2011 reading roundup

I guess it’s that time of new year again, and anyway it’s late and I have to go to work tomorrow, so what better way to continue with my denial?

Books read

126 according to my list, but I know I didn’t finish Lanark and I didn’t get anywhere with Family Britain so make that 124. That’s about average for me, but now that I look back that was one hell of a lazy reading year because there was a lot of comfort reading going on. And I definitely lose points for December when most of what I read was a re-read or a trash read during the Lost Days of the Cold. On the other hand, I would have been watching crap TV were such a thing possible, but because I live here where each downloaded byte is delivered by an individual pigeon, I had to be sick without access to junk telly. So, I get my points back again. Ok, then. I’m glad we had that little discussion. On with the random categories…


Amidst all the fluff (*cough* Eugenides *cough*), I did read a lot of good stuff this year. Once again, Persephone Books came up with the goods and two of my standouts are from them. Faber Finds get grudging marks too: despite the fact that their books are both horrible and expensive, at least some interesting titles are getting back into print. Slightly Foxed recommends them, Faber Finds PODs them. It’s the long tail of publishing, folks, happening live! (Which reminds me, what the hell have I done with Maurice Baring’s Something to Declare?)

  • Midsummer Night at the Workhouse – Diana Athill. Stories that ring clear as a bell.
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan. And a big ‘Thank you’ to zoesmom for that, it was a birthday present. You know when books get loads of hype and you don’t believe it and then you read it and it deserves the hype? That.
  • The Tiny Wife – Andrew Kauffman. You would not believe a slim book could contain so much. It’s magical.
  • The Expendable Man – Dorothy B Hughes. A thriller with a real twist.


I’m sorry to put Ian Rankin in this category, but I’m just not loving Malcolm Fox. Maybe I need to take longer to get over Rebus. He may take comfort from the fact that my disappointment is less than with the titles listed below:

  • Room – Emma Donoghue. Are you kidding me? It was terrible. As I said at the time, read Forgetting Zoe instead, which did the same thing only immeasurably better.
  • The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern. You know when books get loads of hype and you don’t believe it, and then you read it and you wonder if you’re actually reading the same book that generated all the hype? That. It just stayed dead on the page for me and then whimpered out.
  • Conference at Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons. Although beautifully packaged by Vintage in their Classics edition, I think Stella was being self-indulgent with this one. I’m now too wary to try Christmas at Cold Comfort.

Best new detective series discovered

This year, I ran out of John Harvey’s Resnick books. I tried Veronica Stallwood’s series, but it was so meh I abandoned it at book two. I keep thinking I’ll try Jo Nesbo, but then there are comparisons with Larsson on the cover and I throw them from me in aversion. So, Mark Billingham was in the lead here, until a late entry from Susan Hill with DCI Simon Serrailler. Particularly The Various Haunts of Men. 

Best Boy’s Own Style Adventure

Bulldog Drummond was a gift from Mr W and led me to track down Tiny Carteret all on my very own. Stick with the original Drummond is my advice.

Bulldog Drummond – Sapper. Fightin’ the master criminal and lookin’ after the little woman, don’t you know, there goes Drummond with his chums. And look! they’ve cracked that ghastly Commie on the head and broken his dirty neck so that the citizens of Blighty can sleep safe in their beds.

Most depressing read

Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting – Penelope Mortimer. Which I wrote about already here. So well written, but ZOMG, to be followed by something with a pastel and gold-embossed cover for the sake of your own happiness. Whatever you do, don’t read this immediately before or after Revolutionary Road.

Reading resolutions, sort of

  • Less laziness. I think I should take a Georgette Heyer break for a while (unless I get sick again in which case it’s straight back to The Grand Sophy). Also, I must break weaken my dependency on detective fiction.
  • Proust vol 3. I don’t know why I am stalled on this one, but I am. I must and will get through it. Mr W is skipping through his eleventeeth go-round of Proust like a lamb through a spring meadow and I am limping through my first like a pathetic loser lost in Loserville.
  • Finish up the Palliser chronicles. Only The Duke’s Children left to go, and I could have sworn I had a copy but I can’t find it. This is only one of the reasons why I must put my books in alpha order.
  • Continue with the oldies but goodies. I foresee that Persephone, Faber and Vintage will continue to part me from my dosh; in fact, I know that the Vintage Classics edition of Diary of a Nobody is on its way at this very moment.
  • Erm, support my local bookshops. Both the Woodstock bookshop and Jaffe & Neale in Chippy are lovely and great for browsing when I’m not chasing my next instant fix and don’t have anything particular in mind.

Onwards with the reading, y’all!



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I've run out of books. Again.

4 thoughts on “2011 reading roundup”

  1. I have to completely agree with you on The Night Circus. I was cautiously optimistic because it did sound like the sort of story I would enjoy but it definitely fell flat for me. Good luck with your resolutions! I’ve also got a goal similar to ‘less laziness’; I, er, had a bad last six months of reading in 2011 😛 Hopefully this year goes better.

  2. Reno – Thanks, and good luck with this year’s reading!
    Richard – Thanks for stopping by, and I’m delighted there’s been a redesign. In fact, I had ordered ‘Blindfold Games’ by Alan Ross already, so I’ve not been judging based entirely on the cover…

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