Friday, December 31, 2010
My Year in Books
2009-2010: My First Year as a Book Blogger
It's been a year, and what a year it's been. Last year at just about this time I was writing my first posts for this blog. You can see what I read in 2009 here, and read about my New Year's Resolutions (mostly bookish) here
When I started this blog last year I didn't know anything about challenges, memes, awards, or read-alongs. I had my followers (three, as I recall) and my original reader, Tom C. I never expected to get free books (I really used to wonder about Mailbox Mondays: were all these bloggers immensely rich?). I simply read, and then wrote about what I was reading, in a casual and conversational way. My reading was peripatetic and meandering, and I was led only by my own interest. Followers were an intriguing enigma, and I wondered what one did to acquire them. The term sounded vaguely cult-like.
Virtual Book Tours confused me. Who was leading this tour, and where was it going? Who was going to provide transportation, and how would people get where they were going at the right time? Now I'm a participant in TLC Book Tours, and it has been not at all confusing and a great deal of fun.
My Trollope Fixation
In 2009 I was shocked (shocked!) to find I had not read a single book by Trollope. This year I read two: Phineas Finn and The Prime Minister. I read close to fifty books this year (almost a book a week). That is probably an under count, since I read numerous short stories, and I don't always count or make note of the considerable reading I do in the course of my teaching. My life would have to change considerably for me to read the quantity of books some bloggers achieve, but I'm not unhappy with my total. I would like to read more new fiction. Back when I was a bookseller I read much more new fiction; now I am reading more classics and backlist. I also began reading ARCs (I can't remember when that started, but I did begin to get those lovely free books).
A top ten list seems somehow beside the point: my reading was so all over the place, and so much of it was not new books. So here are some of the more memorable books and reading experiences from 2010:
Favorite Book of 2010
I absolutely fell in love with the writing of David Rhodes, and I gushed without shame in my review of Rock Island Line, which was my favorite novel of 2010, followed closely by Driftless, also by Rhodes.
Guilty Pleasures and Addictive Reading
The publication of Justin Cronin's Passage coincided with the beginning of my summer break. I started reading and just couldn't stop. I just loved this doorstopper of a book.
I also succumbed to the seductive allure of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire. These books are the essence of addictive. When I can arrange another non-stop reading session, I'll read the third book in Steig Larsson's series.
Reading and Rereading the Classics
There seemed to be a resurgence in reading and discussing the classics this year. I found many kindred spirits who share my love for Russian novelists, my fanatic devotion to Anthony Trollope, and my love for the classics in general. There are a surprising number of folks who blog primarily or exclusively on classic books.
The Short Story
I started an occasional feature called "The Story on Thursdays." I plan to continue to post about short fiction because I love to read it, and I love to write about it. Short fiction is endlessly interesting to me.
My Favorite Book of 2011
Exit the Actress will hit the book stores February 1, 2011. I first encountered the idea of this novel when I stumbled across Priya Parmar's blog, The Plum Bean Project. I got a review copy of Exit the Actress the week of Christmas, and devoured it in three days. It knocked my socks off. Review to come closer to publication date.
The best part of my year in books: the conversations between bloggers. Sometimes I just lurk and read, and sometimes I'm an active participant. This was the biggest surprise to me, the unexpected benefit of blogging: the friendships and camaraderie developed over books. It is by far my favorite part of this whole thing, whatever this thing is.
If you are still with me readers, gentle or not-so-gentle, thanks for your support, your comments, your book suggestions. You have no idea how much it has meant to me in this crazy year of 2010.