Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 In Review



2015 Reading Stats:

Number Of Books You Read: 50

Number of Re-Reads: 

Genre You Read The Most From: Classics

Best in Books


Best book you read in 2015: The Canterbury Tales.

Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn'tOn The Road by Jack Kerouac.  I had read his The Dharma Bums and just loved it, but On The Road simply didn't have the charm of the former.  It was a chronicle of a bunch of irresponsible young men getting drunk and stoned across America.  Just not for me.

Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read in 2015: In a good way, Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington.  I was a little fatigued with the slave narratives, but Washington, without anger or bitterness, presented such a balanced view of the issues, and a way for the people coming out of slavery to really move forward and feel like they were building useful lives for themselves.  He definitely goes on my hero list. 

Book you "pushed" the most people to read (and they did) in 2015:   Well, I'll say Beowulf because I hosted a read-along of it.  I had a great time; I hope everyone else did too!

Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel? Best Series Ender:  I read through Jane Austen's novels and was so pleased to revisit old favourites and finally read the two that I had never read before (Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion).  Pride and Prejudice remains one of my all-time favourites.  I also developed a new appreciation for both Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey.

Favorite new author you discovered in 2015:  Michel de Montaigne.  He is such a unique thinker and his writings are so personal that after you read a few of his essays, you feel like you're talking with an old friend (although one you conversely often argee and disagree with).  He's fabulous!

Best book from a genre you don't typically read/ out of your comfort zone:  Montaigne's Selected Essays.  I don't usually read essays, even though I want to read them.  Montaigne was a blast!  I can't wait to read more of him.

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year: Dracula.  We seek him here, we seek him there, we very-credulous-and-always-one-step-behind men seek him everywhere.  Is he in heaven or is he in hell?  That damn'd elusive Count Dracula!

Book you read in 2015 that you are most likley to reread next year: I will definitely read The Canterbury Tales again, but not next year.  

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015: Probably this Ignatius Press edition of Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.



Most memorable characters of 2015:  Michel de Montaigne (Selected Essays)Hamlet (Hamlet), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Confessions - the mould was broken when God made him), Beowulf (Beowulf) Basil Grant (The Club of Queer Trades), Gandhi (The Story of My Experiment With Truth)

Most beautifully written book read in 2015: The Forgotten Daughter.  I was truly blown away by Snedeker's writing.  Not only does she create a believable and vibrant setting, she brings to life the characters within it.  The true degradation and loss of liberty under slavery resonates in this book, yet without becoming maudlin.  An excellent read.

Most-thought provoking/ life-changing book of 2015: The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mohandas Gandhi

Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read: The Canterbury Tales

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2015: There were so many and this is perhaps not the favourite but it's a valuable one that springs quickly to mind: "...... Nature has given it (life) into our hands, trimmed with so many and such happy surrounding, that we have only ourselves to blame if we feel it a burden, and if we waste it unprofitably ......  And yet I am resigned to lose it without regret; but as a thing that is by its nature losable, not as if it were a troublesome burden ...... Not to hate the idea of death is properly becoming only in those who enjoy life .... I enjoy it doubly as much as others, for the measure of enjoyment depends upon the more or less attention we give to it .....  The shorter my possession of life, the fuller and deeper must I live it ...... Rather should we study, relish and ruminate it, in order to give adequate thanks to him who bestows it upon us."  ~~ Michel de Montaigne

Shortest/longest book you read in 2015: Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mary Rowlinson and The Christmas Child by Hesba Stretten (both 52 pgs.) & Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (676 pgs.) (although the longest would have been  Mein Kampf [710 pgs.] if I'd read the part about the National Socialist Movement)

Book that shocked you the most: Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.  It is astounding and more than a little unsettling that he grew to rule a nation. His delusional hatred of Jews and non-Arians was not cloaked at all.  It made me realize that if it could happen once, it could happened again.

OTP of the year: Every year I have to look up what OTP means.  Sigh!   ;-)  Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice!

Favorite non-romantic relationship: Pinocchio and Geppetto - very much a Prodigal Son story.  Otherwise the Little Women family.

