I don't know if anyone noticed but I haven't posted a Reading Retrospective in the last few months, when up until November of last year I'd been posting them monthly. As you know, blogging kind of collapsed for me in late December, but I still like the idea of looking back on what I read so I hope you don't mind if I reinstate this mini-feature. I often wish I'd started keeping track of the books I read even earlier, but as it is my reading spreadsheet goes back to 2002. Since I started doing these retrospectives last year, in 2009, for each retrospective I've been reminiscing about the books I read 7 years previously. So today I'm going to look at December 2002, and January 2003. Then I'll do February and March next month to get back on track. I may continue to post bi-monthly after that but we'll see. But now to step into my literary time machine...
I started off the month of December, 2002, with Politically Correct Holiday Stories: For an Enlightened Yuletide Season by James Finn Garner, which was quite fun to read, at least for the first few stories. What can be better to get in the holiday spirit than some tongue-in-cheek spoofs of beloved holiday stories? Sure, the humour in some of them was a bit forced, but overall it was a humorous read.
Next up was Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. In my notes on the book I wrote that the ending was a bit cheesy but that the journey there was very enjoyable. I'm pretty sure I have another book by her around here somewhere. I actually still have a few chicklit books that I never got around to after I got over my chicklit phase. I might have to try to slip a few into my reading schedule this year, or just give some away, so I can clear them out.
A Week in Winter by Marcia Willett was my next read, and my highest rated book of the month with an 8/10. Some of my thoughts at the time: Simple, straight-forward writing but a touching story with characters that positively shine through. A cosy family story perfect for the season. Sounds good, doesn't it? I feel like I haven't read a good, cosy family drama for a really long time. Maybe I'm due.
Milkrun by Sarah Mlynowski was the next book I read, apparently a fairly typical chicklit title, that I have to admit I remember absolutely nothing about now. Not too surprising I suppose. These kinds of books all kind of run together for me, with a few exceptions like Bridget Jones's Diary, which I think, is partly thanks to the movie being imprinted on my subconscious. But I digress...
My last book of December was Dirt Music by Tim Winton, which had been shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2002. Apparently I was a little disappointed with the book in that I loved the descriptive setting but felt that the book had more to say than I got out of it. That could've been my own failing as a reader though. I wonder if I'd have the same response if I were to read it again. I've actually been meaning to read something else by Winton ever since, but have yet to do so. Any Winton fans out there? I'd love to hear your suggestions.
On to the new year, my first read of 2003 was Snow by Maxence Fermine. A lovely little book translated from the French. I still remember picking this up in a book store in Hampstead because the simple cover, with the kanji character for snow on it, caught my eye. I didn't give it a top rating as it wasn't perfect, but it truly was a beautiful little tale, very poetic. It's so short, I really should pick it up and read it again sometime.
The Keepers of Truth by Michael Collins, on the Booker Prize shortlist in 2000, was next. Hmmm, I honestly can't recall this one, but at the time I thought it was a thought-provoking read. I followed this apparently clever book with another chicklit title, Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella. A fun story that I read all in one day! This was actually my very first ARC, pre-blog, that I'd won from the Transworld Books website.
Next up was Life of Pi by Yann Martel, winner of the Booker Prize in 2002. This is one of those books that people seem to love, or not. I still remember how annoyed I was by the, what I considered, anti-climactic ending. I loved the first third of the book about the religions, but, after that, all the time spent in the life boat (not a spoiler) just dragged. For me anyway. This is one of those books that I think deserves a re-read someday, just not quite yet.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett was my next book. I have to say I'm really quite impressed that I read 7 books that January, including this 1000 page chunkster, especially since I only seem to average 4 or 5 most months. Some of my thoughts at the time: A long but enjoyable epic story. Writing quite simple with some unnecessary repetition, but good characters, that really came alive. Later on we visited Salisbury, and the cathedral there, on which the book was loosely based. It was certainly fun thinking back on the story while taking in that impressive structure.
Following that epic story was The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. A unique coming-of-age story. Very "real". Insightful. Thought-provoking. Hmm, I only wish I could actually remember the story now.
Last book of the month was Lucky: A Memoir by Alice Sebold, and my highest rated book for January 2003. A sometimes harsh, but very open, account of the author's rape. Despite the dark subject matter, it was actually a very engrossing read. Reading this, I could certainly understand how she was inspired to write The Lovely Bones. I later got my copies of both books signed by Alice Sebold when she had a reading and signing event at Waterstones Piccadilly. Ah the good ol' days of living in London and being able to go to author events.
Well, there you have it, what I was reading seven years ago. Have you read any of these books? If so, did you like them?
Returning now to the present, in the past week I've read a little more in The Pillow Book (of which the discussions will resume next Friday), read Naoki Urasawa's Monster, Vol. 3, the manga. And I'm now reading Hell by Yasutaka Tsutsui. I read his Paprika last year, which was a totally bizarre story to say the least, but I am quite enjoying this one so far. It's quite slim so I hope to finish it in the next day or two, and then I need to dig into some Murakami. Murakami March is almost upon us!
I hope you're all having a good weekend, and congratulations Canada on a fabulous Olympics!
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