Tuesday 30 December 2014

The End of 2014 ....... Bookish Nostalgia

I saw Jamie's 2014 end of the year book survey on her blog The Perpetual Page-Turner and thought it also covered the 52 Books in 52 Weeks wrap-up survey as well, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

2014 Reading Stats:

Number Of Books You Read: 70

Number of Re-Reads: 19 

Genre You Read The Most From: Classics

Best in Books

Best book you read in 2014: Paradise Lost.

Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn't: Once and Future King.  It was just weird.  Until I read Le Morte d'Arthur at the end of the year and kind of understood why it was weird.

Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read in 2014: Probably The Life of St. Teresa of Avila by Herself.  I was expecting to like it but it nearly put me to sleep.  I love the lives of saints but not this one.  At least not yet.  I haven't given up on her.

Book you "pushed" the most people to read (and they did) in 2014:   I'm not sure if I have a specific book, put I probably had an influence on more people reading or intending to read Shakespeare. (Nancy and O, is that true?)

Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel? Best Series Ender:  I re-read The Chronicles of Narnia and loved it.  I'd probably lost a little of the childgood thrill, but I picked up some of the adult references to Plato, Pascal, etc.  Lewis sure packs his works with allusions.  Fun!

Favorite new author you discovered in 2014: Anthony Trollope.  Yay!

Best book from a genre you don't typically read/ out of your comfort zone:  Cicero's Defence Speeches.  I love Romans but, seriously, court cases?!  Yet I loved reading it!  Go figure ....

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year: The Man Who was Thursday.  What a romp!

Book you read in 2014 that you are most likley to reread next year: None, but I will probably carry on with Dante's The Divine Comedy.  I read Inferno this year, so Purgatorio and Paradiso are up next.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014: Utopia by Thomas More.

Most memorable characters of 2014:  Satan (Paradise Lost), Rev. Septimus Harding (The Warden), Prince Myshkin (The Idiot) Sunday (The Man Who Was Thursday) & Odysseus (The Odyssey)

Most beautifully written book read in 2014: Strange, but Richard II.  I believe this is Shakespeare's only play that is written all in verse and it was beautiful.  Othewise Paradise Lost certainly had its moments.

Most-thought provoking/ life-changing book of 2014: The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read: Paradise Lost

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2014: "The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy:  the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men!  A weird life it is, indeed, to be living always in someone else's imagination, as if that were the only place in which one could at last become real!"  ~~ Thomas Merton

Shortest/longest book you read in 2014: The Chimes by Charles Dickens (100 p.) & War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1392 p.) (although Le Morte d'Arthur [950 p.] felt the longest)

Book that shocked you the most: Le Morte d'Arthur.  Those knights were loose cannons, not necessarily consistently honourable.  Phinnea's emblem for them ---- idiots rampant on a blood red field ---- pretty much sums it up.  But thanks to Jean's read-along, I finished it!

OTP of the year: Oh definitely Dante and Beatrice!

Favorite non-romantic relationship: The old man and the fish from The Old Man and the Sea.

Favorite book you read in 2014 from an author you've read previously: The Odyssey by Homer

Best book you read in 2014 that you read based solely on a recommendation from someone else: The Vita Nuova by Dante Alighieri

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014:  I never crush ...... or I never tell ..... ;-)

Best 2014 debut you read: Yikes, I don't read debuts.  Perhaps I should start.

Best world-building/most vivid setting you read this year: Richard II by William Shakespeare.  His only play written in verse, and Richard's "little pin" speech was a discovery to label a favourite!

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read: Idle Thoughts from an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome took over top spot from The Warden by Anthony Trollope.  Trollope nails human nature and especially human foibles; Jerome does the same but is completely hilarious!  Fun!

Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014: Le Morte d'Arthur.  It takes awhile to get attached to the characters and then you do and then they all die.  Waaaa!  :-(

Hidden gem of the year: Vita Nuova by Dante Alighieri.  His love for Beatrice was quite amazing!

Most unique book you read in 2014: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.  As Tolstoy said, it was not a novel, less a poem and even less an historical chronicle.  So what was it?  I only know that it was excellent!

Book that made you the most mad: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.  I wanted to smack most of the characters.  

Your Blogging/Bookish Life

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014:  Mockingbirds, Looking Glasses and Prejudices .....

Favorite review that you wrote in 2014: War and Peace ~ it took the most brain-power. 

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog: Ooo, I don't know.  Perhaps The Classics Club "50" Survey.

