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This was an eventful year, in a very good way, but I wouldn’t mind a bit of stability in 2015 though (careful with what you ask for? :S).

Some highlights:

  • Got married
  • David’s a toddler now – what a year!
  • Got a dream job at the UN and the family moved to Geneva
  • Added two new countries to my list: Canada and Kenya

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I’ve read 65 books, which is an increase from the 54 of Baby Year. I’m very proud of myself for this, and for taking on some pretty long ones too (The Count of Monte Cristo, Winter’s Tale, Doctor Zhivago). Also happy to have returned to blogging. I was almost a year out, but I’m happy I waited until it was really calling me back.

Here are the usual geeky statistics (2013 figures between brackets):

Format

As in earlier years paper continues to rule. Being away from blogging made me focus much more on the TBR shelves.

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Fiction vs. Non-fiction

I’m disappointed in these figures. For years I’ve been increasing my share of non-fiction and found some of my favorite books this way. Have no explanation for this and can only try to bring back more balance in 2015.

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A closer look at Fiction

Basically: no blogging = no challenges = no poetry or plays. Glad about the increase in graphic novels though. By joining Jay’s Deal Me In Challenge I hope to see the short-story figure continue to increase.

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I’m also happy about this division of genre, even with a decrease in YA and children’s (yes, I know they’re not exactly a genre, but you know what I mean!). In 2015 I’d like to push the sci-fi number even a bit higher, then I’ll have a nice balance between sci-fi, crime, historical, fantasy and classics.

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A closer look at Non-fiction

I didn’t read enough Non-fiction for the graph to show much…

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Languages

For shame Alex! How many years will it take to balance this, even if only a bit? Any book challenge out there about reading in the original?

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Translated vs. original

A bit better than last year, but nowhere near good enough. It sounds fine to read “in the original”, but not when it’s almost all in English.

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toptentuesday

I’m also counting future versions of our world, not just fantasy-worlds-created-from-scratch.

A lot of choices this week. Emily from Reading as Female was just commenting on twitter yesterday on the lack of sci-fi set in a pleasant future, especially in YA. As she very well put it, “Can someone please write a book where the future isn’t a pile of shit?” 🙂 and “I just find it worrisome that the only future we seem to be able to imagine is a terrible one.”

Nice futures don’t sell? No intense social commentary arising from successfully tackling climate change? An interesting challenge for authors.

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1. Oceania, 1984.
If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.

No privacy, no freedom, no love, no independent thought. One thing bothered me in particular: Newspeak. If you don’t know the world for freedom, can you image the concept?

2. World State, Brave New World.
“No social stability without individual stability.”

The sex, drugs and rock&roll of Huxley’s world might not seem so bad compared to other dystopias, but the use of genetics to create a social hierarchy soon becomes the stuff of nightmares. This was one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read: order and predictability are so easily appealing! The scene with the babies and the sunrise still haunts me.

3. Other World, Coraline.
“My twitchy witchy girl I think you are so nice, I give you bowls of porridge And I give you bowls of ice-cream.”

I’ve no doubt I’d be traumatized if I’d read Coraline when I was a kid. How can something as innocent-sounding as buttons for eyes become so scary?

4. Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland.
“You would have to be half mad to dream me up.”

Any book with a surreal vibe make me anxious. I’d definitely not like to live in a world where all rules are off and anything could happen. Wonderland seems so much fun yet I’ve always seen it as ruthless. Also, everyone has a laugh at your expense!

5. Future America, Fahrenheit 451.
“A book is a loaded gun in the house next door…Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?”

Do you need any other reason to fear this world apart from their hate of books? It’s one of those scenarios that feels too close for comfort.

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6. Republic of Gilead, Handmaid’s Tale.
“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”  

And talking about a possible future. For me, scarier than a government-controlled world, is a religion-controlled world. Is what’s done today to women in the name of religion and morals that different from what’s done in Gilead?

7. Earth, The Windup Girl.
“We are nature. Our every tinkering is nature, our every biological striving. We are what we are, and the world is ours. We are its gods. Your only difficulty is your unwillingness to unleash your potential fully upon it.” 

