2017 Reading Round-Up

I always feel so disingenuous sweeping in at the end of the year to give a closing speech on my blog, that- let’s face it- has been horribly neglected for most of the year.

On the other hand though, what’s the use in me keeping the blog, if not to share things on it? Like for example, the books I read in 2017.

So, here goes…

In 2017 I started 44 books, and I finished 40 of them.  That’s a pretty standard drop-off rate for me, exactly the same as 2016 in fact.  Gone are the days when I forced myself to finish every single book I started.  Since having kids I’ve become a lot more forgiving of myself if I can’t make it to the end, and in fact sometimes I start a book and almost immediately put it down- not because it’s terrible, but because I think its probably wonderful- just not right now.  There’s definitely an element of timing for me, when it comes to reading, and I have to be in the mood for certain stories.

This year has been quite difficult for a variety of reasons- both on a personal and global level, and that had undoubtedly affected my reading life too.  Of the 44 books I picked up, only 3 were non-fiction.  Basically, I was done with reality and looking for an escape.  For the same reason, 14 out of the 44 books were romances.  Like many other bookworms, I expect, I just needed to know that SOMEONE SOMEWHERE was getting a Happily Ever After, even if that someone was a fictional character in the regency era.  I read Tessa Dare’s Romancing the Duke not once, but twice this year, and it was like a literary poultice for my aching soul.  In fact, I may yet leave an amazon review that says exactly that.  Seriously, if historical romance is your thing, you should add it to your 2018 TBR list.

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Similarly, 12 of the books I finished this year were re-reads.  There’s just something comforting about reading a book you’ve already read (in my case, possibly several times), when you know the ending, but enjoy the journey nonetheless.  So I revisited The Infernal Devices- the YA trilogy by Cassandra Clare, for what must have been the 4th or 5th time, and still fell hopelessly in love with her supernatural, steampunk-inspired Victorian London, and the trio of main characters- Tessa, Will and Jem.  And, as with every other time I’ve read it- the epilogue of Clockwork Princess made me literally sob, which shows that even when you know what the outcome of something will be, you can still become fully absorbed to the extent that you’ll have a physical, emotional reaction to it.

For those of you who like a good statistic, this was the numerical breakdown:

TOTAL BOOKS STARTED: 44

TOTAL BOOKS FINISHED: 40

 FICTION: 41

NON FICTION: 3

LIBRARY BOOKS: 15

E-BOOKS: 10

NEW (TO ME) BOOKS: 32

RE-READS: 12

That’s a massive increase in Kindle books compared to last year when I only read one e-book in the whole of 2016.  That is partly a result of a. my CIDP flaring up a couple of times, making it difficult for me to hold books for long periods, and b. the fact I got a brand new Kindle Fire HD for Christmas 🙂 so my final two books of the year I read on that.

There was also a decrease in the amount of library books I read, but that doesn’t actually correlate in any way to the amount of library books I borrowed– I still find it almost impossible to come home empty-handed from work, it’s just that they’re all stacking up precariously in my living room as I renew them over and over and over…something I should possibly work on in 2018 *whispers* You can only read one book at a time, Rebecca…

So, of the 40, what were my favourites?  Some years that’s an almost impossible question, but this year a few titles really stand out.  For a start, 2017 was the year that I read Jane Eyre for the first time.

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I know, I know, I almost can’t believe it’s true either.  For some reason, I- a lover of the Bronte sisters, and gothic literature, and Byronic heroes- managed to get to 32 years of age without becoming acquainted with Jane and her Mr Rochester.  In a way, I’m sorry I didn’t come to it sooner, knowing that if I had, I’d probably have re-read it forty million times already, but in another way, I’m almost glad I saved it until now- because what a delicious treat it was in the middle of what was in many ways an utterly ludicrous year.  And there was something so perfect about it’s timing in my life too, as Jane wrestled between what was right and what was easy, holding herself and others to exacting moral standards, I found myself exploring similar questions in my own life, and being surprised by my answers.  So yes, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte=  an instant, hands-down favourite, not just of 2017 but of all-time.

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee, a YA historical with a bisexual main character, also undoubtedly became one of my immediate favourites.  I scarcely put it down from the minute I picked it up- and it was a brand-new, hefty hardback, so that’s an impressive feat for me with my feeble wrists.  I adored Monty, the main character and Mackenzie Lee’s writing style is brilliant so I was immediately swept up in the adventure.  It was rare case of me having heard about a book in advance of it’s release, and suggesting it as a purchase for the library, which meant that I was the first to get it when it arrived, and for once I wasn’t disappointed.  So many times, when a book is hyped up, or I care enough to pre-order it, I get to the last page to find it isn’t all I’d hoped, but with this one it absolutely was.  So if it sounds like your thing, definitely check it out.

