2011 was not the best year blogging wise. Looking back through my monthly archives I mostly see all the blanks that were caused by unexpected blogging breaks due to the stress caused by the approaching graduation as a Master of Arts from University. Now that I am graduated, I hope 2012 will find me in a place where I am more comfortable to blog & more able to find the time. I know I will hit some bumps along the way, I may need to formulate my thoughts on some of the issues I have had with blogging during 2011, but overall I am hopeful.
There is nothing left for me to do but to give you a list of books I enjoyed most in 2011. (Most of which, shamefully, remain unreviewed until this day – I truly hope to catch up on them in January). In no particular order:
Greenbanks – Dorothy Whipple: Whipple is the master of comfy reading that nonetheless offers a perspective on social issues from different perspectives. This multigenerational saga following the (women of the) Ashton family was wonderfully detailed about the social possibilities of women, and family life before and after the First World War.
The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness: For everyone who still lives in the illusion that Young Adult literature cannot be incredibly clever. This books discusses key themes such as ideologies, stereotypes, the gender divide and the confusion of growing up. I loved it and will gladly push it on anyone.
The Ask and the Answer – Patrick Ness: The second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, which I loved just as much as The Knife of Never Letting Go. This book may be a little more controversial, with its themes of “ethnic cleansing” and the moral confusion of wartime, but it’s portrayal is so humane at the same time that for once I really hope people will take me serious enough to listen to my book recommendations and give this series a try.
Stardust – Neil Gaiman: A wonderful magical tale about faerie that I just wanted to hug close and reread each winter.
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier: This clever and spooky tale, with a Brontë feel to it, and so many breathtaking, gasp-worthy moments, that I lost count of them is a book I wish I had read so much earlier, but that I wish I could have kept reading for the first time for ever and ever as well.
The Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: My first array into the land of Adichie’s fiction had me spinning lesson plans in my mind if I should ever have to teach a class on mission history. A lovely collection of insightful, clever, and beautiful short stories.
Consequences – E.M Delafield: This portrayal of the bonds middle and upper class girls had to live with during the beginning of the twentieth century is heartbreaking, but incredibly beautiful. It also features one of those heroines that I’m sure many would love to hate, but I could only think of as who I might have been, had I lived during that time.
Tender Morsels – Margo Lanagan: The controversy surrounding this book made me shrink back from reviewing it right after I read it. I promise I will fill you in. This young adult novel deals with incredibly difficult themes, of rape and incest. Margo Lanagan managed to do so in an incredibly honest voice, sometimes confronting, but also very beautifully, somehow. I want to shower this book with praise and have every teenage girl read it for its discussion of the many gender-prejudices and difficulties in today’s society. Another book I want to hug and reread, next year if I can.
The Summer Book – Tove Jansson: Oh, Tove Jansson. One of my severest author crushes. I first “met” you this year reading The Summer Books, and then I read one of your Moomin books. I just cannot stop telling everyone how much I love your work. This book, a collection of short vignettes about the life of a grandmother and granddaughter is so utterly heartwarming, gentle, and beautiful, that 11 months later, I am still at a loss for words.
The Pleasure Seekers – Tishani Doshi: A family saga with a couple’s love across borders at the middle. This book does not take the standard perspective of focusing on the difficulties of a family torn between India and Britain, but instead focuses on the strength of bonds of love within a family, across generations, and is happy to discuss life after falling in love.
Honourable Mentions: The Seas – Samantha Hunt, The Brontës Went to Woolworths – Rachel Ferguson, Being Emily – Anne Donovan, Ragnarok – A.S. Byatt, The House of the Mosque – Kader Abdolah, A Time to Keep Silence – Patrick Leigh Fermor, Next World Novella – Matthias Politycki.
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I managed to read 100 books this year, which is a personal record but I know it isn’t much compared to most book bloggers. As a rule, I do not count my academic reading towards my books read this year, which should explain the lack of non-fiction in the following:
- 30/100 review copies
- 16/100 Young Adult
- 8/100 Children
- 8/100 Non-Fiction
- 92/100 Fiction
- 34/100 Classics/Modern Classics
- 56/100 European
- 36/100 North American
- 7/100 African/Middle Eastern
- 3/100 Asian
- 1/100 Australian
- 73/99 Female Author
- 26/99 Male Author
I was shocked by the large amount of review copies read (30%) and I want to rethink my review policy for next year. I stuck with quite a few copies that I wouldn’t otherwise have finished and I know I request way too much from Netgalley. However, I do love that feeling of receiving a review copy in the mail, especially when it is from the likes of Persephone Books or Peirene.
I read much more female authors than male, but I am not uncomfortable with that. What I am uncomfortable with is the seriously skewed balance between European/North-American authors and authors from different parts of the world. I really wish to make more of an effort to read more diversely next year.