I’ve had my busiest reading year ever. Let’s see what’s been going on.
How many books read in 2015?
110. That beats the previous record by some way. Recently I’ve averaged 80 or so per year. The total for 2015 is higher partly because I’ve read more plays, which take less time, but mostly because my appetite has become voracious. I read constantly, and quickly, sometimes at the expense of comprehension. It might be a good idea to slow down a bit.
76 fiction, 31 non-fiction, 3 uncategorisable. The non-fiction continues to gain on the fiction.
I’ve made a conscious effort to read more female authors. My ratio is now approximately 5 men to every 4 women, which is much more balanced than in previous years. But in some cases it’s hard to be exact, as I’ve read 15 books partly or entirely by trans or gender-variant writers, some of whom identify as non-binary. How much easier it would be if we could fit everyone into one of two boxes, and how dull.
Favourite book read?
Probably Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. The only book I read twice this year.
I like Garrison Keillor, but a little of him goes a very long way and Lake Wobegon Days was a book I came close to chucking at the wall.
Oldest book read?
Shakespeare, as usual. The Winter’s Tale. Homer in 2016, perhaps.
Newest book read?
I read a handful of books that were hot off the press: The First Bad Man by Miranda July, The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink, Trans: A Memoir by Juliet Jacques, The Novel Habits of Happiness and The Revolving Door of Life by Alexander McCall Smith, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson, and Hangmen by Martin McDonagh.
Longest book title?
How to be Topp: A Guide to Sukcess for Tiny Pupils, Including All There is to Kno about SPACE (Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle)
Shortest book title?
Dart (Alice Oswald)
How many rereads?
20. Too many, perhaps.
Most books read by a single author?
This year’s big hitters: Tom Stoppard and P.G. Wodehouse (5 each), K.M. Peyton (4), Alison Bechdel and Judith Kerr (3 each), and Edward Albee, Alan Bennett, Charles Dickens, Jack Halberstam, John Irving, B.S. Johnson, Alexander McCall Smith and Julia Serano (2 each).
Any in translation?
Embarrassingly few. One each by Hector Berlioz, Takashi Hiraide, Stieg Larsson and Eduardo Mendoza, but that’s it. I did struggle through Max Frisch’s Biedermann und die Brandstifter once more in German, and read Candide and Le bleu est une couleur chaude in French, which was good. Next year it’d be nice to read Le grand Meaulnes. On va voir.
How many books were borrowed from the library?
43. I think.
Best blog recommendation?
I don’t read book blogs much, but on the basis of some posts I made on Muriel Spark some years ago a filmmaker of my online acquaintance (since dead, sad to say) read Loitering with Intent. Partly with him in mind, I did the same. It’s one of her best.
I had no clue what was going on:
Well, Gender Trouble. Good old Judith Butler. She’s tops. But this was among the more comprehensible passages:
[Monique] Wittig understands gender as the workings of “sex,” where “sex” is an obligatory injunction for the body to become a cultural sign, to materialize itself in obedience to a historically delimited possibility, and to do this, not once or twice, but as a sustained and repeated corporeal project. The notion of a “project,” however, suggests the originating force of a radical will, and because gender is a project which has cultural survival as its end, the term strategy better suggests the situation of duress under which gender performance always and variously occurs.
I am going to read Monique Wittig soon, against my better judgement.
Favourite character encountered this year:
Esti in Naomi Alderman’s Disobedience, Thomasina and Septimus and Gus in Stoppard’s Arcadia. I seem to like characters who are in love. I didn’t care for much of David Copperfield, but I liked Mr Dick.
On which note, have a superb 2016. Chin-chin.