Year’s end: 2012 stats

I know you’ll do a double-take when you read that title: “year’s end” in February? But only now do I get to check out how I did in 2012 and even if I’m late I want the stats to be out there. I’ve already mentioned how I am not happy with how I’ve done… but it looks like this year will be worse anyway. Not to worry: I don’t like feeling pressured, and yearly goals are not really my things. I’m just sad if the number drops too far because it means I’ll miss out on more books throughout my life, but I want to focus on the good of the books I do get to.

Total books read: 80
(Last quarter: 24)

Total pages read: 25638
(Last quarter: 6619)
(See here for the method I am using to count e-book and audiobook pages.)

And here’s the stats:

lang

Over half of my reading in English, and it’s not even my mother tongue :-( Not good.

trans

Worse than 2011 :-( not good!

And here’s the crossed data:

langtrans

Because several books were difficult to categorize (more than usual), this year I didn’t do a genre graph. And the country graph is not very interesting either:

country

Well, at least my English originals have been more evenly split among US and UK…

Were you happy with your 2012 reading results?

(Charts created on ChartGo)

Into the new year: a challenging post

Hello! Ahem… Long time no see. Oh, by the way, happy new year! I hope you all had a good time over the Christmas season, huge piles of new books under the tree on Christmas morning, and a great start to your reading (and blogging, for those of you who blog) year.

As for me, the start was less than great as you can see. It’s the end of January already as I am drafting this first post of the year, and so far I managed to finish just one (one! :shock:) book. I do need to get my act together. In my defense, I only have this: this year I do need to put a lot more steam in my work. And I’d be sad to see my reading rate drop too far, so the blog is what goes, mostly. I’ll be taking things very very easy around here. But I’ll still be around.

And I don’t want to let go of the good things. Such as readalongs and group and buddy reads. Here’s my plan so far…

My 2013 readalongs 

OK, OK; these are all may-bes. I’d love to participate in them all (and more), but we’ll see.

Also, I’ve seen many bloggers kiss challenges goodbye, but you cannot count me in that group. Sure, I have to cut back and not sign up for every challenge that pops up, but I always loved challenges that pushed my reading toward new lands, and these I will keep doing (even though I failed them last year and will probably fail them again! I told you, I don’t want any pressure, but I love being exposed to new titles!)

geo

My 2013 geography-themed challenges

Middle East Challenge
Level: Tourist (1-5 books)

  1. Jerusalem by Simon Seabag Montefiore
  2. … really no idea, but last year I ended up reading only books written by Western writers, so I’d like to concentrate on local writers this time. Any suggestion?

Aussie Author Challenge
Level: Tourist (3 books)

  1. something by Melina Marchetta, certainly
  2. something by Geraldine Brooks, ideally Year of Wonders if I can get a copy
  3. The True History of the Kelly Gang, by Peter Carey

South East Asia Challenge

S. Krishna said she’d put this one up again this year, but it’s not official yet. I’ll try to read 3 books again, starting with Anita Nair’s The Lilac House.

Global Reading Challenge
Level: Easy (1 book per continent)

  • Africa:
  • Asia: The Lilac House by Anita Nair
  • Australasia/Oceania
  • Europe: Long John Silver: the True and Eventful History of My Life of Liberty and Adventure As a Gentleman of Fortune and Enemy to Mankind, by Bjorn Larsson
  • North America:
  • South America:
  • The Seventh Continent:

I’ll also keep doing a few other challenges that I love — really, you cannot stop my passion for chunksters, my interest for non-fiction or my newly-found love of classics!

other

My 2013 “other” challenges

Chunkster Challenge
Level: Mor-book-ly Obese (8+ books, 3 over 750 pages)

  1. Jerusalem by Simon Seabag Montefiore
  2. Shogun by James Clavell
  3. A Dance with Dragons by G.R.R. Martin
  4. The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma
  5. The Manuscript Found in Saragossa by Jan Potocki
  6. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Non-Fiction Challenge
Level: Explorer (6-10 books)

  1. Jerusalem by Simon Seabag Montefiore
  2. Alpha Beta by John Man
  3. In Search of Plenty: A History of Jewish Food, by Oded Schwartz and Jane Human
  4. Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay
  5. Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Double Classic Challenge
Level: 2 pairs

  1. … OK, I’m stuck, but last year serendipity came to my rescue, so I’m leaving it open. Feel free to suggest anything! (Maybe something connected with one of the readalong classics?)

Oh, and then there’s the Classics Club. But that list needs a post of its own (although, *scratches head*, maybe I’ve reached my list-in-a-post limit for 2013 already with this post…)

How’s 2013 going so far with you? What challenges and group reads are you loving this year?

Year’s end: 2012 in review

The year is not over (and I do hope to put in one last book, so I can neatly round off the year at 80) so it’s not time for stats yet, but I spent some time thinking back at how the year has been going, reading-wise and blogging-wise, and I decided to put down some thoughts.

Reading choices

Of 79 books so far, I can honestly say I liked some 20, not more. And I was WOW’ed by only 4 or 5. This is not good. Sometime this year I read an article that made me think about how limited the number of books I can still read in my lifetime is — I really need not to waste those books with poor choices! How do you choose your books to avoid disappointment?

A few of my favorite things: readalongs!

This was my “new thing” for 2012 and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. I read Bleak House and Wuthering Heights with the Unputdownable readalongs hosted by Wallace, Neverwhere as a group read @ Stainless Steel Droppings, O Testamento do Sr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo with Alex of The Sleepless Reader and Fall of Giants for the Chunky Book Club — and the latter was the only one that didn’t work out (I see the hosts at the Chunky Book Club are considering whether or not to continue the experience, and I am crossing my fingers that they keep it going!) As one who has never taken part in a book club IRL, I loved the chance to discuss while reading! And I do want to continue  “readalonging” in 2013. Do you know of any good group read I should consider?

