2020 in Facts and Figures

I already posted my main 2020 in Review and Looking Ahead to 2021 posts a while ago — only on my new blog (separate post to come) –, but I held back on my 2020 reading statistics until the year was well and truly over.  And for all my good intentions when posting my mid-year summary back in early July 2020, the second half of the year continued pretty much in the same vein as the first half had begun; i.e., my statistics for the whole year are still a variation on the theme of Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, or, 17 charts showing that 2020 was a year of reading Golden Age mysteries written by women (and following other Anglo-/ UK-centric reading proclivities); i.e. comfort reading galore … it was just that kind of year, I guess.

As a result, my Golden Age Mysteries / Detection Club reading project progressed very nicely.  Luckily, as I said in my main 2020 in Review post, I also managed to add a number of new countries to my Around the World challenge, and the gender balance is solidly in favor of women authors: I read almost 2 1/2 books by women for every book written by a man — in fact, I even reread more books by women than the total number of books by men.  So there was at least some progress in other areas, too.  And I liked or even loved most of the books I read in 2020 — including most of the new-to-me books –, which of course was another huge plus; in a year where reading was my go-to source of comfort, at that: most of my ratings were 4 stars or higher and thus, above the rating that marks “average” in my personal scale (3.5 stars).

Still, in 2021 I’m going to make a fresh attempt to refocus on my Around the World reading project, in furtherance of which I’ve also created a Diversity Bingo that I’ll try to get through in the space of this one year (though if it takes longer, it takes longer); and I’ll also try to include more books from my Freedom and Future Library in my yearly reading again.

And now, without any further ado:

Greatest New Author Discoveries of 2020

Classics and LitFic
Bernardine Evaristo
Olivia Manning

Historical Fiction
Dorothy Dunnett
Jean-François Parot
Paul Doherty

Golden and Silver Age Mysteries
Josephine Bell
Moray Dalton
Molly Thynne
Christianna Brand
Anthony Gilbert
Raymond Postgate
Patricia Moyes

My Life in Book Titles

This is a meme I’ve seen on quite a few blogs towards the end of 2020; it was created by Annabel at Annabookbel.  You’re to answer the prompts, using only books you have read in 2020; without, if possible, repeating a book title.  I thought I’d include it in my yearly roundup — and to up the ante a little bit further, I decided to use only books I read for the first time in 2020.

In high school I was Unspeakable (John Bercow)

People might be surprised by (my incarnation as) Lioness Rampant (Tamora Pierce)

I will never be The Horse You Came in On (Martha Grimes), nor Resorting to Murder (Martin Edwards, ed.; Various Authors)

My life in lockdown was like (a) Tour de Force (Christianna Brand) and (a) Tragedy at Law (Cyril Hare)

My fantasy job is The Thinking Machine at Work (Jacques Futrelle)

At the end of a long day I need to be Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi) (to my) Pilgrim’s Rest (Patricia Wentworth)

I hate being (around) Serpents in Eden (Martin Edwards, ed.; Various Authors)

Wish I had The Lost Tools of Learning (Dorothy L. Sayers)

My family reunions are (often with) Thirteen Guests (J. Jefferson Farjeon)

At a party you’d find me with My Friend Mr. Campion (Margery Allingham), Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (Emmuska Orczy), and other Bodies from the Library (Tony Medawar, ed.; Various Authors)

I’ve never been to Goodwood (Holly Throsby), Cherringham (Matthew Costello, Neil Richards), or At the Villa Rose (A.E.W. Mason)

A happy day includes A Small Place (Jamaica Kincaid) (of my own): My Beloved World (Sonia Sotomayor)

Motto(s) I live by: To Love and Be Wise (Josephine Tey); and We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

On my bucket list is Shakespeare’s Local (Pete Brown)

In my next life, I want to have The Grand Tour (Matthew Pritchard, ed.; Agatha Christie)

The Stats

Number of books started: 273
Number of books finished: 271
DNF: 2
Average Rating (overall): 3.9
Average Rating w/o Favorite Annual Xmas Rereads: 3.8

Note: The above chart includes my 6 annual Christmas rereads, which have a habit of slightly skewing my overall rating figures upwards; without these books, the number of 5-star books is reduced by 5 and the number of 4.5-star books is reduced by 1.

Note: “F / M (mixed)” refers to anthologies with contributions by both male and female authors, as well as to books jointly written by male and female authors. — “N / A” in the protagonist gender chart refers to Martha Wells’s Murderbot, who is deliberately created as gender-neutral.

Note: “Multi-ethnic” either refers to several persons (authors / protagonists) of different genders, or to one person of mixed ethnicity.

 

2019 Reading in Review — Nonstandard Edition, Part 1: The “Book Titles” Self-Interview

A few years ago, Olga Godim came up with a fun “reading year in review” version in the form of a self-interview, where the only answers permitted were book titles.  I instantly decided to copy it and add a few more categories of my own.  While I didn’t have time to do this again in the more recent past, as my last “2019 in review” posts, I decided to undust it — with yet more additions of my own –, along with another, similar questionnaire, the Bookish Academy Awards (to be posted separately).

(Note: For the more seriously-minded, my “real” “best new(-to-me) books of 2019” post — with links to my reviews — is HERE.)

 

In 2019, what was / were your …
Most Memorably Good Encounters?

Hard to beat — every single year anew.

 

Most Horrific Encounters?

 

Nicest Relations Met?

 

Most Awful Relations Met?

The husband from hell.

 

Worst Person Met (overall)?

Hard to think of anybody worse than a serial killer (both in real life and in fiction).

 

Best Vacation Spots?

Seriously, the locations were the best things about all of these books.  Though the mystery in Death in Kashmir was at least decent as well (and I’d advise you to give the audio version the widest berth you’re capable of).

 

Most Exciting Adventures?

Well, duh. 🙂

 

Best Guided Tours?

 

Favorite Place to Visit?

 

Least Favorite Place?

I know I’m breaking the rules here because the answer isn’t in the book names as such, but honestly, can you think of a worse place to be trapped in than a theocratic autocracy?

