Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Look Back in Pleasure

Here we are once again at the end of a year! It has been only my second full cycle of twelve months as a book blogger and today seems a good moment to share with you a look back on my activities of 2014 – to fill some of the gaps that the Reading Bingo of three weeks ago inevitably left.

It has been a pretty busy year for me, not least for the many interesting reads that have come my way. It goes without saying that my literary exploration hasn’t been limited to the writings and authors that I decided to showcase here on my blog. In fact, they were quite some more than “just” the 52 books that I reviewed beginning with Once a Greek by Friedrich Dürrenmatt after the New Year and ending with A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy past Friday. 

Of course, the greater part of my reviews has been dedicated to European literature with a special and more or less regular focus on Austrians & Their Writings, but this year I left the confines of my own continent more often than last. With my reviews I covered all continents except Antarctica. I even dug out old South-American gems that happen to be little known in the English-speaking world like The Three Marias by Rachel de Queiroz or The Decapitated Chicken by Horacio Quiroga.

Right at the beginning of the year I joined the Books on France 2014 Reading Challenge hosted by Emma from Words and Peace which closes today. It accounts for fourteen reviews on this blog as you can see in my summary which went online earlier this month. The three that I liked best were The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, The Cat by Colette and The Desert by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio.

On 31 January ROSE CITY READER’s European Reading Challenge 2013 ended… and as it turned out I was the one who won it because with my reads (and reviews) I covered the greatest variety of European countries. Late in January I posted my detailed summary including the list of my reads with links to the reviews. The last five reviews for this challenge went online in January. They were The Storm by Margriet de Moor (Netherlands), Once a Greek by Friedrich Dürrenmatt (Switzerland), The Emperor of Portugallia by Selma Lagerlöf (Sweden), Snow by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), and Ali and Nino by Kurban Said (Azerbaijan).

I also continued to reblog my relevant reviews (time-delayed) on Read the Nobels, a perpetual reading challenge which I had joined in 2013. In the course of the year 2014 I reviewed for it no less than eleven books written by Nobel laureates in literature and in spring I finally put online my own list with links to the original posts to keep track of them. My three favourite contributions of this year are The Church of Solitude by Grazia Deledda, The Old Capital by Kawabata Yasunari and Snow by Orhan Pamuk.

On the occasion of the centenary of the outbreak of World War I on 28 July 2014 I launched The Great War in Literature Special. So far I only published the first three reviews of war-related novels: Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth and Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf. In addition I put a couple of other relevant books dealing with World War I in a way that doesn’t glorify it on a – hopefully – growing book list.

Last, but not least I called out My WINTER Books Special at the beginning of this month and it is coming along nicely! Four WINTER reviews are already online: A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy, A Monkey in Winter by Antoine Blondin, If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino (my absolute favourite so far!), and The Winter of Artifice by Anaïs Nin. Nine more are in preparation for January and February.

There aren’t only book reviews on my blog, though. In February I resumed my four-weekly series of Authors’ Portraits bringing to your attention forgotten or overlooked writers from around the globe. This year I portrayed eleven writers for you. Those whose biographies impressed me most were the Brazilian author Maria Firmina dos Reis, Roquia Sakhawat Hussain from the region that is today Bangladesh and the Austrian Biedermeier writer Adalbert Stifter. The greatest part of the works (not all!) of the portrayed authors are in the public domain, but often inaccessible because they are no longer in print and haven’t yet been digitised or because they have never been translated into English for reasons beyond my understanding. Maybe one of my readers gets the hint. Hope never dies!

And then, as a few of you might have noticed by now, I dedicated Mondays to Poetry Revisited featuring mainly poems in the public domain, sometimes also translating them into English myself although only literally because English isn’t my native language and my poetic skills are rather limited anyways. 52 poems have gone online over this now almost past year – as can be no surprise since it was a weekly feature.

There has been going on a lot on my blog… I hope that is has been to your taste and makes you long for more next year!


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