Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Hobbit Review, and Year End Books Read Statistics!

Long post ahead, beware! Brief mention of an award, reviews of The Hobbit, and The Books Read in 2012 Statistics!

Thank you to Melanie for the Blog of the Year Award!

I'll be passing it on in my next post.

So, The Hobbit. I've posted reviews on a few blogs, and I'll summarise my main points here. I'm sorry if it all sounds like criticism. But I've been reading these books every year for over 20 years, and I have to say, they change things and I simply don't understand the reasoning for it. Not everything has to be over-the-top. It can be real, without losing any of its epic nature.

Here's the review I submitted to The One Ring (with a couple of embarrassing typos corrected):
As a lifelong fan of Tolkien, I'm excited to be living through the release of these grand-in-scope movies, both of The Lord of the Rings and of The Hobbit. Having relied on my own imagination and Tolkien's illustrations for years, it's interesting, and more often than not exciting, to see the characters and images on the big screen. In some cases the scope seems almost too large: Hobbiton was inspired by, among other places, Lancashire in England, and the New Zealand landscapes are often overwhelming.
One thing I didn't see the need for was changing the storyline regarding Thrain, Dol Guldur, and Azog. Why not simply have Bolg chasing the dwarves, rather than a maimed Azog? Why not have Gandalf reveal the sad story of Thrain to Thorin? Why not have Gandalf and the White Council certain that it's Sauron in Dol Guldur? They could - as they did - still argue over what to do with him. And they needn't do it in such stilted, disjointed fashion either. Which is my main criticism of the movie - the dialogue never seems to flow naturally. The characters all speak as though they'd been up the night before, plotting their words. Emphatically not the feel of the books.
This was originally posted on the Ironical Coincidings blog (which is also has a very good review):
I don't think that's fair to Tolkien - arguing that this is a better movie than some of the other drivel out there - as it doesn't negate the fact that Jackson had some amazing, long lasting (a classic for nearly a century!) source material to work with, and once again turned it into a film that barely scratches the surface of theme and character development.
The stilted dialogue is one aspect of this - in Tolkien's work, the characters are real, and true to themselves, and talk according to their beliefs of what's going on in the world around them. In both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, they all talk the same - in slow, stilted, halting, self-important sentences. They might as well be reading for the first time off a tele-prompter. Where's the passion?
By contrast, one of the aspects that bothers me most about the films is how badly they portray the "lightness" also inherent in Tolkien's work, especially among the hobbits. Warmth and closeness and domesticity in the books come across as twee silliness in the films, when they're bothered to be included. Perhaps it's a very good thing they left out Bombadil completely.
Some of this might be personal preference - I'd rather have dialogue and character growth any day over constant action scene after fight scene after escape scene.
One more thing - one of the complaints I've heard from people who haven't read the books is that Gandalf always seems to be there to save the day. And from their point of view, they're right. I mean, Gandalf gets a butterfly to summon the eagles? (Not to mention, how the heck did the eagles get there so quickly?) Why not simply show Thorondor keeping an eye on the world?

And this was on Lara's blog, in response to her review as a non-reader of Tolkien (apparently they exist! Sorry, Lara):
I love hearing reviews from those who haven't read or don't remember the books, because I always feel justified in nitpicking and complaining about the movie (Harry taking the Tube during the summer, anyone?).
So yea, the movie does make it seem as though Gandalf saves everything, doesn't it? But the book definitely makes it seem less so - for one thing, in the scene with the trolls, in the book, none of them knew Gandalf was there (as opposed to Bilbo catching sight of him in the movie). And the escape from the goblins' lair was less overtly Gandalf's doing in the books - more run and chase, less fighting.
One thing I always complain about is the stilted dialogue and lack of dialogue in the movies. Why can't the characters talk properly/naturally? Why can't we have some scenes of them sitting around the fire at nights, getting to know one another? Okay, they did it once, to explain some of Thorin's backstory - but they changed the backstory! For no reason that I could see...
Here's some of what I added on the Forum:
It was kinda fun while watching it, but afterwards I was just left picking at the holes. Nothing could ever match Tolkien's writing.
Added comment (not wearing my Tolkien-fan hat as I say this): Kili's quite good looking!
Also, I was happy they included the songs, and quite liked them!
Finally, on the Shire Wisdom blog I mentioned that Armitage added a depth that's not there in the book until all the scenes after his capture by Thranduil.