 

Most Embarrassing Memory?

Tie between the chance encounter of an alcoholic psychopath and his future victim on the one hand and the discovery of a murder victim inside his own locked deed box at his lawyer’s office on the other hand …

 

Most Heartbreaking Memory?

This book will slay you — hide and hair.

 

Best Weather?

 

Worst Weather?

Tie between two extremes — the rain-, snow- and-wind-chased Shetlands and tropical, hot and humid Colombia.

 

Scariest Event?

 

Funniest Moment?

Pure slapstick.

 

Saddest Moment?

 

Best Food?

Chocolate, Butter in a Lordly Dish, and two helpings of Christmas Pudding?  I’ll take it …

 

Worst Food?

 

Overstatement of the Year?

Hey, it’s the apocalypse … we’ll be having So. Much. Fun!!!

 

Understatement of the Year?

 

Best Animal Encounters?

 

Scariest Animal Encounters?

 

Most Precious Acquisitions?

 

Favorite Garments?

 

Prettiest Flowers?

 

Favorite Visual Arts?

 

Favorite Music?

 

Best Parties?

If I had reread Gaudy Night this year, it of course would have been included, too.  As it is …

 

Poshest Homes Visited?

 

Coziest Homes Visited?

 

Worst Homes Visited?

 

Most Puzzling Questions?

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2027801/2019-reading-in-review-nonstandard-edition-part-1-the-book-titles-self-interview

2019 Reading in Review — the Nonstandard Edition, Part 2: The Bookish Academy Awards

The Bookish Academy Awards / Book Oscars is a questionnaire I found a couple of years ago on the Blogger blog of Ashley / Read all the things and decided to steal it for my then-recent and all-time favorites.  Most of my “all-time” answers are still true; however, here’s an edition specifically for my 2019 reading (wherein “nonfiction” will not be limited to the specific “Best Documentary” equivalent category — so expect, for example, my favorite / most respected “real life” people to show up amongst the “best protagonist” listings).

(Note: For the more seriously-minded, my “best new(-to-me) books of 2019” post — with links to my reviews — is HERE.)

 

Best Director(s)
(This Year’s Favorite Writers):

The Memory of Love - Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Aminatta Forna Beloved - Toni Morrison Hag-Seed - Margaret Atwood, R. H. Thomson
Three-way tie between Aminatta Forna, Toni Morrison, and Margaret Atwood.

 

Best Actress
(Best Female Protagonist):

The Raven Tower - Ann Leckie A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert - Gertrude Bell, Georgina Howell, Sian Thomas, Adjoa Andoh Becoming - Michelle Obama Excellent Women - Barbara Pym, Gerry Halligan, Jonathan Keeble, Alexander McCall Smith The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective - Catherine Louisa Pirkis
Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett, Celia Imrie A Caribbean Mystery - Agatha Christie, Emilia Fox Eternity Ring - Patricia Wentworth, Diana Bishop Anna, Where Are You? - Patricia Wentworth, Diana Bishop The Ivory Dagger - Diana Bishop, Patricia Wentworth

Favorite New Encounters:
The (unnamed) goddess / narrator of Ann Leckie’s The Raven Tower
Gertrude Bell (Writings: A Woman in Arabia)
Michelle Obama (Becoming)
Mildred Lathbury (Barbary Pym: Excellent Women)
Loveday Brooke (Catherine Louisa Pirkis: The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective)

Favorite Repeat Encounters:
Granny Weatherwax (and Nanny Ogg & Magrat Garlick) (Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters)
Miss Marple (Agatha Christie)
Miss Silver (Patricia Wentworth)

Honorary Mention:
Harriet Vane (Dorothy L. Sayers: Strong Poison / Have His Caracase / Gaudy Night / Busman’s Honeymoon)
Can’t officially include her because I didn’t reread any of the Wimsey books featuring her in 2019, but hey, there is just no way she cannot be part of this list.

 

Best Actor
(Best Male Protagonist):

Tombland - C.J. Sansom, Steven Crossley


 


New Encounters with Long-Time Favorites:
Kofi Annan (Interventions: : A Life in War and Peace)
Matthew Shardlake (C.J. Sansom: Tombland)

Favorite Repeat Encounters:
Hogfather (aka DEATH) (Terry Pratchett: Hogfather)
Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
Lord Peter Wimsey (Dorothy L. Sayers)
Hercule Poirot (Agatha Chistie)
Roderick Alleyn (Ngaio Marsh)
Brother Cadfael (Ellis Peters)

 

Best Supporting Actress
(Best Female Sidekick or Supporting Character):

Three-way tie between Ariadne Oliver (Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot series), Josephine Leonides (the self-appointed kid sleuth in Agatha Christie’s Crooked House) and the wife of Ngaio Marsh’s Inspector Alleyn, painter Agatha Troy.  (All repeat encounters.)

 

Best Supporting Actor
(Best Male Sidekick or Supporting Character):



 
Tombland - C.J. Sansom, Steven Crossley

Favorite New Encounter:
You Bastard, the mathematical genius in camel clothes (Terry Pratchett: Pyramids)

Favorite Repeat Encounters:

Dr. John Watson (Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes series)
Captain Arthur Hastings (Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot series)
(=> The two original / quintessential sidekicks)
Mervyn Bunter (Dorothy L. Sayers: Lord Peter Wimsey series)
Jack Barak (C.J. Sansom: Matthew Shardlake series)
From the Unseen University of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld: Hex and the Librarian

 

Best Ensemble Cast:

I know this isn’t actually an Academy Awards category (only Golden Globes), but I’ve long felt it should be one — and there are some books to which the same thought applies as well.

Three-way tie between Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, and Terry Pratchett / Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens.

