Tuesday, January 19, 2010

December in review (or, Better late than never)

As you may know, I got terribly behind near the end of last year. So yes, I know it's already well into January, of a different year no less, add in the fact that I haven't actually reviewed any of the books I read last month yet, but here it is anyway, my monthly reading recap for December.

December started off with me in Norfolk, Virginia where I tried repeatedly over the years to gain the approval of my father, despite our strained relationship.  I'm still not sure I'll ever accept or understand the way he treated me, but at least I finally came to terms with who I am. Next, I left the comfort of the mansion on the hill where I lived with my family, in an attempt to save them from the evil man who was kidnapping cats from all over town.  I had lots of dangerous adventures and made some wonderful friends along the way.  After that, I watched as my sister fell in love with the handsome son of the lighthouse keeper and witnessed the tragedy that followed.  Life then took a dramatic turn as I found myself a participant in a deadly reality show, expected to kill my fellow classmates or be killed, but I can't accept that is the only way to survive (to be continued...).  Then, I headed to Paris with my mother for a few weeks of Parisian life, art and good food.  Finally, I ended the month sneaking out of Japan under a false name to hide from the spy organization I used to belong to.  Once settled into my new life I began to write my story for all the world to read.

Books completed:
66. In the Wake of the Boatman - Jonathon Scott Fuqua (review pending)
67. Varjak Paw - SF Said (review pending)
68. The Three Incestuous Sisters - Audrey Niffenegger (review pending)
69. Battle Royale, vol. 1 (manga) - Koushun Takami, and illustrated by Masayuki Taguchi (review pending)
70. French Milk - Lucy Knisley (review pending)
71. Kabuki: The Alchemy - David Mack (review pending)

Favourite of the month? I don't think I can single out a favourite but the graphic novel Kabuki: The Alchemy does stand out as the art in it is simply fabulous. However I thoroughly enjoyed the art in all the other graphic novels I read too. Overall it was very much a visually satisfying month!

New-to-me authors:  Five of the six this month were new to me. Only Audrey Niffenegger, whose The Time Traveler's Wife I really loved, was a repeat.
Books in translation: 1 (Battle Royale, vol. 1, translated from the Japanese). 

Books in: 15 (Purchased: Penguin Classics special editions - Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma by Jane Austen; my first Persephone - Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski; The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff - Book Blogger Holiday Swap; The Girl Who Played with FireThe Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson, Wolf HallWolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, We are the Friction: Illustrations vs. Short Fiction, edited by Sing Statistics, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima, ShiverShiver by Maggie Stiefvater, Battle Royale: The Novel by Koushun Takami; 1 Review copy: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford)
Books out: 0

Throughout 2009 I was reading for the Book Wish Foundation. A year ago, in January 2009, I pledged to donate $1 for each book I read, and $1 for each book I acquired, whether purchased myself or received for free from another source.
Money raised in December:  $27
Total Books Read in 2009:  71
Total Books Acquired in 2009:  92
Total raised for the year:  $188 ($163 + $25 from spring read-a-thon)
I decided to round up to an even $200 and am happy that my personal contribution will be able to help the refugees of Darfur better their lives in some small way. I haven't made a specific pledge for this year but I will continue to support Book Wish whenever I can.

Reading Challenges Progress Report
(see sidebar for current challenges)

Challenges completed
Dewey's Books Reading Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 5/5
Lost in Translation Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): Completed - 17/6
Orbis Terrarum Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 10/10
Herding Cats II: Attack of the Hairballs (until Dec. 31, 2009): Completed - 3
Manga Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): Completed - 7/6
Graphic Novels Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 6/6
ARC Reading Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 16/12 Completed - Current ARC/Review status (for 2009): 16 read, 8 to go
Everything Austen Challenge (July 1, 2009 - Jan. 1, 2010): 6/6

Challenge almost completed
What's in a Name? 2 Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 5/6

Japanese Literature Challenge 3 (July 30, 2009 - Jan. 30, 2010): Completed - 4/1
Canadian Book Challenge 3 (July 1, 2009 - July 1, 2010): 1/13

Long-term Reading Projects (Total read in 2009)
Reading Japan Project: 22 (including manga, 1 in December)
Orange Prize Project: 0!

New Challenges Joined for 2010
Reading Resolutions Challenge (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2010)
2010 Reading From My Shelves Project (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2010):  Read 0/20;  Passed on 0/20
Flashback Reading Challenge (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2010):  0/3
Buy One Book and Read It Challenge (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2010):  0/6
Manga Challenge (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2010):  0/6
Graphic Novels Challenge (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2010):  0/3

Reading plans for January
Well, there's not that much of January left to be honest but I'm currently reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford for the TLC Book Tour that will be stopping here next week.  I've started but also need to finish The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, this month's Japanese Literature Book Group selection, the discussion of which will begin on Monday, the 25th.  I have some other review books on deck that I probably should read after that but I think I'll just play it by ear for the remainder of the month.