Favorite book you read in 2015 from an author you've read previously: Price and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Notes From the Underground by Dostoyevsky

Best book you read in 2015 that you read based solely on a recommendation from someone else: The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.

Best world-building/most vivid setting you read this year: Hamlet by William Shakespeare.  I read it twice this year thanks to Hamlette's read-along!

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read: The Club of Queer Trades by G.K. Chesterton.  I just realized that I didn't read many fun books in 2015.  I'll have to rectify that next year!

Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2015: The Forgotten Daughter by Caroline Dale Snedecker.  Again it communicated the hopelessness of slavery while giving hope in another way.  Just excellent.

Hidden gem of the year:  The Brubury Tales by Frank Mundo.  I'm not a fan of modern fiction and I'd expected these tales to be definitely weaker versions of The Canterbury Tales, but I was absolutely blown away.  His poetic skill resonated throughout the stories and his insight into human nature was exemplary.  I will read this one again, for sure. 

Most unique book you read in 2015: The Journal of William T. Sturgis.  It was refreshing to see a man who acted with honesty and integrity towards the native people, yet also held them accountable to basic human behaviour.  Quite a man.

Book that made you the most mad: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.  I wanted to smack most of the characters.  

Your Blogging/Bookish Life


New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015:  We Went Outside and Saw The Stars (Keely reads the type of books I absolutely love and compiles thoughtful and insightful reviews) and Gently Mad  (Sharon reads a very eclectic panorama of books and her reviews are always thought-provoking)  I know that I've forgotten somebody .....

Favorite review that you wrote in 2015: Wow, this is tough.  I'm going to choose my Montaigne essay posts, of which there are three, plus an introduction.  These reviews took up an inordinate amount of time, but I'm glad that I have little snapshots of all the essays I read.

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog: Ooo, I don't know.  Perhaps my  Join the Beowulf Read-Along post where we had some discussion of translation and other fun Beowulf-related things. I didn't do many other survey-type posts this year. 

Best event that you participated in: The Hamlet Read-Along at The Edge of the Precipice.  I also enjoyed my Beowulf Read-Along, and my read with O of The Canterbury Tales was a blast.  It was so helpful to read her excellent posts as we read along.

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015:  Meeting new bloggers and responding to comments on my blog. 

Most popular post this year on your blog: My The Canterbury Tales/The Brubury Tales Project post with 371 views.  After that my Ecco Homo review at 311 views.  Honourable mentions go to Sonnet XXIX by Garcilaso de la Vega and Christianity and the Survival of Creation by Wendell Berry.  I was amazed at the top winners this year.  

Post you wished got a little more love:  This year I can't answer this question.  A number of posts that I was certain wouldn't be popular received tons of views, and my others had a good number of views as well, so I'm happy. :-)  

Best bookish discovery:  I was excited to purchase C.S. Lewis' English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, one of the Oxford History of English Literature volumes.  I also scored The Riverside Chaucer in a beautiful hardcover edition, but after I'd finished reading The Canterbury Tales.

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year: I completed Back to the Classics Challenge, Reading England Challenge, Jane Austen Project, The Canterbury Tales/The Brubury Tales Project and the Books in Translation Challenge.  I failed at The Pre-Printing Press Challenge, 52 Books in 52 Weeks (reached 50 books), my TBR Pile Challenge, reading only 9 of the 12 books I should have, and the Deal-Me-In Challenge.  I also hardly read any C.S. Lewis for that project, read only a couple of Shakespeare for my Shakespeare project and did not read any Trollope from my Barsetshire read.  Woe is me!

Looking Ahead

One book you didn't get to in 2015 but will be your number 1 priority in 2016: The History of Napoleon Buonaparte by John G. Lockhart.  Good grief, this is ridiculous!  I'm fascinated by Napoleon and I absolutely love this book, but I've been working on it for a couple of years and something else always takes my attention away from it.  I simply MUST finish it this year.