 

Best Original Screenplay
(Most Unique Plot or World Building):

The Raven Tower - Ann Leckie
Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett, Celia Imrie

Two-way tie between Ann Leckie’s The Raven Tower — far and away the most innovative world-building I’ve come across in a long time — and, of course … Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

In the original version of this questionnaire, “Best Adapted Screenplay” translates into “Best Book-to-Movie Adaptation”.  However, I think in the book world (especially that of recent years) there is another translation which fits the purpose just as well; namely, “Best Pastiche / Series Continuation.”  So I decided to go with both of them:

1 – Best Book-to-Movie Adaptation:

 

(Note: To correspond with all the other categories, this only takes into account the cases where I read the book AND also revisited the movie in 2019.  Which, as it turns out, boils down to not a whole lot more than my yearly Christmas favorites …)

Non-Christmas story:
Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (2015 BBC adaptation)

Christmas stories:
Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (1995, ITV David Suchet Poirot series)
Agatha Christie: The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (aka The Theft of the Royal Ruby) (1994, ITV David Suchet Poirot series)
Arthur Conan Doyle: The Blue Carbuncle (1987, Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series)
Dorothy L. Sayers: The Nine Tailors (1974, BBC Ian Carmichael Lord Peter Wimsey series)
Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol (1999 TNT adaptation starring Patrick Stewart)
Frances Hodgson Burnett: Little Lord Fauntleroy (1980 adaptation starring Ricky Schroder and Alec Guinness) (note: no specific Christmas connotations in the book)

2 – Best Pastiche:

Ben Schott: Jeeves and the King of Clubs
Perfect pitch — no contest.

 

Best Cinematography
(Best Plot Twist):

 

Dame Agatha still taks the cake when it comes to original plot twists (even upon the umpteenth reread), but I think Joy Ellis has recently given her a fair run for her money — even if the final twists in none of her books that I read in 2019 caught me quite as “from left field” as did my first ever Ellis book, Their Lost Daughters, which I read in late 2018.

 

Best Makeup
(Best Book Cover):

The Raven Tower - Ann Leckie Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett, Celia Imrie

Book’s Contents Lives up to the Cover’s Promise:
Ann Leckie: The Raven Tower
Diarmaid MacCulloch: Thomas Cromwell: A Life

Cover Promises More Than the Contents Delivers:
Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Gods of Jade and Shadow
Elif Shafak: Three Daughters of Eve
Lorna Nicholl Morgan: Another Little Murder

Best Series Covers:

Discworld “black background” hardback and audiobook covers
Brltish Library Crime Classics series

 

Best Costume Design
(Best Historical or Contemporary Setting):

Beloved - Toni Morrison
Tombland - C.J. Sansom, Steven Crossley

Contemporary:
Ann Cleeves: Raven Black and White Nights (Shetland series)
Peter May: The Lewis Man
Ian Rankin: In a House of Lies
(What can I say … I just love Scotland — and books set there!)
Xinran: The Good Women of China

Historical:
Toni Morrison: Beloved
Delia Owens: Where the Crawdads Sing
Diarmaid MacCulloch: Thomas Cromwell
Tom Reiss: The Black Count
C.j. Sansom: Tombland
Ellis Peters. Brother Cadfael series

 

Best Animated Feature
(A book that would work well in animated format):


Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett, Celia Imrie

Two-way tie between Ladyhawke (Joan D. Vinge’s novelization of the movie starring Rutger Hauer, Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer) and, you guessed it … Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.

 

Best Visual Effects
(Best Action in a Book):

Hyeongseo Lee: The Girl With the Seven Names
Seriously, with a real life story like this, who even needs thrillers anymore?

 

Best Original Score

Originally, “Best Original Score” translated only into “Best Book-to-Movie Adaptation”.  But I think this is another case where an Oscar category is capable of two equally valid different interpretations in the book world, and again I decided to go with both of them:

1 – Best Book / Series Incorporating Music as an Important Element:

Peter Grainger: An Accidental Death

2 – Best Audio Version:

The Memory of Love - Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Aminatta Forna

Aminatta Forna: The Memory of Love
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s narration: Major goosebumps material.

 

Best Short Film
(Best Novella or Short Story):

Arthur Conan Doyle: Danger!

 

Best Documentary
(Best Non-Fiction):

Becoming - Michelle Obama

Four-way tie between Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Thomas Cromwell, Xinran’s The Good Women of China, Tom Reiss’s The Black Count, and Michelle Obama’s Becoming.  Four outstanding books that are as engaging as they are informative.

 

Honorary / Lifetime Achievement Award
(Overall Favorite Body of Work):

My Lady Ludlow - Elizabeth Gaskell, Susannah York The Casual Vacancy - Tom Hollander, J.K. Rowling Tombland - C.J. Sansom, Steven Crossley

Danger! - Arthur Conan Doyle
 
 

Eternity Ring - Patricia Wentworth, Diana Bishop Anna, Where Are You? - Patricia Wentworth, Diana Bishop The Ivory Dagger - Diana Bishop, Patricia Wentworth

Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett, Celia Imrie

New Encounters with Long-Time Favorites:
Elizabeth Gaskell: My Lady Ludlow
J.K. Rowling: The Casual Vacancy
Ian Rankin: In a House of Lies
C.J. Sansom: Tombland

Favorite Repeat Encounters:
Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility
Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time
Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes series, stand-alone story Danger!
Dorothy L. Sayers: Whose Body?, Five Red Herrings, The Nine Tailors
Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Tommy & Tuppence, and Quin & Satterthwaite series, And Then There Were None, Crooked House, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, and various short stories
Ngaio Marsh: Roderick Alleyn series
Patricia Wentworth: Miss Silver series
Ellis Peters: Brother Cadfael series
Terry Pratchett: Discworld series and Good Omens (co-written with Neil Gaiman)

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2027816/2019-reading-in-review-the-nonstandard-edition-part-2-the-bookish-academy-awards

2017 – 2019 Three-Year Reading Stats

Three years ago I took a look at my reading stats for the then-just-finished year (2017) and decided they were off in several respects:

  • Too many rereads
  • Too many mysteries
    — i.e., too much comfort reading —
  • AND way too few books by female authors.

Also, the ratio of books read vs. new, unread additions to my “owned books” TBR was abysmal — in 2017, I added almost as many books to my shelves without ending up reading them than I actually did read.

