than usual and loving less than usual of what I've been reading. Which is not to say I haven't found some favorites. In no particular order here they are. Links are to my reviews.

2016 Releases I Loved 

Baba Dunja's Last Love. Alina Bronsky's latest is her best since Broken Glass Park, a bittersweet story about a Chernobyl survivor and her black-comedic search for meaning, dignity and family.

The City of Mirrors, Justin Cronin's finale to his show-stopping trilogy is a fitting ending to a series destined to be a classic.

The Pirate, Jon Gnarr's coming of age story set in 1970s Iceland is funny, heartbreaking and wonderful.

Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart, Claire Harman's page-turning and fascinating biography of one of my favorite writers is now one of my favorite books.

Best of the Backlist

The Crossroads/As God Commands, by Niccolo Ammaniti is an amazing, emotionally shattering read.

The Passage, is the first book in Justin Cronin's Passage trilogy and one of my all-time favorites.

The Sparrow. Mary Doria Russell's literary-science fiction epic is a tough book but worth the effort.

Chocolates for Breakfast, by Pamela Moore, is a better-than-expected coming of age story set in California and New York.

Places of My Infancy, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa is beautiful and sweet memoir about his privileged Sicilian childhood.

A Man of Good Hope, by Jonny Steinberg, is a tremendous piece of journalism and biography set in Africa and the United States and essential reading in my opinion,

The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith, kept me turning the pages like mad and marveling at her brilliant prose and grasp of the psychology of madness.

Empire of the Summer Moon, by S.G. Gwynne, is an immersive if too-short history of the fall of the Comanches and their charismatic standard-bearer, Quanah Parker.

So there, that gets me to twelve favorites in no particular order. What were your favorites of 2016? And what are you looking forward to reading next?

Monday, December 19, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Well I finished Empire of the Summer Moon, by S.G. Gwynne, which will certainly feature on my list of favorite reads this year. And I finished a short book of fiction, A Man, Two Women and a Cat, a book of short stories from Japanese author Junichiro Tanizaki. So now I get to pick some reads to get me through the rest of the holiday season.

I haven't picked a fiction read yet but I'm leaning towards The Extra, by A.B. Yehoshua, about a woman who finds herself doing background acting (like me!) and A True Novel, by Minae Mizumura. I want options for my holiday-week reading though. What do you suggest? If I pick Mizumura's book I will have two going from Other Press, which can't be a bad thing.

For my nonfiction bedside book I'm reading Mincemeat, by Leonardo Lucarelli, a cook's memoir in the vein of Anthony Bourdain. Lucarelli is an Italian chef whose book is about sex, drugs, the restaurant industry and his passion for food. It's fun and I expect it to be a quick read.

Finally I am so close to finishing The Most Dangerous Book. Like, five or six pages close. I will get to the gym at least twice this week if not three times, so there should be no excuses not to finish and start a new book.

What are you reading this week? Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, December 12, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Well I actually made some progress this week and finished Margaret Atwood's latest, Hag-Seed, her contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare series. It's a retelling of "The Tempest"; I don't know that play at all but I enjoyed the book very much. A friend of mine who knows the play well said Atwood did a really good job, so there's that. I definitely enjoyed it and would recommend it to literary fiction readers. It's not dystopian though so if you only know her from her latest four novels you might feel like you're meeting her writing for the first time. For me it was a nice throwback to the old days.

I'm deeper into The Patriots, Sana Krasikov's novel coming out in February about generations of a Russian-Jewish family. It's picking up for me, not that it was slow, but I'm really getting into it.

Tonight I will finish Empire of the Summer Moon and I wish it were longer and went into more depth about Quanah Parker, the last Comanche chief, but I've really been loving it and I'm sad to see it end. I have less than ten pages to go.

Finally I'm still working on The Most Dangerous Book, which I hope to finish by the end of the year. I just haven't been giving it much of my time but I enjoy it when I do.

So I guess overall I'm looking forward to starting some new reads and having some new things to share with you! I think I'll read a crime novel or two, short things I can blow through quickly. That always works!

What are you finishing up 2016 with book-wise?

Monday, December 5, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I'm reading too many darn books. Seriously. I am losing track, and what makes it worse is that I can barely find time to read.

On the "reading now" pile are:

The Sellout, by Paul Beatty,
The Patriots, by Sana Krasikov,
Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo,
The Empire of the Summer Moon, by S.G. Gwynne, and
Hag-Seed, by Margaret Atwood.

This is too many books. So I have to finish something, preferably several somethings, but who knows when I'll have the time.
I'm loving Hag-Seed, the latest in the Hogarth Shakespeare series and written by one of my favorites. It's based on "The Tempest" which I have not read. But I'm glad it's not dystopian anyway.

The only thing I'm reading consistently is The Empire of the Summer Moon, a chapter a night, and it's unputdownable. It's history that reads like a thriller. I'll admit I'm not getting every detail- there is a lot of military history and battle stuff that I tend to gloss over- but I'm loving it anyway.

What are you reading? I hope you're having better luck with stick-to-itiveness than I am!