Short answer, unfortunately not very much. Summers are usually my best reading time, but with a new house and everything my energy seems to have been spent elsewhere this year. Anyway, some books have been read, and I believe a short blog update is long overdue.
In total I have read 48 books this year by authors born in 14 different countries. New Zeeland is unexpectedly dominating the statistics, but that is just because I bought an ebook containg a collected edition of Ngoi Marsh’s detective novels, and have been reading them whenever I need a light read. This has apparently often been the case, my spreadsheet tells me that by now I have read 18 of her novels (Opening night was my favourite among the ones I have read most recently).
Selected recent reads
The first read I would like to highlight is Tower by Bae Myuung-Hoon. I thought that it would be fun to try a South Korean science fiction novel, but having read nothing about it beforehand I wasn’t expecting how memorable many of these interconnected short stories would actually turn out to be. In a year of mostly unremarkable reads, this one was a really good find.
Otherwise my most memorable recent read has been a short story collection by Madeleine Bourdouxhe, containing Sept nouvelles and Sous le Pont Mirabeau (translated into Swedish). The short stories were all very good, but it was Sous le Pont Mirabeau, her short memoir on the WWII attack on Brussels while she was still in a maternity ward, that really stuck with me.
Map indicating the author’s country of birth for all the books I have read in 2021
So, 2021 is finally over. It did have some highlights, but for a large part it was a dreary, exhausting year (I hate border closures with all my heart). Blogging largely fell to the side in pure exhaustion, but I did read quite a bit. Exactly 100 books in total.
As usual I read most of the books in English (64), followed by Swedish (30) and Norwegian (6). 53 of the books were written by women and 47 by men, a surprisingly even split. Authors from the United Kingdom (33) dominated, followed by Swedish (16) and US authors (11), but authors born in 31 different countries (a new record since I started to keep track!) were represented in my reads. In addition the books were published in 17 different decades.
Early in my blogging days I started the 30-20-10 challenge where the goal was to read books by authors from 30 countries, 20 books written by a woman and 20 by man, and in 10 different decades. At that time I had no real intention of finishing in one year (and I didn’t), but it pushed me to broaden my reading and in 2021 I succeeded without even trying, which feels really good.
I loved the ReadIndies month that Karen and Lizzie hosted last year and really look forward to the 2022 edition. In addition I plan to join the Narniathon, but other than that my ambition is to read often, widely, but most of all for enjoyment.
Nine months of the year has passed and it is time to lock back at my reading so far. Overall I had a really good reading spring, but since then my reading has slowed down to about one book a week for May-September, and I fear that I have spent much more time on youtube than I have with my books lately. However, thanks to all the reading I did in the spring my total statistics still looks rather fine, with 74 books read by authors from 22 countries.
Reading highlights April-September
We are not afraid by Gila Lustiger (published by Notting Hill Editions)
A wilder time by William E. Glassley (another excellent non-fiction from Bellevue Literary Press)
Writing on this blog has been slow for the past six months, I have published a total of only four blog posts (including this one), since my previous update in early April. Instead I have written a lot for work, finally publishing an article I have been working on on and off for years (rather technical so I won’t add a link). Perhaps now that it is out of the way I will have more time to spare for blogging.
Spring has hopefully finally decided to stick-around, the birch leaves are out and my walk paths are getting lovelier each day. Overall things are fine around here, which makes me feel a little bit guilty and very very grateful. Apart from having to switch to online teaching things have changed surprisingly little. I have lived far from my family ever since I moved abroad and with everyone coming online I almost have closer contact with them than I am used to.
What has changed is the amount of reading I have done, 41 books in the first four months, way above my average. Most of it has been comfort reads though, a clear sign of troubled times. In the last few months I have focused on crime classics, Moomin novels, and Science fiction (mostly Martha Wells’ murderbot series). Adding only Fredman’s epistles to my Classics club reading challenge and staying mostly in Europe and North America.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
A year has ended which means that I once again get to use all the data that I have collected in my trusted reading spreadsheet during the year.
All in all it has been a good reading year, in total I finished 123 books in 2019 (118 in 2018 and 99 in 2017), 51 by a woman, 52 by a man and 20 by multiple authors.
As in the previous years books by authors from UK (46), US (33) and Sweden (11) dominated my reading, but I managed to read books written by authors from 22 countries (27 in 2018 and 21 in 2017). Although the numbers are down a bit from 2018 I am still happy with them as they indicate that even without the reading challenge I participated in in 2017 and 2018, I still keep reading fairly widely. Among books not originally written in English or Swedish, my favourites this year was The Good Shepherd by Gunnar Gunnarsson (Iceland), Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag (India) and The three-body problem by Cixin Liu (China).
Book blogging has also remained important to me, although I have been somewhat less active than in 2018. It is my primary place for bookish discussions so I am very happy for all of you who keep visiting and commenting, thank you!
August is at its end which I guess is a perfect time for me to look back at what I have read in 2019. So far I have read 81 books, by 35 women and 36 men (and ten by multiple authors). I have read books from 16 decades and by authors from 14 countries and I have read them in four different languages (which sounds really impressive unless I accidentally tell you that three of those languages are Scandinavian).
For the Classics club my ambition was to read and review 12 books from my list. So far I have only reviewed four, so I am falling a bit behind on this challenge but I have a few more in the pipe-line so I shouldn’t do too badly.
