Well what a year it has been book wise.
But first the beginning …. I came into 2019 in a reading slump. I wasn’t keeping the company of books regularly and when I did, I was not finishing most of what I picked up. This bothered me quite a bit. I didn’t know if it was me – had I fallen out of love with books – or was I simply making bad choices regarding reading material. Picking the wrong genre, reaching beyond my comfort zone with books that were too long. I decided to try and motivate myself by setting a goal, that being to read a certain number of books (and that meant to completion) by the end of Dec 2019. My chosen number – 10. Now that doesn’t seem like a lot but I tend to read slowly and I didn’t want to set an unrealistic total that I couldn’t reach. That would have been very off putting.
Happily I reached my goal in the first half of the year, and having something to work towards got me back into the habit of reading on a regular basis even if it was only a few chapters a day. I made it a point to read at work during my lunch hour and squeeze in a chapter on my morning and afternoon smoko. I found that this added balance and variety to my work day which was an unforeseen but happily received benefit. That isn’t to say there were not down periods. During the latter part of the year I had several DNF’s (Did Not Finish) in a row which knocked me back a bit. My remedy was to take a short break from reading all together and go with my gut for the next attempt. And hey presto it worked! I was a bit nervous in that the particular work I chose as my ‘return to reading’ book turned out to be the longest one I picked up in 2019 but happily all worked out well.
And this reacquaintance with books and reading lead to other changes in this part of my life. I decided to move to a purely electronic reading environment and dispersed the small book collection I had, all of which was detailed in my post called ‘The Great Book Purge’. For me it has worked out splendidly and I haven’t regretted it once although I can acknowledge that this change would not be comfortable for everyone. One thing I have discovered is that I read much quicker with a eReader than with a traditionally formatted book. I have no idea why that is. Note to self – I must do some research to see if that is the case for other people.
I established a virtual ‘To Be Read’ shelf, something that I had shied away from in the past as I felt it put too much pressure on my reading routine and it also distracted me from whatever I happened to be reading at any given moment. Thankfully none of that has occured and I now look at the titles with great excitement and positivity, something of a treat to look forward to. I am making an effort to add variety into my TBR books to prevent fatigue and staleness developing.
(Taking a pause and a deep breath) ….
I also took on the challenge of a book that is designed specifically to be read over the course of a calendar year as described in my post ‘Smarter By Sunday’. It’s so far so good with that one. And the second half of the year also bought a new relationship with audio books (which I wrote a post about called surprisingly ‘Audio Books’), a genre I had briefly flirted with before but had never committed to. Again variety is key so that everything remains fresh.
So lots of interesting things happening and written about!
Now that’s out of the way, what exactly made my final list of completed works for 2019? Well, drum roll please, here they are in order of reading :
- Ladies in Black by Madelaine St John
- Seaside Donkey by Hannah Engelkamp
- Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
- Reel Inequality by Nancy Wang Yuen
- The Library Book by Susan Orlean
- The Mirage Factory by Gary Kirst
- Hollywood: A Short Introduction by Peter Decherney
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
- Ask a Native New Yorker by Jake Dobkin
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling
- The Man With The Sawed-Off Leg And Other Tales Of A New York City Block by Daniel J. Wakin
- Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith
- Strange and Obscure Stories of New York by Tim Rowland
- Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
- Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse by Shane Burcaw
- I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel
- This is New York by E.B White (Essay)
- The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis
- Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
- Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
- Where The Light Enters by Sara Donati
- The Portrait of Molly Dean by Katherine Kovacic
- The New York Times Presents Smarter By Sunday
Unfortunately I didn’t get into the habit at the very beginning of reviewing what I was reading so all of my opinions and thoughts on the books I finished are clustered around the second half of the year.
NOTE: There will be a small number of reviews for 2019 that will appear in 2020.
And these are the audiobooks I managed to listen to:
- Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
- The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester
- And Then There were None by Agatha Christie
- Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
- Matilda by Roald Dahl
- A Deadly Confession: Cherryingham Cosy Crime Series #10 by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards
Not a bad collection overall I reckon!
And for the mathematicians among us, here are some stats because you always have to have stats. These are for the books read, they don’t include any audio.
- Fiction: 10
- Non Fiction: 13
- Total: 23
- Classics: 1
- Thriller / Mystery: 3
- Fantasy: 1
- Young Adult: 1
- Literary: 2
- Historical: 2
- Essay / Essay Collection: 2
- Biography / Memoir: 4
- Histories: 5
- General: 2
So it’s pretty obvious that non-fiction was my jam in 2019 which is a fair reflection of my overall reading tastes over recent years.
I didn’t keep a tally or record of the titles that ended up as DNF’s. Why? My feeling is that books that I can’t complete are usually the result of reasons personal to myself and how I am feeling rather than something that is badly written or plotted. Someone else may have a totally different reaction, a much more positive one, to one of my DNF’s so I don’t want to put people off at least trying a book just because of my experience. Let people judge for themselves. Yes, I review the books I have read. Some I liked more than others but if I have made it to the end then there had to be something that kept me within its pages. Anyway, that’s my philosophy on that.
And so what were my favourites or stand outs of the year? Well hold onto your hats because here are the inaugural Sarah’s Ramblings Book Awards! I’ll just slip into my sparkly frock and buckle up my not so high heels so that we can get on with the show …
- Best non-fiction: Maybe You Should Talk To Someone (it had me ugly crying)
- Best Fiction: Lock Every Door (great page turner that was superbly authored)
- Most potential but: The Dollhouse (great premise but writing didn’t support it)
- Didn’t live up to the hype: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (sorry it just didn’t)
- Most satisfactory: The Library Book (like it was written just for me)
- Most thought provoking: Bad Feminist (so much hard hitting truths)
- Best of the Big Apple: Strange and Obscure Stories of New York (it had everything)
And so onto the end … All in all it has been quite an exciting and challenging year in Sarah’s world of books and reading. Lots of positives to reflect on and be happy about. I’m hoping that 2020 is able to offer up some great literary treats and discoveries!
Cheers to 2019!
(Image: Sarah Kreig)