So, the first thing I did was join a challenge created by Awogfli and put together a Women Writers challenge in response, with the aim of enhancing the percentage of female authors I’m reading.  That project went rather well, all told, so last year I added another challenge level (to be continued in 2020): Use your reading to travel around the world, to as many countries as possible (while still giving preference to female authors).  That project, too, went better than I had expected in 2019.  And, hooray, I even got my “owned TBR” additions under control.  Well, sort of — at least I reduced them by one half …

With three years of reading statistics under my belt — the initial ones from 2017 and those from the two succeeding years — I think it’s time to take a first comprehensive look at the last three years’ developments.

So here we go:

The one statistics that doesn’t look like it has greatly changed is the book format — ever since I really “discovered” audiobooks in 2016, my audiobook consumption has been vastly greater than my print book readings.  However, this is actually in large part the reason why my owned and unread TBR has gone down, because very often I’ll have both the audiobook and the print edition and I’ll switch back and forth between them.  This may mean I’ll eventually find a different way of charting these books, but so far I’ve counted them as “audio”, and for consistency’s sake I may just continue doing that.

Aaaand finally the Genre breakdown: Still plenty of mysteries (even more if you take into account that the majority of my historical fiction reading consists of mysteries and thrillers / crime fiction), but another effect of my Around the World challenge — as well as Moonlight’s 2019 “crowdsourced” project / reading list! — has been to diversify my genre chart (somewhat).  Mysteries (not counting historical mysteries) still account for a solid 50%, and that’s fine — since I’m also planning to continue my foray into the world of Detection Club /Golden Age crime fiction, it’s unlikely that this percentage is going to drop significantly. By and large I’m pretty happy with the way things have turned out so far!

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2026709/2017-2019-three-year-reading-stats

2020 Reading Plans / Expectations & 2019 in Review

24 Festive Tasks: Door 22 – New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day: Tasks 1-3 & Door 18 – Hanukkah: Task 1

2020 Reading Goals

Pretty much the same as this year: Read more books by women writers than by male authors, diversify my reading, and keep on exploring the world of Golden Age mystery fiction.

The Around the World reading challenge — which is also to be continued in 2020 — this year has taken me to places of the world that aren’t exactly part of my normal reading fare, and I think visits to 46 countries (8 in Africa, 10 in the Americas (11 if Puerto Rico were counted separately), 13 in Asia and the Middle East, 2 in Oceania, and 13 again in Europe) is a pretty decent tally for the first year. I hope things are going to continue in a similar vein next year.

My Golden Age mystery reading plans are probably going to cross the “diversifying” aims to a certain extent — they already did this year — for the simple reason that the vast majority of Golden Age mystery writers were Caucasian.  But that just can’t be helped, I suppose.

 

The 2019 Stats

Books begun: 250
Books finished: 247
Average Rating: 3,8

 Genre Breakdown by Subgenres

Mystery: 124
Golden Age: 89
Silver Age: 3
Tartan Noir: 3
Classic Noir: 2
Cozy Mystery: 2
General: 22

Thriller: 8
Espionage: 5
Humor/Satire: 1
General: 2

Historical Fiction: 31
Mystery/Crime/Thriller: 23
Mythology: 2
Magical Realism: 1
Humor/Satire: 1
General: 3

Fantasy: 11
Humor/Satire: 8
YA: 2
General: 1

Supernatural: 5
Short Fiction: 2
Historical Fiction: 2
Humor/Satire: 1

SciFi: 2
Steampunk: 1
Humor/Satire: 1

Horror: 3
Gothic: 1
Short Fiction: 2

Classics: 15
Short Fiction: 6
Anthology: 1
Espionage: 1
General: 7

LitFic: 16
Magical Realism: 1
Mythology: 2
Dystopia: 2
Mystery/Crime/Thriller: 2
ChickLit: 2
General: 7

Nonfiction: 32
Auto(Biography): 20
History: 3
Philosophy: 2
Science: 3
True Crime: 2
Anthology: 1
Cookbook: 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key, obviously, is in the intersection of genres and ethnicity: 25 of the 27 books by non-Caucasian authors I read were something other than mysteries; or put differently, virtually all of the 124 mysteries were by Caucasian authors (including all of the 92 Golden and Silver Age mysteries, which in themselves account for 2/3 of all my mystery intake).  I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do much about those statistics — nor do I very much want to, as long as I manage to make decent progress with my Around the World challenge and manage to get in a fair amount of non-Caucasian books in all the other genres.

Favorite books of 2019: HERE
Least favorite books of 2019: HERE

Bibliomancy

 My question: Is 2020 going to be a good reading year for me?

Miss Austen’s Collected Novels are one of the larger volumes on my shelves, so I decided to seek my answer there.

The answer: “[impor]tance in assisting the improvement of her mind, and extending its pleasures.”

That sounds rather promising, doesn’t it?

(And I’m taking it as an additional good sign that the answer is from Mansfield Park, wich was the first novel by Austen that I read — and the book that made me fall in love with her writing in the first place …)

 

Dreidel Spin for First Book of the Year

This is a pick from some of the books that my BFF, Gaby, gave me for Christmas and my birthday this year:

נ (Nun) – Craig Adams: The Six Secrets of Intelligence
ג (Gimel) – Isabel Colegate: The Shooting Party
ה (Hei) – Preet Bharara: Doing Justice
ש (Shin) – Sarah-Jane Stratford: Radio Girls

 

… and the dreidel picked:

 So, Sarah-Jane Stratford’s Radio Girls it is!

Radio Girls - Sarah-Jane Stratford

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Door 22
Task 1: Tell us: What are your reading goals for the coming year?

Task 2: The reading year in review: How did you fare – what was good, what wasn’t?

Task 3: Bibliomancy: Ask a question related to your reading plans or experience in the coming year, open one of your weightiest tomes on page 485, and find the answer to your question in line 7.

 

Door 18, Task 1: Spin the dreidel to determine which book is going to be the first one you’ll be reading in the new year.

Find a virtual dreidel here:
https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel
http://www.jewfaq.org/dreidel/play.htm
http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2023998/24-festive-tasks-door-22-new-year-s-eve-st-sylvester-s-day-tasks-1-3-and-door-18-hanukkah-task-1

2019 Airing of Grievances: Least Favorite Books of the Year

24 Festive Tasks: Door 19 – Festivus: Task 1

Overall, 2019 was a phantastic reading year for me with decidedly more highs than lows.  Of the latter, my worst reading experiences were, in no particular order:

Laura Restrepo, Hot Sur: OK, forget the “in no particular order” bit for a moment.  A main character expecting me to empathize with her for siding with the psychopathic rapist of the woman she calls her best friend … and actually trying to talk her best friend into agreeing her horrific experience was all just a “misunderstanding”?  Sorrynotsorry — just, nope.  A hard DNF, and that main character deserved everything she had coming to her as a consequence.

Renée Ahdieh, The Wrath and the Dawn: Shallow, infantile in tone, and, most importantly, abominably bady researched.  I didn’t DNF quite as quickly as Hot Sur, but I barely made it past the 1/3 mark.  I might have been marginally more understanding if it had come across as YA fantasy (which was frankly what I’d expected), but it’s written as historical fiction — and getting core historical details wrong in a book of historical fiction is just about the worst sin you can commit in my book.

Sam Kean, The Disappearing Spoon: Well, let’s just say Mr. Kean is decidedly not Helen Czerski (which is NOT a good thing), and he also isn’t half as funny as he apparently thinks he is.  What he seems to think is humor, to me comes across as arrogance and unwarranted judgmentalism — and his research / fact checking on everything “non-physics” is plainly abominable.  Almost as importantly, his fractured narrative style and lack of clarity completely failed to translate to me his own professed enthusiasm for his subject.  Another book where I never got past the initial chapters.

Georgette Heyer, A Blunt Instrument: Heyer at her worst — clichéd, biased, snub-nosed, with one-dimensional characters and a mystery whose solution is staring you in the face virtually from page 1.  I only finished it for confirmation that my guess was correct (which, dare I say “of course”, it was), but it was a struggle of the sort I never experienced with Heyer before or since (and I’ve finished all of her mysteries in the interim).

Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star: I know Lispector is highly regarded, but she’s obviously not for me — I detest speech that is so deconstructed to barely make sense (even to mother tongue speakers, as it turns out); combine that with the drab narrative (if that word is even justified) of a drab character living a drab life, and you’ve lost me for good.  It was a blessing that this is a very short book; if it hadn’t been, this would have been another DNF.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(Task: The airing of grievances: Which are the five books you liked least this year – and why?)

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2022452/24-festive-tasks-door-19-festivus-task-1

2019: The Books I’ve Been Most Thankful For

24 Festive Tasks: Door 11 – Thanksgiving: Task 2

With another full month to go in the year, it may be a bit early to do this task, but a substantial number of the books I’m going to be reading in December will be Christmas rereads, so here we go.

The books / authors I am most thankful for having (re)discovered are, working backwards in the order in which I’ve read them (and with links to my reviews or status updates, if any, in the titles):

 

Margaret Atwood, The Testaments and The Handmaid’s Tale:
Atwood’s Gilead novels were my final reads of this year’s Halloween Bingo, and the game couldn’t have ended on a bigger exclamation point (though The Handmaid’s Tale was a reread).  The Testaments not only takes us back to Gilead and provides answers to some of the questions remaining open at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, more importantly it is also a timely reminder of what exactly is at stake once a democracy’s foundations are allowed to weaken — as we’re seeing in more than one country around the world at the moment.  One of the hardest reading double bills I ever imposed on myself, but I’m very glad that I did.

As a side note and for something very different, I also truly enjoyed Atwood’s Hag-Seed, a novelization of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which I read earlier this year.

 

Toni Morrison, Beloved:
Another soul-drenching and profoundly devastating reading experience, and yet another one that I’m truly thankful for.  Morrison deserved the Literature Nobel Prize for this book alone, and while her literary legacy has hopefully made her voice immortal, among the many great authors we have lost this year, she stands head and shoulders above all the rest.  Her contributions to the literary and social discourse will well and truly be missed.

 

Guards! Guards! - Terry PratchettTerry Pratchett, Guards, Guards:
One of the Discworld series’s stand-out books and in many ways a perfect companion book for those by Atwood and Morrison as it, too, deals with the undermining of democracy by the forces of evil.  Trust me, this is one dragon you don’t want to encounter … (unless, of course, you happen to be able to bring the perfect antidote).

Reminder for the Discworld group: This is our bimonthly group read for this coming December.  And it’s highly recommended!

 

Danger! - Arthur Conan DoyleArthur Conan Doyle: Danger:
Speaking of timely reads, this was yet another one: Much more than “merely” the author of the Sherlock Holmes books, Conan Doyle was an astute observer of the politics of his time, and he did not shy away from speaking his mind, even if that meant offending the highest in the land.  Danger is a short story that he wrote shortly before WWI to warn the leadership of the Admiralty of the dangers of a submarine war, for which he considered Britain woefully unprepared.  And if Conan Doyle’s words struck a cautionary note a century ago (turns out the Admiralty took his warning seriously, and it was a good thing for Britain that they did), they should do so even more in the context of Brexit, which carries its very own significant risks of cutting off or curtailing Britain’s trade routes.  Alas, I very much doubt that’s the case.

 

Thomas Cromwell: A Life - Diarmaid MacCullochDiarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cromwell
Simply put, the Cromwell biography to end all Cromwell biographies.  In his research for this book, MacCulloch took a fresh look at virtually every single document on which Cromwell’s vast legacy is based, and the resulting biography is a masterpiece of historical analysis which does away with many an often-repeated myth (beginning right at the beginning of Cromwell’s life, with the role of his father), and which shines a light on Cromwell’s many innovations and achievements and on the inner workings of his meteoric rise from humble tradesman’s son to Henry VIII’s chief minister.  In the process, MacCulloch reevaluates everything from the foreign merchant experience that Cromwell gained early in life, to his work as Cardinal Wolsey’s assistant and, finally, his growing preeminence and his seminal policy as the power behind Henry VIII’s throne.  What emerges from MacCulloch’s analysis is the picture of a highly complex and intelligent man, difficult to deal with even for friends, fierce and ruthless as an enemy — but always with England’s well-being and advancement (as well as the advancement of its institutions) at his heart; the one man who, in the space of a single short decade, emerged as the single most important politician of the entire Tudor Age (short of, just possibly, Elizabeth I), whose legacy (and the legacy of his innovations and reforms, far above and beyond the well-known Acts of Parliament which he initiated) reaches down the centuries all the way to the present date.  If you’re even the slightest bit interested in the Tudor Age or in constitutional history, run, don’t walk to acquire this book.

 

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo - Tom ReissTom Reiss, The Black Count:
Another highly fascinating biography: We’ve come to think of Alexandre Dumas père and fils as the two writers, but did you know that Dumas père’s father (also called Alexandre) — the son of a black Haitian slave and a French count — was a general in the French revolutionary army and, in his own time, much more important than his son and grandson ever were in theirs?  Reiss’s book not only tells the story of his life; it also places General Dumas’s life into the wider context of his era and examines, inter alia, how equal the budding colonial power’s black sons and daughters actually were in the motherland of “Liberté – Egalité – Fraternité” (spoiler: they weren’t).  The picture emerging from Reiss’s research is that of a man of great personal courage, intelligence and ambition, as well as sheer enormous physical presence, whose life was cut tragically short as a result of the side effects of being caught up in the European and French power struggle of his time — and in case you ever had any doubts, yes, General Dumas was the model for one of his son’s greatest heroes, the Count of Monte Cristo … and D’Artagnan’s famous friendship-building duel with all three Musqueteers at the beginning of their acquaintance does have a basis in reality as well.

 

The Raven Tower - Ann LeckieAnn Leckie, The Raven Tower:
Truly original worldbuilding, a powerful story, evocative writing and a knockout, totally unique narrative perspective: In a literary scene that seems to be dominated more and more by sameness and formula (both in adult and YA fantasy), with barely skin-deep layers of seeming originality, this book was my reading year’s one saving grace that singlehandedly restored my faith in the idea that there are at least a few fantasy writers out there who are still capable of compelling creations that are entirely their own and unlike anything else already out there.

 

The Memory of Love - Aminatta FornaAminatta Forna, The Memory of Love:
Last year, it was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun that provided insight and a new perspective on the history of one particular African country (Nigeria); this year, Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love did the same and then some for Sierra Leone.  A devastating tale of love, loss, and the many ways in which a person can be broken, in a country variously slipping into and emerging out of decades of a devastating civil war.

 

Interventions: A Life in War and Peace - Kofi AnnanKofi Annan, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace:
Mr. Annan was far and away the most influential and important Secretary General of the United Nations in its more recent history; his memoirs set forth with great passion and understanding how the experience of a lifetime, from growing up in post-WWII Ghana all the way to serving as Under-Secretary for Peacekeeping under Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and his first-hand insight into conflicts like those in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Somalia, Israel / Palestine, Iraq, and Somalia, shaped his conviction about the necessity of an “interventionist” United Nations policy; one that does not stay on the sidelines of genocide and war crimes but takes seriously its mandate to act on behalf of the peoples of the world.  A simply riveting read.

 

The Bone Woman: A Forensic Anthropologist's Search for Truth in the Mass Graves of Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo - Clea KoffClea Koff, The Bone Woman:
This one hit home, because it touched more or less directly on some of my own past work — but even if you don’t have any personal inroads into the investigation of human rights violations, it’s a great introduction to the subject and, more importantly, does great legwork in conveying both the psychological trauma and the physical wounds suffered by the victims of such abuses … as well as the toll that the field work of the subsequent investigation takes from the investigators.  A truly memorable read.

 

An Accidental Death: A DC Smith Investigation Series, Book 1 - Peter Grainger, Gildart JacksonPeter Grainger, An Accidental Death:
One of the year’s early and totally unexpected, great discoveries.  A great location (the Norfolk coast), pithy and insightful writing, an unusual, profoundly contemplative detective — a formerly high-ranking officer who has chosen to be knocked back to the rank of sergeant so as to be able to keep doing hands-on police work instead of being mired in administration and pushing paper … and thanks to the main character’s hobby, there is even a bluesy background note.  Who could ask for more?

 

Becoming - Michelle ObamaMichelle Obama, Becoming:
Mrs. Obama may have chosen to focus on her charity work and on political education instead of seeking a career in party politics now that she and her husband have left the White House (and who could possibly blame her?), but I am very glad she also decided to give us her deeply personal perspective on her own and Barack Obama’s path all the way to the end of 2016.  It’s a spirited narrative that manages to build an immediate connection with the reader, and which made me regret the end of the Obama presidency even more than I had done before.  I can only hope the Obamas are going to continue to seek and find ways to make their mark on the political discourse, in America and beyond — not only Barack but also Michelle Obama, who in her own right is clearly at least as important a voice as her husband.

 

The Girl with Seven Names - Hyeonseo Lee, John David MannHyeonseo Lee, The Girl with Seven Names:
A riveting read and proof positive of the old adage that truth is vastly stranger than fiction: the true story of a young woman who defected from North Korea to China “by accident” right before her 18th birthday and, after ten years of trials and tribulations, eventually ended up in South Korea and, later, in the U.S., where she testified about her experience, and more generally on the topic of dictatorial regimes and human rights abuses, before various bodies of the U.S. government and the United Nations.  At times her story is so heartstoppingly riveting that you want to doubt whether all this truly happened, but apparently it did — and the book is worth a read for her unquestionably personal and in-depth inside perspective on Norh Korea and China alone.

 

The Good Women of China - XinranXinran, The Good Women of China:
My first read of 2019, and with it, the year started well and truly with a bang: the true stories of a number of Chinese women whom Xinran — then a radio presenter in Nanking — encountered as a journalist, but whose stories she was not able to tell while still subject to state censorship.  In equal parts eye-opening and heartbreaking; by no means easy to digest but an absolute must-read, and my reading year couldn’t have begun in a better way.

