The End of Another One

Tiptoeing on the line between 2008 and 2009, I’m tempted to reflect on the past twelve months as I would normally do. But this year, all I want to do is look ahead. There are so many things awaiting me, not only in terms of books, but in life as well (although I suppose literature and life are somewhat deeply intertwined).

Haven’t gotten round to gathering my thoughts on the books that I’ve finished reading. over the past few days. Carried a few loose sheets of paper with me, and scribbled haphazard notes as I went, but they’re not anything coherent. Will probably get around to posting final thoughts in early 2009, as I want to relax and spend time with friends/family before the new year comes.

I’ve got some delicious books in my immediate to-read list. There’s a Tolstoy, a Hemmingway and an Eliot, amongst others (which I’ve mentioned on this blog before). On Boxing Day, I managed to add another book to my to-read list. We passed through Port Apollo for lunch, and whilst strolling down the street, I glimpsed a copy of Nobel Prize winner, Gao Xingjian’s, Soul Mountain at a newagent’sand I snapped it up immediately. As soon as I finish Tess of the D’Urbervilles, I’ll try to make progress on The Canterbury Tales. And tomorrow, tossing all my other TBR books aside, I’ll begin Anna Karenina, as planned. Then there’s A Fraction of the Whole, and Alias Grace, both of which I’m looking forward to reading.

I’d love to talk about my holiday, but I’ve decided to keep this blog and my regular blog separate entities, so I’ll finish off with a list of the best books I read this year. I was going to choose one, but it was much too hard. So, without further ado, my favourite books of 2008:

  • Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf: fresh, lyrical prose and ingenious use of stream-of-consciousness. My first Woolf.
  • Possession, A S Byatt: intricate and well-paced plot, beautiful writing, marvellous characterisation. The level of verisimilitude is astounding.
  • Les Miserables, Victor Hugo: a book of mammoth proportions; very touching portrayal of human nature.
  • A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth: thick slice of life novel, Austenian, insight into Indian culture. Extremely well-paced considering length.

If anyone can be bothered, I’d be interested in hearing what your favourite books of 2008 were. Although I’ve got plenty on my to-read list, I’m always willing to add a few more to the evergrowing pile.

P.S – I just decided to join Eva’s ‘World Citizen’ challenge, which will go perfectly with what I’m studying at uni next year. See ‘Reading Projects’ page for full list of titles.

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8 thoughts on “The End of Another One

  1. I’m curious to see what you think of Soul Mountain. I’ve read a lot of negative reviews, but personally I loved it.

    A Suitable Boy is one of my all-time favourites!

    Some of my favourites for 2008 are:
    The Silmarillion (JRR Tolkien).. a reread.
    The Law of Dreams (Peter Behrens)
    What is the What (Dave Eggers)
    Indignation (Philip Roth)

    I think there are a few more, I’ll have to look back on my notes and post on my site, maybe.

    Happy new year! And happy reading!

    1. So far, I’ve read about three chapters of Soul Mountain – the style of narration is unusual, but I think I like it. I’d only vaguely heard about this book before I bought it, so I haven’t let other reviews prejudice me yet. That’s probably a good thing b/c I can be quite impressionable.

      Hm, haven’t read any of your 2008 favourites. I like Tolkien, though, and have been meaning to read The Silmarillion for a while. In fact, that’s the only one on your list I’ve heard of. The titles sound interesting

      Happy new year to you too :)

  2. ‘A Suitable Boy’ is a genuinely great book.

    I’m like you–the best books I read in 2008 didn’t come out in 2008: Natsumi Sosuke, Alice Munro, Helen Garner, Emanuel Litvinoff, Christopher Priest, Henry James, Irene Nemirovsky and Francis Wyndham made my year.

    1. From your list, I’ve only read James, and I’ve never even heard of Christopher Priest! Sometimes my own ignorance astounds me. I’m afraid I’ll always be behind on contemporary books – there are so many others to read that I feel I’ll never catch up. Usually the only recent books I read are Booker shortlisters. Shocking, but true.

  3. A Suitable Boy is indeed a very “suitable” book! I also enjoyed Seth’s Unequal Music. I’m a musician, so it’s focus on the musical world was interesting to me.

  4. Actually, read ‘Golden Gate’ by Seth too: it’s all in verse, and so only takes a few hours (as opposed to the weeks required for ‘Suitable’), and it’s really clever and funny, too.

    1. All right, now I’m intrigued. I’ve only ever heard of verse novels; never actually read one. Both the Seths are going on my TBR lists for sure. Thanks Becca & JRSM for the recommendations :)

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