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There was also Romancing the Duke, which I’ve already mentioned, A Tale of Two Cities- which I finally got round to finishing about 5 years after I first started it, and adored (although it isn’t exactly what you’d call easy-reading, but then Dickens rarely is), The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, which was a delicious piece of straight-up storytelling, and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier, which left me breathless, literally.  It did absolutely nothing for my anxiety, but I loved it all the same.  The suspense was intolerable and at one point I put the book down and actually physically pushed it away, as though by distancing myself from the words, I could escape the inevitable conclusion the characters were marching toward.

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So, there we have it- another year in books.

I don’t have any goals for 2018 when it comes to reading- whether I read more or less is irrelevant, just so long as I’m reading and enjoying it.  One thing I have vowed though, is not to leave the books I got for Christmas languishing on my TBR shelves, which means my first few reads of 2018 are all set and will definitely include The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman, and Bad Boy by Elliot Wake

I hope you all had a good reading year too.  If you discovered any new favourites in 2017, I’d love to hear about them 🙂

 

 

 

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2016 Reading Roundup

I know, I know…it’s March.  I’m very late with this post.  In my defence…well, nothing really.  I was in a bit of a blogging funk at the start of the year, so never got round to sharing the books I read last year.  But here they all are:

 

  1. The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
  2. Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
  3. Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh
  4. Heft by Liz Moore
  5. How Eskimos keep their babies warm by Mei-Ling Hopgood
  6. The Crimson petal and the white by Michel Faber
  7. Complete Write a Novel Course by Will Buckingham
  8. Public Library by Ali Smith
  9. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
  11. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  12. The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse
  13. The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman
  14. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  15. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
  16. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty
  17. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater
  18. Every Day by David Levithan
  19. Ash by Malinda Lo
  20. The Good Children by Roopa Farooki
  21. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
  22. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier
  23. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
  24. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
  25. The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater
  26. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Steifvater
  27. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater
  28. The Raven King by Maggie Steifvater
  29. Hood by Stephen R Lawhead
  30. Cunning Folk- Popular Magic in English History by Owen Davies
  31. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
  32. Half Bad by Sally Green
  33. Half Wild by Sally Green
  34. Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas
  35. Hemingway in Love by A.E. Hotchner
  36. Now is the time by Melvyn Bragg
  37. Murder at the Old Vicarage by Jill McGown
  38. Half Lost by Sally Green
  39. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

 

That’s actually considerably less than the 47 books I read in 2015, but this year I read a lot more *new* books, that I hadn’t previously read- only two of those listed above were re-reads.  For those who like their stats, out of the 39-

4 I didn’t actually finish (but a couple of those I will likely get back to at some point)

7 were non-fiction (that’s a lot more non-fic than I normally read, the sudden increase was thanks to NOVEL RESEARCH)

25 were library books (working in libraries has some major perks 😉 )

1 I read on Kindle (a massive decrease from 2015, but then again, I did start working in a library in 2016, so I guess that was to be expected?)

Some new favourites include Frenchman’s Creek- oh my god, I still cannot believe I hadn’t read this one of Daphne Du Maurier’s books before now.  Rebecca has (obviously) long since been a favourite of mine, but wow, Frenchman’s Creek has very nearly, almost- possibly overtaken it.  I literally swooned, and then once revived proceeded to fill my ‘bookish quotes’ notebook with basically every single passage.  I LOVED it.  In fact, just thinking about it now is making me want to read it again.

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I also fell in love with Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater.  In terms of non-fiction, both Gypsy Boy (a fantastic, unflinching memoir by Mikey Walsh) and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty were incredible.

Honestly, out of the 39 books there really weren’t many (aside from the ones I didn’t manage to finish), that I *didn’t* enjoy this year.  For me, The Half Bad trilogy fell short of my expectations, but only because the ending was SO CRUEL, and I was pissed off about it for days, literally.  The Paying Guests was a bit depressing, but generally everything else I read I liked, and there are quite a few that I’m tempted to revisit again this year.

At the end of 2015, after completing my ‘great re-read of 2015‘ I hinted at a new challenge for 2016, but then that never actually got off the ground.  The challenge was going to be classics.  There are so many books that would be considered classics that I haven’t read, so I was planning to ask people I know IRL, and of course, you lovely lot- if you had any suggestions on where I should start.  But then life happened, and I never got round to it.

I honestly feel like it’s a bit late to be setting myself a reading challenge for 2017, given as we’re almost a quarter of the way through it already, but if there is a classic book that you think I should add to my list then please do leave a comment and I’ll let you know if I’ve already read it or not (chances are higher that I won’t have, I may be a prolific reader, but I lost a lot of years to Point Horror and Sweet Valley High, and honestly I have no regrets about that.)

As for 2017- well so far I’ve read eleven brilliant books, and I have a massive stack of unread books on my shelves to work through, not to mention about twenty unread books downloaded to my kindle, and of course all the books I have access to across the library service…so yeah, I have a feeling it’s going to be a good reading year!