Happy New Year from Sydney, Australia! Throughout the past 2.5 years, I have been constantly ashamed to see I haven’t updated my blog since June 2016, when I was frolicking around in Finland – in fact, some of the posts on my homepage were from the glorious pre-Brexit days!
A lot has happened over the last 2.5 years (I was awarded my PhD, I moved back to Sydney semi-permanently, I started an English tutoring business, etc etc), but the one thing that’s remained the same is my passion for books. In fact, I am now more determined than ever to make time to reading – and I would very much like to share some coherent thoughts about the books I’ve read and loved (primarily because my memory has become quite shocking).
On that note, I’d like to say a few things about the best books I read in 2018. According to Goodreads, I read 69 books last year (yes, I did in fact excuse myself from family festivities for an hour on New Year’s Eve to finish Northanger Abbey, because I am evidently very mature). The full list and statistics can be found on my Goodreads page here.
Of these, my favourites are (in no particular order):
Now that I’m firmly in 2016, I can finalise my “Best of 2015” list—and I’m glad I waited, because there were some wonderful last-minute additions! Here are some of my favourite books, films, TV shows, shows, meals, and moments from 2015:
Since I only read 37 “funfunfun” (i.e. non-academic/work-related) books this year, it wasn’t too difficult to choose my top five. I’m particularly glad I did my three reading challenges, because I wouldn’t have discovered some of these otherwise! I’ve included the “overall” reason I’ve picked these books, but do please click on the titles to read the full “review”. These are listed alphabetically, because I’m indecisive enough as is. ;)
I’ve only got about an hour left in 2015, but I can proudly declare that I’ve finished my reading challenges! The last few days have been a mini-readathon—yay books! Will post my Best of 2015 tomorrow, but for now, here are my final books of the year:
28. Alice Hoffman – Fortune’s Daughter (18 Dec)
29. Ken Hunt and Mike Taylor – The Xenophobe’s Guide to the Aussies (20 Dec)
30. Carrie Vaughn – Kitty and the Midnight Hour (26 Dec)
31. Anne Ursu – Breadcrumbs (28 Dec)
32. Eva Ibbotson – Journey to the River Sea (30 Dec)
33. Yamaguchi, Noboru – Zero no Tsukaima (The Familiar of Zero), Vol. 1 (30 Dec)
34. Malcolm X – Speeches By Malcom X: The Ultimate Collection (31 Dec)
35. Paul Zindel – My Darling, My Hamburger (31 Dec)
36. Scott Westerfield – Uglies (31 Dec)
37. Eimear McBride – A Girl is a Half-formed Thing (31 Dec)
Yup, this post is looooong overdue. Over these past few months, I’ve read the following funfunfun books:
18. Vikram Seth – An Equal Music (11 July)
19. Stephen Fry – The Liar (2 Aug)
20. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels – The Communist Manifesto (3 Aug)
21. Leo Tolstoy – Resurrection (7 Aug)
22. Fyodor Dostoevsky – Netochka Nezvanova (9 Sept)
23. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees (18 Sept)
24. Kit Rocha – Beyond Shame (30 Nov)
25. Miles Jupp – In and Out of the Kitchen (3 Dec)
26. James A. Grymes – Violins of Hope (6 Dec)
27. Euripides – Electra and Other Plays (7 Dec)
An eclectic selection, perhaps, but books are books are books. ♥
It seems real life has gotten in the way of reading and “reviewing” again… And so, here’s what I’ve read since March (I know, I know–but better late than never!):
10. Marian Keyes – Watermelon (25 April)
11. Roberto Bolaño – Antwerp (25 April)
12. Cicero – On the Good Life (trans. Michael Grant; Penguin) (3 June)
13. Lois Lowry – Messenger (5 June)
14. Ruth Ozeki – A Tale For the Time Being (12 June)
15. Sarah Quigley – The Conductor (27 June)
16. Anne Bishop – Murder of Crows (28 June)
17. Evelyn Waugh – A Handful of Dust (3 July)
March was a pretty crazy month for me, with teaching classes, some hard-core PhD writing, and quite a bit of work for Regency Love, so I only managed two books. Two wonderful books, though, so I’m not complaining!
8. Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca (7 March)
Blurb: Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers…
Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.
February turned out to be a lot busier than anticipated, primarily due to a teaching position I was offered at the university that was very, very last-minute. But yay, I managed to squeeze in four books during my (sometimes sleepy) bedtime reading!
4. Alexander Pushkin – The Queen of Spades and Other Stories (trans. Rosemary Edmonds; Penguin) (8 Feb)
5. Joanna Briscoe – You (17 Feb)
6. Jennifer E. Smith – The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (22 Feb)
7. Vladimir Nabokov – Despair (28 Feb)
January wasn’t anywhere near as booktastic as I would’ve liked, but the three I’d finished were all very enjoyable. I had decided to start working on the Classics Reading challenge first, and now I’m finding it hard to put down those lovely old books!
1. E. Nesbit – The Story of the Treasure Seekers (3 Jan)
2. Elizabeth Gaskell – Mary Barton (16 Jan)
3. Aeschylus – Prometheus Bound, The Suppliants, Seven Against Thebes, The Persians (trans. Philip Vellacott) (31 Jan)
As always, I’ve included cover images of the version I’d picked up. Some of them were a little difficult to find, so please pardon the poor image quality!
I had so much fun with my two reading challenges from 2014, I’ve decided to sign up for four more in 2015, and also host (and participate in) my own reading challenge.
Yup, you’ve read that right—I’ll be taking on five reading challenges in 2015. Thankfully, I’ve been frequenting my local library lately, which means I won’t be amassing too many books here that may need to be donated once/if I leave this part of the world. And if I get super duper desperate, I can always include an academic monographs or fifty. (Actually, no, I won’t. My only self-imposed pre-requisite for these books is that they are to be “funfunfun” and unrelated to my PhD research.)
The five three challenges I’ve decided to take on are:
This is certainly been quite a busy book year for me, during which I read a total of 57 “funfunfun” books. Pair this with the kazillion things I have to read for work (a PhD in Shakespeare), and it’s no wonder my eyesight has gone out the window!
My booktastic Christmas tree this year.
I’m also really pleased to have completed both the reading challenges I decided to take up back in March. I’m really glad I decided to take on the challenges, because they motivated me to read some fantastic books I wouldn’t have otherwise come across (though I’ve also had to trawl through some pretty awful stuff). So here are all the non-work books I read in 2014: