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01 January 2011 @ 10:18 pm
the improvement of her mind by extensive reading  
Before I start, I invite you all to share with me the best book you've read this year - the one you finished and said, "Damn, where are all the other readers so we can squee together?" Mine, for you, is Possession. Please share yours!

How many books read in 2010?
Seventy-three; an improvement on last year in quantity if not quality.

Fiction/Non-Fiction ratio?
73:0. I did buy a memoir of Sarah Bernhardt, but by about twenty pages I realised I'd got enough information about her from the book review that prompted me to buy it. I also have a sneaking suspicion that those who can write, write fiction, and those who can't, write memoirs.

Male/Female authors?
37:36. Ha!

Favourite books read?
Oh, man, Possession, by far and away. It shot straight to my top three of all time, and it's definitely the best book I've read since starting this glomp. However, I also loved The Invention of Love and Cold Comfort Farm, and the Hunger Games, while not involving my heart at all, certainly intrigued me.

Least favourite?
Like Mik, I didn't have any stand-out blood-boiling haters. I read a lot of poor writing from the YA representatives (Maureen Johnson, Megan Whalen Turner, Sasha Paley, Wendelin Von Draanen), which was disappointing given how much people love the former two). The Famished Road, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment and Rebecca were painfully boring. However, the closest I came to genuine rage was with Life of Pi, so that gets the dubious honour of victory.

Oldest book read?
Crime and Punishment, first published 1866, and has therefore been boring people to death for well over a century. (The clue's in the title.)

I'm gonna guess Mockingjay, because that only came out late this year?

Longest book title?
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

Shortest title?

How many re-reads?
Under ten - I barely have time to read new books, let alone old ones.

Most books read by one author this year?
Four by Philip Reeve (and what a waste of time that was).

Any in translation?
Five - and man, either the Russians lose a lot in translation, or they really are just that bad.

How many of this year's books were from the library?
Fourteen. I stopped going to the library when I started work - too busy, plus have credit card now!

Book that most changed my perspective:
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. While I didn't know a lot about Thomas Cromwell before I read this, I LOVE him now, yet apparently he's totally vilified in literature. This book also opened my eyes to the potential in well-written historical fiction, which the likes of Philippa Gregory turned me off years ago.

Favourite character:
Christobel from Possession, hands down. I'm not even going to say why, in case someone reads this who hasn't read Possession, is tempted to, and gets spoiled.

Favourite scene:
Ones that made the shortlist include the convocation of the Council of Counts in A Civil Campaign; the dialogues between Scrotes and MacMurrough in At Swim, Two Boys, or between Cromwell and More in Wolf Hall; all the bits of Australia that made me homesick in The Thornbirds; and the discussion of the Hedgehog in Possession.

However this, from Possession, won hands down:

"Tell your aunt," he said, "that you met a poet, who was looking for the Belle Dame Sans Merci, and who met you instead, and who sends her his compliments, and will not disturb her, and is on his way to fresh woods and pastures new."

"I'll try to remember," she said, steadying her crown.

And so he kissed her, always matter-of-fact, so as not to frighten her, and went on his way.

And on the way home, she met her brothers, and there was rough-and-tumble, and the lovely crown was broken, and she forgot the message, which was never delivered.


Favourite quote:


My father spoke of how in our country the animals in the barns have speech on the night of the Nativity, when all the world is reconciled to its maker in primeval innocence, as it was in the days of the first Adam. She said, the Puritan Milton, on the contrary, makes the moment of the Nativity the moment of the death of Nature - at least, he calls on the old tradition that Greek travellers heard the shrines cry out on that night Weep, Weep, the great god Pan is dead.

At Swim, Two Boys:

One does not wish oneself changed. One wishes the world changed to accommodate one. Such is suffragism.

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ:

Christ noted down the words, admiring the vigour of the imagery while regretting the thinking behind it; because if it were true that only children could be admitted to the Kingdom, what was the value of such adult qualities as responsibility, forethought, and wisdom? Surely the Kingdom would need those as well.

Juliet, Naked:

Nobody gets forgotten any more. Seven fans in Australia team up with three Canadians, nine Brits and a couple of dozen Americans, and somebody who hasn't recorded in twenty years gets talked about every day. It's what the internet's for. That and pornography.

Wolf Hall:

"I have never understood where the line is drawn, between sacrifice and self-slaughter."
"Christ drew it."
"You don't see anything wrong with the comparison?"

What do you mean, it said one? *whistles innocently*

Most inspirational in terms of own writing?
None, really, unless you count reading bad chicklit and thinking, "Man, I can't even do that." My writing dreams have all gone down the Swannee this year, but I haven't yet had the energy to mourn.

How many you'd actually read again?
Possession. Is this getting predictable?

