Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Books of 2009

I read slightly fewer books last year than in 2008, 342 rather than 374. This was partly due to reading fewer Doctor Who novelisations (having read almost all of them last year) and also due to a deliberate choice of reading more classics of non-sf literature. For most of the year I was still reading books at an almost neurotic rate; I have slowed down since September, partly because I rejigged my reading lists to take it more slowly, and partly because I started a couple of other projects (watching Doctor Who from the beginning, weekly chapter of Gibbon) which ate into reading time.

Scores on the doors:
Total pages read 100,000 (to nearest 1,000), which is roughly 270 a day. My commute is often an hour and a half each way, and I am a fast reader
68 (20%) by women (ie female author or editor credited on front cover; does not include female pseudonym of male author), up from 2008's 46 (12%)
16 (5%) by writers of colour (not terribly impressive but double my previous rate and three times 2008's 1.6%)
36 (11%) rereads (italicised below)
48 added to LT catalogue in 2005; 6 in 2006, 3 in 2007, 79 in 2008. 65 had been on the slelves for more than a year before I read them.


Total 88 (26%) in 2009, up slightly from 72 (19%) in 2008.

Best in category: Survival In Auschwitz, by Primo Levi - a searing account of an incredible situation.

Also excellent: Gibbon's Memoirs, The Road from Coorain, Emma's War: Love, Betrayal and Death in the Sudan, Reading Lolita in Tehran, Collapse, EU Accession Dynamics And Conflict Resolution: Catalysing Peace Or Consolidating Partition In Cyprus?, About Time 3: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who (Seasons 7 to 11), 2nd edition, Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale, Target: A History of the Target Doctor Who Books

Very very good: Rocks of Ages, Shakespeare's Wife, Galileo's Daughter, The Lyncher in Me, The Dissolution of the Religious Orders in Ireland under Henry VIII, Early BelfastImagining the Modern: The Cultures of Nationalism in Cyprus, Kosovo: What Everyone Needs to Know, Fall Out: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to The Prisoner, From Genocide to Continental War: The Congolese Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa

Worst in category: Blue Like Jazz, an uninspiring articulation of liberal Christianity

Fiction (other than sf and comics)

Total 57 (18%) in 2009, substantially up from 25 (7%) in 2008 due to deliberate policy of reading more classics.

Best in Category: Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck.

Also excellent: To Kill a Mockingbird, Lolita, Catch 22, Nature Girl, Oedipus Rex

Very very good: Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The Go-Between, To the Lighthouse, As I Lay Dying, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Middlesex, Song of Solomon, The Angel Makers, Mr Singh Has Disappeared, The Secret Garden, The Story of Tracy Beaker, The New Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction

Worst book I read all year: Angels and Demons, the book which made Dan Brown's name. It is slightly better written than The Da Vinci Code, but this really isn't saying much.

SF (other than Who and comics, but including some ancient literature)

Total 78 (23%) in 2009, up slightly from 71 (19%) in 2008.

Best in category: Very difficult to choose between On the Beach, Threshold (vol 1 of the collected Zelazny), The Night Sessions and another Ken MacLeod novel, The Restoration Game, as yet unpublished . Probably in the end I would go for On The Beach.

Also excellent: The Hobbit, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Lord of Light, The War of the Worlds, Divine Comedy

Very very good: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, This Immortal, The Man in the High Castle, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Big Time A Million Open Doors, Kindred, Wizard of Oz, The Blind Assassin, The Graveyard Book, Anathem, Black Juice, The IliadThe Golden Ass

Worst in category: Bard IV: Ravens Gathering, by Keith Taylor. Admittedly I only managed the  first 20 pages so it may have improved.


Total 28 (8%) in 2009, substantially up from last year's 7 (2%) because of reading complete Fables and also the Hugo nominees.

Best in category: Persepolis 2 and Shortcomings

Very very good: With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child v. 1

Worst in category: Schlock Mercenary: The Body Politic - I know it has fans, but simply did not strike me as very impressive.

Shakespeare Plays (in most cases rating refers to both text and Arkangel performance)

Total 19 (6%) in 2009 compared to 20 (also 5%) in 2008; this is one category that will not appear in 2010's list!

Best in category: Has to be Hamlet!

Also excellent: Twelfth Night, Macbeth

Very very good: Othello, King Lear

Worst in category: The Two Noble Kinsmen

Doctor Who Spinoff Fiction (other than comics and audio plays)

Total 70 (19%, substantially down from last year when I read most of the novelisations). The Doctor, or spinoff series, is given in brackets.

Best in category: Gary Russell's Beautiful Chaos, which has the Tenth Doctor, Wilf and Donna teaming up against the return of a classic-era enemy.

Very good: Farewell Great Macedon (1), Doctor Who - Ghosts of N-Space (3), Romance of Crime (4), Sands of Time (5), Zeta Major (5), Millennial Rites (6), Only Human (9), The Eyeless (10), Snowglobe 7 (10), The Day of the Troll (10), Decalog [first volume], Downtime, Border Princes (Torchwood), Slow Decay (Torchwood), The Sin Eaters (Torchwood), Beyond the Sun (Bernice Summerfield)

Worst in category: Byzantium! (1)

To round the year off, notes on audio plays and films.

Audio plays (including Doctor Who)

Best in category:
The Lord of the Rings, the definitive BBC version.

Also excellent: The Mahogany Murderers (a Doctor Who spinoff with Jago and Litefoot from The Talons of Weng-Chiang), Moths Ate My "Doctor Who" Scarf (a confessional autobiography, adapted from the stage show), Kaldor City: The Prisoner (a brilliant two-hander between Paul Darrow and Peter Miles)

Very very good: The War of the Worlds (Original 1938 Radio Adaptaion), Sympathy for the Devil (alternate Doctor Who story), The Doomwood Curse (6th Doctor and Charlie), The Bride of Peladon (5th Doctor, Peri and Erimem), Death in Blackpool (8th Doctor and Lucie)

Worst in Category: The Poison Seas, a Bernice Summerfield story that was probably OK but marred by poor production.


One of my 2010 resolutions is to watch more films and to track them better!
Tags: bookblog 2009, bookblog: year end

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