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text 2020-01-02 00:20
24 Festive Tasks: Door 22 - New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day: Tasks 1-3 AND Door 18 - Hanukkah: Task 1

UPDATED: Added Star Rating Stats

I can't believe I posted this yesterday without them!

 

 

2020 Reading Goals

Pretty much the same as this year: Read more books by women writers than by male authors, diversify my reading, and keep on exploring the world of Golden Age mystery fiction.

 

The Around the World reading challenge -- which is also to be continued in 2020 -- this year has taken me to places of the world that aren't exactly part of my normal reading fare, and I think visits to 46 countries (8 in Africa, 10 in the Americas (11 if Puerto Rico were counted separately), 13 in Asia and the Middle East, 2 in Oceania, and 13 again in Europe) is a pretty decent tally for the first year. I hope things are going to continue in a similar vein next year.

 

My Golden Age mystery reading plans are probably going to cross the "diversifying" aims to a certain extent -- they already did this year -- for the simple reason that the vast majority of Golden Age mystery writers were Caucasian.  But that just can't be helped, I suppose.

 

 

The 2019 Stats

Books begun: 250

Books finished: 247

Average Rating: 3,8

 

 Genre Breakdown by Subgenres

Mystery: 124
   Golden Age: 89
   Silver Age: 3
   Tartan Noir: 3
   Classic Noir: 2
   Cozy Mystery: 2
   General: 22


Thriller: 8
   Espionage: 5
   Humor/Satire: 1
   General: 2

 

Historical Fiction: 31
   Mystery/Crime/Thriller: 23
   Mythology: 2
   Magical Realism: 1
   Humor/Satire: 1
   General: 3


Fantasy: 11
   Humor/Satire: 8
   YA: 2
   General: 1

 

Supernatural: 5
   Short Fiction: 2
   Historical Fiction: 2
   Humor/Satire: 1


SciFi: 2
    Steampunk: 1
    Humor/Satire: 1

 

Horror: 3
   Gothic: 1
   Short Fiction: 2

 

Classics: 15
   Short Fiction: 6
   Anthology: 1
   Espionage: 1
   General: 7

 

LitFic: 16
   Magical Realism: 1
   Mythology: 2
   Dystopia: 2
   Mystery/Crime/Thriller: 2
   ChickLit: 2
   General: 7


Nonfiction: 32
   Auto(Biography): 20
   History: 3
   Philosophy: 2
   Science: 3
   True Crime: 2
   Anthology: 1
   Cookbook: 1

 

 

 
    
    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key, obviously, is in the intersection of genres and ethnicity: 25 of the 27 books by non-Caucasian authors I read were something other than mysteries; or put differently, virtually all of the 124 mysteries were by Caucasian authors (including all of the 92 Golden and Silver Age mysteries, which in themselves account for 2/3 of all my mystery intake).  I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do much about those statistics -- nor do I very much want to, as long as I manage to make decent progress with my Around the World challenge and manage to get in a fair amount of non-Caucasian books in all the other genres.

 

Favorite books of 2019: HERE

Least favorite books of 2019: HERE

 

 

Bibliomancy

 My question: Is 2020 going to be a good reading year for me?

 

Miss Austen's Collected Novels are one of the larger volumes on my shelves, so I decided to seek my answer there.

 

The answer: "[impor]tance in assisting the improvement of her mind, and extending its pleasures."

 

That sounds rather promising, doesn't it?

(And I'm taking it as an additional good sign that the answer is from Mansfield Park, wich was the first novel by Austen that I read -- and the book that made me fall in love with her writing in the first place ...)

 

 

 

Dreidel Spin for First Book of the Year

This is a pick from some of the books that my BFF, Gaby, gave me for Christmas and my birthday this year:

 

נ (Nun) - Craig Adams: The Six Secrets of Intelligence

ג (Gimel) - Isabel Colegate: The Shooting Party

ה (Hei) - Preet Bharara: Doing Justice

ש (Shin) - Sarah-Jane Stratford: Radio Girls

 

 

... and the dreidel picked:

 

 So, Sarah-Jane Stratford's Radio Girls it is!

Radio Girls - Sarah-Jane Stratford

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Door 22

Task 1: Tell us: What are your reading goals for the coming year?

Task 2: The reading year in review: How did you fare – what was good, what wasn’t?

Task 3: Bibliomancy: Ask a question related to your reading plans or experience in the coming year, open one of your weightiest tomes on page 485, and find the answer to your question in line 7.

 

Door 18, Task 1: Spin the dreidel to determine which book is going to be the first one you’ll be reading in the new year.

Find a virtual dreidel here:

https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel

http://www.jewfaq.org/dreidel/play.htm

http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm

 

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text 2020-01-01 09:30
2020 Reading Plans

 

... to all of you. I hope you will all have a lovely 2020 and that the new year is off to a good start for you.

 

Unfortunately, I´ve been sick since Friday, so I haven´t been able to even out my number of 120 books before the end of the year. Still, 119 books read is a fantastic amount for me (and I´m only slightly bothered by the fact that it is such an uneven number) and I surpassed my reading goal of 2019, which was 52 books at the beginning of the year 2019 and which I increased to 100 books later in the year. I will do the same this year.

 

Otherwise I won´t be restricting my reading too much this year. But what I would like to do:

 

- Read the Persephone book of my book subscription (more or less) after it has gotten upon my TBR pile.

- Continue to dip my toes into the fantasy genre.

- Continue to read my Christie and Wentworth books (which is not going to be a problem at all).

- Read a few more classics, something which I have woefully neglected in the last couple of years.

- Participating in a few buddy reads (@BrokenTune: I hope there will be some Highsmith and mountaineering buddy reads in the upcoming year as well).

