A Year in Books

2009's tally: 38 books. Not a patch on previous years (in particular the year of university degree and thus long-term unemployment) but a respectable amount nonetheless. However, sixteen of those books were fluffy Regency novels by one Ms Georgette Heyer, so I am slightly ashamed of myself. On the plus side, I managed to read some books I had been meaning to read for a long time..

Good reads: I discovered Andrew Crumey and I look forward to more books by him. Moebius Dick was my favourite out of the three Crumey novels I read in 2009. AS Byatt's The Children's Book was incredibly satisfying and I re-read the last twenty-five pages twice before finally closing the book. I finally read Donna Tartt's The Secret History and while I continue to struggle with North-American fiction (Atwood notwithstanding - long story) and I had a few quibbles with certain subplots, I enjoyed the read. The best read of the year was undoubtedly Michel Faber's Under the Skin. It was one of those "nasty little books" I love so much. An incredibly well-written, tightly plotted and genre-defying novel I know I will be revisiting in years to come. It's not often I find a new favourite read.

Uneven reads: I read Adam Roberts' Yellow Blue Tibia this holiday season and I wanted to love it. Its premise sounds like something I would like - Soviet Union, science fiction writers and the possibility of multiple realities - but I ended up being disappointed. Roberts' writing is sloppy (as is the editing), the tone is uneven and the book does not live up to its premise until fifty pages from the end when you get the feeling Roberts is finally writing the book he wants to write. I was very unimpressive with a running gag about a man with Asperger's Syndrome which was wholly unnecessary to the plot and jarred badly. Still, the last fifty pages or so redeemed the book from being merely a bad read. It was an uneven and occasionally interesting read. Flann O'Brien's minor classic The Dalkey Archive was also a comedic read but a more successful one. I was not entirely enthralled by it, though, but I am glad I finally read it. Junot Diaz' Oscar Wao was another book I thought I would love more than I did. I am still not sure why it did not work for me and it continues to nag me.

Bad reads: I really didn't like Ross Raisin's God's Own Country. It read like Raisin had read Iain Banks' vastly superior The Wasp Factory and felt the book needed sheep. Audrey Niffenegger's much-hyped The Time-Traveller's Wife was a huge disappointment to me. I thought it would be a genre-hopping, intelligent novel and instead it was chick-lit in disguise. Honestly, if I wanted romance or sheep-herding, I'd be reading Georgette Heyer. Wait a sec..

Goal for 2010: reading fewer Georgette Heyers, reading more from the unread pile(s), get hold of the latest books by Margaret Atwood and Colm Toibin.