This one really brought home what raising oceans really means, in practical terms. It’s also a future full of deadly plagues caused by GMOs and mutant pests and viruses. Basically, the (eco-)system is breaking down. 

The book is set in a Bangkok below sea level, protected by a complex system of levees and pumps. I read it while in Thailand and let me tell you, I could almost feel the threat. I don’t know how the Dutch do it.

8. Libria (Equilibrium,the movie)
“Happiness is the most insidious prison of all.”

Equilibrium is very similar to 1984, but here even war was eradicated. Everything that’s negative no longer exists, as well as its possible sources: love, friendship, humor. With a little help from artificial emotion-suppressors, humans are now perfectly content machines.

9. Earth, Never Let Me Go.
“We took away your art because we thought it would reveal your souls. Or to put it more finely, we did it to prove you had souls at all.” 

It’s not so much the twist that’s scary as the peacefulness and niceness of this future. People and gentle and care about you and your well-being. It’s all for the greater good. *shiver*

10. Earth, The Lottery.

I know everyone will include Panem in their list, but before Panem, even before Battle Royal, there was Shirley Jackson’s 1948 short-story (A chilling tale of conformity gone mad.“). Its realism beats anything similar out there.

From TTT’s Central: “if you could make authors write about these things you would. Could be a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a time period, a certain plot, etc.

For each of these, recommendations are welcome!

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1. Historical Fiction set outside the US, Central Europe and Russia

… as I have the feeling only about 10% of them do. Or at least the ones that cross my path. What a breath of fresh air Dunnett’s Scales of Gold was, set in 15th century Timbuktu.

2. Novels set in Istanbul/Constantinople/Byzantium

I have a fascination with the city. Here’s my Istanbul bookshelf on Goodreads.

3. Novels set in Brussels

When I first moved here I looked for books in English set in the city and didn’t find many. Everyone always recommends the same ones: Brontë’s Villette, Chevalier’s The Lady and the Unicorn and a couple of Poirots.

4. Portuguese Discovery Period seen from the POV of Africans and Asians

The Discovery Period was an interesting time that encapsulated the best and worst of Portuguese history: an ode to human spirit and bravery, but it also marked the beginning of globalized slavery and colonialism (the best of times and the worst of times?).

I’ve only started reading about Portuguese history as seen from foreign eyes in the last 10 years or so. Until then, most of what I knew had the official sugar-coat of history classes.

5. Fiction about the Silk Road

Another source of fascination, especially after last years’ visit to Uzbekistan. I’ve looked around and there’s not much available. Do you know of any books about it? Non-fiction recommendations are also welcome, but a good historical fiction would be amazing!

Ad infinitum

In general, more books about all the stuff I’m curious about, including:

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I know this week’s TTT is about Debuts, but I had nothing to put on that list, so I’m cheating and making the post about general releases.

I’m that rare breed of book bloggers who don’t really care about recent releases. I think it’s a mix 1) not being an early adopter of anything, 2) having a soft-spot for delayed gratification and 3) being a reserve-judgement-on-a-book-by-book-basis reader instead of a hard-core-author-fangirl.

I’ve only stayed in line to buy the new Harry Potters and there aren’t a lot of living writers that would get me to make an pre-order or buy their fresh-of-the press hardbacks. I can immediately think of George RR Martin, Hilary Mantel, Scott Lynch, Guy Gavriel Kay (I’m ignoring Isobel), and I want Edmund de Waal’s book about the color white yesterday.

Instead, I prefer to get a feeling for the General Opinion before trying new books. Some friends and fellow bloggers’ opinions are especially valuable, as well as GoodReads’ rating, although that’s more often a hit or miss.

So it was a challenge to put together this list. Even after a lot of research I’ve only found six books that would tempt me to read them within, say, a couple of months of their releases.

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Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen (January)
My ultimate comfort read. My experience with Addison Allen has been flawless. Even the books that weren’t in the same league as Garden Spell still left me with a smile on my face and a perfect blood-pressure score.

The Caller (Shadowfell 3) by Juliet Marillier (March)
Marillier is my Addison Allen of fantasy. I’d prefer it if it was one the Wildwood series, but won’t complain too much…

Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) by  Rachel Hartman (April)
Seraphina was one of the best of 2012 and I’ve recommended it left and right. I’m sure the book blogosphere will explode in April.