So, lots of disparate comments overall. But then, I am a book fan. Give me a blanket, some cocoa, and a pile of books any day over something on screen. To each his own!

Speaking of books... Here we go with the 2012 review of books.

Here's the list of Books Read in 2011, Books Read in 2010, Books Read in 2009, the addendum to the 2009 list , Books Read in 2008, and addendum A and addendum B to the 2008 list (the statistics posts come after those posts).

Books read: 95, plus 8 that I skimmed, 36 short stories and excerpts, and 2 MAD Magazines, as well as 18 poems, for a total of 141 plus the poetry.

This is compared to 124 in 2011, 92 in 2010, 131 in 2009 and 101 in 2008. That's not counting the thousands of words written and read for writers' houseparties over at the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum, plus other forum writings and magazines and newspapers, and so on.

I don't know if it's a bad thing to have read so many - it doesn't feel like a lot to me, but then there's Joe Hill tweeting about barely managing to read 52 books in a year (not counting board books or comics), and then I start wondering whether I should be spending more time writing and editing, rather than reading.

But I can't give up reading! If I go more than a day or two without a good novel (despite reading magazines, or non-fictions, or work-related stuff, or...) then I feel bereft. Which is why, I suppose, it's so disappointing to read a not-so-good novel. Of the three books on the list that I think I might finish in the next few days, I'm having a lot of trouble with The Cove by Ron Rash: I think this is what they mean by telling, not showing.

Anyhow, my average over 50 weeks, not counting the poems, is about the same as the year before last, 2.5 books per week (or two books and two short stories).

Authors read: 105 (counting board books and poets this year), plus a few compendiums, beta reads and so on; much more varied, compared to 89 in 2011, 63 in 2010, 57 in 2009 and 69 in 2008 (not counting anthologies).

This was the year of Neil Gaiman. I read American Gods in January, and I was hooked, instantly and irrevocably. All year I've been reading Neil, so far 19 books and short stories and poems and comics (and blog posts and tweets and...):
M is for Magic (reread of some short stories)
First chapter of Coraline (read by Neil)
"The Price" (short story)
"We Can Get Them For You Wholesale" (short story)
Sandman Vol. 1
Conjuctions (poem)
A Writer's Prayer (poem)
Australia Day (poem)
A Cat in the Ointment (poem)
Signal to Noise (by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean)
Good Omens (by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett)
American Gods
The Graveyard Book
Odd and the Frost Giants
Coraline
Smoke and Mirrors (short story collection)
Fragile Things (short story collection)
Anansi Boys
Stardust
Next up for Most Books by One Author are Tolkien and Stephen King, with five books each, and Talli Roland with four! In previous years I've read a lot of Janet Evanovich, Emily Carr, Dorothy Sayers, and Anthony Horowitz (one book by him this year, The House of Silk - first ever Sherlock Holmes novel authorised by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate).


Last year I reread The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion, Outlander, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Tales of Beedle the Bard (before seeing the last movie), and in 2010 I reread L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, including The Road To Yesterday. Rereads in 2009 included J. K. Rowling, Diana Gabaldon, and Agatha Christie.

This year I reread a lot: Auden, Browning, Gaiman, King, Zan Marie Steadham, and Tolkien, plus one each of Michael Bond (Paddington!), Kristen Callihan, and Agatha Christie (I know! Only one!).

Oldest book: Hmm, I didn't go very far back this year. Probably Cyrano de Bergerac and Voltaire are the oldest, and the oldest published books (not reprints) are the two anthologies, The Land of My Fathers - A Welsh Gift Book, and Princess Mary's Gift Book, both from 1914, including stories and poems by Arthur Conan Doyle, Kipling, etc. There's also Ah King by Somerset Maugham, Shakespeare in London by Marchette Chute, and Helena by Evelyn Waugh.

