One day in to 2016 and I’ve finished a book (albeit a slim one: the play version of And Then There Were None, having watched the very good but quite scary BBC adaptation over Christmas) and am currently reading one I’m sure will be on my best-of-2016 list. It’s The Lark by E. Nesbit and I’ll write about it properly when I’m finished, along with millions of other books that have been sat waiting to be reviewed.
2015 has been a pretty big year for Stuck-in-a-Book – a change of URL and look and ‘Tea or Books?’ as a new podcast are the biggest things for me, as well as the ongoing Shiny New Books and Vulpes Libris.
Number of books read
106, which is better than the 98 I read in 2014 (if ‘better’ is the right word; I know it’s not a competition but I do like to hit that 100 mark if possible.)
50 by men, 55 by women, and 1 by both. A surprisingly high number for men – possibly the highest ever, excepting (I daresay) around 2002 when I read everything by A.A. Milne I could get my hands on. I have no explanation for why men cropped up so much this year.
66 fiction, 40 non-fiction (and I decided that Cornelia Otis Skinner’s essays and Shirley Jackson’s family memoirs had enough exaggeration to count as fiction – so the number could be changed a little bit.) I actually thought non-fiction might be even higher this year – but the ratio of books tbr is definitely heavily on the side of fiction, so who knows what will happen at this rate…
Books in translation
6, which I thought was terrible, until I realised that the past two years I’ve read 5 and 3 respectively. There was me thinking it was often in double figures. They came mostly from French, with a Flemish book and a Japanese book also thrown in. Nothing Scandinavian at all – no Tove Jansson! – although I am halfway through a Norwegian novel that isn’t very good.
4, believe it or not! Two fiction and two non-fiction. Quick question: am I the zeitgeist?
It looks like nobody stole my attention completely this year: I read 4 Agatha Christies, and then a few authors (Elizabeth von Arnim, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Oliver Sacks, and Phyllis Rose) tie for second place on 3.
A re-read of Agnes Grey for my book group.
Speaking of… only 5 re-reads this year (while it was 10 in 2014 and 2013). Which is good for the state of my tbr! They were all favourite books too: Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead by Barbara Comyns, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks, Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson, Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte, and Guard Your Daughters by Diane Tutton.
47 of the books I read this year were by authors I was reading for the first time – which encourages me that I’m not stuck in a reading rut!
Most disappointing book
I talked the other day about my disappointment re: A Wrinkle in Time, and fully believe those of you who told me I read it twenty years too late.
I think Milan Kundera’s The Festival of Insignificance probably.
I thought The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym was a really good book and, yes, the title is explained in the novel – but what a silly title to give it! And not a little pretentious.
Animals in book titles
Which leads neatly into this category! Every year I do this one, and realise how many animals have sneaked onto my bookshelves without me noticing! Not quite so many this year… The Guest Cat, The Hog‘s Back Mystery, The Pilgrim Hawk, The Sweet Dove Died, and (?) Letters to the Sphinx, with honourable mention to My Family and Other Animals.
Strange things that happened in books I read in 2015
My favourite category! This year, ducks swam through drawing-room windows, a bird of prey came between a married couple, various planets were visited, time travellers repeated 1945 over and over again, Lilliputian people waged war and peace, a doppelgänger turned up out of the blue and fell in love, trains took people to a dystopic future, all the undergraduates in Oxford killed themselves, a tiger exacted revenge, God appeared in the clouds to give some sage advice, and two pairs of people loved each other so much that they reincarnated. Oh, and a man mistook his wife for a hat.