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. Let’s go through the year first…
JANUARY – was the beginning of The Japanese Literature Challenge 13 which carried on until March. I read The Cake Tree in the Ruins by Akiyuki Nosaka in Jan (and later on in March Spark by Naoki Matayoshi).
FEBRUARY – I hosted Paul Auster reading week. He is my favourite author, and I enjoyed sharing the love more widely, reviewing four of his books during the week. This was followed by Fitzcarraldo Fortnight for which I reviewed the superb It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track by Ian Penman.
MARCH – Book Spine poetry started doing the rounds again, and I did two – a Paul Auster one in March and another Lockdown one a couple of weeks later. March also saw two reading months – for Wales and Ireland, for which I read The Dig by Cynan Jones and the first Frankie Sheehan crime novel Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan. It was time for the Dylan Thomas Prize longlist tour for which I read Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy.
APRIL – As the official prize was on hiatus, Rebecca hosted the NOT the Wellcome Book Prize for which I took part in the panel again, and initially reviewed The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa.
However, April also marked the low point of my blogging year, when I accidentally deleted the joint labour of love that is Shiny New Books – it’s a long story which I wrote about here. With 1800 potential posts to restore, it’s taken all year to rebuild, but I’d like to thank all of our wonderful contributors who have been very understanding again. A little of the content for which we didn’t have back-ups was lost forever, but thankfully it was a small amount.
MAY – was quieter, and being on furlough I was kept busy rebuilding Shiny! It was time for the shortlist for the NOT the Wellcome Book Prize and I reviewed two more from it here – War Doctor by David Nott and Constellations by Sinead Gleeson.
JUNE – Is time for Cathy’s 20 Books of summer challenge to begin – I blogged about my (cheating) plans for it here at the end of May.
JULY – Back off furlough at the end of term, so I could do cover over the summer at school. I started reading the Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn.
AUGUST – is Women in Translation month for which I reviewed The Last Children of Tokyo by Yoko Tawada. I also read the other two Patrick Melrose novels, buddy reading the fourth with Rebecca. I managed 17/20 of my 20 Books of Summer.
SEPTEMBER – The 8th was my 12th blog-birthday!
OCTOBER – I celebrated the spooky time of year with a ranking of all the vampire novels I’ve read. It was also the 1956 Club, for which I read The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon and short story Minority Report by Philip K Dick.
NOVEMBER – Two major reading themes – Non-Fiction November and Novellas in November – these made a large part of my reading this month, and luckily overlapped sometimes. It was also time for the Sunday Times Young Writer Award shortlist.
DECEMBER – The Shiny New Books rebuild will be finished by the end of the year – just doing the final few posts now. Planning all my year-end posts like this one. I also carried on reading novellas to make sure I achieved my Goodreads target of 125 books.
Which authors were my favourite new discoveries of the year?
The five Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn are an absolute stand out. I’d been thinking about reading them for ages, and was so glad they didn’t disappoint.
It was also a huge relief to discover that Richard Osman could write, and his first novel The Thursday Murder Club was absolutely fabulous. Also I was glad to discover late in the year, the French noir of Jean-Patrick Manchette.
And the disappointments?
Apart from the Shiny debacle, disappointments were few and far between. It was such a shame that Muriel Barbery’s companion novel to The Life of Elves, A Strange Country was so nebulous and … strange that I DNF’d it. I also DNF’d the cult dystopian stream of consciousness novel Ice by Anna Kavan – but that’s one I’ll give a go again. A few novels were a little underwhelming, but I’m not going to single them out here.
Next, my reading stats of the year!