A Year In Books Timeline

January marked the beginning of the Japanese Literature Challenge 8.  It is rather unbelievable to me that I have been blogging for eight years, as well as hosting this challenge. It was the beginning of my passion for books in translation.

February‘s best read was The Dinner by Herman Koch, showing me that children behaving badly can only be expected when their parents behave worse.

March was the beginning of my reading as a member of the IFFP Shadow Jury, which comprised some of my favorite titles of the year. During this month I read The Infatuations by Javier Marias, The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke, The Dark Road by Ma Jian, Back to Back by Julia Franck, and Ten by Andrej Longo. My favorite books in translation this month were the first two of the list.

April held my favorite of all the books read for the IFFP: The Sorrow of Angels by Jon Kalman Stefansson. It also held one of the most disappointing books I read in 2014, which was The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair. I found it so unbelievably contrived and naive that I didn’t even bother to review it.

May was the month where I read another book I loathed, this one more than any all year. It was The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim, and to my great surprise, it won the IFFP for 2014.

June held Edward St. Aubyn’s hilarious novel, Lost for Wordswhich couldn’t have been better received after the disappointment in May. No one writes satire like Edward St. Aubyn, and I found his mocking of literary prizes most apt. June also was Angela Carter Month, the first time I ever read her writing. I loved Bluebeard, which I would not have read had it not been for the event which Caroline and Delia hosted.

July marked Paris in July, for which I was so pleased to be one of the four co-hosts along with Tamara, Karen, and Adriana. It provided me with a chance to go down memory lane, from the time I was in Paris as a child and wondered at the French affection for the Arc de Triomphe, to 2001 when I bought my wedding dress at one of the grand magasins. I also read a fabulous collection of memoirs set in Paris called Paris Was Ours by Penelope Knowland.

July also held Richard and Stu‘s Spanish Literature Month for which I read many titles. Never able to appreciate Roberto Bolano as others do, I was determined to find a Spanish writer to adore. Alas, the closest I came was Javier Marias.

August brought the long anticipated novel by Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage. While I enjoyed it very much, because I feel Murakami always puts words to loneliness and alienation which I can never quite articulate, it did not match my favorite books of his which would be Kafka on The Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

September is when school starts for me, and it is therefore a difficult month for me to get much reading done as I prepare for the arrival of my students. I attempted to read the shortlist for the Man Booker prize, but all I could manage was To Rise Again At a Decent Hour. It was one of the few contenders from an American writer; needless to say, Joshua Ferris did not win. Although, his writing is almost as acerbic as Edward St. Aubyn’s.

October was a revisit to a High School classic: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Although it is one of my son’s favorite novels ever, I found it much more meaningful as an adult than when I was 17. Which also holds true for other High School reads such as The Grapes of Wrath and anything Hemingway wrote.

November held German Literature Month, hosted by Caroline and Lizzy, during which I focused on Thomas Mann. I began with his novella, The Black Swan, and went on to probably his most popular book, BuddenbrooksThe later, at 700+ pages, didn’t leave a lot of time for other German authors, but I so want to read more of Deitrich Bonhoeffer in 2015.

December is now, the month of favorites brought to us by Estella’s Revenge, Traveling with T, and Girlxoxo. What fun it is to laugh and sing about all the books we’ve read this year. 

And, if you want numbers, here are a few breakdowns:

Total books read so far: 82

Percent of books in translation: 41% (34 books)

Reading challenges I participated in: 5  (The Japanese Literature Challenge 8, Angela Carter Week, Paris in July, Spanish Literature Month, and German Literature Month)

It was a glorious year, and while there are books I wanted to read as yet unread, I revel in the ones which I did.

(I’m looking forward to hearing about your year’s timeline, and you can find more timelines at Girlxoxo.)

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18 thoughts on “A Year In Books Timeline”

  1. You so make me want to read more books in translation! Reading the Month of Favorites posts is proving oddly helpful in shaping my 2015 reading goals post to come. There are definitely a few classics that I’d like to revisit as an adult to see how much different they are to an older me, as you mention in your October. There are others I’m more than happy to leave in the past. 😉

    Lovely timeline!

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    1. This month of favorites is not only fun to participate in, it’s giving all sorts of wonderful book suggestions! There are so many books I’ve seen this week that are completely new to me. I’m hoping that I can create some interest in what I’ve read as well.

      As for classics, all of the books I read in school are far better appreciated now that I’m grown up. Did you have a classic in mind that you’d like to start on?

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  2. Sounds like you had a fabulous year. I’ve read a few books in translation, but I don’t really keep track of numbers. I’ll have to check out some of the books you mentioned, too.

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    1. I try not to turn my reading into a numbers game (stats, percentages, etc), but I was curious to see how many books of 2014 were in translation. It’s become a bigger and bigger focus for me on this blog because of my ever increasing passion for it. This is a good month for finding a few favorites.

