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Happy New Year from Book Around The Corner

January 1, 2011 16 comments

I wish a happy New Year to all the people who will – intentionally or not – read this. I hope 2011 will bring you health, happiness and success in your projects.  

2010 has been my first blogging year. Well, 8 months precisely, since I started in May. I have posted 70 reviews and thoughts, more than I imagined I would when I started this. The list of the books I covered will be published on the Reading Lists page. I know at least one person who used one of those lists for her reading trips at the library, so it’s worth publishing.

I’ve been in touch with people from different countries and different backgrounds and it was the aim of this blog too. I’ve told this before but switching permanently between French and English wasn’t easy at the beginning. It’s getting better and I stopped worrying about the mistakes I make. I’ve decided to consider them as a cute written French accent.

Regarding my imperfect knowledge of the English language, I warmly thank all the persons who kindly and patiently answered to all my what-does-it-mean questions. My knowledge of British slang and acronyms hasn’t magically improved over the night, so you can expect more of those questions in 2011.

According to the comments I receive, there must be three to five people who regularly read my thoughts on the books I read. Thank you, book-friends, for the time you gave me and the interesting discussions we’ve had. I also enjoy time difference: when I throw my little literary bottle in the Internet sea just before bedtime, I’m almost certain to have a good-morning comment when I wake up. It’s so nice. Thanks. If I have other regular readers I’m not aware of, don’t be shy, leave comments, I’ll be delighted to know you.

I’ve also enjoyed reading other people’s blogs, it allowed me to discover authors I’d never heard of before. Looking back on 2010, when thinking of the books I have loved this year, here are the 10 books that came to my mind. They stayed with me, it means they are the best ones.  

– “I am on the threshold of expression” Arturo Bandini says. The Road to Los Angeles by John Fante is Arturo’s adolescence and departure to Los Angeles. It’s a funny and kind description of the working class in California before WWII and the birth of a writer. Arturo and Alexander from Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth would have much to share on their loving and invasive moms. 

A Journey Into the Past by Stephan Zweig. I was blown away by that short powerful book. Can a lost love resurrect from its ashes? Zweig’s description of Ludwig discovering love was sensitive and true-to-life.

 – She moves him in mysterious ways. South of the border, West of the Sun, by Haruki Murakami. I was curious to read what Murakami had done with the same theme as Zweig’s Journey Into the Past. He wrote a wonderful and melancholic book, one of those that stay in mind.

 – Eleanor Rigby is Hungarian and lives in Normandy. Or in Vancouver? Skylark by Deszó Kosztolányi. This is the story of an ugly girl who is bound to remain single. She lives her parents for a vacation and her absence reveals what her destiny has imposed on their lives. Thanks to Max from Pechorin’s Journal to make me discover this book. It was full of emotion, from Skylark’s point of view and from her parents’.

– Wisdom from an Older Poet. Letters to a Young Poet, by Reiner Maria Rilke. I’ve heard an audio version of these letters, read by the French actor, Denis Podalydes. The spoken form gave life to the letters Rilke had sent to Franz Kapuss, who wanted advice about writing. These letters are kind, soothing, intelligent, full of spot-on thoughts on life and creation. It’s the kind of book you want to keep on your bedside table, to have a look at it in tough moments.

– Nick’s Perfume: ‘je promets’. The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. This one I should have read in translation, I think. I probably missed a lot of the beauty of Hollinghurst’s prose. However, I was overwhelmed by Nick’s story and truly interested in the description of London during the Thatcher years.

– Nudity of a selfish, horrid and arid soul. Novel with Cocaine by M Ageyev. “No one here gets out alive”, I could say. Vadim is a horrible character. But the novel is stunning by the crude description of the workings of Vadim’s mind and by the incredible Proustian style. It’s a book hard to offer, because it’s bleak, but it’s worth reading.

– Somebody Owes Me Money by Donald E Westlake. There’s no review of this one. I discovered it through Max’ post here. I loved it for the fun, the style and the cinematographic pace. It left with wanting to read more of him.

– When lost time is not searched but stubbornly imposes itself. Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. Billy Pilgrim’s coping with post-wars memories in a book that we French would categorize as “Conte philosophique” (Philosophical Tale).

 – The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. An inventive style, a story full of rhythm and my first encounter with Philip Marlow. I’m curious to see how Chandler developed his character in the following novels.

 In 2010, I have also started to read Proust again, the first two volumes. It’s even better than in my memory. It’s not in the 10 books of the year because, like in Cannes, it’s a special prize. It’s hard to compete with Proust, though ‘competition’ is not the right word.

Enough of 2010. My reading project for 2011 is not to have a reading project, actually. So it’ll be a surprise.  I’ll be following other bloggers’ literary adventures with interest and pleasure and I hope you’ll enjoy reading mine.

Bonne Année 2011 et Bonne Santé.

Emmanuelle

Special thanks to my children for the drawings.

Categories: About reading, Opinion
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