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A Year of Books: 2009 Wrap-Up

I posted my top ten favorite books, but this meme from Jenny will give you a more comprehensive picture of the books read in the past year.

How many books read in 2009?
75. I kept a journal of thoughts and notes from all my readings, whether I finished a book or not. Reviews #176 to #250 on the blog represent the 75 books I have read in 2009. The total number of books read slightly drops from 2008, but I’m very satisfied nonetheless because most of the books read are very literary.

How many fiction and nonfiction?
Fiction 70; non-fiction 5. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt is classified as non-fiction but the book reads like a novel with an abundance of historical details of Savannah. Two out of the five non-fiction read concern food.

Male/female author ratio?
Male 50; female 25. A clean 2:1 ratio. Although I had meant to read more books by female authors, I am satisfied with the even distribution of male/female-author books. My top ten books for the year reflects this even distribution: 4 out of 10 are written by female authors.

Favourite book of 2009?
Rebecca, The Woman in White, Shanghai Girls, to name a few. See Favorite Books of 2009 for more details. Classics continue to thrive as they make up half of the top 10 list. Three books on the list were released in 2009, and the authors of all three are female. I cannot be more satisfied that I have maintained the balance to read classics and high-brow contemporary fiction.

Least favorite?
The green tomatoes of the year are easy to spot, for there weren’t many that earned a Toss rating. Among the least favorites were that Julia Powell book (she certainly doesn’t deserve any more mention) and this absurdly annoying farce called Valeria’s Last Stand. Out of the 5 Christopher Bram books I read, Gods and Monsters really fell short—it was disappointing. Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day also didn’t live up to the league of her other works.

Any that you simply couldn’t finish, and why?
I try to finish all the books–at least skim through the stalled ones very quickly in order to validate my reviews of them. All the books I mentioned in the question above I skimmed.

Oldest and newest book read?
Two of the oldest books read were both by Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White (1859) and The Moonstone (1868). The oldest book was The Dialogue of the Dogs by Cervantes (1613). The newest were Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, The Writing on My Forehead by Nafisa Haji, and The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee, all three were released in 2009 and made my top 10.

Longest and shortest book titles?
The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food and Gossip.

Longest and shortest books?
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (960 pages) and Chess Story by Stefan Zweig (84 pages). These two books were read in tandem.

How many books from the library?
None. My branch had been closed for renovation for almost the entire year. I should get back to the library routine since it’s been reopen lately.

Any translated books?
6. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery tops the list of translated literature. The others were The Reader, Crime and Punishment (re-read), Rue Ordener Rue Labat, Chess Story, and Crystal Boys.

Most read author of the year, and number of books by that author?
Christopher Bram, 5: Exiles in America, Gossip, Gods and Monsters, Surprising Myself, and Almost History. He explores the boundary between privacy and publicity in gay identities.

Any re-reads?
7. Re-reads is an integral part of my reading experience. Re-reads allow me to reconnect to favorite classics that have never finished saying what they meant to. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, Maurice by E.M. Forster, The Hours by Michael Cunningham, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

Favourite character of the year?
Jim Goodall from Almost History by Christopher Bram. He’s almost like a role model who comes to terms with his sexuality, sentimentality, and beliefs as he takes up overseas posts with the Foreign Service.

Which countries did you go to through the pages of your reading?
United States, Germany, England, Russia, France, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China, Iran, South Africa, Taiwan, and Norway.

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation?
A Visitation of Spirits by Randall Kenan, Fixer Chao by Han Ong, The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (a TLC book tour book), and Valeria’s Last Stand by Marc Fitten. The last one was a nightmare.

Did you read any books you’ve always been meaning to read?
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, Howards End by E.M. Forster, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

30 Responses

  1. I love that summary, and impressed that you keep such stats. I suppose I could probably do the same thing, but would take me a month. I loved Rebecca, in fact it went on my all-time favorite list.

    • The post took me a long time to write because I had to look through my journal. My reviews blog subpage helps a great deal with counting the stats. This is one tedious job!

  2. I admire your great organization. You make me feel like such a slacker..lol

  3. you are such a keen reader/blogger ^_^

  4. Glad you swiped the meme! Looks like you had a wonderful year – looking forward to your 2010 reading!

  5. Nice round up! Looks like you had an excellent year in books. I’m looking forward to more great reviews from you!

    • Thanks Amy! It feels good to make a little dent in the world of great literature! Being a reader is really a work in progress! 🙂

  6. Matt, so glad to see that 2009 was such a rewarding reading year for you! I really look forward to seeing what you tackle in 2010!

  7. Great summary, Matt! I especially like how you listed the “countries visited”. I love to travel and if I can’t do it as much as I’d like at least I can travel via the pages of a book 🙂

  8. Nice summary! I’m hoping to get into rereading The Woman in White this year. Also, my copy of Zweig’s Chess Story has been waiting for it’s turm for a couple of years already!

    Greetings,
    Tiina

  9. Love the list of questions you answered. I think in “Almost History” you also ‘traveled’ to the Philippines, Thailand and South Vietnam (I might be mistaken, it has been so long since I read the book). Looking forward to seeing your reading list and reviews of 2010!

    • Darn, I totally forgot the countries to which I traveled through reading Almost History. A few other books you recommended to me have almost made the top 10: Exiles in America, Beijing: A Novel, and Gossip. Thanks for sharing some great reads with me and I’m looking forward to reading more books and watching more movie adaptations with you in 2010. xoxo

  10. I really liked the variety of questions. It made for fun reading!!

  11. Great summary, Matt! I’ve already done my look back at 2009 but I’ll have to remember this meme next year.

    I’ll be glad when you-know-who fades back into obscurity.

  12. Great post and you’re so organized, Matt! I’ll have to check some of those titles you mentioned!

    • Thanks to the person who originally hosted this interesting and organized meme. I like the creative way to look at a year’s reading in different angles! 🙂

  13. Can’t imagine having the library closed for a whole year! (Partly because my husband works there…) I hope the reopened renovated version is well worth the wait.

    • The newly renovated library is just gorgeous, with brand new reading desks and more sky window for natural light. Now I have to look for some great reads! 🙂

  14. There are so many interesting things here….but I must say that I’m glad to hear that you weren’t impressed with Heat of the Day. I loved all the other Bowen books I read, but I’ve struggled to get through this one.

    • I felt the book wasn’t really moving along and I was sorry that it didn’t live up to my expectation. I do have plan to read more of her books.

  15. Quite a bit of diversity with your reads. Most impressive, especially in regards to the countries “traveled” to… a lot of interesting places there.

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