My Reading Year in Review

Never have I had a year in which I left more books abandoned than in 2019. Whether it was because my attention span was rattled, or the writing was disappointing to me, I cannot tell. But, the list of abandoned books stretched from June through October:

  • Trust Exercises by Susan Choi
  • The Priory of The Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
  • The Fall by Neal Stephenson
  • Isla Berta by Javier Marias
  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (I know! I could not finish the co-winner of the Man Booker Prize this year! I appreciate her early works, particularly Cat’s Eye and The Robber Bride, so much more…)

What was successful were these reading events which enriched my year so much:

  • Spanish Lit Month (hosted by Stu)
  • Paris in July (hosted by Tamara)
  • R.I.P. XIV (review site here)
  • German Lit Month (hosted by Caroline and Lizzy)
  • Daphne Du Maurier Week (hosted by Heavenali)
  • Moby Dick read-along (hosted by Brona)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop read-along (hosted by Nick)
  • The Man Booker International Prize Shadow Jury (led by Tony)
  • The 1960 Club and The 1930 Club (hosted by Simon and Kaggsy)
  • Boekenweek with World Editions, celebrating Dutch and Flemish literature
  • My own Japanese Literature Challenge 12 (reviews can be found here)

And now for some stats for the number of books read this year. Of a small total of only 61 books read, here are the languages for which I read books in translation:

  1. Korean: (1 book)
  2. Swedish: (1 book)
  3. Polish: (1 book)
  4. Norwegian: (1 book)
  5. Chinese: (1 book)
  6. Hungarian: (1 book)
  7. Arabic: (2 books)
  8. German: (2 books)
  9. French: (3 books)
  10. Dutch: (4 books)
  11. Spanish: (5 books)
  12. Japanese: (10 books)

My Ten Favorite Books of The Year are:

I want to extend thanks to the following publishers who sent me books to review this year, their sites are worthy places to wallow within:

As we anticipate the joys that 2020 will bring, I want to remind you of the invitation for the Japanese Literature Challenge 13 which is open to all. The only “requirement” is to read one book which has been translated from Japanese. There will be a special place to leave links on the review page which will be published here on January 1, 2020.

I look forward with great anticipation to reading and sharing books with you in the year to come. What a privilege it is to share our love of literature together.

Blessings, Meredith

13 thoughts on “My Reading Year in Review”

  1. Meredith,
    I was perusing your year end list and Four Soldiers caught my attention. I read that book last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Another reason it resonated with me was that we had just watched They Shall Not Grow Old. While watching that movie Mingarelli’s profound book about the horror and absolutely depravity of war was visualized for me. While both were awful I do fall down on the side of knowing history to hopefully make our way to the future less painful .


    1. War themes are so very hard for me to read. I read Anne Frank’s Diary as an 8 year old, when my parents took me through her Secret Annex in Amsterdam. The Narrow Road to The Deep North was a harrowing read. But, while, The Four Soldiers has the outcome one would expect, what touched me so deeply about that little novel was the comradeship they shared together. Humbert Mingarelli portrayed their story with such tenderness that I was deeply moved more than horrified. I thought it was very beautifully done.

      I like what you said about knowing history to make our future less painful very much. So good to hear from you, as always.


  2. It’s such a pity that you couldn’t finish The Testaments and The Priory of the Orange Tree. I haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale just yet, so I’m holding off Testaments for now, but I’d read an excerpt of Priory and it seemed quite promising.
    At least you managed to read quite a lot of wonderful books and from so many different countries! Really glad to see Territory of Light and Travelling Cat up there in your list 🙂
    I wish you a Merry Christmas and lovely holidays, and I’m looking forward to all the bookish goodness that awaits in 2020!


    1. The popularity of The Handmaid’s Tale, in my opinion, is in direct relation to the political climate we are now in, one of feminism and anti-authority. I have little patience for the popular liberal viewpoints today, and even less for dystopia fiction, so The Testaments did not work for me. Although I was intrigued, a bit, I am so crazy about Atwood’s early writing that everything since Oryx and Crake has disappointed me.

      I am so glad to see you return for the JLC3, Akylina. Thank you for your faithful visits and comments here.


  3. I’m slowly getting more comfortable with abandoning books before I’ve finished. Its helping get the TBR down – I pick up a book Ive had for a long while but am uncertain I really want to read it, read at least a chapter and on that basis make a decision. It gets easier the more you do it….


    1. I used to feel ashamed about laying a book down unfinished. Now, when I start something deemed “popular”, I am so often put off by the content or the poor quality of writing. (It’s hard to read these beautiful books in translation, and then be content with best seller lists.) I agree with you; it gets easier the more you do it. I just don’t want to spend the time finishing a book that isn’t speaking to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great reading year! I am so glad you are hosting the Japanese Literature Challenge again. I missed it last year but hopefully will join in this year.


  5. I don’t believe 61 books is a small amount, especially given the length of a few of those you read. My husband will be pleased that Moby Dick (his favorite novel) made your Top Ten list. I’ve tried, but have never made it through that book. Good for you! I will begin my year in review this coming week. I enjoyed many books, but nothing comes to mind as my favorite of the year. I’m still searching for something that will knock me over the way A Gentleman in Moscow did a few years ago.


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