Happy New Year, fellow book nerds and stray literati! May it bring you subtle meanings, clever turns of phrase and a rainbow of exhilarating character arcs!
One of my favourite things to do on the 1st of January (after strolling around a silent hangover-battling city and listening to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra New Year’s Concert at noon) is to enter a fresh Goodreads Reading Challenge for the next 365 days. And as I do so, I briefly reminisce over how I did in last year’s. For example, in 2017 I committed to reading 27 books and, sadly, only managed 20. But what a glorious 20!
Aut Caesar, aut nihil*
I lived mostly in Renaissance Italy, under the unopposed rule and spell of the Borgias. I read staples in the sea of titles about them, like Sarah Dunant’s Blood and Beauty and In The Name of The Family; and C. W. Gortner’s The Vatican Princess, thus adding up to Kate Quinn’s Borgia series I had already read. And as the plots thickened and the characters proved each more alluring than the next, I happened to read some of the best historical fiction so far. My only regret is that I barely have time for any reading at all to reread – else I would be able to recite Sarah Dunant! Sticking with her strong writing voice, I moved on then to fair Florence under the scalding sermons of Savonarola. Combined with two actual trips, first to Rome and then Florence, I should call 2017 anno Italianno!
*Cesare Borgia’s motto – “Ceaser or nothing”
Non-fiction is a non-magic non-first-choice kind of literature for me. It’s a shame because some non-fiction books have my name on it. I am forever reshuffling them on my to-read shelf, but somehow they never make the draw… or almost never. In 2017 quite a few did. I laughed with Anna Kendrick’s autobiographical Scrappy Little Nobody and wowed at Susan Cain’s finings about introversion in Quiet (seriously, it is a must read for everyone!). The history buff in me treated herself with an in-depth research on Spartacus and a brief, kids-friendly look at the Royal family of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom.
The unlikely ones
Some weird choices I had and the Force strong in them was. A young adult tale of love and free choice, a 400+ pager en francais, a just-released book from a Bulgarian author and an old novel (horrendously translated) from a Turkish one. To top it all off, I added a marvelous collection of short stores.
The usual suspects
What would be the reading year without Diana Gabaldon and Kate Quinn? I got my fix with The Alice Network (currently Amazon’s most sold book of the week) and The Scottish Prisoner – my first venture into Lord John territory. I could not skip Beigbeder either, as even historical buffs with romantic inclinations like me, need a touch of cynical sagacity from time to time. Adding the odd based-on-true-story about strong women (Marriage of Opposites, Circling The Sun) and a book with a cause (Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls) the list is full.
So was the year.
Now, off to new fictional shores!