 

 The Murderer's Son - Richard Armitage, Joy Ellis Their Lost Daughters - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage The Fourth Friend - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage The Guilty Ones: A Jackman and Evans Thriller - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage The Stolen Boys - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage
Beware the Past - Joy Ellis, Antony Ferguson Five Bloody Hearts - Joy Ellis, Matthew Lloyd Davies

Joy Ellis, Jackman & Evans series and Beware the Past:
As a new discovery, this is actually a carry-over from 2018, when Ellis’s Their Lost Daughters completely knocked me sideways during Halloween Bingo.  I’ve since read her entire Jackman & Evans series — my favorite entries still being Their Lost Daughters as well as, coming very close, book 4 of the series, The Guilty Ones — and I have continued my adventures in Ellis’s Fenlands world of detection with an encounter with DCI Matt Ballard in Beware the Past, the conclusion of which managed to knock me sideways yet again (though warning: this is definitely not a tale for the faint of heart).  And the good news is that the second book of the Matt Ballard series (Five Bloody Hearts) is already available as well, so I’m not done with the Fenlands by a long shot …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(Task: Tell us: Of the books that you read this year, which are you most thankful for, OR was there one that turned out to be full of “stuffing”? Alternatively, which (one) book that you read anytime at all changed your life for the better?”)

 

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2018 in Reading Review, or, The Year of Listening to Mystery Audiobooks by Women Writers

24 Festive Tasks: Door 22 – New Year’s Eve, Task 2

2018 Statistics

Total number of books read in 2018: 225
Number of as-yet unread books added to “owned books” TBR in 2018: 240

— plus the 100 or so Audible downloads that I haven’t even added to my BookLikes shelves yet.

So the ratio of buying vs. reading is seriously off this year.  (Last year, I read almost 40 books more than remained unread on my “owned books” TBR of the books added over the course of the year.)

Nevertheless, I am very happy with my reading year: very few of my reads were 3 stars or less, I didn’t expect I’d even make it to 200 books (so I actually read more than expected), I finished my Women Writers project, and compared to last year, my stats have come out on the “right” side in every aspect I primarily looked at — I read more women authors than men, and more new books than rereads:

In summary, I guess you can call this my year of listening to mystery audiobooks chiefly written by women writers … which is fine, though, and in a way even what I expected this year to be.

In fact, I’m expecting to continue reading many more mysteries in 2019 as well — I’d like to complete my “inofficial” Detection Club Bingo reads for one thing, I’m planning to read more Golden Age mysteries republished as part of the British Library Crime Classics and Collins Crime club series, and I’m likely going to join Wanda and Moonlight at least for parts of “A Study in Sherlock” / “Summer of Sherlock“.  But I’m also planning to reprise my Women Writers challenge, however with a twist along the lines of the “Around the World in 80 Books” group on Goodreads.

All in all, if 2019 turns out even half as good as 2018 has been (even against the odds in some respects), I’ll color myself extremely lucky.

 

 

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2018 Airing of Grievances: Least Favorite Books of the Year

24 Festive Tasks: Door 19 – Festivus, Task 1

I’ve been blessed with a pretty amazing reading year in which disappointments were few and far between — so it was fortunately not difficult at all to spot the small number of candidates for my “grievances” list when scrolling back through my shelves.  They are / were, in no particular order (except for no. 1):

Margaret Drabble: The Red Queen
Pretentious, artificial, historically incorrect and, most of all, monumentally self-involved.  If this is the type of book that Drabble’s sister A.S. Byatt criticizes under the byword “faction”, then I’m with Byatt all the way — and that statement is far from a given where Byatt’s own fiction is concerned.  Someday I’ll seek out the actual memoirs of the Crown Princess whose story inspired this poor excuse for a novel.  I doubt I’ll go anywhere near Drabble’s writing again anytime soon, however.

Original review HERE.

 

Stephen Brusatte: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
Speaking of monumentally self-involved, this wasn’t much better than Drabble’s book in that particular department.  It does contain the actual bit of paleonthological information, but that bit is essentially hidden between tales of Steve the Great and his almost-as-great famous friends and acquaintances, as well as Brusatte’s pet theories — pun not intended — and a lot of generalization on subjects that don’t necessarily lend themselves to same.  (Also, Brusatte obviously loves T-Rex … and his obsession with the Rex’s “puny arms” has me wondering about the wider psychological implications of Brusatte’s fascination with the big bad  boys (and girls) of dino-dom.)

Original review HERE.

 

Jennifer Wright: Get Well Soon
Our third candidate under the “monumentally self-involved” header.  Leaving aside that the book’s subtitle (“History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them”) is a complete misnomer, this, too, is chiefly about the bright and sparky Ms. Wright and her opinions, frequently at best shallow research, and largely inappropriate oh-so-clever (NOT) quips, asides, and pop culture references.  At least two of the “plagues” mentioned in the book actually are not epidemics at all (which shows that indeterminate “medical horrors” is what Wright was truly after), and on the epidemics that do get mentioned, entire chapters of medical research and the world-renowned scientists chiefly responsible for that research don’t even get so much as a passing mention.  Virtually the book’s only saving grace was Wright’s stance against anti-vaxxers and similar superstitious nonsense — the sum total of which, however, would easily have fit into one of the magazine articles that Wright produces when she’s not pretending she is a science writer.

Original review HERE.

 

Ethel Lina White: The Lady Vanishes
One of the rare examples where I like the movie adaptation (by the one and only Alfred Hitchcock, no less) vastly better than the literary original.  “Woman in peril” stories aren’t my cup of tea to begin with, but leaving aside that I rather like Hitch’s spin on the conspiracy at the heart of the book, most of all, the two protagonists (Margaret Lockwood’s Iris and her “knight in shining armour”, portrayed by Michael Redgrave in the movie) come across as much more likeable and believable in the screen version — the guy in particular is nothing more than a pretentious prick in the book, for however much he’s supposed to be the Hero and Iris’s big savior and love interest.  All in all, Hitchcock elevated what seems to amount at best to B movie material on paper into one of his early masterpieces — no small feat on his part.