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (April)
And talking about books I recommend, Room would probably top the list. This is the 2014 release I’m more afraid of… please let it be a good one!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (May)
We Were Liars already has a buzz, which is not surprising considering the way the internet loves The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I haven’t been tempted to pick up any of Lockhart’s other books until I read the synopsis of this one.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (September)
I’ve skipped Black Swan Green and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (why? no idea. They’re his non-sci-fi novels and gut feeling/experience/reviews told me I wouldn’t find them spectacular), but have a good feeling about this one:  “the story of Holly Sykes, who runs away from home in 1984 and 60 years later can be found in the far west of Ireland, raising a granddaughter as the world’s climate collapses.” (The Bookseller)

I think that percentage-wise, I gave 4 starts to a record number of books this year: 40 out of 54! This should be great news and make 2013 a success, but I only gave 5 stars to 4 books (one of them a re-read) and realized it’s actually the 5-stars that make or break my reading year.

So I’m declaring 2013 A Good, But Not Great reading year.

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To Lie with Lions (House of Niccoló, #6) by Dorothy Dunnett

Surprise, surprise! Dunnett has been on my best-of-year list ever since I discovered her back in 2009. After To Lie with Lions, I’m only left with the last two of the Niccoló Series and her stand-along, King Hereafter. Then no more of Dunnett’s historical fiction to read for the first time. What will I do with my life?! I might have to immediately start re-reading.

A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

My bookclub always chooses a chunker for summer and this year, for obvious reasons, we went with this one. I always measure how much I enjoy a non-fiction book by the amount to hours I spend on Wikipedia because of it. This might have been a record.

It also gave me a great insight into all the discussions when Mandela passed (RIP Madiba!).

Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell, #2) by Hilary Mantel

From page 1 – oh that description of the falcons flying! – you know Mantel is in a league apart.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (re-reading)

My 5th time around, still genius.

 

Out of my 4 stars, there are eight that deserve a mention. Let’s call them the 4.5s:

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The First Global Village: How Portugal Changed The World by Martin Page

Reading almost exclusively in English means I know more about American and British history than that of my motherland. This book was a great way to remedy that. I thought it would only focus on the Discovery period but instead I got an overview of Portuguese history from pre-historic settlements to the Carnation Revolution of 1974. And because Page is not Portuguese, he refreshingly goes about myth-busting old dogmas and tackling parts of history often neglected by the school system, like the Muslim occupation between the 8th and 13th century.

A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen’s Thief, #4) by Megan Whalen Turner

I’m hard pressed to remember why I didn’t give it a full 5, but I’m trusting my past-self and keep the 4. It was probably because I read it close to the previous one in the series, which was so amazing that anything would lose by comparison.

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting by Mei-Ling Hopgood

I’m very curious about parenting difference across cultures and this book was exactly what I was looking for. Hopgood insights include Argentinian sleeping habits, Chinese potty-training and Kenyan baby-transport. Fascinating stuff – really!

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

I know all these French-do-it-better books are now bordering on the annoying, but this one hit a cord because I recognized my own education in it. Some of the “technics” Druckerman speaks of are so natural that I was surprise they surprised her. It was like seeing my childhood through the eyes of a stranger. It also gave me a new found respect for my parents.

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Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

It was a comment by Amy here on the blog that led me to buy Where the Sidewalk Ends and then straight away all of Silverstein’s other books. What a find!

Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe by Nancy Goldstone

This is the type of non-fiction that reads like fiction. There were several moments in the lives of these sisters that seemed straight out of the pinkest of romances or the most violent of HBO series. Highly recommended for all history-buffs.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Madeline Miller (audio)

My advice: go into this book without knowing anything about it. Enjoy the growing sense of unease.

O Retorno by Maria Dulce Cardoso

I’ve difficulty finding Portuguese books I really enjoy 😦 Probably a prejudice of mine, but I’ve the feeling my choices are always between light-weight historical fiction and the heavy-weight post-modern, stream of consciousness, experimental novel. O Retorno (The Return, about a Portuguese family that returns to Portugal from Angola after the end of the Colonial War) was a find and deserves all the praise it’s getting. The best Portuguese book I’ve read in a long time.