Book you are most anticipating for 2016 (non-debut): Metamorphoses by Ovid, and The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2016: The Last Chronicles of Barset by Anthony Trollope.  No, you're not seeing double from last year.  I'm leaving it here because I can't think of another book and I hope to get to Trollope in 2016, but knowing me and what I have planned, I can't see getting to the end of the series.  I also would like to read The Lord of the Rings, but I'm hesitant to make a commitment, as I have so many other books that I'm planning to read.

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2016: Keep up with my books!  Keep up with my posts!  It's my perpetual resolution and hope.

Wishing everyone happy reading days and lots of them in 2016!!


32 comments:

  1. You are going to love more Barsetshire! As soon as you get there. :)

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    1. I have loved Barsetshire already, I just don't seem to be able to stay there. Too many other shiny, interesting places to distract me.

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  2. Lots of inspiring reading this year, Cleo! Get that Napoleon read! :) Best wishes for the new year. xo

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    1. Thanks, Jillian. And yes, Napoleon here I come!

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  3. What a great wrap up and you've inspired me to pull Montaigne Essays off the shelves and actually read it this year. Cheers to a fabulous reading year and best wishes for a fun new year!

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    1. Hey Robin! I'm so happy that I've inspired you to read Montaigne! The good thing about reading him is that you can fit an essay in here and there. He really has some gems of wisdom and unique thought, and is often funny without intending to be. :-) I hope you have a wonderful reading year in 2016 too!

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  4. Thanks so much for mentioning me. You're too kind. I'll definitely be writing more reviews next year. This year was just such a mess. You read a lot of great books this year and you continue to inspire me!

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    1. Well, then we inspire each other! Usually whenever the book you're starting pops up on Goodreads I either have it on my shelves or add it right away. :-) I've noticed that your blog is more active and I hope you get some time to do some things that you want to do in 2016, instead of things that you're obligated to do. And I'm so looking forward to your Ancient Greek Reading challenge. I've already started to read some background material!

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  5. Time to close the last chapter of 2015.
    Impressive list, many hours well spent!
    Spenser and Ovid are waiting for you in 2106!
    Good luck and happy New Year!

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    1. Yes, 2015 is nearly done and I've finished off well with my reading in preparation for 2016. I'm really looking forward to watching you plow through your reading list for 2016. You have some wonderful choices!

      Happy New Year to you too, Nancy!

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  6. Great list. I'm always happy to find others that don't love On the Road. Have a blessed New Year!

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    1. I found On The Road terrible but The Dharma Bums was great, so perhaps give it a try.

      Many blessings for the New Year and all the best in reaching your goal of 100 classics!

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  7. Oh, how wonderful! You've added plenty of ideas for my 2016 reading list. Thanks! And, of course, Happy New Year!!!!
    r/ Charles @ http://invitationtotheclassics.blogspot.com/

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    1. Happy New Year to you too, Charles!

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  8. The Last Chronicle of Barset is wonderful - possibly my favourite one (I loved The Warden too, so I can't decide which!).

    Can't wait to start Ovid with you, and of course Spenser! Happy New Year! :)

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    1. I'm so glad to hear the last in the series is the best. It will motivate me to get to it! So far, The Warden is my favourite.

      Yes, Ovid and Spenser and I don't feel intimidated at all. In fact, I'm quite excited! Happy New Year, with streamers and noisy horns!

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  9. Wow! Your reading list is amazing and inspiring. I'm honored that my story was in the mix. Happy new year! Can't wait to see what you do this year :)

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    1. Thanks, Frank. The compliment was not given lightly. I'm pretty picky about my books, and I was so impressed your the poetry (of which I'm certainly not an expert) but also the development of the story, characters and the startling insight into their lives. It was as if you were able to drop the niggling writing monster on your shoulder saying, "is anyone going to read this? Will it sell?", and simply create. It was really refreshing.

      Well, Ovid, Spenser, and many Greek writers are up for 2016, but other than that, my 2016 line-up will be a surprise to me too!

      All the best in 2016!

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  10. A few days ago I ordered a copy of the Faerie Queene, in one book. I read book one some years ago in its Old English or whatever the proper translation is called. One of these days I have to read the whole thing.

