Saturday, January 4, 2014

{misc.} 2013 in review

2013 in numbers: 145 books read

Kindle: 110 ~~ Tree-books: 35
Crime/mystery/espionage: 63
Other fiction: 59
Fiction for younger readers: 18
Non-fiction: 10 (needs work)
Australian writers: 9 (hang head in shame)
Graphic novel: 1 (not my thing)
Short story collections: 2
Christmas-themed books: 4 (and one short story)
Re-reads: 38
Agatha Christie re-reads: 15
Georgette Heyer re-reads: 7
Female authors: 99 ~~ Male authors: 46

On the whole it would seem that I love e-books by women writers and tended to get carried away with re-reading the same.


I excluded re-reads from this, but I couldn't get it down to 10:

Brat Farrar - Josephine Tey (1949)
A brilliant story of a young man who may or may not be a long-lost relative returned to reclaim his place - and a fortune - in the family. Tey is one of my favourite writers - I also read Miss Pym Disposes this year {REVIEW}, which is entirely different to Brat Farrar and just as magnificent.

Excellent Women - Barbara Pym (1952) {REVIEW}
I read this for Barbara Pym Week, hosted by heavenali, and it was my first Pym and, oh, what an impression it made. Single women of the world, unite! (Cats optional.)

Tampa - Alissa Nutting (2013) {REVIEW}
A controversial book on a controversial subject - but so wittily done. (Also, cover of the year.)


Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary - Ruby Ferguson (1937) {REVIEW}
This was like watching a classic B&W 1930s weepy film. An absolutely charming book.

The Home-Maker - Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1924)
This may be my absolute favourite of the year. Another Persephone title: the story of a woman trapped by domestic expectations who gets a chance to shine.


Miss Cayley's Adventures - Grant Allen (1899)
A lost classic: whipsmart Cambridge graduate takes on the big bad world on a bicycle and triumphs.

Heartburn - Nora Ephron (1983) {REVIEW}
The book for lovers of food and NY-style romantic agony.


Hit Man - Lawrence Block (1998) {REVIEW}
Funny, wry episodes from the life of a stamp-collecting hit-man.

Desert of the Heart - Jane Rule (1964) {REVIEW}
Remarkable and painful journey of lesbian self-discovery set in a vintage Las Vegas.


Under the Skin - Michel Faber (2000) {REVIEW}
Wow. Do not hitchhike. Ever. You never know who - or what - may be out there. Faber seems to reinvent himself with every book, and this one was superbly bizarre.

Lazarus is Dead - Richard Beard (2011) {REVIEW}
Writing Lazarus back into the Jesus narrative: a wonderful play on pseudo-scholarship. I described it as "rich and imaginative and funny and playful (and brutal, stomach-turning and occasionally utterly horrifying)"


The Fortune of Christina M'Nab - Sarah Macnaughtan (1901){REVIEW}
A find! A canny young Scotswoman inherits a fortune and sets out to reinvent herself as a lady with the assistance of her helpful ex-fiancé (who bears a startling resemblance to the Apollo Belvedere).

Come Out of the Kitchen! - Alice Duer Miller (1916)
Another lost classic (rediscovered by fleur in her world): a rich young man rents a house from an impoverished family, only to discover a host of servant problems - such as the world's prettiest cook.


The Bookshop - Penelope Fitzgerald (1978)
Gorgeously melancholic but humorous book about a widow who only wants to start a bookshop in what turns out to be a bookshop-shy town.

The Good Soldier - Ford Madox Ford (1915)
An excellent recommendation from stuck in a book: a slow start as the odd style rather threw me, and then - bang! - unputdownable story of absolute tragedy about the disintegration of all one's loves and illusions.

I really enjoyed my 2013 reading year, and I have no other reading aims for 2014 than to read everything that catches my fancy.

Happy New Year!


  1. Not sure if my comment disappeared or has gone to be moderated, but, in summary.... happy new year, great list (esp The Bookshop), yay for Christie!

    1. I owe you for The Good Soldier, Simon - I doubt I'd have picked it up otherwise: what a book. The intensity never let up - it felt almost claustrophobic.

  2. I enjoyed your list. It was eclectic, interesting and fanciful. Great job to find so many books in a year that were so different.

    1. Thanks, Pam - I felt it was a good year, although I feel a bit lazy about the re-reading: but it brings so much pleasure, and sometimes one needs a good predictable pleasure.

