A year in first lines: 2017
Many bloggers like to mark the end of a year with a look back over the last 12 months. I’ve not done this before but some recent posts from Lisa at ANZLitLovers and Sue at WhisperingGums alerted me to an interesting variation on the end-of-year meme.
This involves taking the first line of each month’s post in the past year to see what light it shines on the blogging year in general.
The ‘rule’ is to use the first sentence in the first post of each month.
I’ve had to bend this rule a little because I discovered that my first post was often a meme or in the Snapshot category. This is where I try to capture what I’m reading on the first day of the month, what I plan to read next and the state of my unread books collection (aka the TBR). Just using those posts for this exercise wouldn’t make for very interesting reading.
So I adopted my own rule where I selected the first substantive post of each month.
This is how the year worked out for me.
Post Title: The Murder of Halland by Pia Juul
By the time they’ve reached the end of the novel, most readers of crime fiction expect to find the author has answered the key questions: who , committed the crime, how and why.
The Murder of Halland was published by Pereine Press in 2012 as part The Small Epic series. Translated from the Danish original by Martin Aitken.
Post Title: Dominion by C. J Sansom
C.J Sansom took a gamble with his political thriller Dominion in which he imagines a world where, having failed to defeat the Nazi regime, Great Britain becomes one of Germany’s subject territories.
Post Title: The Greatest Novels from Wales? #WritingWales
A few years ago, the Wales Arts Review magazine asked readers: Which is the Greatest Welsh Novel?
Post Title: Tomorrow by Graham Swift
Some protagonists are designed to be annoying. Some simply are that way. But no matter how annoying, frustrating or distasteful they can still be fascinating and memorable for readers.
Post Title: The Cheltenham Square Murders by John Bude
The town of Cheltenham has a reputation for being the rather genteel, upmarket part of Gloucestershire.
Post Title: My Ántonia by Willa Cather
It’s taken me long enough but the experience of reading Willa Cather’s My Ántonia was well worth the wait.
Post Title: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
If you’d asked me a few weeks ago whether I’d be likely to enjoy a novel about everything from Zen and the meaning of time to the Japanese tsunami and environmental degradation, I’d probably have said no way.
Post Title: Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee
I approached J. M Coetzee’s Booker Prize winning novella The Life & Times of Michael K hoping against hope it would be easier to penetrate than the last novel I read by him: The Schooldays of Jesus
Of all the books long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker prize, Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor was the one I most wanted to read.
Post Title: Chocky by John Wyndham #1968 club
Did you have an imaginary friend when you were a child? Apparently I did for a few months when I was about four years old.
Post Title: Hag Seed by Margaret Atwood
I usually ignore reinterpretations and retellings of classic novels but the premise of Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed was so enticing I set aside my normal cynicism.
What does this tell me about my blogging year?
- It reflects accurately that I’m a butterfly reader. I flit around a lot between classics (My Ántonia and Chocky), Booker prize winners and contenders (Life and Times of Michael X and A Tale for the Time Being) with a smattering of crime (Cheltenham Square Murders) and translated fiction (Murder of Halland).
- Most of my posts are either reviews or memes (I do the Six Degrees of Separation and Top Ten Tuesday memes). The Between the Lines post in September is a new type of content for me this year where I do a Q&A with an author.
- I’ve clearly not made much progress with two of my long term challenges (Classics Club and Literature around the World) since there were very few posts on books in those categories.
- My new interest in fiction by authors and publishers in Wales is beginning to come through with three of the posts reflecting that topic.
- I’ve read very very little new fiction this year.Reservoir 13 was published this year as was Larkinland. It’s not quite as dire as this set of first lines suggests but it doesn’t surprise me considering that one of my goals for 2017 was to read more of the books I already own rather than buy yet more.
- My intro sentences need a bit of jazzing up. I know they are taken out of context which doesn’t help but they do sound rather dull to me.
Although the idea, which originated with The Indextrious Reader., is to use this exercise to reflect on the past year I’ve found it’s also been helpful in giving me some ideas for next year. I’d like to do more Between the Lines interviews for example. I think my interest in Top Ten Tuesday has fizzled out and will come to a dead end next year. I’ve already skipped many week’s prompts because I found the topic wasn’t that interesting. It was fun for a while but I’m feel I’m getting list fatique. But all that is still in the future since 2017 isn’t yet over…
If you are minded to play along with the Year in First Lines, but want some further inspiration take a look at what some of the other participants have published.