Last year it was the 14th Century Book of Good Love by Archpriest Juan Ruiz, though the translation was only a hundred years old. After that, it was the chapter on the Earl of Rochester from Samuel Johnson's Lives of the Poets, and Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers, as well as P. G. Wodehouse. The year before that it was the Earl of Rochester as well (and Perreault's fairy tales), plus Hours at the Glasgow Art Galleries by T. C. F. Brotchie, An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott and When the Going Was Good by Evelyn Waugh; in 2009, there was Shakespeare and a handful of books from pre-1950; in 2008, the oldest authors were Aesop and Pliny, but the oldest original book was by Dorothy L. Sayers, followed by John Fante and John Steinbeck.

I wonder if I should be reading more Greeks and Romans?

Newest book: 36 this year, whereas I had 44 last year! In 2010 I had 13, plus 10 new books by Forumites. In 2008 I had only two books, by Joanna Bourne and Marilynne Robinson. Many more in 2009, including books by kc dyer, Hélène Boudreau, Linda Gerber and Diana Gabaldon - Forumites all!

This year, Forumites have done it once again (all links in the lists below are to my reviews):
The Picture Book by Ev Bishop (short story)
"Jesse the Dead Guy" by Becky Morgan (short story)
"The Beast in the Mirror" by Lauralynn Elliott (short story)
Mischief and Mistletoe (anthology featuring Joanna Bourne and all the other Word Wenches)
Poems from the Edge of Spring by Elise Skidmore
The Peculiar Princess by Christina Graham Parker
The Night Lamp by Carol Spradling
Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath by Helene Boudreau
Firelight by Kristen Callihan

New stories and poems by blogging buddies:
"Whisper of Shadow" by Kait Nolan (short story)
"Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts" by Talli Roland (short story)
The Pollyanna Plan by Talli Roland
"Mistletoe in Manhattan" by Talli Roland (short story)
Construct A Couple by Talli Roland
short story by Sam Sykes
Bring Out Your Dead by Li (poem)
Lighting Candles in the Snow by Karen Jones Gowen
Operative by Kate Kaynak
The Scholes Key by Clarissa Draper
The Lie That Binds by Linda Jackson
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand (first chapter!)


Other new books:
poem by Becca Darling
Dinner Tonight: Done! by Real Simple Magazine
Colours of Shetland by Kate Davies
Lunatic Heroes by C. Anthony Martignetti
xkcd Volume 0 by Randall Munroe
The Perils of Sherlock Holmes by Loren D. Estleman
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
Before Versailles by Karleen Koen
Sacred Treason by James Forrester
Who Writes This Crap? by Luke Wright and Joel Stickley
When I Was A Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson
When Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak
Secrets of the Knight by Nina Jade Singer
A Beautiful Cage by Alyson Reuben
"The Duke's Blackmailed Bride" by Leigh D'Ansey (short story)

Stories/Authors I didn't like: Last year it was Jonathan Franzen, Philippa Gregory and Gillian Bagwell, the year before that Libba Bray and Thomas Cobb. One author in 2009 (Ilyas Halil) and three authors (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ian McEwan and Ian Rankin) and one story ("Hairball" by Margaret Atwood) in 2008.
This year, well, there were no books I actively disliked, but there were two I distinctly felt "meh" about: Before Versailles, and Inkheart. I wonder if I might have enjoyed Inkheart more had I read it in the original German? I actually had no foreign language books this year.

Books that made me cry:
Bag of Bones by Stephen King
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (because of Krystal)
Lunatic Heroes by C. Anthony Martignetti (if you haven't yet, you have to listen to him reading the chapter The Swamp. Bullfrog.)

Because, yes, reading Neil led directly to listening to Amanda Palmer, and then reading her friend Anthony's book about growing up in Boston in the 50s and 60s. Here's Amanda's blog about Anthony and all that's going on.

Last year (the first year of this category) I had many books that made me cry: The Scottish Prisoner, and Outlander, both by Diana Gabaldon, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling, and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, all of which were rereads, but there was also Rowing in Eden by Barbara Rogan, The Only Alien on the Planet by Kristen Randle, This and That by Emily Carr, The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells, Dancing Through the Snow by Jean Little, Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson, and Fifteen by Beverly Cleary.

Youngest books: Quite a few board books, just as in the last few years, including Canada 123 by Kim Bellefontaine and Per-Henrik Gurth, Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann (adorable!), Hallowe'en by Jerry Seinfeld (yes, that Seinfeld!), That's Not My Puppy!, I Can Help (a My Little Pony book), and the wonderful We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems

Fluff but Fun books: Last year I read Andy Capp, MAD, and an Archie, which was fewer than the past three years. This year was even fewer than that, with only two issues of MAD. That's not counting the random issues of Guitar World magazine from c. 1991 that I found and read...