  3. A great selection - and I'm impressed with your stats! Did you review all the Heyers you read? If so, I think I missed some of them. I think we are among Miss Cayley's biggest fans! And thank you for the reminder about Christina M'Nab - I had meant to look for that one, and have just downloaded a copy. I had already gotten an ebook version of Come Out of the Kitchen. I love the term "tree-books" btw! I actually managed a short story on my Nook last year so I'm hopeful I will get to an entire book this year. It's so stuffed full of things I want to read.

    I only feel guilty about re-reading when I remember the TBR stacks, otherwise it's such a pleasure to meet old friends again.

    I hope 2014 brings you many wonderful books - and time to read them!

    1. Thanks, Lisa: 'tree books' is courtesy of urban dictionary - so apt. I think I love the Heyers in such a simple way that I've never attempted to review them -- they're sort of beyond analysing, a bit like the Christies. But I have been a slack reviewer in 2013 - really should lift my game.

  4. What a lovely and varied collection. Enjoy 2014's reads - no pressure is the best way to read, I'm finding!

    1. Hi Karen! It's interesting how many New Year posts are scaling back the challenges - I'm not organized enough for anything but a really small challenge - the sort of thing that inspires me to read one author I've wanted to read but haven't been motivated to.

  5. What a great list of books! I'm hoping to read Excellent Women and The Home-Maker soon and looking forward to both. And I love the sound of Brat Farrar - I've read The Daughter of Time but nothing else by Josephine Tey yet. I hope you enjoy your reading in 2014!

    1. I love The Daughter of Time - we read it at high school and it made me realise what a living thing history could be. I envy you reading Excellent Women for the first time - a gorgeous book. Have a great reading year, Helen.

  6. Oh my goodness...I can't imagine how you read so many books. I am delighted to see Excellent Women and The Bookshop up there in your list of Favourites. I just finished reading The Bookshop and loved it and now have a new favourite author. I've been meaning to read Tampa too so that will have to go back on the TBR list. Would Nora Ephron's book be considered romantic comedy do you think? I'm looking for a romcom for my eclectic reading challenge this year.

    1. I basically neglect all other duties, Alex! I think the Ephron would definitely be romcom - though it's also one of those great stories about picking oneself up and keeping on going when things get bad (but done with great humour). Thanks for dropping by - have a great reading year.

  7. Isn't Brat Farrer great? Have you read Mary Stewart's The Ivy Tree which covers similar ground (enjoyed the latter but loved the former)--my own Tey favorite is The Franchise Affair, which I suspect you have read already, but if not you must add it to this year's list! I want to read some of Tey's work this year--she will fit in nicely I think with my Vintage mystery reading! Personally I love rereading and never think of it as being anything but good--though I know that feeling of all those unread books out there that call to you, too..... (They constantly call to me). I'm intrigued by the Faber but a little scared, too. And I'd love to read Lady Rose.... I read the last two as well (though it has been a while for both--and concur most heartily on how good they are. Happy New Year and Happy Reading! :)

    1. I loved The Ivy Tree, Danielle - I think it would be close to being my favourite Stewart if *only* I'd never read Brat Farrar. And the Franchise Affair is excellent, isn't it - Tey has such a distinctive, 'quiet' voice: she demands taking the genre seriously. What I love about reading other blogs is how it forces me out of my re-reading comfort zone -- there's so much great stuff out there. May we both read amazing books this year - cheers!

  8. The Fortune of Christina M'Nab is on my list of possibles for the century of books and I love the sound of Come Out Of The Kitchen! too. I'm amused by the Miss Cayley though, I only know Allen for his 'New Woman' novel, The Woman Who Did, which I was thinking of re-reading for the CoB too. I like the sound of his woman on a bike taking on the world. :)

    1. Ooh, I haven't read The Woman Who Did, and obviously should, as it seems clear that I like books starring smart (approximately) Edwardian women. Thanks, Alex! And good luck with your CoB - you have more stamina than me!

  9. This is a very dangerous list as it contains a few authors I hadn't heard of before and others I like a lot which tells me I need to look into all of them. I really like it. For once not a list full of new releases.
    Happy Reading in 2014!

    1. I suspect I'm not going to get to many new releases in my lifetime, esp. the mega-long ones, given my TBR! It's such a terrifying time of the year for adding to one's collections - thanks for popping by, Caroline!

  10. The Good Soldier is one of the best books I have read. I found it weird at first and then, wow, it just hits you. I read Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald at the end of last year, I really want to read The Bookshop now.

