As always, I’m saving my books of the year for the 31st, but today I plan to share some other blogging highlights, discovered authors and the few disappointments of my reading year. (By the way, the cute calendar comes from Asking For Trouble).
Let’s go through the year first…
JANUARY – saw the start of the year-long European Reading Challenge 2021 hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader, and the three month long Japanese Literature Challenge 14 hosted by Meredith at Dolce Bellezza. I read The Guest Cat for the latter, and crossed Iceland and Russia off my list of countries for the former. The Russian book (by the Strugatsky brothers) also filled Vintage Science Fiction Month (defined as pre-1979) hosted by Andrea at The Little Red Reviewer. Finally this month, I also started a new feature: Reading the Decades – in which I pick a decade and highlight one book per year that I’ve read. I began with the 1940s.
FEBRUARY – More Japanese and European reading for the challenges above, plus it was #ReadIndies month, hosted by Kaggsy and Lizzy, and I read 8 books published by indie presses. I covered the 1970s in Reading the Decades. I also started another new regular feature – non-bookish too – my Watchlist, a monthly look at film and TV.
MARCH – I was honoured to be shortlisted for the New Books Magazine Blogger’s Book Prize for my review of Piranesi by Susanna Clarke which was my book of the year in 2020. Sadly, I didn’t win, but I enjoyed the attention! I also joined in Southern Cross Crime Month, hosted by Kim at Reading Matters, reading Hermit by SR White. March is also the time for the Dewithon 2021 hosted by Paula at Book Jotter, and I read Dawn French’s latest novel (yes, she was born in Wales) and Reading Ireland Month, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books – and I joined in with two books here – one a hit, the other a miss…
APRIL – As well as joining in, I love hosting themed reading weeks too. Consequently, I spent most of April reading and re-reading Iain Banks for my BanksRead. This time I stuck to his mainstream fiction, but would revisit his SF if I repeat it. I did manage to squeeze in the 1930s in my Reading the Decades.
JUNE – Is time for Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer challenge to begin and I started with these two. Some bloggers like Rebecca are wonderful at matching reads to the seasons – I’m more likely to be reading summery books in winter – but managed to post on-time for Midsummer with Amanda Craig’s Love in Idleness, a loose adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
JULY – More multi-tasking on the challenge front this month, combining #20BooksofSummer21 hosted by Cathy Spanish & Portuguese Literature Month hosted by Stu, and Paris in July hosted by Thyme for Tea. I read Nada by Carmen Laforet and Three to Kill by Jean-Patrick Manchette. I also covered the 1960s in Reading the Decades.
AUGUST – is Women in Translation month for which I reviewed No Touching by Ketty Rouf, and The Forest of Wool and Steel by Natsu Miyashita. I actually achieved my 20 Books of Summer too rounding it off here. I also read my 100th book of the year – the fab How to Life Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu.
- August was also the month that I announced some reading plans for 2022 – including two themed reading projects. A bit early I know, but I wanted to get the dates out there! So the five weeks from Jan 1 to Feb 6 will be Nordic FINDS – celebrating Nordic literature in translation, with one week per country – Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden – FINDS! (I will also host an Italian Fortnight straddling July/August 2022), but I’m now busy immersing myself in lovely Nordic fare.
SEPTEMBER – The 8th was my 13th blog-birthday – which I didn’t post about (usually I do – but I’m not triskaidecaphobic, so wonder why that was).
OCTOBER – I was part of the Cheltenham Literature Festival Blog Tour with my review of Ramble Book by Adam Buxton, and I read Agent in Place by Helen MacInness for the 1976 Club hosted by Simon and Karen. I reviewed more of The Walking Dead comics for RIP XVI. I also achieved my GoodReads target of 125 during this month.
NOVEMBER – Two major reading themes – Non-Fiction November and Novellas in November – these, especially the novellas, made a large part of my reading this month, and luckily overlapped sometimes. I also read two SF novellas – for SciFi Month (Becky Chambers and Olga Ravn) and two German novellas for German Literature Month XI hosted by LIzzy and Caroline (books read by Schenkel and Bogdan).
DECEMBER – saw the beginning of Chris’s Narniathon – reading the Narnia books, 1 per month in publication order.
ALL YEAR LONG – I’ve reported on our Book Group reads, and taken part in most of the Six Degrees of Separation monthly posts hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest. And that year-long European Reading Challenge 2021? I managed to read books by 16 authors from different countries, and as books set in the countries also count, I could add another to make 17 in total – not too shabby at all.
Which authors were my favourite new discoveries of the year?
There were three new to me authors with a backlist that I want to read a lot more by in future:
- Will Carver – I read two of his twisted psychothrillers – both truly excellent – The Beresford, and Psychopaths Anonymous.
- Andrew O’Hagan – How I’ve managed not to read him before escapes me, but Mayflies, his wonderful latest novel about male friendship made me cry.
- James Sallis – Drive blew me away with its sparse and definitely existential writing.
And the disappointments?
I had just one DNF this year – The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien – I just didn’t get this novel! A few other novels were a little underwhelming, but I’m not going to single them out here, but I did have a puzzling encounter with a DK self help book here.
Coming next on the 29th, my reading stats of the year. Hurrah!