Best event that you participated in: The Paradise Lost Read-Along.

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014:  Meeting new bloggers.

Most popular post this year on your blog: My Oedipus at Colonus post.  I am completely puzzled as to why.  Not that I don't like it, but it has been getting 5 - 10 hits per day lately.  Perhaps some class is doing a study on it ....?????

Post you wished got a little more love:  Hmmmm ...... I'm not sure.  Perhaps any of my posts that are reviewing more intellectual books, or my ones on poems ......??  But people are drawn to what they're interested in, and our interests are always changing, so honestly I don't have a specific answer to this question.  

Best bookish discovery: Easton's Books, and The Tattered Page looks great too.

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, The Pre-Printing Press Challenge, The Shakespeare Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, 52 Books in 52 Weeks, Arthurian Literature Challenge, Russian Literature Challenge, History Challenge, Chunkster Challenge, Books on France Challenge and Around the World Challenge.  I failed at TBR Pile Challenge, reading only 10 of the 12 books I should have and was one book short for the European Reading Challenge.

Looking Ahead

One book you didn't get to in 2014 but will be your number 1 priority in 2015: Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Book you are most anticipating for 2015 (non-debut): The Cantebury Tales by Chaucer

2015 debut you are most anticipating: I don't do debuts.  I'm so uneducated when it comes to modern books that I have to be the recommendeé, not the recommender.  But perhaps something by Edna Ferrante.  Given that I haven't read anything by her yet, that's a BIG "perhaps".

Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2015: The Last Chronicles of Barset by Anthony Trollope

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2015: Keep up with my books!  Keep up with my posts!  It's not as easy as it sounds.

A 2015 release you've already read and recommend to everyone: None. 

Wishing everyone happy reading days and lots of them in 2015!!


  1. That Thomas Merton quote is excellent.

    1. Yes, Merton is very insightful and practical, two qualities that I admire. Even so, he still has an appreciation for the mysterious. I'll definitely read more of his other books.

  2. Ha! I'm still laughing over your Wuthering Heights comment. That is one book I am avoiding like the plague.

    Odysseus is my favorite, although I've only read children's versions. We're starting up The Wanderings of Odysseus this January.

    I already told you I like that Utopia cover. I'm a sucker for botany. : )

    1. I really wanted to love Wuthering Heights and Marianne was kind enough to give me more insight, so as a whole, I can appreciate the story. But when I try to break it down and treat it as a classic, it just falls apart for me. However, that said, I will read it again ....... which is more than I can say for Rebecca, the novel that was my worst read last year.

      I loved the picture of just one sunflower. Here you have this beautiful flower that is a picture of perfection and beauty, yet there is only one. Why? Which made me wonder if Utopia was everything it appeared to be. But, of course, that's my fanciful mental meanderings. :-)

  3. I love that Thomas Merton quote too. Where is it from? By the way, 70 books is really impressive!

    1. The quote is from his autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain. He has some great thoughts.

      I think I'm going to hit 74 books by the end of today. It sounds like alot, doesn't it?

  4. I have been off the 'book radar' for a while. I neede to ' recharge my batteries' after a busy reading year. Sometimes silence is the best thing we can say.
    My warmest congratulations on all books read, surveys published, challenges completed and of course the 2014 wrap-up. I'm looking forward to 2015 and hope to learn and exchange comments from and with you. Time to put the champagne in the fridge...#sodonewith2014!

    1. Taking time for reflection and leisure time is very wise!

      I love your hashtag!

    2. The hashtag was almost #sodoewithmybookblog! Yes, I took some time off just to decide if I will continue blogging. As you said in your survery...reading and writing post is hard work! Now I think I have found a way of keeping the blog and my sanity! Look for a new template for the reviews and a max 1000 word limet ( incuding any quotes I want to highlight). I hope to decrease the ' work ' element and incerase the joy of reading! Happy New Year...we are the other side....in 2015! Dutch: Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

    3. Oooo, don't dump your blog! Please! That would be so sad.

      I've given myself permission to not review certain books I read and I know I have some in draft that will never get posted, but I also feel fine with this too. I've also been avoiding rigid challenges with lots of posts and linkys; I can be structured but, as you said, I want reading and blogging to be joyful, not all work. Each year is a learning experience, I guess, so you just have to adjust as you go to find balance. I'm glad you're back though! Phew!

  5. Feedback: yes, you ' pushed ' me to read Shakespeare and resulted in to reviews I was most proud of.
    Feedback: yes,you ' pushed ' me to read some children's classics and resulted in discovering 13 Clocks by J. Thurber and Alice in Wonderland L. Carroll. I would never have read them, otherwise.
    Feedback: yes, you have ' pushed ' me into a challenge, Back to the Classics....but that was at my request, choose a challenge for me.
    So, sharing reading enthusiasm....can reach all corners of the world!

    1. Ah, I'd forgotten about the children's books! And it was because of you that I joined the Summer Freak Language challenge and actually read a Maupassant in French! So we help each other!

      Have a Happy New Year, Nancy! You should almost be there.

  6. I never liked Wuthering Heights, but I read it one more time this month for a readalong and something finally clicked for me. Partly I had to go in knowing I would not like or relate to Heathcliff or Catherine, and look for something else to connect to in the story. I'll be posting my thoughts soon!
    I think Elena Ferrante is worth a try. I was glad that I read "My Brilliant Friend," but not overwhelmingly compelled to go on to the rest of the series. I will probably get around to them sooner or later.
    Whatever you choose to read in the New Year, enjoy!

    1. I'm so looking forward to your thoughts on WH. I have a feeling that what you say is true ...... on a re-read, I may be able to connect with it on a different level.

      I have the My Brilliant Friend on hold at the library. I'll be interested in experiencing my reaction to it.

      Happy New Year, Lory, and I hope you have a great reading year!!

  7. Well, I didn't think anyone could inspire me to re-read Shakespeare, but you certainly did, along with many other books!

    Happy new year and thank you for all your awesome blogging :) xxx

    1. Ah yes, you and your re-reading. I think you're the only person I know who may be able to read every worthwhile book in existence before they die. ;-)

      Well, I must admit, I've already been scanning your blog and starting to compile my second Classics Club list. Premature, perhaps but it's hard to pass up some of those treasures you find. Have a great New Year, O, and I hope the year has wonderful things in store for you!

  8. Trollope and The Man Who Was Thursday are in my plans for 2015.

    1. Okay, I can't wait to hear your thoughts about The Man Who Was Thursday. You have a little more experience with Chesterton I think, so you may be a little clearer as to what he was doing with the story. I'll be looking for your review!

  9. Can I just say that "The old man and the fish from The Old Man and the Sea." is the best answer I've seen to this question! :D Also, impressive number of classics! I wish I was as productive as you! :)

    1. Hee hee! I just loved the man's respect and reverence for his adversary.

      I need to start to branch out a bit from my classics. But just a bit ..... ;-)

      I hope you have a profitable year of reading in 2015, Ekaterina!

  10. Oh!! Cleo..I just saw and well I am sooooooooo touched!! Thank you...it’s just been so wonderful knowing you and sharing with you all my exasperations!! (You so understand my loves and dislikes) I LOVE Trollope and I am really glad you are enjoying reading him. Satan has always been my most favorite 'non-hero"...in fact I remember writing a long term paper back in college first year loudly arguing that Satan was "the hero" planned by Milton! I LOVE all work by G.K. Chesterton and The Man Who was Thursday is just sheer brilliance!! Wishing you a very very successful and satisfying reading year!! PS You will love Bleak House if my feelings are anything to radar in things!

    1. I'm so glad that we've connected in Bloggingland. It's been so much fun getting to know you and your bookish likes/diskikes!

      You wrote a term paper on Satan?!! Did you keep it? Honestly Satan made me shudder but I thought Milton was brilliant in crafting his psychology. If you have a moment, please read my review of Paradise Lost: http://cleoclassical.blogspot.ca/2014/03/paradise-lost-by-john-milton.html Actually it's half my review and half C.S. Lewis' but Lewis had some fascinating insight into Satan and Milton's working of him that I think was bang on. I'd love to know what you think.

      Chesterton intimidates me and fascinates me at the same time. I'm going to continue on with his works.

      And that's great to know about Bleak House. I was reading Dickens in order but I hit Bleak House and was in Dickens-burn-out mode so I didn't start it. I'm looking forward to getting back to it again!

  11. P.S.S. I actively dislike Wuthering Heights! I do not understand the brouhaha about this damm book! I want to throw the entire lot including and especially Catherine and Heathcliff off a Cornwall moor into the sea! So much for a "timeless love story"!! Yuck!!

    1. Poor Emily. I think her writing would have improved if she'd lived longer. You can see glimmers of promise but the life experience was lacking. The behaviour of the characters was drama to the max ---- not particularly believable. :-P

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    1. Thanks so much for the compliment! I really appreciate your kind words.