It is the second day of the New Year and it is time to look back on the old year. From a bookish perspective, I had fun looking back at my reading experience the previous year and thinking about which were the books I liked the most. Here is what came out of my thinking.
I had an interesting reading year. I read some beautiful books by authors whom I hadn’t heard of before and in the process discovered some wonderful new writers. I celebrated ‘My Year of Reading French Literature’ and in the process read my first Balzac, my first surrealist novel (Andre Breton’s ‘Nadja’), my first French-Canadian writer (Nicole Brossard) and my first Marguerite Duras book, read my first novel-in-verse, my first book by a fictitious author (Richard Castle), my first Swedish novel, the latest book by Barbara Kingsolver, Dan Brown, Neil Gaiman and Julian Barnes and re-read ‘The Three Musketeers’ after a long time. I also participated in RIP VIII and German Literature Month.
My most favourite book of 2013 was ‘The Wall’ by Marlen Haushofer. It is my most favourite German book ever and it is one of my favourite books of alltime. If you haven’t read it yet, get it now and read it today 🙂
This is the complete list of my favourite books from 2013. There are lots of them, and that is because I like most of the books I read. I think I have reached the stage, where I instinctively pick books that I will end up liking. For the picture books I have written a brief description, because I haven’t reviewed most of them. For the rest, I have linked the titles to my reviews of the books.
(1) Frogs by Nic Bishop – This is a photo essay on frogs and how they live. There are stunning, colourful photos of different types of frogs throughout the book – bullfrogs and red-eyed frogs and yellow-coloured gliding frogs and strawberry and blue-coloured dart poison frogs and glass frogs which have transparent skin. I never knew that frogs came in so many different bright colours. The book also talks about how frog parents take care of their children – how African bullfrogs fiercely defend their eggs and tadpoles, how the marsupial frog carries its eggs and tadpoles in its pouch, how the strawberry dart poison frog takes care of each of her tadpole babies individually and feeds them – she looks almost human. The author Nic Bishop is not just a photographer but is also a proper biological scientist with a doctorate in biology. I have been indifferent to frogs till now, but after reading this book, I have fallen in love with them. I will look forward to reading my next Nic Bishop book. If you have young children at home or you want to gift books to your nephews / nieces or your friend’s children, gift them this one. Thanks a lot to my favourite friend for seeing the child in me and gifting me this beautiful book.
(2) Portland Impressions by Steve Terrill – This is a photo album on the beautiful city of Portland in Oregon. Portland is one of my favourite cities in the world. One of the reasons is that one of my favourite friends is from there. Another reason is that it is the home of some of my favourite writers – Virginia Euwer Wolff (her ‘The Mozart Season’ is one of the great Portland YA novels and deserves to me more widely read), Ursula Le Guin, Alexis Smith. And then, of course, there is the wonderful Powell’s, the only bookshop in the world which stocked Cuban novelist José Lezama Lima’s ‘Paradiso‘. This beautiful book-sized photo essay by award winning photographer Steve Terrill, is a fitting tribute to this beautiful city and has stunning photographs which bring out Portland in all its glory. There are pictures of the city’s skyline, the snowcapped Mount Hood, the Columbia and the Willamette rivers, the Columbia River Gorge, the interesting bridges, the renowned flower gardens, the universities, the sculptural homage to Lewis and Clark, the sculpture of Portlandia, the Singing Christmas tree, the boat festivals at the waterfront during different times of the year – they are all featured there. I was hoping to see photos of the Laurelhurst pub and some depicting the literary and art scene in the city, but unfortunately they were not featured. But PortlandStateUniversity was featured and so was the wonderful Powell’s. That made me very happy. If you want to read books about this beautiful city, I would recommend two – this beautiful book and Virginia Euwer Wolff’s wonderful ‘The Mozart Season’. If you would like to watch a movie set in this city, I would recommend ‘Feast of Love’ which is mostly set in PortlandStateUniversity and stars Morgan Freeman with others.
(3) Mother’s Love : Inspiring Stories from the Animal Kingdom by Melina Gerosa Bellows – This has beautiful photographs of animal mothers and their cute babies with quotes on mothers by writers and stories on how animals mothers risked everything to save their kids. Can keep looking at the pictures all day. Most of my favourite cats are featured – lioness, cheetah, lynx, tiger, housecat, leopard – only the puma was missing. My favourite quote from the book was by author Elizabeth Stone – “Making a decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” A must for animal lovers.
(4) Let’s Do Nothing by Tony Fucile – This is a picture book and tells the story of two friends Frankie and Sal, who feel that they have done most things – having played all games including board games, read most comics, pained more pictures than Van Gogh, baked lots of cookies – and now they don’t know what to do. Sal suggests that they do nothing for a short while and Frankie agrees. But ‘doing nothing’ is not as simple as it seems. Actually it turns out to be the most difficult thing. What happens after that is the rest of the story. I found it funny and also very insightful because the book shows how difficult it is to be quiet or do nothing for even a short while, especially for our 21st century mind which is filled with a blizzard of thoughts. And it does that in a way that children can understand. The story is humorous and funny and the theme it addresses is very Zen. I totally loved it. This is a wonderful book to gift to your children or to your nieces / nephews or your friends’ children.
(5) The Wall by Marlen Haushofer
(6) Mrs. Sartoris by Elke Schmitter
(7) The Thirtieth Year by Ingeborg Bachmann
(8) Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon by Nicole Brossard
(9) Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac
(10) The Square by Marguerite Duras
(11) The Mark of the Angel by Nancy Huston
(12) The Lost Estate by Alain-Fournier
(13) One Hundred Great French Books by Lance Donaldson-Evans
(14) Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith
(15) The Language of Others by Clare Morrall
(16) A Virtual Love by Andrew Blackman
(17) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
(18) Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
(19) The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner
(20) The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth
(21) Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill
(22) She Left Me the Gun by Emma Brockes
Now some numbers with respect to my reading experience in 2013.
Total No. of books read – 70
Books by genre
Fiction – 46
Non-Fiction – 5
Comics – 4
Plays – 2
Poetry – 1
Picture Books – 6
Children Books – 6
Fiction by genre
Classics – 6
Literary Fiction – 22
Young Adult – 6
Thriller / Horror / Fantasy – 11
Science Fiction – 1
Books by language in which they were originally written
English – 46
French – 12
German – 5
Tamil – 2
Spanish – 1
Italian – 1
Swedish – 1
Yiddish – 1
Japanese – 1
Men authors – 40
Women authors – 30
The two things I was disappointed with was that I read only 12 French books (it was after all ‘My Year of Reading French Literature’ – I should have read more), and I read only 5 German books (Normally I read 10 German books during German Literature Month alone.) I am hoping to read more French and German books during the coming year. I also want to read more comics.
How was your reading year in 2013?
Wish you a very Happy New Year! Hope your year is filled with lots of beauty and light and joy and happiness and lots of books and beautiful reading moments.
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