    1. Thanks Alice! The Good Soldier seemed so uneven at first - like I'd never grasp a narrative thread that would lead me out - but then, as you say, wow. WOW. I've got Fitzgerald's The Golden Child to read next, as a mystery set in a King Tut exhibition in the British Museum sounded just my sort of thing. I can't wait!

  11. I've not read any of these but they all look very good. I hope most of them are published in the U.S. or at least distributed here. Thanks for the recommendations!

    1. It's so exciting this time of year when you can stock up on recommendations for the future! My wishlist is now bursting! I hope you can get hold of some of these, Jeanie! Enjoy 2014!

  12. Good to know you have been enjoying your reading in the year just gone by. And what an impressive number you've read, too! I truly envy your speed of reading. I enjoyed both Tey's Daughter of Time and The Franchise Affair (both on audiobooks, though) and am looking forward to Miss Pym Disposes. Now I'll have to add Brat Farrar to the list as well. My introduction to Barbara Pym was Some Tame Gazelle (which I loved), must really get to Excellent Women soon. Have another great reading year this 2014, Vicki! :)

    1. Thanks, Michelle - I'm hoping to get a nice mix of old, vintage and newer stuff again. I'm quite tempted to read Brat Farrar again, actually, as it was so good. And lots more B.Pym! I hope your reading year will be a dazzling one!

  13. What a great list! Tey is an author I've been meaning to try for a long time and Under the Skin is very near the top of my TBR pile. I hope you find many more equally good books in 2014!

    1. I feel really optimistic about 2014, Jackie - thank you! - it's going to be a busy year, so maybe I won't be able to squeeze in so many books, but there's so many interesting things out there!

  14. Happy New Year Vicki! An interesting and varied list, some new to me too. I hope to read Tampa soon, and have been meaning to read a Tey book for years.

    1. Thanks Lindsay! Tampa really won me over - I think it helped that I'd read Lolita for the first time too in 2013, as there is some byplay, definitely: Tampa really makes one think about how one defines illegality for women vs. men.

  15. Happy new year, Vicki! 145 is brilliant, and no wonder you couldn't stick to ten :)

    1. Thanks Charlie - Happy New Year! And so many of my re-reads were great reads too -- I should just have printed the whole list (almost) and say, "There!" Have a great reading year.

  16. So many suggestions here that appeal to me immensely! Love the titles from the beginning of the century too -- a few I haven't heard of before, which is immensely useful for the Century of Books project ;) Looks as though you had plenty of great reading in 2013 -- hope it continues on into this year as well!

    1. Thanks Melanie - I see you've enjoyed Herland now too - some of those 'lost' books are absolute gems. Good luck with CoB - I look forward to reading about some great new finds.

  17. Wasn't Excellent Women a delight? I read it for the first time during Pym reading read too.
    I have a FMF on my TBR pile for this year, so glad to hear you had a (mostly) good experience with it.

    1. No other word for Excellent Women but EXCELLENT! I'm hoping to read some more of her books very soon. Re FMF - the style could be a real deal-breaker, but it is worth pressing on through the initial shock! ;-)

  18. A belated happy New Year! I've been slowly working my way through the many lists out there but yours is one of the most interesting so far. Lovely to see Desert of the Heart and The Good Soldier on it, and I'll be adding Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary to my TBR list. Who doesn't need an absolutely charming book now and again!

    1. All these lists have been very damaging to my TBR! Thanks Susan - I'm really hoping that 2014 can match last year - and I'm on the lookout for something as lovely as Lady Rose!

  19. Hiya, nice blog - a few on your list of favourites I'll need to look into further, Faber and Madox Ford mainly

    1. Thanks Col - I'd been lurking on your blog for a while, quietly adding things to my wishlist!

  20. Finding your blog might be the highlight of my day! And from this post I can already see my "to read" list continuing to grow. Thanks for the suggestions and reviews for like-minded readers!

