Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 Reading Roundup & 2010 Reading Resolutions

The Numbers

I read 112 books in 2009.

95 of those books were fiction and 17 were non-fiction. The fiction included 93 novels and only 2 short story collections. The genre breakdown was as follows: 45 mysteries, 8 fantasy, and 42 literary or general fiction. As far as age-range goes, 43 would be classified as YA or children's literature, and 52 as adult fiction. The non-fiction titles covered a range of topics including literary criticism, biography, memoir, essays, history, politics, food, and running.

61 were published in the 21st century, 21 of those in 2009. 51 were published in the 20th century, only 19 of those pre-1950. None were published before 1900.

73 were written by female authors, 32 by male authors, and 7 were co-authored by a combination of men and women.

24 were translations, mostly of books originally written in Swedish, but also of books written in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Icelandic. Those originally written in English were by Canadian, U.S., Scottish, English, and Irish authors.

79 were books I borrowed from the library; 33 were books I'd recently bought or already owned.

32 were rereads.

Shifts, Continuing Trends, and Gaps to be Addressed

There is much more of an emphasis here on YA/children's literature than is ordinarily the case for me, and there are more rereads than usual. But neither of these developments is surprising given that I've been writing essays on my childhood reading and have, in connection with them, been revisiting many old favourites. This will continue in the new year. What is surprising is the paltry number of short story collections that I read and the absence of a single poetry book. But I'm going to assume that those are temporary aberrations that will correct themselves rather than actual trends that require conscious reversal.

It's good to see that the genre of fantasy has maintained a bit of a foothold, after I laboured under the misperception for so many years that it just wasn't my sort of thing. And it's not all Pratchett this time either⎯in 2009 I belatedly discovered Neil Gaiman and also steam punk, and I plan to read a good deal more of both.

I'm pleased to see 24 translations on my list. In 2006, I read only one work in translation. In 2007, I set out to up that number with my "Reading Across Borders" Challenge and, as a result, my year-end tally included 11 translations. Since then, that number has continued to rise every year without much conscious effort on my part. Long may that trend continue.

Of course, that's not to say that my reading list couldn't use further diversification. It includes more translations than it used to, yes, but it remains dominated by North American and European works and I'd like to change that. Also, it has a resolutely contemporary tilt that I'd like to shift at least a bit. So, on to the resolutions...

Reading Resolutions for 2010

Last year I eschewed resolutions opting instead to read at whim. That generally works out pretty well for me and, for the most part, I'll continue to read that way. But sometimes I need to push myself to expand my reading horizons and I plan to do that to fill some of the aforementioned gaps. So, at a general level, my resolutions for 2010 are to expand my reading beyond the borders of North America and Europe, and to delve back into the 19th century and earlier. My concrete plans for realizing these goals include a challenge, a couple of big reads, and a rereading project.

Dorte's 2010 Global Reading Challenge is the perfect vehicle to expand the continental scope of my reading. I'm opting for the "Medium Challenge" that involves reading two novels each from six continents (spanning 12 different countries).

As for the big reads, there are a few weighty, classic tomes I've long been meaning to read. Indeed, I've resolved to read them before and not made good on the resolutions. But in 2010, I'm having another go. The books in question are Cervantes' Don Quixote, Tolstoy's War and Peace, and Isaac Babel's Collected Stories. I've enjoyed dipping into all three but in each instance got distracted well before I reached the end. So, wish me perseverance this time round!

And finally, the rereading project⎯I like to periodically revisit favourite authors in a sustained way and this year it's going to be Louisa May Alcott. Not just Little Women and other beloved books from my childhood, but also her adult works (last read 20 or so years ago), her journals (which I'm not sure I've ever read though I do own them), and a biography or two for supplementary reading.

I'm in for an interesting reading year, I think.

Stay tuned for a post within the next couple of days detailing my ten favourite reads of 2009, and then it will be on to the new!


Memory said...

Good luck with all your reading goals! I love the idea of focusing in on an author. I may have to steal that from you.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Sounds like you have laudable goals for 2010. Good luck and Happy New Year!

Vasilly said...

I've recently started reading more books in translation but I don't think I hit the set goal of twelve books to read last year. I think I might give it another try again this year. Good luck on your big reads. I think we'll enjoy reading War and Peace together. Good luck on your goals.

Suko said...

I always admire how articulate you are, Kate, and this post is no exception to the rule.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Really looking forward to your thoughts on Alcott. The adult stuff I've read is wonderful. One of these days, I want to read Work, but haven't gotten to it yet.
Have you read Eden's Outcasts yet? I highly recommend it--you can't understand her without getting to know her father.
If you ever want to do a guest post on kidlit history, just let me know!

Kailana said...

I have decided to make no real plans for 2010 and just let my reading carry me where it wills. :)

Laids Livres said...

Swedish is your number one foreign books’ origin? A breakdown of the 24 foreign books read would be interesting as well : )

Have fun with the resolution!

Stefanie said...

Good luck with your reading goals and resolutions!

Pam Walter said...

I need to start making a list of what I read. While I'm not as ambitious as you (only @50 per year) I lose track of what I have and haven't read.