Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 End of the Year Meme

I found this on Savidge Reads.

How many books read in 2009?

Hmmm. Kind of a tough one to answer because I usually don't tally my books. I'd say it's around 40-45 novels, plus several essays, short stories, and poems.

How many works of fiction and non-fiction?

All fiction! Except for Agnès Humbert's Résistance (memoir), which is very surprising because I read a ton of history books last year. Luckily, I got Luc Sante's Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York for Christmas, which looks like it's going to be a great read.

Male/Female author ratio?

Uh-oh. I've been meaning to do a post on this. According to LibraryThing, my library is 70.83% male and 29.17% female. And I am female. I have no clue how this happened. So, suffice to say, the great majority of books read this year have been by men. (I'll try to work this out later.) I did, however, read the following female-authored novels:

Suzane Adam, Laundry
Hanan al-Shaykh, The Story of Zahra
Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake
Michelle de Kretser, The Lost Dog
Titania Hardie, The Rose Labyrinth
Agnès Humbert, Résistance: A Woman's Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France
Zola Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Alta Ifland, Elegy for a Fabulous World
Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian
Mercè Rodoreda, Death in Spring
Cecilia Samartin, Vigil
Joanna Scott, Follow Me
Sigrid Undset, the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy (books 1 and 2)
Fan Wu, Beautiful as Yesterday

Yeah, that's it. EPIC GENDERFAIL.

Favorite book of 2009?

Just one? Laundry, Oryx and Crake, and The Historian. Roberto Bolaño's 2666 and The Savage Detectives. Jorge Volpi's Season of Ash. Thomas Glavinic's Night Work. Hermann Hesse's Demian and Steppenwolf. Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. John Ajvide Lindqvist's Let the Right One In. Jáchym Topol's City Sister Silver.

Least favorite?

Titania Hardie's The Rose Labyrinth. Or, as I like to call it, Mary Sue and the Super Friends v. the Ugly Americans. Which sucks, because it really started out quite good. But, alas:

Any that you simply couldn’t finish and why?

A couple, unfortunately. Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes was so lush and descriptive I couldn't figure out half the time what Bradbury was actually describing. And, uh, Kristin Lavransdatter. Yeah yeah yeah, I know I was one of the few who made excuses for Kristin, shaddup.

Oldest book read?

This was not a year for old books. Hesse's Demian, written around 1919.


Gert Jonke's The System of Vienna isn't really a new book per se, but the English translation just came out in December 2009.

Longest and shortest book titles?

The Wall in My Head: Words and Images from the Fall of the Iron Curtain is probably the longest. Demian, Laundry, and 2666 all tie for the shortest.

Longest and shortest books?

Longest: 2666, at 893 pages hardcover. But since it's divided into five separate books, Kostova's The Historian is probably second, at 642 pages hardcover. At 107 pages, The System of Vienna was the shortest novel, unless you count Death in Venice as a novel.

How many from the library?

Very few. I'd say around four.

Any translated books?


Most read author of the year, and how many books by that author?

This was the year of the German Modernists. I read Demian by Herman Hesse, fell in love with him, and went on to read Steppenwolf and The Journey to the East. I read Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, fell in love with him too, and went on to read an entire volume of his novellas and short stories.

Any re-reads?

Night Work and portions of 2666, including the entire "The Part About the Critics."

Favorite character of the year?

Harry Haller in Steppenwolf.

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading?

My favorite question! With all the translated fiction I read, I'm going to answer this in terms of what countries the authors are from. So here we go: Australia, Austria, Britain, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, India, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain (including the Catalan region), Sweden, Switzerland. Mostly European, unfortunately. That'll be my New Year's resolution: more books from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. So far, I've got Lebanon and Sudan lined up!

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation?

It wasn't really a recommendation per se, but I probably wouldn't have read Follow Me if Joanna Scott hadn't been one of my English professors at the University of Rochester. And what do you know, I ended up loving it!

Which author was new to you in 2009 that you now want to read the entire works of?

Hermann Hesse! Thomas Mann! ROBERTO BOLAÑO!

Which books are you annoyed you didn’t read?

I'm kind of annoyed with myself for not finishing Kristin Lavransdatter with the rest of the read-along but . . . oh, hell with it.

Did you read any books you have always been meaning to read?

Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. And yet, the silly urban fantasy books keep getting pushed aside by Serious Stuff.


readerbuzz said...

Nicely done. And on to 2010!

Richard said...

I'm not usually a meme man, E.L. Fay, but I enjoyed reading both your and Simon's answers to this. I also hope to read more books from Africa this coming year, so please keep me posted if you discover any great works from that continent (I just bought Petals of Blood by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o yesterday). And Happy New Year to you, my international fiction comrade in arms!

Anonymous said...

Hoorah good to see that you did this as I am so nosey and loving seeing everyones thoughts. It seems that Steppenwolf is a book I am going to have to look out for. Impressed your read 2666 it scares me.

JoAnn said...

These memes are so much fun! Bolano is an author I MUST read! I've had a bookmark in Mann's The Magic Mountain (page 152 -just had to check) for over a year. Should really get back to that one...

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Fun post! I too had genderfail but considering the ratio out there of male to female authors, you did pretty well!

Lu @ Regular Rumination said...

I didn't finish KL either! Now I don't feel so bad! You read some really great books this year, and look at all those books in translation! Fabulous :)

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I love this meme...I think I'll co-opt it for my New Year's post.

And KL is highly overrated...you should be proud you didn't finish!

E. L. Fay said...

Readerbuzz: Thanks!

Richard: Happy New Year to you too! And please do let me know if you discover any additional non-European books.

Savidgereads: Don't worry: 2666 is actually divided into five separate books, so it's not as scary as it looks.

JoAnn: You MUST read Bolano. EVERYONE must read Bolano.

Rhapsody: Somehow, that doesn't make me feel any better. Reading more female authors is one of my New Year's resolutions.

Lu: Oh good! I'm not alone then!

Softdrink: I dunno . . . I feel like I wimped out, especially after all the time I spent defending it.

Special K said...

I love tallying up my books at the end of the year! Did you read The Year of the Flood yet? Do you intend to?

E. L. Fay said...

Special K! I haven't heard from you in awhile!

No, I haven't read it yet but I'd love to! It's on my TBR list. Maybe once I finish my Christmas haul.

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