End-of-year reading meme

This thing again.

How many books read in 2016?
102. Down on the previous year, but not by much.

57 fiction, 41 non-fiction, 4 either unclassifiable or a bit of both. Non-fiction continues to gain, but I don’t think it’d ever overtake fiction unless I started a PhD, which I’d like to do if I could think of something to study.

Male/female authors?
59 male, 38 female, 5 non-binary or a mix of genders. Again a decent handful of books by trans authors.

Favourite book read?
Let’s say David Garnett’s Lady into Fox, which I loved to bits.

Where his wife had been the moment before was a small fox, of a very bright red. It looked at him very beseechingly, advanced towards him a pace or two, and he saw at once that his wife was looking at him from the animal’s eyes. You may well think if he were aghast: and so maybe was his lady at finding herself in that shape, so they did nothing for nearly half-an-hour but stare at each other, he bewildered, she asking him with her eyes as if indeed she spoke to him: “What am I now become? Have pity on me, husband, have pity on me for I am your wife.”

So that with his gazing on her and knowing her well, even in such a shape, yet asking himself at every moment: “Can it be she? Am I not dreaming?” and her beseeching and lastly fawning on him and seeming to tell him that it was she indeed, they came at last together and he took her in his arms. She lay very close to him, nestling under his coat and fell to licking his face, but never taking her eyes from his. The husband all this while kept turning the thing in his head and gazing on her, but he could make no sense of what had happened, but only comforted himself with the hope that this was but a momentary change, and that presently she would turn back again into the wife that was one flesh with him.

Least favourite?
I hesitate to name the book that infuriated me most, because I think its author and I have mutual friends and it’s not worth the upset it might cause. I didn’t enjoy Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince. It didn’t help that my reading of it was interrupted by an illness that rendered me incapable of reading for about a week, but I think it was mainly the book’s fault, dull and sordid and uninteresting. (Mostly.)


Oldest book read?
At last, a properly old book. Homer’s Iliad, which was written about 2,700 years ago.

Newest book read?
Six books published in 2016: The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes; A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip by Alexander Masters; Stop the Clocks: Thoughts on What I Leave Behind by Joan Bakewell; The Bertie Project by Alexander McCall Smith; Carols from King’s: The Stories of our Favourite Carols from King’s College by Alexandra Coghlan; and My Beloved Man: The Letters of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, edited by Vicki P. Stroeher, Nicholas Clark and Jude Brimmer.

Longest book title?
Also coincidentally the longest author name: Jessie Sarah Fleetwood Walmisley Coleridge-Taylor’s memoir, A Memory Sketch, or, Personal Reminiscences of My Husband, Genius and Musician, S. Coleridge-Taylor, 1875-1912. (I was singing Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast and wanted to do some revision.)

Shortest book title?
In December I read Mike by P.G. Wodehouse, Emma by Jane Austen, and Jack by A.M. Homes. If you don’t count spaces as characters, Cris Beam’s I am J would also qualify.


How many rereads?
13, which seems to me quite acceptable, provided you’re not triskaidekaphobic.

Most books read by a single author?
3 by Wodehouse, and 2 each by Tove Jansson and Philip Roth, but no single writer has dominated my reading as in recent years.

Any in translation?
Happily, yes. No books read in French or German this year, but I did read four books translated from the French, two each from Italian and Swedish, and one each from Ancient Greek, Dutch, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. More of that next year (post to follow).

How many books were borrowed from the library?
75, or essentially three books of every four I read. I’d love to make inroads into the books I own, but I seem to be growing increasingly reliant on libraries, which is presumably a good thing. If you don’t use it you lose it.

I had no clue what was going on:
That would be Alejandro Zambra’s Multiple Choice (originally Facsímil), but it was a good kind of confusion and it’s a book you ought to read.


Favourite character encountered this year:
Lois from Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For, or the central trio of Joe, Sammy and Rosa from Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.


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