Books/Authors I'd recommend: Last year I gave a shout out to Forumites, and to my old favourites, Tolkien et al. There are a lot from this year's list, too, especially the books that made me cry.

Shortest book: This one's rather subjective. There were quite a few novellas, lots of short stories, and of course the Middle Grade stories. Last year the shortest was The Tales of Beedle the Bard, same as in 2008 and 2010, and The Object Lesson by Edward Gorey (besides the short stories, the youngest books, Andy Capp, Archie, and MAD). So this year I'm going to recommend the longest of the short pieces: The Space Between, a long novella by Diana Gabaldon.

Longest book: Every year there's a Tolkien or Gabaldon in there, and this year was no exception. All the others seem to be about the same length. No long series this year, either, that I might have counted as one book. Unless you count Neil. Yes, let's go with that.

Research books: I had a hodgepodge last year, including books on English history, poetry, Mediterranean flora, and the Renaissance. This year's crop was just as varied, given that I was reading for both Druid's Moon (contemporary paranormal) and Captive of the Sea (15th Century historical romance):

Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales
Shakespeare in London by Marchette Chute
A Brief History of the Celts by Peter Berresford Ellis
Two Families in the Wars of the Roses by Rosemary Goyder
Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove
Artisans of Empire - Crafts and Craftspeople Under the Ottomans by Suraiya Faroqhi
Not very many, I suppose because I've been reading about the 15th Century for a few years now.

Books from the 19th Century: None last year! I did a little better this year: The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, plus poems by Longfellow and Browning, and "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Edgar Allan Poe.

Books from 1900-1960: Last year there were only 12 novels and two short stories. Honourable mention went to The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, which is all about growing up in a small midwestern US town in the 50s. There were 27 such books in 2010, 17 in 2009, and in 2008 this time period made up 1/4 of my list. Counting the short stories, I had a lot this year, too, including all the Tolkien, plus:

Crooked House by Agatha Christie (reread)
Op. I. by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Sunny Side by A. A. Milne
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Helena by Evelyn Waugh
Shakespeare in London by Marchette Chute
Bodies and Souls (1950s Dell Paperback featuring crime stories by Agatha Christie, G. K. Chesterton, etc.)
The Summing Up by W. Somerset Maugham
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Ah King by Somerset Maugham
Come to Think of It by G. K. Chesterton (essay collection)

I also had four beta reads this year, same as last year! And, finally, here's the list of poems:

The Host of the Air by W. B. Yeats, and one other
The More Loving One by W. H. Auden (reread)
Sea Fever by John Masefield
The Trees by W. B. Yeats
Autumn Day by Rilke
a poem by Becca Darling
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning (reread)
A Very Little Light by Stephen Watts
I Shall Not Care by Sarah Teasdale
I Am Not Yours by Sarah Teasdale
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper
The Sound of the Sea by Longfellow
Bring Out Your Dead by Li
A Writer's Prayer by Neil Gaiman
Australia Day by Neil Gaiman
A Cat in the Ointment by Neil Gaiman
Conjuctions by Neil Gaiman
On sale at Neverwear; the page features the story behind the poem.
Here's the corresponding Amanda Palmer song and story.

The year before I stopped reading the following and I still haven't finished them:
An Acceptable Time by Madeleine l'Engle
All My Life Before Me, the diary of C. S. Lewis
"Parma Eldalamberon" 14 and 18: Tengwesta Qenderinwa and Pre-Fëanorian Alphabets by J. R. R. Tolkien
 Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Great Explorers (Folio Society)
Niccolo Rising by Dorothy Dunnett

This year I have the following to add:
Le Morte d'Arthur by Malory
Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England
Shadow Show (Anthology in Honour of Ray Bradbury, including Neil Gaiman!, which is as far as I got)
The Mabinogion (Penguin edition) (reread)
Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
Warriors (anthology) edited by George R. R. Martin and G. Dozois (featuring a new Lord John story by Diana Gabaldon, which I skipped ahead to read)

I'm not sure what the list of unfinished books says about me.

What were some of your favourite books in 2012? Most surprising books?

One of my most unexpected books was World War Z - the first zombie book I've ever read. And I liked it! Also unexpected was how much I liked The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. I've blogged before about how I fell out of fan-hood with Barnes, but I was happy to report on the Forum that this book completely renewed my support for him. Even more unexpected was reading Joe Hill's The Heart-shaped Box as an e-book - without printing it! First time I've done that.

Which categories do you think I should add?

Of course, none of this mentions the list down the side of the blog: 180 books to read before 2015 (to which I could add about 50 more). I'm, uh, not getting very far on that, is the most euphemistic way of putting it.

Finally, after a long post like that, if you need relief and a bit of Yuletide cheer:

Here's the full list of books for 2012, original comments and all (but condensed into one big paragraph, thank you html-to-compose switch, Blogger): The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams Old Man's War by John Scalzi The Cove by Ron Rash The Host of the Air by W. B. Yeats (poem) Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove Dinner Tonight: Done! by Real Simple Magazine Sandman Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman Colours of Shetland by Kate Davies A Christmas Walk by Zan Marie Steadham (reread) The Annotated Hobbit by J R R Tolkien and Douglas Anderson (reread) Come to Think of It by G. K. Chesterton (essay collection) M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman (reread of some short stories) The Pollyanna Plan by Talli Roland Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo (Oh boy! This book has been on my wishlist for 20 years!) The Trees by W. B. Yeats (poem) Autumn Day by Rilke (poem) A Little Stranger by Kate Pullinger The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes Lunatic Heroes by C. Anthony Martignetti A Trail of Fire by Diana Gabaldon (reading new novella A Space Between) Mischief and Mistletoe anthology (featuring Joanna Bourne and all the other Word Wenches) The Picture Book by Ev Bishop (short story) Put A Lid On It by Donald Westlake poem by Yeats (read aloud to me, it was in an anthology I'd read before) Mistletoe in Manhattan by Talli Roland The Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill (my first ever e-book read as an e-book, i.e. without printing it!) The Lays of Beleriand by J. R. R. Tolkien (reread) My Last Duchess by Robert Browning (poem; reread) short story by Sam Sykes (for Hallowe'en) the 800 word Harry Potter prequel by J. K. Rowling Two Families in the Wars of the Roses by Rosemary Goyder a poem by Becca Darling four short stories by Forumites Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean Whisper of Shadow by Kait Nolan (short story) xkcd Volume 0 by Randall Munroe The Perils of Sherlock Holmes by Loren D. Estleman Paddington at Large by Michael Bond (reread) first chapter of Coraline by Neil Gaiman (read by Neil) The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (first Sherlock Holmes story ever authorised by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate!) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett secret beta read! The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling The More Loving One by W. H. Auden (poem) (reread) Sea Fever by John Masefield (poem) Before Versailles by Karleen Koen (ARC) Canada 123 by Kim Bellefontaine and Per-Henrik Gurth Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann Sacred Treason by James Forrester Who Writes this Crap? by Luke Wright and Joel Stickley (hilarious!) The Book of Lost Tales 2 by J. R. R. Tolkien (reread) Lighting Candles in the Snow by Karen Jones Gowen Conjuctions by Neil Gaiman (poem) Magician: Apprentice by Raymond Feist (skimmed the last couple of chapters) Hallowe'en by Jerry Seinfeld (board book) Ah King by Somerset Maugham A Brief History of the Celts by Peter Berresford Ellis The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (I bawled, many times) The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley A Curious Fragment by Jack London (short story) Micromegas by Voltaire (short story) All You Zombies by R. Heinlein (short story) The Picture in the House by H. P. Lovecraft (short story) EPICAC by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (short story) The City by Ray Bradbury (short story) I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison (short story) two excerpts from Other Worlds by Cyrano de Bergerac Homage to the San Francisco YMCA by Richard Brautigan (short story) The Sword of Welleran by Lord Dunsany (short story) Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson Rebuilding Coventry by Sue Townsend Shakespeare The World As A Stage by Bill Bryson Shakespeare's Life and World (Folio Society Edition) (skimmed) That's Not My Puppy! (board book) Shakespeare in London by Marchette Chute Bodies and Souls - 1950s Dell Paperback featuring crime stories by Agatha Christie, G. K. Chesterton, etc. secret beta read! The Land of My Fathers - A Welsh Gift Book (1914) (skimmed) I Can Help (My Little Pony board book) selections from Princess Mary's Gift Book (1914) (including stories and poems by Arthur Conan Doyle, Kipling, etc.) The Summing Up by W. Somerset Maugham All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque The Peculiar Princess by Christina Graham Parker Helena by Evelyn Waugh Willow and Twig by Jean Little The Cat Who Wasn't There by Lilian Jackson Braun The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems The Scholes Key by Clarissa Draper Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury Construct A Couple by Talli Roland When Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak (ARC) MAD Magazine #289 MAD Magazine #286 Inkheart by Cornelia Funke Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand (first chapter already up on her blog!) Coraline by Neil Gaiman The Lie That Binds by Linda Jackson When I Was A Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath by Helene Boudreau Crooked House by Agatha Christie (reread) A Very Little Light by Stephen Watts (poem) five vignettes by Beste Barki Four Past Midnight by Stephen King (introductions only, and skimmed Secret Window, Secret Garden) Timeline by Michael Crichton Op. I. by Dorothy L. Sayers The Sunny Side by A. A. Milne Firelight by Kristen Callihan (ARC - I'd beta read a much earlier draft) Secrets of the Knight by Nina Jade Singer The Night Lamp by Carol Spradling Nobbut a Lad by Alan Titchmarsh (first half - book belonged to a B 'n' B) Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella (first half - book belonged to my friend) Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman Belshazzar's Daughter by Barbara Nadel Stephen King's Danse Macabre (bits and pieces) Our Dumb World - The Onion Atlas (skimmed) An Easter Walk by Zan Marie Steadham (reread) Bring Out Your Dead by Li (poem) World War Z by Max Brooks Artisans of Empire - Crafts and Craftspeople Under the Ottomans by Suraiya Faroqhi (first half only) Introduction and Foreword to The Dark Tower I by Stephen King A Beautiful Cage by Alyson Reuben secret beta read Bag of Bones by Stephen King (brilliant!) Stardust by Neil Gaiman Slow Tuesday Night by R. A. Lafferty (short story) The Transcendent Tigers by R. A. Lafferty (short story) Nine Hundred Grandmothers by R. A. Lafferty (short story) Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts by Talli Roland (short story) The Book of Lost Tales I by J. R. R. Tolkien (reread) first draft by blogging buddy A Writer's Prayer by Neil Gaiman (poem) The Price by Neil Gaiman (short story) Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman Operative by Kate Kaynak (ARC) It by Stephen King (reread) Australia Day by Neil Gaiman (poem) A Cat in the Ointment by Neil Gaiman (poem) Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman We Can Get Them For You Wholesale by Neil Gaiman (short story) Caspar David Friedrich (a Phaidon edition) (skimmed) American Gods by Neil Gaiman I Shall Not Care by Sarah Teasdale (poem) I Am Not Yours by Sarah Teasdale (poem) The Duke's Blackmailed Bride by Leigh D'Ansey (short story) The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe (short story) Unfinished Tales by J. R. R. Tolkien (reread) Poems from the Edge of Spring by Elise Skidmore The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper (poem) The Sound of the Sea by Longfellow (poem) Jesse the Dead Guy by Becky Morgan (short story) The Beast in the Mirror by Lauralynn Elliott (short story) My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

