In 1991 this bookworm had no fellow readers within the immediate family and was a solitary creature. Raising a family meant that the annual read total hit the dizzy heights of 36! In 2011 she still has no fellow readers within the immediate family but now has access to thousands and thousands of virtual reading cousins . The chicks have flown the nest freeing up the time to climb the summit of 100 books per year! And that’s where she will be standing by 31.12.2011. 100 books – it feels good ….
And it’s not the only highlight of this reading year which has been superlative for many reasons. Some great reading, and lots of new experiences ….
I “appeared” on BBC Scotland Book Cafe along with other members of my face-to-face book group. That’s me – bottom left. We reviewed Tessa Hadley’s The London Train. This was also a winter during which my TV hours rose exponentially. So many book programmes. A series on Noir Fiction, Scandinavian and Italian. The latter leading me (eventually) to Carlo Lucarelli’s De Luca trilogy.
More TV – this time Anne Robinson hosting the wonderful My Life In Books – a series in which celebrities from many walks in life discussed 5 books which they found influential during various stages of their lives. A great idea for a post which I never wrote … too busy reading those 100 books, I guess. February also saw the publishing phenomenon of the year – the launch of the Penguin shorts – an ideal opportunity to discover lots of new authors and indulge the inner collectophile without too much outlay …. I also read my book of the year (to be revealed on 31.12.)
The first literary festival of the year takes me 25 miles north to Glasgow and the Aye Write! festival at the Mitchell Library. This year, I met my literary heroine – German translator extraordinaire, Anthea Bell!
There’s a very spurious literary link in this but after 20+ years in Scotland, I finally set foot on a Scottish island!
A quiet month highlight-wise but still I read the book that will be crowned my 20th century classic of the year.
I’d obviously been preserving my energy during April and May because June was a bonanza – Dutch Literature Month, World Literature Weekend in London (during which I attended an event that eclipsed my meeting Anthea Bell) and perhaps the most energetic book binge ever. One in which I walked 13.5 miles in one day!
More TV! Faulks on Fiction, a four-part series in which author Sebastian Faulks guided us through British literature using character types as his beacons: the hero, the lover, the snob and the villain. I loved it.
August is d-e-v-o-t-e-d to Edinburgh Book Festival on Lizzy’s Literary Life. If I’m not reading in preparation for it, I’m driving back and forth to attend it. And this year I was there from beginning to end – attending first event, last event and another 25+ events inbetween! It’s the only time in the year when I’m (almost) indifferent to the Scottish climate.- which is just as well, because this year it was the muddiest on record. Regardless it was B-L-I-S-S!
Back down to earth with a crash after Edinburgh. Fortunately much entertainment (if not the greatest literary merit) to be found in this year’s Booker shortlist and for the first (and possibly last) time I read the whole lot. Even so the withdrawal symptoms from Edinburgh were too strong. So off I went, 95 miles south to the book festival in Wigton, Scotland’s Book Town.
Let’s just say, regardless of the shortlist furore, the right book won the Booker – even the X-factor judges were in agreement! I chaired and enjoyed my first live event at the North Lanarkshire Words Festival and was relieved when the authors and audience said that they enjoyed it too.
121 works, 72 authors and a new three letter anacronym: GLM – German Literature Month! Thank you to my co-host, Caroline and all the readers and publishers who participated and made this the highlight, not only of my year, but of my reading life to date. Stupendously wunderbar!
I found it hard to settle after GLM. But I was pleased to see that the effort expended during November during November brought the blog a new audience as evidenced by a much improved ebuzzing (formerly wikio) British literature blog ranking.
Forgive me for preserving my moment in the top 10. It won’t last. There’s no way I can sustain the level of effort needed on blog, twitter, facebook et al to maintain a ranking like that. Kudos to those who do and thanks to everyone who visited and made it possible for one brief moment.
Finally as the year comes to its close, I’m anticipating even more TV! A new serialisation of Great Expectations begins tonight – it marks the opening of a Dickens season to commemorate the bi-centennial of his birth in January 2012. Thus does 2012 begin in classic mode. But will it be the classic literary year that 2011 became for me?