2009 was a good year for reading. I completed 35 books (5 more than last year) and I didn’t put any aside because I found them too disappointing. My eyes have goggled a total of 10.038 pages ;)
- I took up a graphic novel (Coraline)
- I participated in the November 24 hour read-a-thon
- I posted more about books, actually ‘reviewing‘ them instead of just listing titles & authors
- I joined several challenges on the web, aside from my annual personal reading challenges
(3rd Japanese Literature Challenge, 2009 Classics Challenge, 2nd What’s in a name challenge, 100 Mile Fitness Challenge, Hello Japan!)
- I’m herding with the Japanese Literature Book Group and Japanese Literature Read-along of In Spring it is the Dawn
- I discovered the world of book bloggers (including The Sunday Salon) thanks to the things mentioned above ;)
I’m afraid I have a lot of ‘wrapping up’ to do on my challenges — writing reviews and wrap-up posts — so thank god for next weekend: it’s Bloggiesta!
Now, the highlights of 2009…. (drum roll)
BESTEST book: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (published in 1939)
I would never have guessed it would end as my best read of 2009. I had a hard time getting into the book, especially because of the ‘epic’ chapters intertwining the story of the Joad family during the Great Depression in the US. But it really got under my skin. And looking back The Grapes of Wrath definitely made the biggest (and a long lasting) impression.
I still need to review it so I guess it’d better be one of the first to tackle. (Review added)
SECOND best book: The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata (1962)
I had never heard of Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata, even though I’ve been reading Japanese authors for a while now. So I’m really glad I got to know him thanks to the Japanese Literature Book Group that started this year. Again, I haven’t reviewed this book yet :\ But I absolutely loved the detailed descriptions of Kyoto and Japanese culture. It reminded me of last year’s favourite: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. But The Old Capital is way more subtle — Japanese, where The Teahouse Fire is recognizably American in comparison. So, another review that’s high on my to-do list.
Worst book: Butterfly in the Wind by Rei Kimura (2000)
What do you know, I do have a review of this year’s worst read on Graasland! ;) That’s because it was the first book I read for the Japanese Literature Challenge (for which I actually only needed to read 1 book, but why stop, especially after such a disappointment? ;) I read Butterfly in the Wind in Dutch (Vlinder in de wind) and found the content, the way the story was told ánd the translation all h o r r i b l e.
I have thought of listing more books especially worth mentioning, but I had many good reads this year so I’ll just give you the whole lot of them. The first title (Silk) was read last, the last of the list my first book of 2009 (Falling Angels). Are there any of these you would have picked as your best read?
- Zijde (Seta / Silk), Alessandro Baricco
- The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson (online reading group)
- I am a cat (Wagahai wa Neko de Aru), 2nd volume, Natsume Sōseki (Japanese Literature Read-along, JapLit Challenge)
- The Old Capital (Koto 古都), Yasunari Kawabata (Japanese Literature Reading Group)
- Persuasion, Jane Austen audio book
- In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (November Book Group read; What’s in a Name)
- I am a cat (Wagahai wa Neko de Aru), 1st volume, Natsume Sōseki (Japanese Literature Read-along, JapLit Challenge)
- Coraline, Neil Gaiman (graphic novel)
- De pianoman, Bernlef
- Be With You (Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu), Takuji Ichikawa
- The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck ((multiple) challenge book) TNX to boekenxnl for this rabck!
- Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates (Classics challenge; online reading group)
- Het Pauperparadijs, Suzanna Jansen (non-fiction)
- To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (Bookcrossing bookring / (multiple) challenge book)
- Vlinder in de wind (Butterfly in the Wind), Rei Kimura (Japanese Literature challenge book)
- Away, Amy Bloom (online reading group)
- The Mapmaker’s Wife, Robert Whitaker (Bookcrossing bookring / What’s in a name challenge book)
- What came before he shot her, Elizabeth George (What’s in a name challenge book)
- With no one as witness, Elizabeth George
- Zo god het wil (Crossroads / Come Dio Comanda), Niccolò Ammaniti
- De inboorling, Stevo Akkerman
- Ten zuiden van de grens, ten westen van de zon (Kokkyo no minami, Taiyo no nishi / South of the Border, West of the Sun), Haruki Murakami
- De kleine keizer (‘The Little Emperor‘), Martin Bril (What’s in a name challenge book)
- Nikolski, Nicolas Dickner (ring)
- Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh ((multiple) challenge book / bookgroup)
- Slam, Nick Hornby
- Notes from an exhibition, Patrick Gale
- Rivier der vergetelheid (Meuse l’oubli), Philippe Claudel
- Dans dans dans (Dansu dansu dansu / Dance dance dance), Haruki Murakami
- The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro ((multiple) challenge book)
- Grijze zielen, Philippe Claudel (What’s in a name challenge book)
- The National Trust for Scotland: Brodie Castle (non-fiction)
- De ijdele engel, Godfried Bomans
- The End of Mr Y, Scarlett Thomas (TNX to rapturina for this rabck!)
- Vallende engelen (Falling Angels), Tracey Chevalier
The ‘stats’ (for real geeks like me ;) will have to wait until another day. But here’s what I read in 2008 and in 2007 — for those of you who haven’t had enough yet (are you also from the Eighties generation, too fond of making lists? ;)
My Google map will show you my Bookcrossing releases of all-time. Making a sidebar button for it is one of my wishes for next week’s Bloggiesta! As is, maybe, a special page where I can bring my year lists together?
Coincidently (dôh) this week’s Booking Through Thursday wants to know exactly what I’ve been talking about today!