Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Favorite Books and Reading Stats

I remember 2008 as being a year that I found myself putting more books aside than I've ever done in the past, to the point that I avoided starting a few works I expected to love just in case it was me, and not the books. Yet when I look back over my reading list, I can only spot one short spell where every book I read seemed "eh," and I really think it was the books, not me. All in all, there was a lot to love this year.

My top ten favorite reads of 2008:

The Birds Fall Down. Rebecca West
Brideshead Revisited. Evelyn Waugh
A High Wind in Jamaica. Richard Hughes
Oscar and Lucinda. Peter Carey
The Suicide Index. Joan Wickersham
Olive Kitteridge. Elizabeth Strout
Our Horses in Egypt. Rosalind Belben
The Northern Clemency. Phillip Hensher
Half of a Yellow Sun. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
(not pictured)The Hour I First Believed. Wally Lamb

I also greatly enjoyed Tana French's In the Woods and The Likeness; Barack Obama's Dreams From My Father; Julie Hecht's Happy Trails to You; Roxana Robinson's Cost; Gerard Donovan's Julius Winsome; Jessica Mitford's Hons and Rebels and Lauren Liebenberg's The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam.

I completed 78 books this year. The stats break down thusly:

Nonfiction: 13

Novels: 62

Books of short stories: 3

Library books read: 27

Newly acquired books read: 32

Newly acquired books stockpiled for later reading: 88 (much better than last year's 141+, but still way too many)

Free e-texts read: 7

Books "just published" in the last year or so: 41

Works I consider classics: 8 (must do better in this category next year)

Works written prior to the 20th century: 4

Re-reads: 1 (Animal Farm)

Books written by women: 42

Authors I read multiple books by: Elizabeth Gaskell (3), Tana French (2), Beth Gutcheon (2).

Books still in progress: Ten? Twelve? Something like that.

We're traveling to my sister's tomorrow to replace a faucet and --with some luck-- unclog a drain, so I'll wish everyone a Happy New Year now in case I'm not online tomorrow.

First book I intend to read in 2009: Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture, a library book with a fast-approaching due date.


  1. Happy New Year!

    Oscar and Lucinda and Half of a Yellow Sun are wonderful books which I'm glad to see on your best of list. I have Tana French and Decca in my TBR pile, and want to try Rebecca West and Wally Lamb in '09.

    I hope this year brings you many more good books, and fewer to put aside.

  2. I'm wasn't familiar with The Secret Scripture, but just gave it a look over at Amazon, and now, I'm eager to read your review!

    Had to laugh at your "newly stockpiled" category!

    Wishing you Good Reading and a Happy New Year!

  3. Nice list. Of your favorites, I've only read one-Olive Kitteridge. This one also made my best of list for 2008. I hope you have a great 2009!

  4. A good year! Were the e-books on your Kindle? :) good luck with the faucet and drain. Happy New Year!

  5. The Saturday Review at Semicolon this Saturday is dedicated to book lists. You’re invited to share a link to yours on Saturday.

  6. Oh, The Secret Scripture was gorgeous! I enjoyed it very much and I hope you do too.

  7. Happy New Year Susan! There are several books on your list I want to read, too! I did read the Belben and really should have counted it as a best read, but I spent so many pages trying to figure things out in the end I left it off the list. But it was a very impressive book once I figured things out!

  8. Happy New Year Susan! Looks like you had a great reading year. Half of a Yellow Sun also ended up on my favorites of 08 list as did In the Woods.

    Here's hoping the new year is filled with lots of good books.

  9. I love Waugh! Great reading year for you! Happy 2009 reading!

  10. Pooh! I haven't read anything on your top ten list. Since I love your taste, I need to change that quickly, methinks. It sounds like you got some good reading done. I hope your reading for 2009 is even better!

  11. I loved Brideshead Revisited and the BBC production they did for Masterpiece Theater with Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews was fantastic. I got a chance to take an Evelyn Waugh seminar in college that was one of the best classes I had in all 4 years.

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