Happy 2014 readings!

Have you ever feared that, while publishing yet another edition of a popular classic, a tiny part of the text is deleted/changed and no one notices? And that that mistake is replicated in yet another e- or paper-edition, like a game of Chinese whispers?

What’s the most reliable digital source of a classic? Is there a central organization that holds a version taken by academics from the author’s own papers that becomes the basis for all editions thereafter? Something similar to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France that holds the prototype meter bar and kilo?

The things that keep me awake at night…

But you know what they say: just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean they’re not really after you. And I’ve found proof there are differences between editions of our beloved classics. Pride and Prejudice none the less!

For my birthday this year I received four beautiful editions of P&P: one in Chinese and one in French for my collection and two in English: an illustrated edition by the Collector’s Library and a gorgeous pink “faux leather” Canterbury Classics edition.

Here’s what I found in this last one:

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(Canterbury Classics edition)

What are young men to rocks and mountains?

If you’re a Janeite you’ll see immediately a word that doesn’t belong. It should simply be “What are men to rocks and mountains?” I probably would never noticed if it hadn’t happen in such a famous sentence.

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(Collector’s Library edition)

This makes me ask a lot of questions: how many of these go unnoticed? Who decided to add that word and why? Did he/she feel that older men should be excluded from the comparison? “Let me make it better”?

I have to admit it’s pretty fascinating the thought of someone out there tweaking the classics. Like something out of a Saramago novel. Reminds me of the Spanish lady who “restored” the 19th century church painting. Like many others, one day I’ll make a big detour just to admire her art work.

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I’m back to work after 7 months and my day routine has some resemblance to what it was, so I’m finally feeling grounded enough to re-start blogging (and commenting as well).

During my hiatus I’ve actually read much more than I expected (26 books – uuUUUuuu), but I’m going for a clean slate and talk only talk about books I’ll read from now on. No pressure that way.

Still, for posterity, here are some random thoughts about the past reading period:

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  • Hurrah, I’ve discovery Shel Silverstein!
  • What Mothers Do: especially when it looks like nothing took a chuck of weight off my shoulders when I read it two months into my maternity leave. It should be required reading, but there’s a conundrum: at the time when it would be a real life-saver (a few weeks after birth) most mothers don’t have the brain power to pick up a book and if they’d read it before the baby was born or long afterwards it would lose part of the impact. The solution might be to condense it into a 5-minute video.
  • Confession: The Lightning Thief was the first book I’ve read after seeing the movie and though it was better than the movie (e.g. I’d vote for The Painted Veil’s movie over the book anytime).
  • I’ve already had proof that being a new mom will change how books affect me. The first was with Dan Simmons’ Hyperion. I don’t want to spoil it, but just to say that “The River Lethe’s Taste is Bitter” part of the book haunted me for weeks. Another example was while listening to The Moral Landscape. At some point Sam Harris reads a quote from a psychopath describing how he tortured his stepson. I think something that horrible would always affect me, but not with the violence it did, physically. Still, it was such an interesting book, and one I’ll need to re-read soon.
  • The Enchanted April was a disappointment (not bad, just meh) after the amazing Elizabeth and Her German Garden, but I’m determined to persevere with von Arnim. Christopher and Columbus is up next.
  • How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting (from Argentina to Tanzania and everywhere in between) by Mei-Ling Hopgood is my favorite parenting book so far. I’m fascinated by parenting across cultures.

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  • Maria Dulce Cardoso’s O Retono, was the best Portuguese book I’ve read in a long, long time. I need to recommend it to everyone there. Reminded me of Jorge Amado at its best.
  • I’m afraid I’m not as enthusiastic about Code Name Verity as some (most?) book bloggers. A bit predictable, very contrived.
  • To Lie with Lions (The House of Niccolo, #6) by Dorothy Dunnett is the highlight the year so far. Please stop me when you’re tired of hearing me pray at her altar praise her.
  • Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom was also fantastic. Such a page-turner.
  • Oh The Master and Margarita, I tried, swear I did. Oh The Historian, I also tried… although not very hard. Sorry it didn’t work out between us.
  • The Pleasant Surprise Award is a tie between Where’d You Go, Bernadette and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (should have saved it for Halloween!).