Dammit, where online can I buy cute, cute pyjamas? (Ideally with pockets in the pants.) Although I got lovely ones from Monsoon for Christmas, their website is being disobliging. HELP, I NEED SOMEBODY, HELP, NOT JUST ANYBODY - SOMEONE WITH LINKS!
Current Music: help // the beatles
Kat: [libgirl] gileskyasuriin on January 1st, 2011 10:28 pm (UTC)
yay books!

who is Possession by?
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Scene girls: mad girl in mad dressscoradh on January 1st, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
AS Byatt. It won the Booker in, I think, 1990? I only read it because I was going through my 'MUST READ ALL BOOKERS TO BE WELL-READ OMG' phase, and I turned out to love love LOVE it. I've only loved one other Booker (The God of Small Things), which should probably tell you something.

Oh, and it's about two parallel love stories, between two Victorian scholars and two Byronic-era poets (fictional, but for a while I wondered if the man was real), a never-before-seen letter of whose they find in an old book. It's just the kind of thing anyone with an interest in academia - and romance - dreams about. I know I do - imagine finding a letter of Jane Austen's that Cassandra didn't manage to burn (grrrr) telling us about a secret love affair, or a diary of Moses Jackson's where he admitted he once fancied AE Housman?!

... er, okay. UM, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. :D
Riakessie on January 1st, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, having gone through my Goodreads, I'd say it's a toss-up between The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin or Cold Magic by Kate Elliot. Both are fantasy and helped me remember why I love the genre.

I'm also about to reread Sarah Water's Fingersmith because everyone needs to reread a Victorian lesbian romp with Dickens-like ridiculousness. It makes me happy.

Actually, haha, I read Possession a few years back and loathed it. I'm going to try it again because sometimes I read books when it's clear I'm not in the proper mood for them, and I've been eyeing The Children's Book, but I'm starting to think you and I are at polar opposites in terms of reading. :D

Sadly, none of my pyjamas has pockets in them. That would be handy, now that I think about it.

Edited at 2011-01-01 11:03 pm (UTC)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: anumberonme lighted pathscoradh on January 3rd, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
I have Amazon open in tabs to explore all the books people are rec'ing me here. \o/!

I read that, but I mix it up with the other one ... actresses versus bait 'n' switch orphans. I find her happy endings too incongruous for my tastes.

DO NOT READ THE CHILDREN'S BOOK IN THAT CASE. Seriously, I found it an awful slog and disappointing to boot, so if you don't go in hoping to like it, you ... won't.

Monsoon, fo realz!
you do often seem cursedivyenglish on January 2nd, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
One of my favorites was The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield - it was recommended by a good friend, and I read it all in one sitting on a chilly Sunday in late fall, which was absolutely the best time to read it. But my other favorite, read just barely this year, as I believe I read it last January, was Slaughterhouse-Five, and that's the one I really wanted to talk about with other readers after (and talk and talk and talk).
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Disney: Hadesscoradh on January 3rd, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
I have both of these at home! My dad bought The Thirteenth Tale (is about Mormons, yes?) - I think he goes exclusively by BBC recs on the radio - and I bought him Slaughterhouse 5, waited for him to read it and forgot all about it. Yay, I will go and find them this weekend!
(Deleted comment)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: jillicons: blue star handsscoradh on January 3rd, 2011 08:38 pm (UTC)
At least I'm a good influence on someone, I suppose! (Sorry, work melancholy.)


I talked about C&P with a Romanian doctor who read it in the original Russian. He waxed enthusiastically about the language or the tone or something while I listened sceptically. I really do think there must be something in other languages that English can't replicate, and vice versa.
gwathhenationgwathhenation on January 2nd, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
Best book this year? The Hakawiti by Rabith Alameddine. It makes me want to be a better storyteller.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: collapsingnight odds&endsscoradh on January 3rd, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
Wow, even the name sounds magical!
catnip jones: [alex] well shake it up baby nowrumpleghost on January 2nd, 2011 06:16 am (UTC)
Please hate on Crime and Punishment forever, it gives me much joy.

I'm still so impressed by how much you read, especially considering your workload. And I plan to start Possession again the moment I finish this other book I'm reading. :D
ex_oddishly on January 3rd, 2011 01:12 pm (UTC)
Please hate on Crime and Punishment forever, it gives me much joy.

