Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Book Stack of 2007

S. greeted the mail carrier trudging up the driveway with five separate book packages with a cheery, "Look at all that excessive consumerism!"

Um, yes. But on some level kinda necessary all the same.

The Story of an African Farm. Olive Schreiner. I opted for a gently used slipcovered copy and it turned out to be one of my better decisions.

The Beauties and the Furies. Christina Stead. I have a feeling I'm going to wind up collecting all her fiction, same as I did with Rebecca West.

Our Horses in Egypt. Rosalind Belben. Says the jacket copy, Philomena is requistioned from an English field at the start of the First World War, and sails for the Near East with a territorial regiment, the Dorset Yeomanry. But after the Armistice she doesn't come home. She is one of the 22,000 horses left behind by the War Office.

Girl Meets Boy. Ali Smith. Latest in the Canongate myth series. It's purty.

North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. My first Gaskell.

Squee! And Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

End of year stats

But first, if you missed Margaret's comments in the 100 Most Influential Books by Women post down the page, she's traced the meme back to its source--Erica Jong--and located Jong's 1998 article detailing why she put together such a list--and who contributed names. Thanks, Margaret!


I read 81 distinct works this year, although since several of these works were novellas or long short stories, I can't say I read much more than I did last year, when I completed 75 books and 35 stories (I didn't track short stories in '07, I'm afraid).

This is the way I broke them down:

Nonfiction: 8

Novels: 62 or 63, depending on whether you count The Unvanquished as a novel or as connected stories; I can see it both ways and can't decide

Books of short stories: 3 or 4, see above

Plays: 6

Book of poetry: 1 (Gilgamesh)

Library books read: 14

Newly acquired books read: 31

Newly acquired books stockpiled for later reading: 141+ (little wonder why a cookbook was the only book I got for Christmas, huh?)

Books "just published" in the last year or so: 34

Works I consider classics: 23
. . .although only 5 out of 13 from my classics priority list completed; 2 others started (of those, one is now in progress and should be finished by the end of January)

Works written prior to the 20th century: 12

Re-reads: 8 (The Brothers Karamazov, Waiting for Godot, Wise Blood, Emma, The Fountain Overflows, No Exit, The Stranger, Death of a Salesman)

Books written by women: 33

Books started that remain unfinished: 6

Authors I read multiple books by: Rebecca West (3), Patrick O'Brian (3), Flannery O'Connor (3), Christina Stead (2), Jane Austen (2), Joseph Conrad (2), D.H. Lawrence (2)

Stats from previous years:

2006: End of Year Reading Stats

2005: A Look Back, A Look Ahead

Obviously, I need to read more nonfiction, poetry, and works by women in the upcoming year. And I need to study my book lists from previous years to see if I can determine when I began to read predominantly male authors; I know I used to read nearly 50/50 without making an effort to do so. Is it because I'm not focusing as much on contemporary literature these days? More than half of my new books were written by women, though, so at least I'm not slighting them at the cash register.

Tomorrow I'll post a few reading resolutions and my list of favorites.

Long-term 2008 Challenges and Possibilities

The handy dandy keep-'em-all-together 2008 Challenges post. Am I overcommitted or what?

short story challenge
Kate announced this challenge just yesterday. I'm going to try to read at least one short story a week.

I have tons of short story collections--too many possibilities to bother listing.

Nineteenth Century
6 books

Pool of authors:

Olive Schreiner
Mary Haddock Foote
Isabella Lucy Bird
Charlotte Bronte
George Eliot
Elizabeth Gaskell
Sarah Orne Jewett
Margaret Marshall Saunders
Anna Sewell

4 books

Pool of books:

Smoke. Ivan Turgenev
The Fatal Eggs. Mikhail Bulgakov
The Master and Margarita. Mikhail Bulgakov
White Walls. Tatyana Tolstoya
A Life in Letters. Anton Chekhov
Stories. Anton Chekhov
The Idiot. Fyodor Dostoevsky
House of the Dead. Fyodor Dostoevsky
Pale Fire. Vladimir Nabokov
The Enchanted Wanderer. Nikolai Leskov
Resurrection. Leo Tolstoy
Short Works of Leo Tolstoy
The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme. Andrei Makine

Three country commitment

Pool of authors:

Nikos Kazantzakis
Lawrence Sterne
Daniel Defoe
James Joyce
Emile Zola
Victor Hugo
Alexandre Dumas
Gustave Flaubert
Graham Greene
John Milton

What's in a Name
6 books

The categories and some possible choices:

1. A book with a color in its title.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Scarlet Thread by Doris Betts

2. A book with an animal in its title.

The Birds Fall Down by Rebecca West
The Snoring Bird byBernd Heinrich
Led-Horse Claim by Mary Hallock Foote

3. A book with a first name in its title.

Ulysses by James Joyce
Cousin Rosamund by Rebecca West

4. A book with a place in its title.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
In America by Susan Sontag
Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk

5. A book with a weather event in its title.

The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin

6. A book with a plant in its title.

Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley
February Flowers by Fan Wu

Africa Reading Challenge

6 books

My reading pool:

Palace Walk
Half of a Yellow Sun
Flame Trees of Thika
Story of an African Farm
What is the What
Frankie and Stankie
The Darling
Brazzaville Beach
Cry, the Beloved Country
No Longer At Ease
July's People
A Sport of Nature
Before I Forget
So Long a Letter
The Camel Bookmobile
West With the Night

A bang, not a whimper

  Two months into L.'s retirement, and I'm finished with the stockpiling of books. No more book purchases! Or at least, no purcha...