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So I bought my first parenting book. For someone who loves reading so much I’m not reading anything about pregnancy: I browsed through What to Expect When You’re Expecting and The Best Friends’ Guide to Pregnancy, but mostly my partner just gives me the highlights. He’s the one keen on knowing all the details. For me, between pre-natal classes, doctor’s appointments and conversations with friends I feel I’ve all the information I need without stressing about everything that can happen.

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But parenting is much more intellectually appealing. I don’t mean the technical details about schedules, potty-training and feeding, but the ones about raising happy, honest, confident, connected, fulfilled people.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot, mostly about how I was raised, what I’d try to copy, what I’d change, and the kind of parent I’d like to be. I try not to think too much about the person I’d like my son to be because it might be unfair to him (although we got excited about raising an Olympic champion during the Games… and what if – gasp! – he’s not A Reader?!).

I am curious about all the theories out there but also don’t want to read too many parenting books. I know the conflicting information can be daunting. Some titles however, are impossible to resist, like How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.

Paul Tough set out to bust the myth that

(…) success today depends primarily on cognitive skills — the kind of intelligence that gets measured on I.Q. tests, including the abilities to recognize letters and words, to calculate, to detect patterns — and that the best way to develop these skills is to practice them as much as possible, beginning as early as possible.

and replace it with the notion that

(…) noncognitive skills, like persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence, are more crucial than sheer brainpower to achieving success.

I first heard about it in a forgotten list of 2012 notable books and the premise really struck a chord as my experience also tells me that IQ is overrated. I haven’t read the book yet, but I hope that with “success” Tough means much more than financial or career paths, which my experience also tells me is only a part of the success equation.
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I’m also oddly attracted to all the culture-specific books, like Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother or the French-loving ones such as French Children Don’t Throw Food and Bringing Up Bébé (interesting article Why the French don’t need parenting books).

This probably happens because I live in a very international environment, with lots of double-nationality babies and different ways of raising them. One of the most popular conversation subjects in Brussels is how to best raise a bi-, tri- or tetra-lingual baby (e.g. Portuguese mom and Polish dad who speak English among themselves, kid in a French- or Dutch-speaking nursery).

It’s all fascinating, although I have the feeling that gut-feeling, pure instinct (and maybe trial-and-error?) will put all theories in a corner when push comes to shove.

Do you have any favorite parenting book? I’d be really interested in your input!

This year I gave 5/5 stars to only eights books, which is almost half of 2011’s 14. Apparently not a very good year, but I’ve the feeling there’s more 4/5 and less “mehs”. I’ll only know for sure when I put together my usual geekish post with all the stats, facts & figures.

As last year and the year before, Dorothy Dunnett and Patrick O’Brian make a mark. These are my most reliable authors and I’m making both the House of Niccolo and the Aubrey/Maturin series last as much as possible, only to be picked up when a sure win is needed.

Two in list are re-reads, which really supports my decision to do more of those in 2012. Three are fantasy, three historical and, a big surprise for me, two are short-stories.

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Tigana de Guy Gavriel Kay (re-read, audio)

Probably my favorite stand-alone fantasy novel of all time and this time around the experience was enhanced by the voice of Simon Vance. It was as intricate, emotional and beautiful as I remembered.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (re-read, audio)

Another great re-read, also in audio version read by one of my favorite narrators, Davina Porter. The most fascinating thing about this experience was to compare what I focused on 15 years ago and now. Must re-read it again in another 15.

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

One of the big surprises of the year. I was completely hooked by these stories about the employees of an English newspaper based in Rome. Thank you bookclub!

The King of Attolia (The Queen’s Thief #3) by Megan Whalen Turner

I was enjoying the series, but this one made me a card-carrying fan. The book is an ode to clever plotting and I loved every line of it.

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Tea with Mr. Rochester by Frances Towers

The surprise of the year. I can’t tell you how touched I was by this collection of short-stories. There’s a wonderful contrast between the small and enclosed places where the stories happen and the deep and mysterious inner lives of the characters. I’m surprised it’s not a more popular Persephone.