Original review HERE.

 

Francine Mathews: The Cutout
Not strictly a disappointment, as I was a bit skeptical going in anyway; however, it had an interesting premise and started well and thus got my hopes up to a certain extent — only to deflate them pretty thoroughly, alas, before it had really gotten going.  Totalitarian political machinations in a post-collapse-of-the-Wall Europe may have sounded interesting when the book was written in the early 2000s — and sound even more up-to-date these days, in fact — but it would have required a different writer to pull this off convincingly.  Matthews has no understanding of Germany, German society and politics, nor that of the Eastern European countries where her book is set (if she ever lived in Berlin or any of the book’s other main locations, she obviously had virtually zero interactions with anybody other than her American intelligence colleagues), and unfortunately, name-dropping half a street atlas’ worth of names of tourist sites and major traffic arteries is no replacement for a believable reproduction of local atmosphere. Similarly, not one of the characters is anything other than a two-dimensional cipher, and by the time the book reaches its end, it degenerates into the cheapest of cheap spy thriller clichés once and for all.

Original review HERE.

 

Honorable mentions:

(Or would that be “dishonorable mentions”?)

John Bude: The Lake District Murder
I already used this for the task of finding something redeeming in an otherwise disappointing book (International Day of Tolerance / Door 6, Task 1), so I won’t formally use it again in this particular context — besides, unlike the five above-mentioned books it didn’t actually make me angry … it just fell flat of what it could have been.

Original review HERE.

 

Joanne Fluke / Laura Levine / Leslie Meier: Candy Cane Murder
A huge disappointment only considering how popular these three ladies’ books are (particularly so, Fluke’s) — ultimately, I guess this was nothing more than a confirmation of the fact that cozy mysteries aren’t actually my kind of thing (with the sole exception of Donna Andrews’s Meg Langslow series).  Of the three entries, Meier’s was by far the weakest, but I neither cared particularly for Fluke’s nor ultimately for Levine’s, either — though in the sense of “amongst the blind, the one-eyed man is king”, Levine’s was the strongest entry in an overall weak threesome.

Original review HERE.

 

 

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2017 in Review — and Consequences for 2018

2017 Statistics

Total number of books read in 2017: 287
Number of (as-yet unread) books added to “owned books” TBR in 2017: 250

So, looks like overall 2017 was a pretty good reading year for me — and certainly, even without having participated in BooklikesOpoly, the two games during the last four months of the year helped a lot.  The above total numbers don’t tell the full story, however (in fact, in some respects they’re more than a little deceptive).

In 2017, especially in the first couple of months, I had to do a lot of driving — as well as having to cope with a lot of stress.  To compensate and for on-the-road entertainment, I took to revisiting my favorite classics and my favorite mysteries on audio; and the amount of my comfort reading (or rather: listening) clearly shows in my yearly reading stats — not only in the number of new books read vs. rereads, but even more so in the number of audiobooks vs. print books read: 2017 was unquestionably the year when I discovered the  audiobook:

(Note: 2 books out of the total of 287 were Christmas classics I revisit every year, and where I chose the DVD version in 2017.)

Similarly, while my reading year was a pretty good one if you only take into account the new books I read (average: 3.95 stars), it improves even more if you factor in all the favourite-book rereads:

And of course, my comfort reading also impacts — big time — the genre breakdown of my 2017 reading:

(Note: “Nonfiction”, for purposes of this exercise, comprises biographies, memoirs, historical nonfiction, science and popular science, reference books, and assorted general nonfiction. — The category “Historical Fiction” includes a number of historical mysteries, which are included only once in the above chart for purposes of consistency in total number of books read, but which are included in the genre-specific analysis further below under both “Mysteries” and “Historical Fiction”, and which I’ve also analyzed separately.)

However, the area where my inordinate amount of comfort reading most significantly shows up is in the author gender breakdown.  It looks pretty evenly spread, with a slight pro-female bias, if you just look at the total figures:

(“m & f” are anthologies featuring contributions from both male and female authors or male-female author teams.)

But the vast majority of my comfort reads (or rather: audio revisits) were books written by female authors, and if you eliminate those, there’s a clear male author bias, except solely in the subgenre of historical mysteries.  In other words, almost all across the board, roughly 2 out of 3 new books I read were by male authors. (And it’s even more embarrassingly one-sided with regard to the six fantasy and five literary fiction titles I managed to squeeze in: they were all written by men.)  As all of this very much will have to change in 2018, I suppose the Women Authors Challenge / Bingo is coming just in time for me!

 

By Format:

(All but 2 of the print books were new reads, so the stats are almost exactly identical for all print books and new print books read.)

 

By Major Genres Read:

All nonfiction books I read in 2017 were new reads.)

(Note: For purposes of these last charts, the books qualifying as “historical mysteries” were included in both the charts for “historical fiction” and for “mysteries”, respectively.)

So, even in the mysteries and historical fiction tallies, despite the clear pro-women author bias in historical mysteries that remains even after eliminating the rereads, both “mysteries” and “historical fiction” flip from a pro-female to a pro-male author bias once the rereads are taken out of the consideration.

 

2018 Outlook

In addition to the Women Authors Challenge / Bingo, which is hopefully going to help me put books written by women on a bit more of an equal footing with books written by men in the year just begun, I’m planning to

* continue whittling away at that impossible amount of books I added to my owned books TBR in 2017 alone (not to mention those already lingering on it from previous years),

* continue reading science and popular science with the Flat Book Society (the current read, Helen Czerski’s Storm in a Teacup, is of course an excellent way of killing two birds with one stone — a popular science book written by a woman),

* continue filling my Detection Club Bingo card and continue my exploration of Golden Age detective fiction, (which will hopefully also go some way towards both reducing my phyiscal TBR and augmenting the number of books written by women that I’m reading this year)

* and to the extent time allows, participate in the 2018 Booklikes games!

If in addition to / as part of the above I also manage to balance out my genre intake a little more and include more literary fiction and fantasy, I’ll color myself more than happy by the end of the year!

 

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