Keep reading books by African, Asian and South American authors
I am not doing too well on this ambition. Africa and South America are once again blank spots on my reading map and although I am doing slightly better with Asia and the Middle East, most of my reading comes from UK, US or one of the Nordic countries. With only a few exceptions I am afraid that I have stayed quite firmly within my reading comfort zone this year. Hopefully the autumn will be calmer and leave me with more energy to be brave in my reading.
Best read in this category: Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag.
My book buying ambition this year was to spend less on books than I did last year. I am doing well so far, I have only spend 72% of what I did the first eight months of 2018, so I am optimistic.
How is your 2019 reading going? Any recommendations on South American or African books? Recommendations on short, easy, but good, fiction from these continents are particularly welcome.
A new year has begun which means that I once again get to play around with pretty maps and charts in an effort to illustrate my 2018 reading.
In total I finished 118 books in 2018 (99 in 2017), 57% of them written by women. Books by authors from UK (46), US (17) and Sweden (16) dominated my reading but I managed to read books written by authors from 27 countries (21 in 2017) which I am really happy about. I am especially pleased that reading books from a variety of countries has gone from feeling like an obligation to being something I really enjoy. Overall I have had an excellent reading year with plenty of reading time and have discovered several excellent new authors and novels.
As I read much more than I review, many excellent reads have gone unmentioned on this blog, but I don’t want them to be completely forgotten. So here comes some honourable mentions from my 2018 reading. Links to the blogger who recommended them where applicable.
I started this blog so I could discuss books with other book lovers and make some blogging friends. I am very happy with how that has worked out. I am grateful every time any of you take the time to read, comment and like my posts! Happy reading year everyone!
Map showing author’s country of origin for the books I have read during the first eight months of 2018.
Autumn is here, another third of the year has gone, and I believe it is time for another progress report on my reading and my reading challenges.
So far I have read 86 books in 2018, by 47 women and 35 men (and four anthologies). I have read books from eighteen decades and by authors from twenty-three countries. All-in-all I’m having an excellent reading year.
Reading challenges for 2018
Finish the unfinished 30-20-20-10 challenge from 2017 (done)
Read 12 books from countries I read no more than 1 book from in 2017 (done, 19/12 read)
Under the Tripoli Sky by Kamal Ben Hameda (Libya)
The Lime Tree by César Aira (Argentina)
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami (Japan)
Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall (Poland)
I’m fairly sure that I’m the only one really interested in the details of my reading during 2017 but the ending of the year provide a perfect excuse to indulge in charts and statistics and so I will.
In total I read 99 books during 2017. Most of these (56%) were by UK or US authors but I managed to read books by authors from 21 countries* which I’m reasonably proud of, although I failed my ultimate goal of 30 countries. It is however embarrassing that I didn’t manage to read a single book by an author from the African continent so I will have to do something about that in 2018.
Out of the 99 books I read, 15 were re-reads, 35 were bought this year and 22 were e-books (mostly from Project Gutenberg or the library). 52 of them were in English, 38 in Swedish and 9 in Norwegian. I found that I read books by roughly as many men (49%) as women (44%) and published during 20 different decades. So all in all a reasonably varied reading list and I discovered some great books during 2017.
I also began blogging more regularly and published 16 blog posts between May and December 2017. (My very first post was already in November 2016 but then it took until May before I wrote my second post and the blog really got started). The most popular one was my Classics Club book list but my favourite one talked about literary whales.
For anyone actually reading this post, thank you! I’m grateful for every reader and hope to keep posting a few posts per month through 2018.
*I counted Nils-Aslak Valkeapää to Sápmi rather than Finland so it wasn’t just countries.
During 2017 I attempted to follow the 30-20-20-10 reading challenge, that is, to read books from 30 countries, by 20 male and 20 female authors and from 10 decades. The decades proved to be the easiest part of the challenge, I finished them already in January and by now I’ve read books from 20 decades. Reading books by 20 men and 20 women also happened without any real effort, I was finished with this part of the challenge in August without really trying. So in the end it was only the 30 countries that actually worked as a challenge but there I struggled. With a few days left of 2017 I’ve only read books from 21 countries. The challenge still worked in that it made me read a lot more broadly than I normally would but I will need to use 2018 too to finish it.
The other challenge I started in 2017, the classics club, has also been a real treat. Here the challenge is to read and blog about at least 50 classics within 5 years. As I started my list on October 22nd and have already finished my first 5 books on my list I believe I’m well on my way. This challenge has been a lot of fun and also comes with a great community so I look forward to continuing with it during 2018.
Challenges for 2018
Finish the 30-20-20-10 challenge (read 9 books from countries I didn’t read any book from in 2017).
Read 12 books from countries I rarely read from (countries I read no more than 1 book from in 2017, this mini-challenge will naturally overlap substantially with the 30-20-20-10 challenge).
Read at least as many of my unread books (including new books) as I buy in 2018. (I may have cheated and just bought eight new books with a January delivery which won’t count so I will have a head-start on this one).
Join the Back to the classics reading challenge which should overlap nicely with my reading for the classics club and provide even more great discussion on the classics. Considering my other challenges I don’t want to put too much pressure on this one but I want to finish at least 6 of the 12 categories and hope to do most of them.