This year comes up with 336 books or 82,982 pages.
(How do I do it? I mercilessly exploit my commutes and read as often as I can, including while standing in lines and even on street corners while waiting for the light to change.)
The numbers alone might seem impressive until one glances at my TBR shelf there, which sits at 8,384 books. (Last year there were 8.116 – of course, I’ve added a few.)
And this year I was choosy about the books I added. And I tried to read from my TBR more often. (Even so, 2018 publications comprised nearly 20% of my reading).
What to do, when the list of books I want to read than the list of books I am actually reading.
Never mind, for just a few more moments, let’s enjoy 2018’s reading.
(The widgets will only work if you’re reading on the page proper, not via a reader.)
2017 = 282 books
2016 = 310 books
Beginning with The Building of Jalna (1926) and ending with Centenary at Jalna (1958), I read all 16 of Mazo de la Roche’s Jalna novels.
Beginning with Mavis Gallant’s earliest short stories, I read 31 throughout 2017 and another 30 in 2018 (of 123 in total).
Shortest = 12
Longest = 866
*Reading Africa Hosted by Kinna: Some favourites
*Reading Ireland Hosted by Cathy: Exploring
*#1944Club Hosted by Kaggsy and Simon: Gwethalyn Graham’s Earth and High Heaven
*#1977Club Hosted by Kaggsy and Simon: Carol Shields’ The Box Garden
*Non-Fiction November Hosted by Katie, Julie, Kim, Rennie and Sarah: Summary
Busiest reading months: November and February
Quietest reading months: May and March
Female Writers 63%
Writers of Colour 34%
Literary Novels 36%
Reading serially 25%
27 countries visited
29 indigenous authors
71 off my own shelves
47 illustrated volumes
31 works in translation
14 story collections
The highlight of my reading year was Elizabeth Arthur’s 1994 novel Antarctic Navigation.
Readers meet Morgan Lamont when she is a young girl, when her passion for the South Pole adventurer, Robert Falcon Scott, takes hold.
Her obsession with travelling to Antarctica develops over many years and readers come to share it, after having spent so much time in the fissures of Morgan’s mind and heart: the journey becomes a shared pursuit.
As intensely as Morgan wants to recreate the tragic historical expedition, readers want her to find a cure for her wanting.
But although the book is most definitely about Antarctica, it is also about ambition and devotion.
For “in this portrayal of a place, a simple place, I seemed to see the heartbreak of all endeavor. As long as we asked questions, we would always do this, ask ones that could not be answered, go to places that could not be reached, start journeys we could never finish.” On this front, the densely detailed story is simultaneously an arching and expansive story of a woman who follows an unusual and unwavering path.
At just over 800 pages long, readers have plenty of time to tire of Morgan. She makes mistakes. She repeats mistakes. She over-analyzes some risks and she neglects to anticipate others. There is arguably too much detail about her love of the library and about relationships which do not last, but these are the kind of details which make us who we are. So, really, they belong as much as all the rest. Which might annoy some readers. But it only left me wanting more.
“So how do I end this tale? Where do I decide to stop it? There is no ending to be reached, and that is the truth of it. The whole point of everything that I have learned is that the great stories never really end, there just comes a time when you yourself can no longer take part in them.”
Morgan’s story is one of the great ones in my reading life. It’s one that I plucked from the shelves of a women’s bookshop in 1996 on a whim. When I read it this year, I expected I would be happy to pass it along afterwards. Part of me still wants to do that – because I know readers who would love this novel as much as I did – but, first, I would like to reread it myself, to travel along with Morgan one more time, as she makes tracks through treacherous territory and stumbles and falls and, then, rights herself and carries on.
Shared reads with bookfriends
Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke with Stefanie
Andrea Levy’s Small Island with Debbie, Naomi and Rebecca
Andrew Bloomfield’s Call of the Cats with Stefanie and Danielle
Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy with Carra
Elizabeth Taylor’s The Soul of Kindness with Jane
Louise Erdrich’s The Round House with Shivanee
Muriel Spark’s Curriculum Vitae with Ali
Omar El Akkad’s American War with Naomi
and some Iris Murdochs with Liz (this one most recently)
Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, inspired by Laila
Elisabeth Sanxay-Holding’s The Blank Wall, inspired by Jesse
Kim Thúy’s Vi, inspired by Biblibio
Sadaat Hasan Manto’s Bombay Stories and Clarice Lispector’s short stories, inspired by Mel
Sarah Andersen’s comic collections – all of them, inspired by Alley
Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, inspired by All Virago All August
Toggle each + to reveal…
Carol Shields’ The Box Garden (1977)
E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967)
Louise Erdrich’s The Last Report of the Miracles of Little No Horse (2001)
Charles C. Mann’s 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus (2005; 2nd edition, 2011)
Jamil Jivani’s Why Young Men: Rage, Rage and the Crisis of Identity (2018)
Molly Peacock’s The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delaney Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 (2010)