End of the Year Book Tag

I. Is there a book that you started that you still need to finish by the end of the year?


I’ve just started Nino Haratischvili’s The Eighth Life (for Brilka), which is a good 944 pages long and takes in all of the changes that the twentieth century brought to Russia, Georgia and the Caucasus. I’d be surprised if I can’t finish it by the end of the month, let alone the end of the year, although its enormity makes it not very portable…

II. Do you have an autumnal book to transition to the end of the year?

Image result for m.r. james collected ghost stories

I always read a Dickens in the winter, but haven’t previously had an autumn reading tradition. That may change given that I just finished M.R. James’s Collected Ghost Stories and found them perfect atmospheric reads. They’re not terribly scary while you’re reading, but this is deceptive: two days later, I can’t stop thinking about them. I’ve also found Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels, narrated by Stephen Fry, excellent audio companions to the turning of the season.

III. Is there a release you are still waiting for? 

Good heavens, no. Not in 2019, anyway. There’s one book coming out in November that I have a proof of and may yet read (Unknown Male by Nicolas Obregon), but it’s not essential.

IV. Name three books you want to read by the end of the year.

Just from my current library stack: Paradise by Toni Morrison, The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell, Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans. Also, on my bedside bookshelf: Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart, The Need For Roots by Simone Weil, and We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Plus the thirty-six books on my “home” TBR, although those are certainly not going to get read by the end of 2019.

V. Is there a book that can still shock you and become your favourite of the year?

Probably, but I haven’t read it yet. I’m actually kind of sad because although 2019 has been, thus far, an extremely good reading year, I haven’t had the kind of mind-electrifying experience with a book that made 2018 such a pleasure. (It was Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, in case you’re wondering.) I’ve read lots of great stuff–which I will write about in December, because goddammit, we’re six weeks out from New Year’s Eve, it’s much too early to start doing personal roundups–but so far nothing arresting.

VI. Have you already started making reading plans for 2020?

Heh. Aren’t I always making reading plans?

In 2020, I would like to continue:

  • reading my way through this crowd-sourced list of the 21st century’s best children’s books
  • reading my way, slowly, through Women’s Prize and Arthur C Clarke Award winners
  • using my local public library a lot more
  • reading backlist paperbacks and classics, including rereads

I want to read everything, you know. Really, I don’t understand–not on any meaningful emotional level–why I can’t.

23 thoughts on “End of the Year Book Tag

  1. I also have a long-running project to read all the Women’s Prize winners – I was doing well, but couldn’t face The Road Home and haven’t read any more since!

    1. Ooh, I just read The Road Home. I think the beginning is rather more accomplished than the middle and end, though I can see why the sentiment may have charmed the judges.

      1. I should probably give it a go. For me it’s a combination of an author I don’t get on with and a pitch that doesn’t interest me (I can see it’s important, but I feel like I’ve read so many books like it, though that was probably less of a problem in 2007).

      2. It’s especially interesting to read it twelve years on because the immediate mental connotations of “immigrant” have changed so much – we’re more likely now to think of Syrians than of Poles!

      3. That’s true – I remember Poles being the main targets of anti-immigrant rhetoric when I was at university, which seems surprising now.

  2. Another person keen on re-reading. I am hoping I will get the TBR down a bit (after the Christmas and Birthday Influx, of course) and then do some re-reading. I will also be starting my new challenge, my Paul Magrs-athon, reading this genre-defying author all year. So I suppose I need to state I’ll be finishing Iris Murdoch by the end of the year. I’ve read some great books this year: Girl, Woman, Other might be the Big Book of the year. But as you say, six weeks to go!

    1. Paul Magrs sounds rather fascinating – I’d never heard of him before you wrote about him, so can’t wait to hear what you discover in his work. Girl Woman Other is very, very good, I agree: of all the Man Booker shortlisters, it was the one I wanted most to win!

      1. I think Girl … will be in the top ten for sure, whatever happens. I’m excited about the Magrs-athon because it’s a mixture of re-reads and new reads, so I know I’m going to enjoy it. I hope I do get to introduce more people to his work – and there will be giveaways along the way, too!

  3. “I want to read everything, you know.” I love it! Although there’s a few genres I tend to avoid, I generally feel the same way. I kind of feel like I’m burning out on new releases, though. Like, I already have more than eighty 2020 titles on my TBR, and rather than feeling excitement about them I almost feel dread. I’m wondering if I need a year off review copies to focus on backlist reads, especially books I own, plus past Wellcome Prize shortlistees and the rereading of favourites, with maybe just a handful of new releases from the library or for paid reviews (or contributions to Shiny New Books). So, instead of grabbing at everything that I think I might like, lots of which somehow ends up being disappointing, I could wait until the end of the year, look at people’s best-of lists to assess how many of those buzzy titles are actually worth reading, and compile myself a select set of 2020 books to catch up on.

    1. That sounds like rather a nice thing to do. I would encourage it, if you can! When I say I want to read everything, I do mean it, but I mostly mean “I want to read everything that already exists, and we’ll just see about the new releases.” It’s one of the hazards of working in or adjacent to this industry, that you can end up burning out so easily on the endless promotional cycles of brand!new!titles!whicharedefinitelysoooamazingomgjustlikeTheSecretHistory! (or, you know, whatever. Insert overused comp here.)

    1. Downsizing is a priority for me too, as well as wanting to read everything! Bookselling and blogging makes it quite tricky to do; I’d find it easier to give away more if I hadn’t met the authors, had the books signed, etc…

  4. I had flu over Christmas- the one good thing that came of it was that I finished the 8th Life in 3 weeks. Completely absorbing, a terrific novel. Tbilisi is one of my favorite cities and much of the action is located in the Vera district- which is where the Stamba hotel is now located, a very beautiful, atmospheric area

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