Already in November Emma from Book Around the Corner posted a meme called Reading Bingo on her blog. She was inspired to it by Marina Sofia’s post on Finding Time to Write who had come across it in a post on Cleopatra Loves Books. Obviously, it’s something that makes the round like a chain letter, but good ideas always deserve being spread. I decided to follow suit today using it to make a first and necessarily fragmentary balance of the almost past book blogging year.
And now let’s start with the
1) A book with more than 500 pages:
With 642 pages (not counting the Translator’s Note and the Glossary) Only Yesterday by Shmuel Yosef Agnon is the longest novel that I reviewed this year.
2) Forgotten classic:
On my review list of 2014 there are several twentieth-century classics (for the time being my focus is on works published after 1900). The most forgotten classic that I dug out might have been either The Metal of the Dead by Concha Espina or Marie Claire by Marguerite Audoux; the book that least deserved having fallen into oblivion definitely is The Church of Solitude by Nobel laureate Grazia Deledda.
3) Book that became a movie:
They are fewer of them than I thought. There’s A Monkey in Winter by Antoine Blondin which Henri Verneuil adapted for the screen in 1962 starring Jean Gabin and Jean-Paul Belmondo – a comedy and a classic of French cinema. Since the English edition of the novel is out of print, the film may be a good alternative. More recently there were made films of Mood Indigo by Boris Vian and The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.
4) Book published this year:
The first English translation of I Called Him Necktie by Milena Michiko Flašar dates from autumn 2014. Of course, I read the original German edition that has been on the market for two years now. Otherwise I can’t come up with any brand new releases.
5) Book with a number in the title:
The Three Marias by Rachel de Queiroz comes to mind although the number actually is a word. And there’s 37°2 le matin by Philippe Djian, but the English edition is titled Betty Blue, thus lacks the number.
6) Book written by someone under 30:
For me the age of the author is no selection criterion for a book! However, I seem to have reviewed three books released before the respective writer turned 30 and none of them is of recent date. They are The Three Marias by Rachel de Queiroz, Women as Lovers by Elfriede Jelinek, and Mood Indigo by Boris Vian.
7) A book with non-human characters:
In a wide sense I can list The Cat by Colette here, but the acting characters are all human. Two of the short stories in The Decapitated Chicken by Horacio Quiroga, Juan Darién and Anaconda, have animal protagonists, though.
I’m rather fond of English humour. Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith made me laugh a lot. I also enjoy genre parodies like Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene and I’m Off by Jean Echenoz.
9) Book by a female author:
If you haven’t noticed it yet – on this blog I alternate female and male writers! Among my favourite works by women writers this year are The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yōko Ogawa (contemporary) and The Cat by Colette (classic).
I don’t usually read mysteries. Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene is closest to the genre although it’s a satirical spy novel really. I’m Off by Jean Echenoz has certain typical elements of crime stories.
11) Novel with a one-word title:
There are only three on this year’s list, ie Desert by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, Snow by Orhan Pamuk and Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis.
12) Short stories:
In 2014 I reviewed three collections of short stories or novelettes. Without any doubt the best of them is The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield.
13) A book set on a different continent:
As a reader I left Europe regularly this year and reviewed at least one book set on each one of the other continents except Antarctica. My most recent review of a book set outside Europe is that of None to Accompany Me by Nadine Gordimer (Africa).
With the exception of an occasional (auto)biographical novel, I don’t review non-fiction on this blog, but I read The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World by Sophia Dembling and posted a book notice on Lagraziana’s Kalliopeion.
15) First Book by a favourite author:
I don’t really have a favourite author since I love literary diversity too much. I enjoyed Before You Sleep by Linn Ullmann and it’s a debut novel, but I haven’t yet read anything else by her.
16) A book I heard about online:
I hear about so many books online… and usually forget all about them in no time. However, without the internet I might never have come across the biographical novel Sky Burial by Xinran.
I reviewed some bestsellers, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery for instance, but I don’t choose books for their sales performance! Usually I wait and see if a book that is on top of bestselling lists is still in print after a couple of years... and only then I might, just might, consider reading it.
18) Book based on a true story:
Only few of my reviewed books were (auto)biographical novels because I generally prefer fiction. The most shattering autobiographical account of a childhood that I reviewed this year was Beautiful Days by Franz Innerhofer, but the English translation is out of print although the book is on school reading lists in German-speaking countries. By contrast the biographical novel The Tea Lords by Hella S. Haasse is rather matter-of-fact, thus documentary history.
19) Book at the bottom of the TBR pile:
My TBR pile is rearranged too often and the one at the bottom changes regularly. Among the books I reviewed in 2014 Betty Blue by Philippe Djian may have been the one that had longest waited for its turn, namely several years.
20) A book that a friend loves:
There certainly are more, but The Abyss by Marguerite Yourcenar and The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth are the two that come to my mind at once.
21) A book that scares me:
In literature I avoid everything scary – to read the newspaper is terrifying enough! There are a few horror stories in the tradition of Edgar Allen Poe in The Decapitated Chicken by Horacio Quiroga, though.
22) A book that is more than 10 years old:
The greater part of my reviewed books meets this criterion! The oldest is Marie Claire by Marguerite Audoux dating from 1910, the one that felt most ahead of its time is The Church of Solitude by Grazia Deledda first published in 1936 and the most enchanting for its most beautiful language reminding of haiku is The Old Capital by Kawabata Yasunari which came out in 1962.
23) The second book in a series:
I HATE book series!!! If there’s a sequel to a good novel, I can bear with it, but more often than not I find them boring to death – unless I start with the second book not knowing the first. As luck would have it, this year I didn’t review any sequels. I read the second volume of the Professor Dr von Igelfeld Entertainment series by Alexander McCall Smith (because it was part of an omnibus edition), but reviewed only Portuguese Irregular Verbs, ie its first book.
24) A book with a blue cover: