Monday, 31 December 2012

End of Year Book Survey

I takes the 'end of year' part of an end of year survey really seriously, so this will be going up on New Years Eve, even though I'm writing this before Christmas (and also, actually, after Christmas. So sue me.) I could probably have left it for the dead time between Christmas and New Year (which we've just had, I guess... wasn't it dreadful?) but hey, I'm being all preparey. And possibly procrastinatey.

Anyway. The survey!

Best in Books 2012

1. Best book you read in 2012?
Ohhhh, silly question. Let's see...

Best Classic: Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. So so so much funnier and more cynical than I was expecting. Honourable mention goes to Crime and Punishment though.

Best Shakespeare: This is allowed because I read like 6 or 7 of his plays this year like a nutter. And I'm going to say my favourite was As You Like It.

Best Memoir: I'm actually going to say Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela, but before I read that it would have been Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Which was definitely shorter.

Best Readalong: The Woman in White. Always. 

Books that are so good I can't even categorise them: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt, Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson AND The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

If I absolutely HAD to pick an overall favourite though? *mumbles* TheWomanInWhiteTheSistersBrothersNorwegianWoodAShortHistoryofNearlyEverything *mumblemumble*

Stay tuned for more favouritey favouriteness at the end of the post...

2. A Book you were excited and thought you were going to love more but didn't?
I thought We Need to Talk About Kevin was going to be a lot more awesome than it was, but I was kind of addicted to reading it for a while there, so... maybe it did everything it was trying to. But I didn't really like it.

3. Most Surprising (in a good way!) Book of 2012?
Ok, so The Sisters Brothers was continually recommended to me this year and YET I didn't believe that I would like it because 'ew, a Western?' but as it turns out, it's AWESOME. So, yeah, that.
ALSO Freedom by Jonathan Franzen was surprising in that I kind of think the dude is a douche BUT he kind of showed some remarkable insight in that book. Which was good.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
I think it was actually It by Stephen King, in that there was this whole readalong of it going on in October and I just went round going 'IT IS SO AMAZING! OMG!' etc. 
Although, obviously, I recommended The Grapes of Wrath a lot too, in that I MADE people read it. Which was fun.

5. Best Series you discovered in 2012?
Ok, I don't really read series, BUT I do believe the one I read this year was Margaret Atwood's series thing that I'm not even sure has a name but consists of Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. It was good!

6. Favourite New Authors you discovered in 2012?
Well. *cracks knuckles* Even though I can hardly believe it, I only discovered Haruki Murakami in 2012, AND WILKIE COLLINS first came into my life this year. They win everything hands down. 

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or a new genre for you?
Um. Let's say MetaMaus, in that there was a lot in it about the technical side of drawing comic books, and it was basically just a giant interview but I kind of really liked it? But then Maus is TOTALLY in my comfort zone, so maybe this doesn't count...

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
Well, I stayed up really late reading 1Q84 quite a lot, and The Haunting of Hill House was difficult to let go of, but I really struggled putting down Let's Pretend This Never Happened. Because, you know, it was hilarious rather than thrilling. But still.

9. Book you read in 2012 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
Yeah, I'm definitely not going to do that. But if I was... I dunno, probably Bossypants or Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me. Something funny like that. Or Let's Pretend This Never Happened.

10. Favourite Cover of  a Book you read in 2012?
Guys, I read like... at least 4 Penguin Clothbound Classics this year. And you want me to choose the best one? Ok, this is it:
Adds: Favourite gif of the year?
Ok, yeah, I have like 3? And actually I had about 10. I LOVE GIFS DAMMIT.
Tell me they're not appropriate for almost all situations. They totally are.

11. Most memorable character in 2012?
Eli Sisters. Easy. Next!

12. The Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
I kind of want to say 'anything by Murakami', but he sort of talks about penises too much for me to be completely *sigh* ish over it. So I'm just going to go ahead and say The Sisters Brothers, because it's beautiful in that it can switch from being funny to deep in about 3 seconds. Which is pretty awesome.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?
Eating Animals. Mostly because I read it at entirely the right time, but still, totally impactful. In that I haven't eaten an animal since I read it. Yeah.

14. Book you can't believe you waited until 2012 to finally read?
Crime and Punishment- I've known about it for what seems like forever, but actually I kind of knew nothing about it. So I'm really glad I do now.
A Short History of Nearly Everything- It literally BLEW. MY. MIND. For some reason before this year I had some kind of 'Bill Bryson is olllld so it's going to be boring' (I KNOW, I'm an idiot) mental block, but that book really cleared it, let me tell you!

15. Favourite passage/quote from a book you read in 2012?
Really? You want to get me started on this? Alright, hang on a minute...
"Drive away and try to keep smiling. Get a little rock and roll on the radio, and go toward all the life there is with all the courage you can find and all the belief you can muster. Be true, be brave, stand. 
All the rest is darkness." (It, Stephen King)
"So that's how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the loss, no matter how important the thing that's stolen from us- that's snatched right out of our hands- even if we are left completely changed people with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence. We draw ever nearer to our alotted span of time, bidding it farewell as it trails off behind. Repeating, often adroitly, the endless deeds of the everyday. Leaving behind a feeling of immeasurable emptiness." (Sputnik Sweetheart, Haruki Murakami)
"I followed her through the beaded curtain and into her private world. The beads felt lovely and tickling on my face, and I experienced a shudder of happiness at this. It is true, I thought. I am living a life." (The Sisters Brothers, Patrick DeWitt)
"We never see ourselves at all; we have no clear idea of ourselves; our mirror reflections reflect only what we wish to see, or can bear to see, or punish ourselves by seeing. Nor can we trust others to see us either. For they too see what they wish to see, with their imperfect eyes." (I'll Take You There, Joyce Carol Oates)
"I know you don't believe this- but don't philosophise too subtly; plunge straight into life without deliberation; don't be uneasy- it will carry you straight to shore and land you on your feet." (Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky)
16. Shortest and Longest books read in 2012?
I don't keep track of page numbers (although I kind of really really want to now...) But I think the longest book I read was It by Stephen King, which has about 1100 pages, and I think the shortest was probably Night by Elie Wiesel, which I'm pretty sure had less than 100. But considering the subject matter and density of Night, compared to It, they probably meet in the middle on ease of reading.

17. Book that had a scene in it that left you reeling and DYING to talk to somebody about it?
Shit, I don't know! The Woman in White and The Moonstone? Or maybe I was just dying to talk about them because doing so was SO MUCH FUN.

18. Favourite relationship from a book you read in 2012?
Oooh, ok, Jennifer and Beth in Attachments? And by favourite relationship, I obviously mean the group (pair) of friends I'd most like to be a part of. Because those girls are AWESOME.

19. Favourite book you read in 2012 from an author you'd read previously?
I've just realised that I've read SO many new authors this year, so I'm going to just have to pat myself on the back for that for a minute. So, I guess I'm going to say A Short History of Nearly Everything, ostensibly because Bill Bryson and Stephen King seem to have been practically the only authors I revisited this year, and of the books by the latter I hadn't read... none of them were that great. So yeah, that.

20. Best book that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else?
Have I mentioned The Sisters Brothers a lot yet?

Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2012?
Ok, so I've really poorly kept track (i.e. haven't kept track at all) of new book blogs I found in 2012, but I know I found Bex this year and so that's a good enough answer for me! Also, Mandy's blog isn't strictly book-limited, but nor is mine, and so I get to plug her's too! (and TIKA! Who is new. And I love her.)

2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2012?
Hmm, shameless plugging, eh? Would you believe me if I tell you that I can hardly remember a LOT of the reviews I wrote? Because you should. Let's see...

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
So, I really liked ALL the readalong discussions I had ever, which was, let's face it, a lot. And by a lot I mean there were 4 readalongs, but each of those had 4 posts, so... you see where I'm going with this? In terms of just a normal review though, I was really pleased with the discussion that went on with We Need To Talk About Kevin, because when everyone's read something... you can really get some good discussions cooking!

4. Most thought provoking review/discussion you read on someone else's blog?
Duuuude, there were probably loads of them but am I likely to remember them? I can't even remember the things I've written myself! But let's just say that Alice's place is always the best for discussion, so go there all the time.

5. Best Event you participated in?
Hey, so remember when I met Caitlin Moran and it was the BEST. EVER? That was clearly it. Total bookish event.
Honourable mention goes to the trans-atlantic Clueless watching that Alice, Alley, Megs and I did in July which was so weird but also too awesome and was just basically the greatest. And I've just realised that that didn't involve books, but it involved Book BLOGGERS, which is obviously better.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?
Did I mention the above Clueless-watching? That was pretty best-y. I feel like the best bits are like all the things that keep arising from book blogging- I have new blogging friends (some of them are even English! Which is totally a thing I moaned about not having last year) and sometimes we send each other post and it's the best and everything is just awesome. Basically.

7. Most popular post this year on your blog?
I don't know man, how do you get a yearly breakdown on stats? The most popular post that I wrote this year was The Taming of the Shrew (presumably if you google 'The Taming of the Shrew' and 'sexist filth' you get to my post) but my post about how much I love Dolly Parton has gained remarkable speed considering that it's not very old! (*checks why* Ok, it's because there's a picture of young Dolly Parton on it. Ok, this makes sense.)

8. Post you wished got a little more love?
Ehrm... Whenever I write about films, I get less comments, but I'm ok with it because I get that like, everyone who comes here is about the books. But still... COMMENT ON MY FILM POSTS, YEAH?

9. Best bookish discovery?
Ok, I didn't understand this question really, but I'm just going to say that I found Foyles in London and it's an awesome bookshop and everyone should go there, ok good.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges/goals you had set for yourself at the beginning of the year?

Looking Ahead

1. One book you didn't get to in 2012 that will be your top priority in 2013?
Ok, I think this is going to be Ready Player One, just because I feel really excited about it, but I also feel like that excitement could easily fade? So I want to get there before it does! And also I want to finish The Blind Assassin because I love it and was so excited to start it, but it's kind of gone off my radar a bit...

So that's January sorted...

2. Book you are most anticipating in 2013?
Don't be silly, I don't know any books that are coming out in 2013! Let's just say I just reserved Quiet by Susan Cain at the library, and I really really really want to read it. So, that.

Oh! I just remembered the third part of Margaret Atwood's Maddadam trilogy is coming out next year. Let that be my most anticipated book!

3. One thing you hope to do or accomplish in reading/blogging in 2013?
I kind of think I might start tracking page numbers now! But I don't know... I want to learn how to properly fit it in to having a job now, and not just rush off posts whenever I can because I think I don't have enough time. Because I do. I just have to arrange it better.

Just for Meeeeee

Please watch as I perform the amazing feat of working out some stats because I just super want to and it's fun for me.

Books read: 91
Fiction/Non Fiction Books read: 67/24
Male/Female Authors read: 61/30 (actually pretty ashamed of this one...) 
Rereads/New reads: 10/81 (yessssss! I win at reading new stuffs)
Books of the year, by month: (totally stolen from Sam, cheers love!)

January: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

February: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (technically I reviewed this in March. But I read it in Feb!)

March: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

April: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

May: Bossypants by Tina Fey

June: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

July: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt AND Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray 

August: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (duh)

September: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

October: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

November: Moranthology by Caitlin Moran

December: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky


  1. Too much to say for my stupid phone keypad, but basically YES! And yay for being your new blog and post is awesome! Also I'm totally stealing your stats idea,ok?:-D

    Back later with a proper,non touchscreen keyboard!

    1. You can soooo steal my stats thing- I LOVE stats too too much! Looking forward to your follow up comment! :)

  2. So many awesome books! DUDE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ON A BUYING BAN FROM TOMORROW AND YOU DO THIS TO ME NOW? *wipes away a bead of perspiration and stays resolutely away from the one-click button* Oh, and also, yay for Eli Sisters and his Wondrous Journey of Self-Realisation and Carnage, which is also my big surprise book of the year. I haven't ackshually FINISHED this survey yet because I am here reading yours instead, but by tonight it will be done...

    Oh, and I totally stole that GIF of Eric. I considered calling it "Eric ponders staking himself on the spot" but that seemed a bit long for a file name. Lalala, what else? Classics, good. Stephen King, MUST READ SOME. The Woman in White, definitely this year okay? Yeah I should probably go finish that post now. Happy New Year honeybunch! :D

    1. Well... You can buy books today! I'm a little bit twitchy today like... Should I just buy ONE and then start afresh tomorrow, or just start already since it *was* just Christmas... I don't know, man! The Sisters Brothers was just so surprisingly good! I wasn't expecting it AT ALL man!

      Stealing gifs is what it's all about! I literally feel that emotion nearly ALL THE TIME, so I need it badly! READ STEPHEN KING AND WILKIE! OMG! Happy New Year to you tooooooo Miss Ellie :)

  3. Yay Bill Bryson! And Yay Murakami! Oh man . . . I could *yay* most of your reading list as it appears we have very similar tastes in books. That Eating Animals one, though, gah! I don't think I'll be reading that.

    Happy New Year, Laura :) All the best for 2013.

    1. YAY indeed! Although... READ EATING ANIMALS!! It's really really good!

      Happy new year to you too!

  4. I want to hug this post, because there's so much awesomeness in it. Also, I NEED to read a Bill Bryson book next year. When I make my "must-read in 2013" list, he will be on it.

    And yay for stats! I recommend Excel, that's what I used to track books/pages/genres/re-reads and so on.

    Have another great reading year! And Happy New Year!!!

    1. ALL THE AWESOMENESS ALL THE TIME. That's my motto. Sorta. BILL he is the best :)

      I do totally use excel, but the thing is I use it just for the books I *own* so it doesn't include library books/books I've gotten rid of/anything else. So I should probably start a new spreadsheet, I guess :)

      Happy newwww year to you too darling!

  5. Definitely finish The Blind Assassin! I was sort of ambivalent in the middle, but it became one of my favorite Atwoods.
    Have a happy New Year!

    P.S. I discovered that the Oryx and Crake/Year of the Flood series is referred to as the MaddAddam Trilogy.

    1. I definitely definitely plan to finish The Blind Assassin asap! It's just that Christmas got in the way and I was ill for most of December and blah blah blah... I'm ready now though, I think!

  6. So much Wilkie. And The Sisters Brothers. And Attachments. And Clueless watching. SO MUCH FUN.

    To 2013, for even more bookish/readalong/watchalong good times

    1. ALL THE FUN, ALLEY! All the fun.

      More times all round indeed :)

  7. Murakami! Loved Norwegian Wood! I liked Crime and Punishment, surprisingly, too. Hope your 2013 will be good!

    1. Yay! All of these things are awesome! I hope you have a nice 2013 too :)

  8. Ok, this survey is amazing, but also there is SO MUCH TO ADDRESS, so I am feeling slightly overwhelmed.

    Ummmm read Ready Player One. It's really, really, really fun. You will like it. I don't know anyone who didn't, and I made pretty much everyone in my life read it.

    Aww, Beth and Jennifer! And the Clueless watchalong! Soon to be followed (SOON I PROMISE WE WILL DO THIS) by the Mean Girls watchalong.

    It's a lot easier to find male authors than female, so I wouldn't feel too bad about it. A big reason my numbers are slanted are because 1) the lesbian thing, and 2) I was purposely reading a bunch of books by lady authors. But yeah, you have to kind of plan it, or it's reeeally easy to read more guys. 'Cause they've been published a lot more. Historically.

    Sisters Brothers is obvs amazing, WiW shall live in our hearts forever, I can't believe Attachments was this year, and I'm gonna be reading We Need to Talk About Kevin. Soon. I will do this soon. If only because everyone else has done it (that's how we work, right).

    1. Amazing is the perfect adjective to use right there. Nice work :) Haha

      I am totally reading Ready Player One really really soon in that it's not even on a bookshelf or anything because I want to read it A LOT. Although I couldn't tell you EXACTLY where it is at this very second...

      MEAN GIRLS LET'S DO IT RIGHT NOWWWWWWWW. Or, yeah, soon. It's winter, it's too cold to go outside and do things!

      I think I've kind of made an informal resolution in my head to read more ladies. Because it's not like I don't HAVE books written by them, so... Yeah. I'm going to make a proper effort to do so. Like, I'd like to just have it 50/50, I don't even have to try and read ALL ladies, just SOME would be good!

      Yesssss to all these things. Although I wouldn't exactly RUSH to read Kevin or anything. Even though it's kind of addictive. It's still REALLY unpleasant.

  9. This is perhaps the most ambitious year end wrap up post I've ever seen--AND it's totally successful Unlike many ambitious novels whose reach exceeds their grasp, so good on you.

    I didn't realize you'd read 1Q84, too, this year. And by "too" I don't mean that I also read it. I meant that you read it in addition to Norwegian Wood, which is WAY more impressive.

    1. Thank you! I kind of think it's too long myself, and I'm a bit like.... Is anyone going to READ this?! So I'm glad it is readable!

      Dude, I ALSO read Kafka by the Shore this year. Which, in hindsight may have been a bit stupid, and definitely tipped me over the Murakami edge, I think. But I think I miiight be ready for another one round about now... Hmmm...

  10. Yay! I LOVE these things...

    I discovered Haruki Murakami this year too. Well, I SAY that - I actually mean that I read 1Q84 and have an intention to read more, but that's kind of the same thing, right? Right?

    I laughed so hard I cried at Let's Pretend This Never Happened. I also have Bossypants and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? on my TBR :)

    Can you believe I've never actually READ one of those clothbound books. I have like... seven. But I buy them because I loved the book when I read it from a less pretty edition and I don't want to hurt my clothbounds, so... *strokes lovingly (the book. not you.*

    1. I love them as long as they stay fun. Once they get all boringy I'm like 'yeahhhh *skims to the end*' But I like writing them!

      MURAKAMIIIIII! Reading one book by him totally counts. Totally. May I recommend Norwegian Wood as your next one?

      YAY! Funny women are the best. I had the HARDEST time choosing between Bossypants and Is Everyone... for my favourite May read. Because they're both SO good!

      I have read... Well, definitely not all of them haha! But as long as you're super gentle with them/don't take them in the bath/anywhere then they'll be fine! I had a sad bath incident with Jane Eyre though. *hangs head sadly*

  11. ALL THE STATS! I love this post. You make me want to keep track of things. Also, dude, you read a lot of things. Good job.

    2013 onward!

    1. I did read a lot of things! It was good. Also, I kiiiind of didn't keep that good track of things in that I had to write a big list of ALL THE BOOKS and then sort them out and stuff. So now I actually AM going to keep track of things! Haha

  12. Aw, I'm so glad I discovered you this year too! Warm and fuzzy!

    And I'm totally going to comment on your film posts now! I actually tried to write this really long comment about my experience watching 50/50 (it basically included watching it with my ex-boyfriend the evening after he had a HORRIBLE bout of stomach flu and we were all glad that we were alive/not throwing up), but my phone erased it. So, um, this is my delayed comment. :)

    Happy new year!

    1. :)

      Haha, nice commenting on 50/50 there! But yes please comment on my unloved film posts! I genuinely feel like people see them and go 'well, this is awkward...' and then move on to other things. Like, things about books. BUT FILMS ARE AWESOME!

      Happy New Year to you tooooo :)

  13. I have just come across your blog and I think I may love you a little (NOT a weirdo stalker by the way). You write how I think so you are basically awesome. Anywho, welcome to Team Wilkie! I have never understood the amount of fuss around Dickens when Wilkie is such a babe and, in my humble opinion, writes a better story.

    I've been hovering over the buy button for The Sisters Brothers for some time now and I think you've just given me the nudge I need to actually press it. Thanks for that, I really need more books ;)

    Happy New Year!

    1. Eeeeeee, thank you so much! Nicest comment everrrrr.

      So, I've never read any Dickens (actually, I read A Christmas Carol at Christmas, and that was ok. But nothing else) but I already know that when I do, there's NO way I'm going to enjoy it as much as I enjoy Wilkie.

      YAYYYYYYYYY SISTERS BROTHERSSSSSSS! I mean, sorry for making you buy more books. But really, you NEED this one. Everyone does. :)

      Happy new year to you too! ps I think I love you too... Hehehe