Every time either of you say things to this effect, a little piece of me dies :(

And to continue the discussion of how we shouldn't ever share books, I STILL cannot understand your love of that moment from Possession! There is no subtlety about it! None! At all! I don't understaaaaaaaaaaaand ;_;
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: halowrites: awesome tightsscoradh on January 3rd, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
But they never met again, and she never knew that he knew about his daughter! But he did, only she was an unscholarly tomboy and the worst ever descendant for them and she didn't pass on the message. adsklfjhskljafhlkjh

But you never said why you like it. Did you seriously enjoy following Raskolnikov around about three streets in Petersburg muttering about how awesome he is?
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Fashion: william morris-esquescoradh on January 3rd, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC)
It just makes me want to stick my tongue out at it! Every time I see a movie where someone is solemnly dissecting Dodo I just want to yell, "IT'S BORING AS SHITE!"

Well, to be honest all I do is work and read. I am very fat now. :P
Sinjah: bicyclesinjah on January 2nd, 2011 09:26 am (UTC)
I'm still extremely impressed by the amount of books you read this year. I need to stop reading so much fanfiction (and also finally set up my PayPal so I can buy books from eBay). So, I should read Possession? :P

Oh man, I wish I knew where you could buy cute pyjamas online! I've been looking for ages myself! I wish you could come to that place I discovered last week, though - tons of extremely cute PJs for very cheap, I got a pair of pink ones with colorful patches for €7 and a pair of black ones with red polka dots for €6!
(No pockets though, which sucks. All pyjama bottoms should have pockets!!)

PS: Did I tell you I got your card? I don't remember! I did and it was the prettiest thing EVER EVER EVER!!!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: jillicons: i'm so high i could eat a stascoradh on January 3rd, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
YES. :D Also, I read fanfic too, but I guess my consumption of it has gone way down? Unless it's hitting a very particular meet-cute niche that real books don't fill, I'm not interested. There's too much sex. :P

Monsoon has real classy ones, but I do not want to go shopping in the January sales! MY LIFE, SO HARD.

I'm glad you liked it! ♥!!!
lecharmediscret on January 2nd, 2011 10:26 am (UTC)
Happy New Year! Congrats on your book count. for next year, can I recommend Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford if you haven't come across them already? Two of the most enjoyable I've ever read.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: jillicons: pink sawscoradh on January 3rd, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
I actually read them years ago! I liked The Pursuit of Love much, much better, although Love in a Cold Climate has by far the better title. :D In turn I suggest you check out Cold Comfort Farm, if you haven't already. It's in much the same vein and possibly even funnier!
Blindmouse: Alice readingblindmouse on January 3rd, 2011 06:26 am (UTC)
I invite you all to share with me the best book you've read this year

Mine was Can't Buy Me Love, the Beatles biography, which sadly I think is not a part of your interest set ;) But in fiction, it would have to be the Vorkosigan books.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: jillicons: kitty heartsscoradh on January 3rd, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)
It's not even the Beatles part, it's the real-life part. Although maybe I should read it so I have backup for the huge, generation-spanning John Lennon/Paul McCartney fic that I've wanted to write forever. :D

OMG MILES. IVAN. I can't wait for the Ivan book!
Blindmouseblindmouse on January 4th, 2011 01:44 am (UTC)
the huge, generation-spanning John Lennon/Paul McCartney fic that I've wanted to write forever.

I can't even tell if you're fucking with me, but dude. Yes, that fic, please. And this book, for sure! It practically is Lennon/McCartney slash in great chunks of it, and it's so well written, it gave me joy like nothing else in my little fannish, scholarship-starved heart.

I can't wait for the Ivan book!


p.s. I tried to read Cold Comfort Farm a few years back and couldn't make it past chapter two. Was it really funny? It felt clunky and annoyingly tongue-in-cheek to me. But I remember the movie being charming...
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: halowrites: tiger kittenscoradh on January 5th, 2011 09:38 pm (UTC)
No! But I would write it as a sort of AU, where, for one, John didn't die (yet). I was writing an altverse story when I thought I'd be able to attempt the Terry Pratchett Prize, and one of my sidelines was going to be mentioning the tumultuous and desperately romantic (as well as plain desperate) love affair of John and Paul.

Apparently the next one is to be an Ivan POV! Funny, I thought you told me that!

More charming than funny, but I really just want an excuse to tell someone IRL that there'll be no butter in hell. :P
Blindmouse: Alice readingblindmouse on January 6th, 2011 02:00 am (UTC)
I am all for John Lennon not dying, as a general note. And mm, that could be damned awesome. Although what were you going to do about Yoko? (And Linda, I suppose, but Yoko is the more public and creatively-conspicuous figure; it's difficult to imagine John's post-Beatles career with no Yoko.)

What was your Prize novel going to be about? You never told me.

Oh man, no, I hadn't heard. That is excellent news. Ivan is one of the only Bujold characters I managed to get seriously attached to before he had his own POV.
When the glory fadessullen_hearts on January 5th, 2011 11:52 pm (UTC)
Yay Mockingjay reader! Come enter my giveaway!