    1. Oh that's very kind -- I love your blog and it has caused my TBR to blow out to monstrous size!


{READ IN 2018}

  • 30.
  • 29.
  • 28.
  • 27.
  • 26. The Grave's a Fine & Private Place - Alan Bradley
  • 25. This is What Happened - Mick Herron
  • 24. London Rules - Mick Herron
  • 23. The Third Eye - Ethel Lina White
  • 22. Thrice the Brindled Cat Hath Mewed - Alan Bradley
  • 21. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust - Alan Bradley
  • 20. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches - Alan Bradley
  • 19. Speaking from Among the Bones - Alan Bradley
  • 18. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
  • 17. Miss Ranskill Comes Home - Barbara Euphan Todd
  • 16. The Long Arm of the Law - Martin Edwards (ed.)
  • 15. Nobody Walks - Mick Herron
  • 14. The Talented Mr Ripley - Patricia Highsmith
  • 13. Portrait of a Murderer - Anthony Gilbert
  • 12. Murder is a Waiting Game - Anthony Gilbert
  • 11. Tenant for the Tomb - Anthony Gilbert
  • 10. Death Wears a Mask - Anthony Gilbert
  • 9. Night Encounter - Anthony Gilbert
  • 8. The Visitor - Anthony Gilbert
  • 7. The Looking Glass Murder - Anthony Gilbert
  • 6. The Voice - Anthony Gilbert
  • 5. The Fingerprint - Anthony Gilbert
  • 4. Ring for a Noose - Anthony Gilbert
  • 3. No Dust in the Attic - Anthony Gilbert
  • 2. Uncertain Death - Anthony Gilbert
  • 1. She Shall Died - Anthony Gilbert