14 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't think I could begin to make a list of books like that.
It's been years since I read The Hobbit and I went into it knowing there were changes and additions from the appendix. So, I enjoyed it. A little long, but it was enjoyable.

Carol Riggs said...

Hahaaa, "twee silliness." Cute phrase. I haven't yet seen the movie yet. Maybe I'll wait to see it on video, although it's probably awesome on the big screen. I really liked reading THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater this year, along with DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor. :)

Ryan King said...

I've been dragging my feet about reading Neil Gaiman. Not sure why. But after reading your reaction (and year long obsession), I've added him to my GoodReads list. Frankly, the new Sherlock Holmes book you mentioned has me more eager to read. That was added to my to-read list first. Alas, my reading schedule for this year is already booked but I guess I start work on next year's list. LOL. Thanks for the suggestions.

Theresa Milstein said...

Wow, what a huge # of books. I think I read about 60.

You had a big Gaiman year, I see. How was the Cavendish book?

I had a few books I really liked this year. I enjoyed Inside Out and Back Again. I really liked Breadcrumbs too.

And I finally finished The Casual Vacancy. It grew on me. I reviewed it on Goodreads.

Happy New Year!

Lara said...

Should I be worried that a mob of pitchfork and torch bearing Tolkien fans is going to descend on me? [g]

Since 2012 was the year of Neil, do you have an author picked out for next year yet?

LR said...

Holy cow you read a lot this year! :)

I loved The Graveyard Book. Also found it somehow very touching.

The Golden Eagle said...

That's a ton of books! :)

I've been reading a lot of mixed reviews of The Hobbit. Haven't seen it myself yet--will probably end up waiting until the DVD release.

Jeff Hargett said...

Long post indeed! Interesting hearing your views on them. (And amazed at how you're able to go through so many in a year's time.)

I found myself far more forgiving of Jackson's depiction of The Hobbit than I was of LotR--especially FotR. (I felt the changes at the ford of Elrond robbed Frodo of on-screen character development.)

Merry Christmas!

Bryan Russell said...

I just saw The Hobbit yesterday, but I'm still digesting it.

And why is it that I love lists of books so much?

Lori Benton said...

Okay, I'll stop being QUITE so proud of my 80 books! Still it's the most I've ever read in a year. I'm a slow reader. :) And it will be 80 by the end of the week. 79 with half a long chapter to go in the latest research book.

Awesome reading year for you!

As for The Hobbit... I like a lot of it, but those chase/fight/escape scenes, particularly in the goblin cave, left me rolling my eyes. I think that was the worst of it for me. Flesh and blood must be made of different stuff (rubber?) in middle earth. They should all have been dead before they ever hit the deck, falling into the cave.

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

I loved the Hobbit despite being in excruciating pain at the time I saw it (I had a gout attack). And congrats on the award...your blog is definitely one of the most interesting on the internet.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Deniz .. your post is amazing - and your ability to read so many books truly staggering ... well I have years to catch you up !!

I bought the Sherlock Holmes book for an elderly at Christmas .. and that was well taken - inadvertently I bought two - so mine is here too!

I'm going to keep your list ... as it is so comprehensive .. and there's bloggers' books I want to read ..

Cheers and have fun reading in 2013 .. excellent summary for us .. happy new year - Hilary

Matthew MacNish said...

Don't even get me started on The Hobbit movie. As a fan of film, and a huge fan of Middle Earth, overall, I enjoyed it, but when I think about what it could have been ...

Deniz Bevan said...

I think that's the difference, Alex - I reread it again the week before I saw the movie.

Ooh, two more recommendations! Thanks Carol!

I was the same, Ryan - and then suddenly I started reading Gaiman and couldn't stop!

Cavendish is awesome, Theresa! I can't wait to read the whole book!

Ooh, good question, Lara. I might be getting a review copy of C C Humphreys, and I'd really like to read the rest of Scalzi's Old Man War saga, so we'll see...

I thought it was touching, too, LR.

I'll look out for your review, Eagle!

Good point about the ford, and Frodo, Jeff!

Aww, thanks, Bryan :-)

Thanks, Lori - but don't forget, I'm counting all the little kids' books too :-) I agree with you about the action scenes - I'd rather have realism.

Oh no! Hope you're feeling better, Michael. Gout's awfully painful. Thanks so much for the compliment :-)

I've got lots of bloggers' books I want to read, too, Hilary!

Exactly, Matthew! They just don't seem to capture the tone...

