As I prepare to go dark at the end of this week, here’s how the year stacked up. I’m taking some liberties with a few books that I’m not quite finished, but certainly will be before Dec. 31, including the Short Story Advent Calendar.
- Books read in 2018: 90, down from 97 in 2017. Ow, my Goodreads Challenge!
- Shortest book: The Embassy of Cambodia by Zadie Smith (69 pages)
- Longest book: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, père (1,276 pages)
About the Author
- 56% female, trans, or non-binary
- 64% person of colour
- 24% Canadian, 31% American, 29% European, 5% Asian, 4% South American, and a couple from the Middle East, Caribbean, and Africa
- 54% originally written in English, 14% in French, 8% in Spanish, and a few each in the following: Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Danish, Italian, Latvian, Greek, Korean, Norwegian, Iraqi, Hungarian, Polish, and German.
- Top 100 Canadian Book Bloggers status: achieved. I’m #74. Check out my fancy new badge!
- Headed for about 15,500 page views in 2018, about a thousand less than last year, which was down the same from the year before that.
- On course for 25 posts this year, down from 32 last year. But I also posted 58 videos over here, up from about 40 the year previous, so…
- Most viewed post of 2018 is, once again, my review of The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty from 2012. You sickos.
- Most viewed post that was actually written in 2018: the master post for The Full Monte Read-Along.
Five I will remember
- The Idiot by Elif Batuman inspired me to get back in touch with an old internet friend.
- Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others, and Me by Teffi made me wish she’s lived long enough to have a blog.
- Comemadre by Roque Larraquy was the weirdest book I read this year, and that’s saying something.
- Songs for the Cold of Heart by Eric Dupont has made me into one of those people who make excuses to bring it up in conversation so I can push it on people. Sorry!
- Mean by Myriam Gurba is the Gen X memoir I’ve been looking for all my life.
I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed
- Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai was supposed to be a smart and funny (and sexy) romance but it was so, so boring.
- American War by Omar El Akkad nearly won Canada Reads and it almost would have been worth it for the outraged rants that would have ensued.
- Sick by Porochista Khakpour was a highly anticipated Gen X memoir, but it was a sloppy, self-indulgent, meaningless mess. Actually, I am mad about this one.
- Washington Black by Esi Edugyen won the Giller Prize despite not having a plot, voice, or style that made any sense.
- The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani won the Prix Goncourt but I forgot it moments after reading it on an airplane.
My Book of the year
Only one book hit all the high notes of my other memorable books (weird, timeless, touching, gritty) while avoiding the pitfalls of my bottom five (boring, unbelievable, thrown together, self pitying, transparent). Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk is my book of the year, and really, it’s a book of next year, because it’s not out here till 2019. I’ve just had a look at the Canadian cover (second from left below) and… it’s okay. Also not too fond of either the Dutch or Polish movie poster (but still want to watch the movie, with subtitles of course).
Tokarczuk combined two things that are often thought to be in opposition, or at least, are thought to be beyond the talents of most contemporary writers: an absolutely original, believable, enchanting voice, and a social agenda presented in a way that isn’t pandering, condescending, or moralizing. Russell Smith recently wrote (paywalled, sorry) about the “lost art of the perfect sentence,” and contends that Canadians love “lifeless novel-writing if they feel a story is ‘important.'” He says that things are different in Europe, that “being clever or funny or even maintaining a certain stylish hauteur is not seen as a moral liability” and I’d say Tokarczuk proves him at least half right. And perhaps I can prove him half wrong, at least anecdotally – I’m Canadian, and I loved this book, important or not, because it’s full of life and stylish and clever and funny (and sad, and horrific, and scary, and…)
And with that, I’m on hiatus till Q2 2019. Have a wonderful holiday and I’ll see you in Spring!