H.M.S. Surprise (Aubrey/Maturin #3) by Patrick O’Brian

Best of the series so far. Can it get better?!

Scales of Gold (House of Niccolo #4) and The Unicorn Hunt (House of Niccolo #5) by Dorothy Dunnett

If I had to choose the best of the best of 2012 it would have to be Scales of Gold. This adventure though deep Africa of the 15th century ticked all my boxes. The Unicorn Hunt was also very good, but possibly my least favorite of the series so far. It says something about DD that even the least good is still good enough to make it to the top list, right?

Honorable mentions

  • Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman (audio) – I’m still unsure if this is a 5/5 or not.
  • Gone Girl by Gillian FLynn
  • Polina by Bastien Vivers (graphic novel)
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (non-fiction, audio)
  • The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

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First a little disclaimer: this was an unusual year for me, mostly because my father was sick most of it and finally passed away only two months after I became pregnant. Apart from how those two events affected everything else, they affected my reading a great deal. We recently moved to a new (and more baby-friendly) apartment, which also disrupted my reading routine.

All this to say that my attention spam for part of the year was probably at a 4-year-old level and my tolerance for sad stories almost non-existent. I suspect most of the books in this list are a “it’s not you, it’s me” thing and mostly a question of bad timing.

thedovekeepersThe Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

How can a book about something as dramatic as the Masada massacre be so… bland? Only managed to read the first narrator’s chapter but her continuous winning and complaining were driving me nuts. The guilt, the pathos… the SIN! O.O

I found this great quote on an Amazon review that sums up my feelings:

It seems like Hoffman could never have her character say something simple like “I was tired”. No, it had to be, “I was tired like the grasshopper is tired after the month of eating has passed and it has morphed into a cocoon of a demon, which my Mother had foreseen in her dreams and which would define my destiny.”

And the repetition. Yes, life in the desert is hard and dull, but jeeez… I kept thinking about the amazing things Dorothy Dunnett did with the same setting in Scales of Gold.

Uma-Casa-na-Escuridão1Uma Casa na Escuridão by José Luís Peixoto

José Luís Peixoto is one of the golden children of modern Portuguese literature and this was my first book by him. I was warned about how dark, sad and depressing it was, but I still wasn’t ready for the experience.

Sometimes I think that Anglo-Saxon literature has ruined me for Portuguese books. When I go back to Lisbon I’ve the feeling that all best-sellers are either by the melancholic authors who love to dwell on the inescapable misery of the human condition or pink historical novels loosely based on true events.

I really need to do more research about what’s around – 2013 was supposed to be my Back to My Literary Roots Year, but with the baby coming who knows how much reading time I’ll have?

TheNavysWar1812_large1812: The Navy’s War by George C. Daughan

One of book in the History category of the Armchair Audies. The book was clearly well researched by a naval historian in love with his field of expertise, and I’m sure anything of importance about America’s first great naval war was there, but my attention wandered off once too many times while listening to it the hospital’s waiting room.

There were almost none of the personal histories that I so love in historical non-fiction, Daughan focusing instead on political and military macro-strategies.

It’s not you, it’s me!

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five-red-herringsFive Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers

May Sayers forgive me, but I just couldn’t finish this. I tried to labor though all the mind-boggling permutations of Scotland’s train schedules (swear I did!), but admitted defeat half-way through.

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jamrachs-menagerieJamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

I so wanted to love this one. Seemed right up my alley. I was already well into it when I realized that I preferred doing things like organize my DVD collection or pay bills than go back to it. Maybe some other time?

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m.dobbsMaisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Another I thought I’d love, but alas, we didn’t click. Not even sure why, after all these months.

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There were also books that don’t really belong to this list because I only allowed them about 15 pages before deciding they weren’t what I needed at the time. I’m determined to give most of them a second chance:

  • The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente and Ana Juan
  • Vernon God Little by D.B.C. Pierre
  • The Charioteer by Mary Renault
  • Whitefire Crossing by Courtney Schafer
  • Mayombe by Pepetela

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