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (annual reread)
  • Beowulf and Sellic Spell by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Lessons for a Sunday Father by Claire Calman
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • The War of the Ring - Book 8 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • What to Expect in Baby's First Year
  • Baby's First Year for Dummies
  • 11 Doctors 11 Stories by various authors (including Neil Gaiman)
  • Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King
  • Creed or Chaos? by Dorothy Sayers
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • The Magician by Somerset Maugham
  • Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne
  • The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving (skimmed last third)
  • A Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak
  • Fatal Fallout by Lara Lacombe
  • secret beta read!
  • The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak
  • Deadly Contact by Lara Lacombe
  • Carry On, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
  • The Floating Admiral by the Detection Club, including Christie, Sayers, Chesterton, etc.
  • Brief Lives, Sandman 8 by Neil Gaiman
  • Liza of Lambeth by Somerset Maugham
  • The Mapmaker's Daughter by Laurel Corona (I give up on finishing this; skimmed to the end)
  • Childe Harold by Lord Byron (listened to the parts of it set in Switzerland read aloud)
  • Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
  • My Dancing Bear by Helene de Klerk
  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
  • The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
  • Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery
  • Tu Vas Naitre by Sylvia Kitzinger
  • Goodbye To All That by Robert Graves
  • secret beta read 2!
  • Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay
  • The Caliph's Vacation by Goscinny (Iznogoud series; Canadian translation) (reread)
  • Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson
  • Le Tresor de Rackham le Rouge by Herge (Tintin series) (reread)
  • Le Secret de la Licorne by Herge (Tintin series) (reread)
  • L'Affaire Tournesol by Herge (Tintin series) (reread)
  • The Bum by Somerset Maugham (short story)
  • The Colour of Magic, Discworld 1 by Terry Pratchett
  • Fables and Reflections Sandman 6 by Neil Gaiman
  • Doctor Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party by Graham Greene
  • Once Upon an Heirloom by Kait Nolan (novella)
  • The No-Kids Club by Talli Roland
  • Snip, Snip Revenge by Medeia Sharif
  • Journey to an 800 Number by E. L. Konigsburg
  • various Neil Gaiman short stories on the An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer album (reread (well, this time in audio))
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (reread; actually this was an older edition, published under the original title of Ten Little N******)
  • Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • Never Saw It Coming by Linwood Barclay
  • How To Fall In Love by Cecelia Ahern
  • biographical note on Lord Peter Wimsey in reissue of Clouds of Witness by Dorothy Sayers (on Gutenberg)
  • One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern
  • Notwithstanding by Louis de Bernieres
  • The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
  • Temptation by Sandy Loyd
  • The Incorrigible Mr. Lumley by Aileen Fish
  • Effie's Outlaw by Karen Lopp
  • Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
  • The Christmas Crossing by Bev Petterson (short story)
  • secret beta read!
  • An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
  • Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie
  • Arranged by Catherine McKenzie
  • Emil In the Soup Tureen by Astrid Lindgren
  • Whales by Jacques Cousteau (excerpt essay from his book)
  • Tutankhamen's Tomb by Howard Carter (excerpt essay from his book)
  • Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson
  • Everything's Eventual by Stephen King
  • Go the F*^$ To Sleep (board book)
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss (reread) (brought to you by Neil Gaiman: http://www.worldbuilders.org/our-next-stretch-goal-unlocks-at/neil-gaiman-reads-green-eggs-and-ham)
  • The Sagan Diary by John Scalzi
  • mini Twitter stories by Talli Roland (available here: http://advice.uk.match.com/dating-advice/enjoy-valentine%E2%80%99s-day-and-get-mentallydating?utm_expid=55691082-15.2L0G0ictTcSJ4BI9Srh77A.0&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fadvice.uk.match.com%2Fdating-advice)
  • The Book of Jane by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada The Wonders of Winter
  • Beloved Demons by Anthony Martignetti
  • Hands-on Therapy by T L Watson
  • Let Me Make Myself Plain by Catherine Cookson
  • The Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham
  • Mystery of the Fat Cat by Frank Bonham
  • Spin by Catherine Mckenzie
  • Virgins by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen (reread)
  • The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
  • The Ghost in the Window by Betty Ren Wright
  • The Progress of Love by Alice Munro
  • The Treason of Isengard - Book 7 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling (reread)
  • Behind the Lines (poems) by A. A. Milne
  • the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (reread)
  • Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother's Soul
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2014/01/toast-to-professor-books-read-in-2013.html
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/12/the-hobbit-review-and-year-end-books.html
  • see the 2011 statistics on http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011-statistics-fourth.html
  • see the 2011 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011.html
  • see the 2010 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2010/12/books-read-in-2010-listed-here.html
  • see the 2009 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-ii.html
  • also in 2009 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-iv.html
  • see the 2008 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-ii.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-vi.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-iv.html