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  3. The Dinner is on my TBR list! And – I think I would love a satire about literary prizes…I have disliked so many award winners that I’ve started calling them Award Losers! I wish they’d start picking books that were actually enjoyable to read! Finally, Colorless Tsukuru made my timeline as well (I’m posting it tomorrow, couldn’t get my act together for today)…except I thought it didn’t come close to meeting the expectations created for me by 1Q84 😦

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    1. Award Losers! That’s hilarious! Who can understand how a book is chosen for a prize; I often think it’s completely political. I think that Tsukuru and 1Q84 are very different books. We see similar themes of Murakami’s, from loneliness and alienation, to sex, to train stations…but the lack of a parallel universe in Tsukuru automatically set it apart from many of his other books. Sometimes I like it when he writes more realistically; I feel I have a better chance of grasping what he wants to say.

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  4. What a fine year in reading you’ve had, Bellezza. Love the way you’ve chronicled your reads in a timeline. After reading about it on your blog, I read The Dinner, what an interesting surprise… I was hoping the film would come to my city but it didn’t. And, I’ve got a book ready for your next JLC. When will that be? Because, a film adaptation is coming out next year. The book? Silence by Shusaku Endo

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    1. The Japanese Literature Challenge has been running since June, and will end in January of 2015. So, there’s still time to read Endo. I’m crazy about his writing! Both Silence and A Wonderful Fool gave me much to examine in my own faith, and while I’m not Catholic (as I believe Endo was) his thoughts were quite profound to me. How do you find out about what’s coming in film? You are a veritable fount of information! xo

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      1. Bellezza,

        That’s good. I need to bring this to the top of my TBR list then, which is so long. You know I’m just passionate about the adaptation of books into films, so I get my info from the net by Googling and from the IMDb site. Silence is going to be a quality film I think, for it’s in good hands, directed by Martin Scorsese, with Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, and Adam Driver. All my faves. Also, the edition I just got from Amazon is a movie tie-in edition (yes, even before the movie comes out). I ordered this edition because I want to read the new forward included in there, written by Martin Scorsese (a Catholic).

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        1. Arti, we just have to talk about this book when you finish reading it, or the film comes out, or something. It is so powerful, and let me just say, I never want to be silent about my faith. May have the courage to speak when it’s required of me. But, I’ll say no more about it here, lest I reveal too much of the book.

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          1. Just finished Silence. Too many thoughts to just say in a comment. Maybe thru email some time other time. Too heavy to write about it now. I really like the English translation. Also, I’ve got my Top Ripples 2014 up. 🙂

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  5. This is a wonderful timeline, and also a great way to “sum up” your year in reading, at least in part. You have certainly had an excellent year of reading, Bellezza.

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  6. I suspect it looks better on the post than it felt in real life. The way it feels is, “There’s so much to read, and I’ve only read this much?” Of course, maybe that’s just the voice of someone easily dissatisfied with herself. 🙂

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  7. It seems you have a busy reading year!

    I read 2666 by Bolano in 2011: it took me nearly half the year but I’m happy have done it even if I can’t totally say why; maybe, the pleasure of achieving something. I plan to read The Savage Detectives in 2015.

    I’ve crossed Edward St Aubyn’s books several times these last two years and I’d like to read his Patrick Melrose series: your comment on the last book of the series gives me motivation! Unfortunately, my library could have ‘lost’ the book compiling the three first novels (Lost for Words is not already available – and maybe will never be). There is of course the French translations but it’s always the same: if I can have a book in its original version, the better it is. I hope the borrower of the three other books’ compilation will have a conscience in the end (the book should have come back a month ago: I’m a little concerned).

    I’ve never been interested in ‘Harry Québert, etc.’; it seems I’ve got it right.

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    1. I began January 2014 with 2666, and just could not finish past the first three “books”. There seemed so little point to carry on, as he just wandered all over the place to me. I’m so disoriented in his books, so lost in what he wants to say, that I can’t continue. The same happened to me with Savage Detectives. Neither of them grabbed my interest enough to pursue the maze he wove; I just didn’t care.

      The Patrick Melrose novels are a “must read” in my opinion. In fact, when I’m typing Edward St. Aubyn on the blog, I often accidentally write Patrick St. Aubyn, so real did the character seem to me. Perhaps part of it is that Edward and I are exactly the same age, and while he is far cleverer than I, I can relate to what he says on every level. Except for the substance abuse.

      Glad we agree on Harry Quebert. Yuck.

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  8. What a great year for you in reading and blogging. Thanks for sharing so many of those books with the rest of us. I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts and book reviews this year. 🙂 Happy Reading in 2015!

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