    That Napoleon book sounds good, too. I know very little about French history; it is one topic I want to study more. I thought the TV mini series "Napoleon" (2002) was really well done, if you want to see a film version about him. Then again, I don't know how accurate it was.

    Anyway, it was fun reading your answers. Happy New Year!

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    1. O & Jean and I are reading The Faerie Queene beginning in mid-April if you're interested in joining us!

      I'll check out the Napoleon mini-series. I know a little bit about French history but my gathering of it has been rather patchy so I'd like to spend some concentrated time on it at some point.

      Happy New Year to you too, Ruth!

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    2. I will join you. Sounds fun!

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    3. Oh yay! Then there will be a few of us! Support is good! :-)

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  11. What a magnificent Reading Year Cleo! Thank You so much for "pushing" me to read Beowulf....I am so looking forward to Ovid and if you are in the middle of 2016 with nothing much to read, holler over a LTR readalong and I will be there!

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    1. Oh my! Will you really read The Lord of the Rings with me?! Woo hoo! That's all I needed ..... a reading partner to give me that push. Does the beginning of February sound good to you?

      I'm so happy that I gave you a new appreciation of Beowulf. I love the poem, as well as finding it fascinating. I might even read it again this year.

      Yes, Ovid will be fun. I've started, but Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone has been taking all my attention these last few days. I couldn't put it down. But I was thrilled to have the last 4 days to read and read and read and read. What could be better?! :-)

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    2. You know this is my upteenth attempt to reply to you...something is not right...anyway, my point is of course I will join you! I love LTR...we can start in February but I will have to take it slow as i have way too many work commitments through Q1 2016...hope that is ok with you! I will always be indebted to you for Beowulf! Have you finally finished Moonstone...there is no way you can read anything else, until you get to the very end!
      P.S. Me started Ovid...it is SOMETHING else!
      P.S.S I mean that in an absolutely brilliant scintillating way!

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    3. And I think that you've replied to me 3 times in your one above comment. ;-)

      I'm fine to take The Lord of the Rings slowly because I have other reads going on. I would like a schedule though, because if I don't have something, I'll end up not picking it up. Perhaps tell me how fast you'd like to go and I'll make one up.

      Oh my goodness, yes! You knew! The Moonstone made me almost miss the ferry back home. I had to hide out and read and read and read until I finished. It was SO suspenseful. It's funny because Collins' works always include high drama and sometimes unbelievable circumstances, but he's still able to draw you right into the story and hold you there. I've loved all his reads so far!

      Ooops! I'd better get to Ovid before you guys leave me far behind!

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  12. Happy New Year, Cleo! :) I'll have to keep Montaigne in mind; it's always cool when the book outside your comfort zone is a pleasant surprise. Great job on your challenges, and good luck with Napoleon!

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    1. I think you might really like Montaigne, Marian.

      Yes, I wonder what will push me outside my comfort zone next year. Probably The Faerie Queene; I'm already rather intimidated by it.

      Thanks for the wishes and happy reading to you in 2016!

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  13. When do you think you might read the Fairie Queene? I was considering reading that this year as well.

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    1. O, Jean and I are going to start it in mid-April so feel free to join us. We probably could use all the support we can get. I started reading C.S. Lewis' Spenser's Images of Life and right away he says that the poem is the most difficult one in English. Yikes! In any case, you'd be very welcome to join us!

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  14. Whenever I stop by here, you manage to remind me of all the books I want to read--Canterbury Tales (my dad is also a fan), Trollope, all those ancient Greeks. At least the New Year's a good time to make plans for reading them! Your statement that you wanted to smack the characters in Northanger Abbey makes me smile--though I did enjoy the book and I didn't feel such anger! Best wishes for all your reading plans for 2016!

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    1. I think that you'd love The Canterbury Tales!

      Ha ha! I actually did love Northanger Abbey but I could have strangled John Thorpe. He was so obtuse, but I suspect I was supposed to feel that way, so Austen did her job well. I thought the ending was a little weak, but all-in-all, a good effort!

      Thanks for the wishes, Amanda!

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