No one may care at this point but I'm going to finally put together my 2009 reading stats and best reads of the year post later this week, and then try to wrap up the last of 2009 reading-related posts by the end of January.  

In other random book news, on one of our train journeys this past weekend, there was a guy across from me reading Haruki Murakami's latest, IQ84, and it really made me wish I could read Japanese as the English translation isn't expected to be out until autumn 2011!  However, I am really looking forward to reading, and re-reading, some of Murakami's older books for the Japanese Literature reading groups this spring.

Non-bookwise, I'm in the middle of attempting to completely change my sleeping pattern.  I'm a major night owl, and always have been, but lately it's been getting ridiculous, and resulting in a perpetual lack of sleep and general fatigue.  Another factor in my blogging less over the last couple of months too, I imagine.  So not a resolution exactly, more of a lifestyle improvement that I'm working toward.  It hasn't been entirely successful yet, and often leaves me feeling a bit jet-lagged, but I am trying to make a definite effort to go to sleep earlier and get up earlier even on the days when I don't have early lessons.  I certainly do look forward to feeling more rested.  Wish me luck! And if you have any sleep-related stories or advice that you wouldn't mind sharing, I'd love to hear them.

The small print:  Links in this post to Amazon (including book covers) or The Book Depository contain my Associates or Affiliates ID respectively.  Purchases made via these links earn me a very small commission.  For more information visit my About Page.


  1. I'm in the midst of changing my sleeping pattern too, but it's because I stayed up late during my winter break and now I have to get up early to go to class. I loved your little story about the books you read in December. It made me smile.

  2. I can't wait to read those reviews of yours! I see several books I enjoyed or that I plan to read very soon.

  3. I'll care about your Best of 2009 list! I think posting a bit later is a good idea, because it won't get lost in the shuffle. :)

    I'm so excited-Housekeeper & Professor finally arrived at the library for me to pick up. I was afraid it wouldn't get in until after the discussion! And I've got that earlier Murakami on hold too. :)

  4. You certainly were a busy person!! And I have to say congratulations on completing ALL those challenges! I look forward to your pending reviews, but also to see what you have planned for the Hotel on the Corner tour stop! I loved that book! Have a great rest of the week!

  5. A lovely way of phrasing your review! I really liked the Three Incestuous Sisters, beautiful artwork.

  6. Good to know someone else is as far behind as I am! I have yet to post November & December's summaries and am only just now about ready to post my year-end summary and top ten list! Good grief.

    I'm intrigued with In the Wake of the Boatman, as I know a sweet little girl who lives in Norfolk, VA. Well, actually, Virginia Beach, but close enough.

    I'm also anxious to hear your thoughts on French Milk. I continue to hear good things about the book and may just have to snag myself a copy.

  7. Sounds like you've had quite an adventure (or adentures, I should say). And that's a good number of books too! I'm also very much interested in the graphic novel Kabuki.  I see it in bookstores now, both the hardcover and papeback editions. Is the one you have a hardcover? As far as I know the paper and the illustrations are the same. But which would you recommend? :)

  8. Ash - Even though I'm still staying up a bit too late some days I've started feeling a little more alive. Always a good thing! Good luck getting used to your early mornings.

    Andi - One of these days I'll get caught up!! I'm determined. :P

    Eva - Well I still haven't posted it. Sigh. I look forward to your thoughts on The Housekeeper and the Professor whenever you get a chance to read it. You're welcome to join the discussion any time. :)

    Suzanne - LOL. Lots of armchair travel and drama last month! Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was a great read, I'm so glad I finally got to read it!

    mariel - It amuses me to do the monthly recap like that. :)
    It was interesting to see the kind of art that Audrey Niffenegger does as I loved The Time Traveler's Wife.

    Les - I still haven't posted my 2009 in Review, so you're ahead of me there. :)
    French Milk was a fun, fast read. I love Paris so I'm always interested in reading about it. This graphic novel certainly didn't have the same depth of other memoir ones like Persepolis, Maus, etc. Fun though.

    Mark David - I have the hardcover of Kabuki: The Alchemy, but as far as I know the illustrations are exactly the same in the paperback edition. Now that I've read this latest one I want to go back and start at the beginning, if I can track down a copy as unfortunately the first one seems to be out of print.


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