Yes, 2014. I know that feels like years ago now.
Total: 181. This sounds fantastic until you realise 56 were 'Nancy Drew' books and 88 were re-reads. And 1 (one) was just a tiny little essay. Then again, those 56 books were a brilliant and nostalgic journey back into my past as a reader; and those 88 re-reads have made me the placidly sane (lazy) person I am today. That makes 93 new-to-me books (some of those Nancy Drew books had not been read before, just to confuse things). The 1 essay was written by an adult for adults, and I think I need that statistic. ;-)
How did I read them? 165 e-books to 16 tree-books.
This preference has not stopped me buying real books - I just haven't read them.
female writers: 93
male writers: 32
ghost-writers: 56, predominantly female
number of writers I had to google to sex: 2
non-fiction: 6. Terrible. TERRIBLE.
In its own way, also terrible. But so enjoyable.
And the hits (and misses)?
Favourite non re-read (fiction):
The Golden Child - Penelope Fitzgerald (I actually reviewed this one)
Favourite non re-read (non-fiction):
Love Lessons: A Wartime Journal - Joan Wyndham
Wonderful diary of a very silly and selfish young woman in WW2 who nevertheless manages to capture a remarkable moment in London life among the bohemians during the Blitz.
Death in Kashmir - M. M. Kaye
An old favourite. In the dying days of the Raj, something sinister is afoot in beautiful Kashmir. Can innocent (and pretty) Miss Parrish decipher the clues or will she too perish in mysterious circumstances? And who is that handsome polo-playing aide-de-camp...? Perfect escapism.
New-to-me book most likely to be re-read:
Parnassus on Wheels - Christopher Morley. What could one love more than a bookshop in a caravan? Despite my profound devotion to indoor plumbing, this book was gorgeous - see a work in progress' review. The sequel, sadly, was a bit of a letdown.
Favourite new-to-me author:
Mrs. Georgie Sheldon. Ah, how much do I love you, Mrs. G.S. Er, except for that one I did not finish (a first for me!) on Christian Scientists. But, apart from that hiccup, if you're looking for an old-fashioned serial type semi-sensationalist romantic novel featuring innocent young women, worthy young men, mistaken identities, presumed deaths, sudden poverty, incredible wealth, loads of travel, and some really silly plots, then she is for you. Thanks to fleur in her world for starting me off on these with Mona, or The Secret of a Royal Mirror and True Love's Reward: A Sequel to Mona. Just be careful that you (unlike me) start one where Part 2 is actually still in print... I read: The Heatherford Fortune; His Heart's Queen; Geoffrey's Victory, or The Double Deception; Virgie's Inheritance; Threads Gathered Up; The Masked Bridal.
Most satisfactory most-hyped book:
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell. God, wasn't it horrible being a teenager? I miss the 80s too. Anyone want to make me a mix-tape?
Least satisfactory most-hyped book:
Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter. This book should have made me so happy - Italy, the dolce vita, etc. - but I just felt manipulated. Also messing with real people makes me uneasy.
Dumps: A Plain Girl - L. T. Meade. There's nothing that education and regular meals won't fix, however.
Biggles Takes it Rough - Capt. W.E. Johns
Book most likely to make me never pick up the author's works again:
Tono-Bungay - H. G. Wells. Should have worked - patent medicine, upstairs-downstairs relationships, early experiments in flight - but so tedious. I have few Socialist tendencies, I'm afraid.
Book most likely to be thrown across the room:
The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese - Kathe Lison. I love cheese. I love France. I do not like entirely gratuitous descriptions of what people look like, as though this is a Dan Brown book. So, she's a bit wrinkly? Who CARES? She can make cheese so good it'd make statues swoon. This book also fits into another non-fiction pet hate category of mine, namely 'authors who insert themselves into narratives about other far more interesting people and subjects'.
The Second Wife - Irving Wallace. Loved this - insane espionage plot and some really bad sex. I miss the Cold War. Recommended by clothes in books.
Book producing weird feeling of déjà vu despite having never read it before:
In a Glass, Darkly - Helen McCloy. Eventually I tracked this feeling down to having read the plot of this book in its earlier incarnation as a short story in Maureen Daly's My Favourite Mystery Stories, a book we keep in the loo.
Number of deaths from consumption/TB:
I think only one, and that was "quick consumption", best friend of the plot-driven Victorian author. Thus, The Masked Bridal (1894): "...Edith was informed that Gerald Goddard had died only the week previous of quick consumption, and his body had been quietly interred in Greenwood, according to his own instructions."
Sabre-Tooth [Modesty Blaise 2] - Peter O'Donnell. I liked the first one (Modesty Blaise) a lot - strong female character, lots of silly gadgets and madcap plots. The second was a bit grim.
Don't read if you're alone and the electricity supply isn't certain:
Some Must Watch - Ethel Lina White. This was also a fantastically creepy B&W film called The Spiral Staircase (1945). Then again, what do you think will happen if you take a job as a lady's companion in the middle of nowhere?
Most gratuitous use of a robot as a plot device:
The Crooked Banister [Nancy Drew] - 'Carolyn Keene'. I'm sure whoever ghost-wrote this one had been getting their inspiration from magic mushrooms.
A characters who can play the bag-pipes?
Nancy, of course: The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes - 'Carolyn Keene'.
A nice young man:
T. Tembarom - Frances Hodgson Burnett. Lovely, lovely read - innocent young American Mr Tembarom wreaks havoc on the aristocracy when he inherits a stately estate in conservative old England.
Book most likely to make me look intelligent if read on a bus:
Pnin - Vladimir Nabokov. A rather wonderful take on the academic novel. Poor Pnin - nothing ever goes right. This is my second Nabokov (after Lolita), and certainly not my last.
Best sensationalist novel:
Her Father's Name - Florence Marryat. I reviewed this one. Cross-dressing! Heaving bosoms! Ladies smoking cigars!
Book providing the solution to the burning question of what sort of pie Mr Drew likes best?
In no. 29 (Mystery at the Ski Jump) it is "Apple with lots of cinnamon". In no. 56 (The Thirteenth Pearl) it is lemon meringue pie. I think we can agree that this inconsistency is an instance of shocking editorial oversight.
So, roll on 2015. And, somewhat belatedly, Happy New Year!