The Year so Far

sundaysalonWhoosh….. that’s the sound of October flying past. Where did the month go? Come to think of it, where did the last 10 months go? It feels like only an hour ago that I was bundling up against cold winds and lashing rain and here we are all over again. And it doesn’t seem like five minutes since I was deciding what my reading goals would be for 2013.

Speaking of goals, I was updating my review list on this site earlier in the week and realised I’ve already read more books this year than in the whole of 2012.  Forty three to be exact plus one that I really could not finish (Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life).  Now for some of you, that figure is a drop in the ocean but for me it’s a big deal. And there are still two months left.

I’m also slowly – ever so slowly – catching up with some reviews. I think I’m about seven behind right now. It seems I can read faster than I can write. I did manage to post my review of Kwei Quartey’s Wife of the Gods this week and have almost finished my review of Petals of Blood by the Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, both writers I chose as part of my world literature challenge. 

October reading

This was a mixture of some of the ManBooker prize longlisted novels and historical fiction

  • Harvest by Jim Crace (highly recommended)
  • TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (good in part)
  • Life after Life by Kate Atkinson (could not finish)
  • Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (readable but not particularly wonderful)
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (dire novel. Finished it only because its a set text on the Plagues, Witches and War historical fiction course)

On the horizon

Currently reading two other historical novels – I’ve been following the  advice about reading books in parallel from various bloggers in response to a Sunday Salon post. Thank you everyone for really practical tips.

  • Clotel OR The President’s Daughter, A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States by William Wells Brown. Published in 1853 this is a novel based on the claim that US president Thomas Jefferson fathered a daughter by a slave.
  • Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. This is the book club choice for November. It’s set  during the period of the Risorgimento, the popular nineteenth century movement to unite the various states of Italy into a single country, and deals with death of a civilization, of an era

After that it’s more historical fiction with the remaining novels on the course and I hope to squeeze in at least another book from my classics challenge list.

A busy time ahead!

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on November 3, 2013, in historical fiction, Sunday Salon, world literature and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. You decided to read Clotel? How is it? I just finished Year or Wonders yesterday and agree with your assessment of readable but not particularly wonderful. I read The Leopard earlier this year and that one really is good.

  2. I enjoyed The Leopard, although it’s a strange book and not your usual kind of narrative. But if you can let go of expectations and enjoy the language, you’ll get the most out of it. Apparently there’s a very good film adaptation (though I haven’t seen it myself). And where HAS this year gone??? I’d like a recount on some of those months – I must have missed days!

    • Just got back from the book club discussion on this and it was very well received (except by the people who stayed away because they didn’t want to read the book in the first place). Unfortunately I couldn’t get to finish it but I enjoyed what I’ve read so far

  3. Reading all the Booker winners is a cool idea and a great project. I’ve been thinking about “collecting” all the Pulitzer winners for best general non-fiction.

    • It’s more challenging than I thought – some of these novels are quite intense so I find I need to mix them up with other books. I think there are a few people reading Pulitzer winners so you might find a little group of like minded people to share thoughts with

  4. Oh dear! I’ve just started the Howe book. I know Stefanie had problems with it as well. This does not bode to the good!

  5. Well done on already having beat your reading from last year. I’ve done the same 🙂

  6. I have Life After Life on my Kindle (Sparky); so sorry you could not finish it. I hope to enjoy it, but we’ll see.

    It does seem different from her other books (the mysteries).


  7. That’s a good reading year. I never manage to go much beyond 4-5 books a month, and that too, only if they are light reads.

    I have sort of accepted that my reading speed just isn’t all that 🙁

  8. My book club is reading TransAtlantic next year, so I hope it’s discussion-worthy!

  9. I just finished TransAtlantic. Beautifully written, I thought. I love how he links all the unrelated stories together.

    Here’s my Sunday Salon.

  10. Hi Karen. Wow. You are very busy. And I am more and more impressed with your efforts. I have not counted books. I resist that idea a little, but may succumb by year’s end — but then I’ll have nothing to compare my tally to. Yes I agree ‘Deliverance Dane’ was a questionable choice for both publishing and including in a course — asking others to read it. 16,000 or so others. I read Year of Wonders years ago and don’t remember anything about it. Not a good sign. That said, I am very fond of this course. I too read faster than I can compose responses, but I’m slower than most at both — (unless I’m on deadline.) I am one response behind — but there are other books I just drop and don’t respond to in a long formal way. I need to figure out how to accommodate this problem better.
    From living here and working at Monticello, I know a lot about Jefferson, so I am interested in the Clotel which I have just begun. A Charlottesville group of course participants is meeting today and Prof. Holsinger may attend.
    Thank you for this experience. It’s fun.

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