Reading in a group is always more fun than reading alone. Image credits: Gerg1967 on Flickr

Language diversity

One of my goals for 2012 was to read more in my “minor” languages (German, French, Portuguese). As it was, I realized in November that I had read almost only in English, almost nothing in Italian either! Which resulted in a flurry of  hurriedly Italian reads  :-( For 2013, I want to be more careful on that side: ideally, I want to aim at 6 books each for my minor languages, plus 10 Italian (OV) and 10 translated into Italian. That makes up almost half of my usual fare, so it should leave me plenty of choice for the remaining books. (I am considering quarterly goals for these languages, too. I hope that would help.) The one language that it’s harder for me to get books in is German, so here’s the question: any good German-language books you want to recommend?

A few of my favorite things: classics!

Another thing I appreciated this year was some classic reading: Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas… It always takes me longer to actually get to books of this kind, but mostly I find out that they’re worth it. Because I want to read more in this sense, I am working on a list to join the Classics Project — it’s taking me forever to complete it, and I keep reading books from the list before it’s ready so I never actually have 50, but I’m working on it. What classic book should absolutely be on my list?

When you re-read a classic you do not see in the book more than you did before. You see more in you than there was before. Image credits: » Zitona « on Flickr

Challenges… done and not done

I’ve taken reading challenges very loosely this year. I like it better like that, with no pressure, but right now I think I must check myself before I decide which ones to join. I really want to work on what I end up reading, and for 2013 I intend to join mostly challenges that push the limits of my reading: pushing me to read more nonfiction, and more classics, and more books from different cultures….

  • Completed challenges this year:
    1. What’s in a Name
    2. Antonym
    3. Middle East (I intended to write a Jerusalem-related post but never got around to it. Maybe in January)
    4. Back to the Classics
    5. Venice in February
    6. Chunkster
    7. Classic Double: yay!
    8. RIP VII
  • Failed challenges this year:
    1. Medieval challenge: I read one, but was stuck on the second (of four books) so long that it ended up being the only DNF of the year
    2. Reading Round Rome: 3/7, but the host has disappeared halfway through
    3. Greek Classics: 1/2. What was that about liking classics, again?
    4. Aussie Author: 1/3. Ahem
    5. Dewey Decimal: 5/6. Almost.
    6. Africa: I read 4 out of 5, but I guess I understood not one of them. Not sure how to approach this kind of literature.
    7. South Asian: for the second year in a row :-(

What challenges are you taking in 2013? And how was your year in 2012?

Transfigured: a classic double challenge post

Or: of To Kill a Mockingbird, of Jellicoe Road, and of the awesomeness of reading them both.

classic_double

When I first saw the Classic Double Challenge, hosted by Melissa @ One Librarian’s Book Reviews, I thought it was a great idea. Read a classic and a book that is a retelling or in any other way connected to that classic? Count me in. (*) And yet, I only had a very vague idea of what I would read.

Then I read Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Which is awesome.

In Jellicoe Road [JRoad], two girls have to study To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee [TKaM] in school, and because one of them is ill, the other helps her out. In thanking her friend, the first girl says something like “If you ever need me, I’ll be Jem for your Mrs Dubose.” I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil JRoad for you, but I ended the book more interested than ever to read TKaM — no, I had never read it before, but keep in mind I’m not American, so that’s the main reason why. Later this year I found a copy and read it.

And BAM!, I knew I had my couple of books for this challenge.

(By the way, To Kill a Mockingbird is awesome too!)

JRoad is not a retelling, strictly speaking. It’s more like TKaM is transfigured in it. The story it tells is completely different. The themes it touches upon are other.

But it has the same way of dealing with difficult subjects without ever bringing them to the forefront. In TKaM it’s mental health and racism (among other things), but everything is seen through Scout’s eyes. To me, it felt like those ethereal things that you can only see without looking directly at them (I think Tolkien describes the elves in that way somewhere, but I may be misremembering. It happens with smaller stars, to me at least). In JRoad the narrator is 17, not a child anymore, but still the feeling is the same: domestic violence, drug addiction, the story is a way of dealing with harsh themes, without ever looking at them directly.

Also, they share the same great storytelling (which may be why they both manage to deal with those themes so well).

And they share a reflection on the absence of parental figures. (By the way, can anyone point me towards something that explains the figure of Atticus Finch? A strange character, that one. Genial and lovable, but strange.)

And more than everything, JRoad is TKaM transfigured because it takes single elements from the classic and uses them to build its own story: the friend only coming over for summer, the shooting at tins, the big fire, the tree… maybe the only thing that does not make an appearance is Scout’s ham costume!

Bottom line: this was a fun challenge to do, and both these books great, but taken together they are pure awesomeness!

_______________________

(*) If you like the idea of the Classic Double Challenge, it will be on again in 2013. Also, don’t miss the Retell Me A Story event, on January 13th-19th! See you there!

Words Wide Web – Christmas edition

Yes, recently this blog has been left behind. But I’m not completely gone — or done yet. My Christmas gift for you is this new collection of links:

Button based on an image by Ben-ichi on Flickr

Biscuits and cookies: etymology of cookie names

Full stop: a guide to punctuation marks (“¿Seriously… You’re, doing- it- wrong»”).

Geography: the meaning of names

Illuminated: the British Library has decided to release the images on the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts as public domain works.

Writers: ways to improve sales for self-published writers