Room for Yet Another Book List?

It’s been a year of excessive reading. Define excess? I suspect 189 books (even if a handful of those were graphic novels) fit the criteria. This has not always been reflected in the amount of reviewing I’ve done. Perhaps I used reading as therapy, to blunt the senses, stop thinking too deeply – always safer to divert your thinking to fictional problems or other people’s plight. It also keeps you snug and warm, away from writing and exposing your clumsy way with words and your fear of failing … yet again.

But I am grateful for all the books that kept me sane and balanced this year. Here are my top reads by category (not all of them were published in 2014, needless to say):

1) Poetry:

Mihaela Moscaliuc: Father Dirt  – for teaching me to push boundaries and be truly fearless in my writing

2) Non-fiction:

Andrew Solomon: Far from the Tree – for redefining parenting and commitment to the family

3) Crime fiction:

I’m going to cheat a bit in this category and refer you to my Top 5 Crime Picks from Crime Fiction Lover. One additional book that would make the list, but which I read too late to include there was Lauren Beukes’ Broken Monsters.

4) Short Story Collection:

Vienna Tales – selected and translated by Deborah Holmes – for sheer variety, its unbeatable location and nostalgia value

5) Rereads:

With thanks to Tony Malone for challenging me to turn to my old love of Japanese literature once more:

Murakami Haruki: Kafka on the Shore – dream-like sequences, a library, a coming of age story and talking cats – need I say more?

Enchi Fumiko: The Waiting Years – almost unbearable depiction of the lack of choice of Japanese women during the years of modernisation and opening up to the West

6) Non-Crime Novels:

What do two sweeping, panoramic, ambitious novels, trying to encompass a multitude of voices and experiences, and a much more intimate love story between desperate people from different cultures have in common? Unforgettable voices and characters.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Americanah

Kerry Hudson: Thirst

Tore Renberg: See You Tomorrow

I also owe you a few reviews of books which I’ve only recently read :

  • ‘Euphoria’ by Lily King – a story of anthropologists doing fieldwork in the 1920s; I want to write a longer review, comparing fiction to reality to Margaret Mead’s own account of events in ‘Blackberry Winter’
  • Pascal Garnier’s ‘The Islanders’ – the anti-Christmas family gathering
  • Tove Jansson books I gifted myself for Christmas – comparing biography to her own memoirs

but I’ve run out of year to…



13 thoughts on “Room for Yet Another Book List?”

  1. 189?!! Blimey! Some interesting choices here though; some I’ve read, some I’d like to read. I look forward to your review of Euphoria – I keep hearing good things.

    1. It was an interesting take on anthropology, love triangles and different cultures. Margaret Mead was my heroine when I was in my late teens and the main reason why I decided to study anthropology.

  2. Very interesting choices, Marina. I’m pleased to see Pascal Garnier on your list – I have The Front Seat Passenger and The Islanders to look forward to. The Vienna Tales collection sounds just my type of thing, too.

    1. Pascal Garnier is one of those writers who never disappoints. Even if I like one of his books slightly less (I didn’t like The A26 as much as the other ones), he always surprises and challenges me. And I think you would love the Vienna Tales – it’s an uneven collection, perhaps, but all the more interesting because of its diversity.

  3. A great list, Marina Sofia! I love its diversity and I think you’ve made some great selections. And I am impressed with the number of books you’ve read this year!

    1. Ah, well, it’s easier to read than to write, isn’t it? There have been many good books on my reading list this year, but those were the ones that really stuck in my mind.

  4. This is a great list! I love how you put that reading kept you sane. I think it is an apt description of this hobby so many of us love, as it really is not a hobby, is it? We really do need to read in order to survive some days.

  5. I always have room for another book list and you have such interesting and unusual titles on yours. I’ve heard several bloggers say good things about Pascal Garnier – someone I’m intrigued to check out. And one of these days I do hope to get to Far From the Tree. It’s huge, though!

    1. Yes, Far from the Tree is quite huge, but because each chapter focuses on a different aspect, it’s quite easy to read each one almost as a separate (short) book. And it’s full of fascinating real stories, some of them profoundly touching and always thought-provoking.

  6. Glad to see my old friend Mr Heming made the list! And you’ve already talked me into pushing Americanah up the TBR list. Hmm…and you may…may…have talked me into adding Pascal Garnier…

  7. Well, even though I could never do what you’ve done, I surprised myself in the last two weeks by discovering there were six more books I “had” to read before beginning to write my next book 🙂

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