Back at the beginning of June I opted to do Cathy Brown’s summer reading meme. This involved listing either ten, fifteen or twenty books one aimed to complete between the beginning of that month and the end of August.
Ever cautious I went for just ten titles, but in complete confidence that I would over the 93 days be close to not only reading but reviewing 20 books.
So how did I do?
Well, not too bad. According to my Goodreads Reading Challenge I’ve logged twenty books since June. It’s a little more nuanced than that of course: I’ve reviewed three out of four of Charlotte Brontë’s Unfinished Tales, and Brendan McMahon’s The Princess Who Ate People was an updated review of a title which this time I merely skimmed through extremely rapidly without writing a reconsidered critique. And Adrian Gilbert’s The Holy Kingdom is a did-not-finish pseudohistory but one which I can assure you is not worth the time of digesting.
But I’ve read or reread every word of all the others, introduction, epitaph, acknowledgements (though not, I must confess, all the academic references).
So here are some stats. The female to male author ratio is 40:60, mainly because there are four Philip Pullman titles in the list. If discrete names are counted there’s a better balance of eight female authors to nine male. (So far this year that’s close to the balance over eight months: 20 women to 22 men.)
As for genres this is a losing battle where defining categories is concerned. Is Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own a non-fiction essay or autobiografiction? Are Pullman’s overtly fantasy titles for young adults, for mature adults, or for anyone of any age? Is a book purported to be history but based on sheer speculation to be classed as non-fiction or simply as fake old news, one step away from badly-written fiction? Is a literary rendition of a Persian classic (with introduction and notes) poetry, literary criticism, a scholarly hoax, or all three? Are Joan Aiken’s Wolves Chronicles fantasy, alternative history or what could be termed paracosms?
Let me stick to observable facts then. Ten of the titles listed are by authors who are no longer with us (the rest still are, obviously). As for the authors’ countries of origin, eight are/were from the UK, two from the US, and one each from (in alphabetical order) Austria, Canada, Finland, Ireland (I think), and Malaysia, and one with joint authors from England, India and what’s now Iran.
One final point: bar one title (Robertson Davies’s Tempest-Tost) I’ve not read any of the titles on my original list of ten books. Does that matter? No. The crucial point is that I’ve read, and read, and read books (in addition I’ve actually reviewed 95% of those titles).
And that, I think, was the whole point of Cathy’s meme.
If you were also participating in this meme I look forward to reading blog posts on your own progress.
And look, here’s another meme!