{READ IN 2017}

  • 134. Third Crime Lucky - Anthony Gilbert
  • 133. Death Takes a Wife - Anthony Gilbert
  • 132. Death Against the Clock - Anthony Gilbert
  • 131. Give Death a Name - Anthony Gilbert
  • 130. Riddle of a Lady - Anthony Gilbert
  • 129. And Death Came Too - Anthony Gilbert
  • 128. Snake in the Grass - Anthony Gilbert
  • 127. Footsteps Behind Me - Anthony Gilbert
  • 126. Miss Pinnegar Disappears - Anthony Gilbert
  • 125. Lady-Killer - Anthony Gilbert
  • 124. A Nice Cup of Tea - Anthony Gilbert
  • 123. Die in the Dark - Anthony Gilbert
  • 122. Death in the Wrong Room - Anthony Gilbert
  • 121. The Spinster's Secret - Anthony Gilbert
  • 120. Lift up the Lid - Anthony Gilbert
  • 119. Don't Open the Door - Anthony Gilbert
  • 118. The Black Stage - Anthony Gilbert
  • 117. A Spy for Mr Crook - Anthony Gilbert
  • 116. The Scarlet Button - Anthony Gilbert
  • 115. He Came by Night - Anthony Gilbert
  • 114. Something Nasty in the Woodshed - Anthony Gilbert
  • 113. Death in the Blackout - Anthony Gilbert
  • 112. The Woman in Red - Anthony Gilbert
  • 111. The Vanishing Corpse - Anthony Gilbert
  • 110. London Crimes - Martin Edwards (ed.)
  • 109. The Midnight Line - Anthony Gilbert
  • 108. The Clock in the Hatbox - Anthony Gilbert
  • 107. Dear Dead Woman - Anthony Gilbert
  • 106. The Bell of Death - Anthony Gilbert
  • 105. Treason in my Breast - Anthony Gilbert
  • 104. Murder has no Tongue - Anthony Gilbert
  • 103. The Man who Wasn't There - Anthony Gilbert
  • 102. Murder by Experts - Anthony Gilbert
  • 101. The Perfect Murder Case - Christopher Bush
  • 100. The Plumley Inheritance - Christopher Bush
  • 99. Spy - Bernard Newman
  • 98. Cargo of Eagles - Margery Allingham & Philip Youngman Carter
  • 97. The Mind Readers - Margery Allingham
  • 96. The China Governess - Margery Allingham
  • 95. Hide My Eyes - Margery Allingham
  • 94. The Beckoning Lady - Margery Allingham
  • 93. The Tiger in the Smoke - Margery Allingham
  • 92. More Work for the Undertaker - Margery Allingham
  • 91. Coroner's Pidgin - Margery Allingham
  • 90. Traitor's Purse - Margery Allingham
  • 89. The Fashion in Shrouds - Margery Allingham
  • 88. The Case of the Late Pig - Margery Allingham
  • 87. Dancers in Mourning - Margery Allingham
  • 86. Flowers for the Judge - Margery Allingham
  • 85. Death of a Ghost - Margery Allingham
  • 84. Sweet Danger - Margery Allingham
  • 83. Police at the Funeral - Margery Allingham
  • 82. Look to the Lady - Margery Allingham
  • 81. Mystery Mile - Margery Allingham
  • 80. The Crime at Black Dudley - Margery Allingham
  • 79. The White Cottage Mystery - Margery Allingham
  • 78. Murder Underground - Mavis Doriel Hay
  • 77. No Man's Land - David Baldacci
  • 76. The Escape - David Baldacci
  • 75. The Forgotten - David Baldacci
  • 74. Zero Day - David Baldacci
  • JULY
  • 73. Pilgrim's Rest - Patricia Wentworth
  • 72. The Case is Closed - Patricia Wentworth
  • 71. The Watersplash - Patricia Wentworth
  • 70. Lonesome Road - Patricia Wentworth
  • 69. The Listening Eye - Patricia Wentworth
  • 68. Through the Wall - Patricia Wentworth
  • 67. Out of the Past - Patricia Wentworth
  • 66. Mistress - Amanda Quick
  • 65. The Black Widow - Daniel Silva
  • 64. The Narrow - Michael Connelly
  • 63. The Poet - Michael Connelly
  • 62. The Visitor - Lee Child
  • 61. No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories - Lee Child
  • JUNE
  • 60. The Queen's Accomplice - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 59. Mrs Roosevelt's Confidante - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 58. The PM's Secret Agent - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 57. His Majesty's Hope - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 56. Princess Elizabeth's Spy - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 55. Mr Churchill's Secretary - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 54. A Lesson in Secrets - Jacqueline Winspear
  • 53. Hit & Run - Lawrence Block
  • 52. Hit Parade - Lawrence Block
  • 51. Hit List - Lawrence Block
  • 50. Six Were Present - E. R. Punshon
  • 49. Triple Quest - E. R. Punshon
  • MAY
  • 48. Dark is the Clue - E. R. Punshon
  • 47. Brought to Light - E. R. Punshon
  • 46. Strange Ending - E. R. Punshon
  • 45. The Attending Truth - E. R. Punshon
  • 44. The Golden Dagger - E. R. Punshon
  • 43. The Secret Search - E. R. Punshon
  • 42. Spook Street - Mick Herron
  • 41. Real Tigers - Mick Herron
  • 40. Dead Lions - Mick Herron
  • 39. Slow Horses - Mick Herron
  • 38. Everybody Always Tells - E. R. Punshon
  • 37. So Many Doors - E. R. Punshon
  • 36. The Girl with All the Gifts - M. R. Carey
  • 35. A Scream in Soho - John G. Brandon
  • 34. A Murder is Arranged - Basil Thomson
  • 33. The Milliner's Hat Mystery - Basil Thomson
  • 32. Who Killed Stella Pomeroy? - Basil Thomson
  • 31. The Dartmoor Enigma - Basil Thomson
  • 30. The Case of the Dead Diplomat - Basil Thomson
  • 29. The Case of Naomi Clynes - Basil Thomson
  • 28. Richardson Scores Again - Basil Thomson
  • 27. A Deadly Thaw - Sarah Ward
  • 26. The Spy Paramount - E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • 25. The Great Impersonation - E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • 24. Ragdoll - Daniel Cole
  • 23. The Case of Sir Adam Braid - Molly Thynne
  • 22. The Ministry of Fear - Graham Greene
  • 21. The Draycott Murder Mystery - Molly Thynne
  • 20. The Murder on the Enriqueta - Molly Thynne
  • 19. The Nowhere Man - Gregg Hurwitz
  • 18. He Dies and Makes No Sign - Molly Thynne
  • 17. Death in the Dentist's Chair - Molly Thynne
  • 16. The Crime at the 'Noah's Ark' - Molly Thynne
  • 15. Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh
  • 14. Night School - Lee Child
  • 13. The Dancing Bear - Frances Faviell
  • 12. The Reluctant Cannibals - Ian Flitcroft
  • 11. Fear Stalks the Village - Ethel Lina White
  • 10. The Plot - Irving Wallace
  • 9. Understood Betsy - Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • 8. Give the Devil his Due - Sulari Gentill
  • 7. A Murder Unmentioned - Sulari Gentill
  • 6. Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
  • 5. Gentlemen Formerly Dressed - Sulari Gentill
  • 4. While She Sleeps - Ethel Lina White
  • 3. A Chelsea Concerto - Frances Faviell
  • 2. Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul - H. G. Wells
  • 1. Heft - Liz Moore
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