 

But these aren´t actually goals, so I´m not beating myself over the head if I´m not able to accomplish any of this. Otherwise I will be reading what I´m in the mood for and I won´t be having any qualms about DNFing books that I don´t like. 

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text 2018-12-25 23:51
24 Festive Tasks: Door 22 - New Year's Eve, Tasks 1 and 3 (2019 Book Goals and Book Lottery)
Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Wie Spreu im Wind - Uli Wittmann,Maryse Condé
The Good Women of China - Xinran
The Summer Before the War - Helen Simonson
At The Existentialist Café - Sarah Bakewell
2019 Reading Plans:

I am planning a reprise of my Women Writers project for 2019; with a twist, however: On Goodreads, I used to be a member of the Around the World in 80 Books group (the name is pretty much self-explanatory) -- I'd like to combine that basic idea with my "women writers" selections, with the aim of diversifying my reading regionally / internationally.  While my 2018 Women Writers project was a rousing success in terms of the male / female author ratio (roughly 2:1), it's impossible to miss that I read a lot of books by English and North American authors; so in 2019, I'm going to aim for a wider spread next year, both in terms of authors and book settings.

 

(By the same token, I am also planning to continue my exploration of the world of Golden Age mysteries, so make of that what you will ... there's bound to be some juggling, I suspect.)

 

Book Lottery:

With the above diversification aim in mind, I picked my 5 candidates for the first book I am going to read in 2019:

 

... which were then folded and went into the drawing box, where they were thoroughly shaken up and mixed:

And the winner is:

... which is excellent news, since Xinran's Sky Burial (which I just read today) is truly outstanding; even if The Good Women of China, going by what I've heard, makes for truly heartrending reading at times.

 

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review 2018-12-04 03:19
Romantic suspense by Patricia Wentworth
Nothing Venture - Patricia Wentworth

Ten years earlier, when she was ten and he was 20, Nan Forsyth saved the life of Jervis Weare and was smitten with an overwhelming childhood crush. At the beginning of the book, she is 20 and working for Weare's lawyer when she overhears him storm in and tell the solicitor that he needs to come up with a bride in three days because his society fiancee, the beautiful Rosamund, has unceremoniously dumped him. Under the terms of his Uncle's will, if Jervis must be married in three months and one day after his uncle's death, or the entire fortune goes to Rosamund.

 

You can already see where this is going, right? Nan follows Jervis home and makes him a business proposition - she will marry him in return for 2000 pounds, which she promptly hands off to her sister so that the delicate Cynthia can marry her one true love and go to Australia.

 

This book is just delightful. I spent much of the book being reminded of a Heyer romance - although this is not set during the regency period, if Heyer had written contemporaries, they might have been similar to this one. There is the marriage of convenience, with Jervis coming to the realization that Nan is in love with him, and then later that he is also in love with her. There is a nice little bit of suspense because someone is trying to murder Jervis, and we're pretty sure we know who it is from the beginning. Nan is a fantastic character, with tons of agency, who saves Jervis time and again in a really convincing way. Jervis is a worthy hero, if a bit thick since he can't figure out that he's being targeted for death. The mystery is completely beside the point here - there's no reason to read it for the whodunnit. The real questions are: 1) will they survive and 2) will Jervis pull his head out of his hind end and realize that he is in love with Nan?

 

Wentworth takes a similar line with respect to the suspense climax that she did in Grey Mask, actually, but this time around it is just so much more successful. Grey Mask was published in 1928, and Nothing Venture in 1932, but that four years made quite a difference in terms of the quality of the writing, characterizations and plotting.

 

Anyway, for readers who like a lot of romance with their suspense, this is wonderful. It's not so sophisticated as Mary Stewart or Phyllis Whitney, but the romantic bits are much more fleshed out than the tiny romantic subplots in the average Agatha Christie mystery. I wouldn't be surprised if this one has some rereadability.

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text 2018-12-02 18:00
2019 Reading Plans

Does anyone have any projects planned for 2019? December is the month that I generally sit down and think about what I want my reading to look like in the next year, an picking the challenges that I want to participate in. This year I was not successful with most of my reading "plans," which is fine, but I'd like to be a bit more focused next year!

 

I am still working hard to pay off a few things (daughter's college education!), so my reading projects need to be largely accessible through the library or available used with my book credits.

 

Generally, I am planning to participate in the Back to the Classics 2019 challenge (if there is one - it hasn't been announced yet) as my main project, with the twist of fitting it into my All the Vintage Ladies project/blog. If there isn't a new one, I'll probably just take the categories from last year's challenge and create my own mini-challenge.

 

I also want to focus on a few authors/series next year.

 

I settled on the Mercedes Lackey Valdemar series as a long term fantasy series project - there are several sub-trilogies within the series, so I will just read them until I burn out. I'm doing the publication order, so I am starting with the Heralds of Valdemar series.  I read almost the entire first book yesterday, so I'll probably plan to read one of the sub-trilogies a month or so.

 

In terms of my Golden Age Mystery project, I am going to focus on Patricia Wentworth in 2019. I have become a huge fan of her books this year, and she has tons of books. I've already collected around half of her Miss Silver mysteries on my kindle, but I also want to dip into some of her stand alone books and her other shorter series. Hopefully Open Road will put her on sale during the year and I can snag some more, and I will just keep my eyes peeled every time I hit a UBS.

 

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Books - there is no way that I will finish this series this year, but I have enjoyed both of the Discworld books I've read (Equal Rites, Wyrd Sisters) so I want to read some more. I am going to read Hogfather for 24 Tasks of the Festive Season, and then I will read Witches Abroad in early 2019 to finish out the first witches trilogy. I haven't decided on where to go next!

 

 

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