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:


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


Worse than 2011 😦 not good!

And here’s the crossed data:


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:


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)

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?

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

Books: Gibraltar reading (part 2)

(Part one is here.)

The book: Scruffy, by Paul Gallico

The edition: Penguin paperback, 288 pages

About the book: a fictional account of ape history in Gibraltar during World War Two, of the people who cared for them, and of the efforts made to safeguard them. Includes an extremely misbehaved ape, a love story, two births, several deaths, a drunken pilot and a very big firework. (Can’t say more without spoilers, but hope it’s enough to pick your interest.)

My thoughts: hilarious. Probably the funniest book I read this year. No, really, you may think “it’s just an ape story, nothing much”, but it is a jewel! And it does something strange: it has characters that are at once stock figures, and very lively. I cannot explain it, because they are all mostly stereotypes, but still they really come to life through the page. Recommended? Definitely yes, go check it out this minute!

The covers you can find online are less pretty than the ones I have. Too bad the picture quality here is so bad 😦

The book: The Rock, by John Masters

The edition: Sphere paperback, 383 pages, including bibliography

About the book: this book is strange in format and hard to define: half history, half fiction. Each chapter includes historical information about a period of Gibraltarian history, followed by a fictional episode set in that period. The narrative is not continuous, although there are elements (especially families and their histories) that return again and again.

My thoughts: such a peculiar format is hard to make right. I don’t think the level is the same throughout the book, there are some parts that stick better than the rest, and I do have a small doubt about the accuracy of the non-fiction part. Still, as a whole it works very well, the author is a good narrator and history makes sense in his stories. Recommended.


Bottom line: two authors I want to read more from. If you know them, can you recommend any titles?

Reader’s diary #1

This post is for personal record only, feel free to skip it.

After changing the way I’m managing this blog, I decided to avoid writing about all the books I read, but I still want to record them for my own future reference. This is the kind of cumulative post I’ll be doing to that end.

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
840 pages of boredom topped off with some crazy nonsense. (Yes, I was so bored that I wasn’t even shocked by the violence, and yes, the priest’s blessings at the end are nonsense.)

Martin Zoeller, Madonna, ein Blonder!
Funny as expat accounts can be, but the author never actually discards the expat eyes nor blends into Italian life.

Mike Brown, How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming
Light and interesting, although it tells you more about academia than it does about planets.

Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus
Great atmosphere, I’d love to visit the circus, and I loved this book more than (my) words can say. But the ending… either it’s too complicated and I didn’t get it, or it was very much rushed. I think it’s the second. Pity.

Ken Follett, Fall of Giants
Way to put faces on history. (And it managed to avoid all those rape scenes from Pillars. Good.) I want to read more.

Ahmadou Kourouma, Allah n’est pas obligé
Supposedly a masterpiece… but I guess Africa is too distant for me to appreciate.

Bill Willingham et al., Fables 12 – The Dark Ages
Made me uncomfortable. The story is really going places where I’m not sure I want to follow. But I trust the authors and have more volumes ready.

Fiona Robyn, The Most Beautiful Thing
A story about how difficult it is to socialize and about depression. Forgettable.