We’re almost halfway through the twenty-first year of the 21st century, a good point I think to take stock of my reading. Goodreads tells me I’ve read forty books of my modest goal of sixty-six titles this year, and I’ve reviewed them all here as well as on Goodreads.
Regular visitors here will know that I have broad tastes, though that doesn’t mean I don’t have favourite genres. To help me occasionally burst out of my comfort bubble I take on reading prompts as various as specific countries or more generally European countries, also non-fiction and crime fiction, graphic novels and science fiction.
While many of the titles read overlap a couple or so categories, there will be categories that I could, maybe should, visit more. I wonder what they may be?
Let me start with a crude division between female and male writers. I hesitate to make distinctions of gender and orientation so will keep things simple: eighteen titles are by women, 21 by men, and one has a mixture. Do you think it should matter to the general reader how authors identify themselves?
What about countries other than Britain and North America, where the English language dominates? Represented here so far are Italy, Belgium, Galicia in Spain, France, and even Wales with a non-fiction novel originally in Welsh. That doesn’t mean that other countries don’t provide settings: here are India, Austria, Germany, the fictional Orsinia and several fantastical lands such as Narnia and Neverland.
Fantasy as usual tends to dominate, with a dozen titles at least in that genre; fantasy features in many of the children’s books read this year (I estimate fourteen in toto) plus a couple of books in the teen or YA category. But there are also three crime fiction novels, three supernaturally-tinged volumes, a couple that could be classed as alternative history, two SF novels, and one each in the classes graphic novel, drama, picture book, literary criticism and poetry.
Four could be categorised as serious literature — whatever ‘serious’ is — with one example each of history and essays. And I’ve included in what I’ve chosen to designate as The Library of Brief Narratives collections of Breton lais, Italian short stories, Nesbit’s ghost and supernatural tales, Wyndham’s whimsical fantasies, Rushdie’s pieces set in both the east and the west, plus Le Guin’s Orsinia-set tales.
I note a general absence of classics, works by people of colour, and contemporary fiction, for example. To address these absences I have Eliot’s Middlemarch waiting, Octavia Butler’s Kindred which I’m currently reading, and Naomi Isiguro’s Escape Routes which has got as far as the pile on the bedside table. But I have no doubt there be the usual frequent diversions along the way.
But enough about me. Do you have a stocktake halfway through the year as well? If so, how are you doing? Are you on the way to achieving the goals you’d set yourself? Are you pleased with what you’ve read this year, despite what else has been going on, or not going on?