With the night falling we are saying thank you

Hello, dear readers,

I cannot believe 2019 is almost gone: we are past the Winter solstice now, and Christmas is at our door. As usual, I will be spending the next days with family in the Netherlands, and I don’t think I will be finishing any books nor posting any reviews here in the coming week – so, my loves, I am calling it a day. Let’s look back over the books we’ve read in 2019 and pick our favourites, shall we?

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But first, some stats

(If you prefer, you can skip the stats and jump to my retrospective of the reading events in 2019, to my best reads of 2019, or to my answers to the Reading Retrospective Tag ;))

About my reading

This year, I’ve read 125 books, comprising a total of 31.084 pages. Although I read 5 books more than in 2018, I read 640 pages less:

Number of books Average of Pages Min of Pages Max of Pages Sum of Pages Percentage
2019 125 248,7 16 908 31084 100,00%
jan 15 249,4 48 521 3741 12,00%
fev 12 200,9 34 364 2411 9,60%
mar 10 262,5 76 544 2625 8,00%
abr 9 258,2 64 496 2324 7,20%
mai 8 287,4 41 468 2299 6,40%
jun 15 148,7 16 413 2231 12,00%
jul 11 283,7 122 908 3121 8,80%
ago 12 225,9 26 374 2711 9,60%
set 12 295,3 97 810 3543 9,60%
out 7 306,9 172 490 2148 5,60%
nov 8 288,5 160 688 2308 6,40%
dez 6 270,3 116 502 1622 4,80%

50,4% of the books were four-star, and 26,4% were five-star reads, which makes for a better reading year than in 2018, where I had only 13% five-stars. 20% of my reads were just ok (three stars), compared to 25% in 2018; and  0,4 % rather bad (two stars), compared to 7% in 2018.


About the books

As I look back on the books I read in 2019, I noticed that four topics kept coming back, randomly, throughout the year: (1) women struggling to make something with their lives in the 19th century; (2) bad marriages; (3) mental health issues/ suicide attempts; and (4) infidelity (note that these topics even overlap in some books…). Not a rosy picture, I know, but I guess that’s the stuff I enjoy reading about in fiction… (Last year, my most read topics were dysfunctional families, fictional writers trying to write, existential crisis & ennui, and totalitarianism…)

  • Women struggling:
    • Aurora Leigh, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1856)
    • The Beth Book, by Sarah Grand (1897)
    • Hester, by Margaret Oliphant (1883)
    • Middlemarch, by George Eliot (1871)
    • The Awakening, by Kate Chopin (1899)
    • Belinda, by Rhoda Broughton (1883)
    • The Morgesons, by Elizabeth Stoddard (1862)
  • Bad marriages:
    • Middlemarch, by George Eliot (1871)
    • Territory of Light, by Yuko Tsushima, tr. Geraldine Harcourt (2018. Original: 光の領分, Hikari no ryōbun, 1979)
    • The Beth Book, by Sarah Grand (1897)
    • Nada, by Carmen Laforet, tr. Edith Grossman (2007. Original: Nada, 1944)
    • A Woman, by Sbilla Aleramo, tr. Rosalind Delmar (1980. Original: Una donna, 1906)
    • The Awakening, by Kate Chopin (1899)
    • Emmeline; or The Orphan of the Castle, by Charlotte Turner Smith (1788)
    • Belinda, by Rhoda Broughton (1883)
  • Mental health issues/ suicide attempts:
  • Infidelity:
    • Intimate Ties, by Robert Musil, tr. Peter Wortsman (2019. Original: Vereinigungen, 1911)
    • The Well of Loneliness, by Radclyffe Hall (1928)
    • A Falência, by Júlia Lopes de Almeida (The Bankruptcy, 1901)
    • Someone at a Distance, by Dorothy Whipple (1953)
    • Conversations with Friends, by Sally Rooney (2017)
    • The Awakening, by Kate Chopin (1899)
    • Belinda, by Rhoda Broughton (1883)
    • Letty Fox: Her Luck, by Christina Stead (1946)

25,6% of the books I read this year were published in the 2010’s (to 40% last year), and 12,8% in the 19th century (to 9% last year). I also read more 18th-century books (or older) than last year: 6,4% in 2019, to 0,8% in 2018. By publication date, The Pillow Book, by Sei Shonagon, tr. Meredith McKinney (2006. Original: Makura no sōshi, c.1002) was the oldest book I finished this year.

Publishing date Number of books Percentage
18th 8 6,40%
19th 16 12,80%
1900-1909 3 2,40%
1910-1919 2 1,60%
1920-1929 5 4,00%
1930-1939 8 6,40%
1940-1949 5 4,00%
1950-1959 7 5,60%
1960-1969 8 6,40%
1970-1979 4 3,20%
1980-1989 7 5,60%
1990-1999 9 7,20%
2000-2009 11 8,80%
2010-2019 32 25,60%

36% of the books I read were novels (to 49,1% in 2018). 32% were nonfiction books (to 25% in 2018). 14% were poetry books (to 9% last year):

Number of books Percentage
Non-fiction 40 32,00%
Novel 45 36,00%
Play 1 0,80%
Poetry 18 14,40%
Short-stories 5 4,00%
Novella 16 12,80%

I tended to read shorter books this year, and 30% of the books I read were between 100-199 pages long. The longest books were the antology Escritoras Brasileiras do Século XIX (v. I), edited by Zahide Muzart (1999), with 908 pages, and Middlemarch, by George Eliot (1871), with 810 pages.

Number of pages Number of books Percentage
<100 15 12,00%
100-199 38 30,40%
200-299 33 26,40%
300-399 21 16,80%
400-499 10 8,00%
500-599 5 4,00%
600-699 1 0,80%
800-899 1 0,80%
900-999 1 0,80%

47% of the books I read were paperbacks (to 34% in 2018). The amount of ebooks and audiobooks decreased: 24% ebooks (to 28% in 2018) and 12% audiobooks (to 23% in 2018).

Number of books Percentage
Audio 15 12%
Ebook 30 24%
Hardback 21 17%
Paperback 59 47%

More than 80% of the books I read came from my TBR, which is a tendency I observed since 2018 – a result of my conscious effort to read the books I already own. 16,8% came from the library, a slight increase in comparison to 14% last year.

Source Number of books Percentage
Library 21 16,80%
Review copy 2 1,60%
TBR 102 81,60%

About the Authors

I read books written by authors from 23 different countries (to 34 different countries in 2018). 52% of them were European (to 65% last year). 14,4% were from South America (to 1,7 % last year).

84% of the books I read were written by women, and this percentage has remained stable for the past five years.


About the blog

I published 108 posts in 2019, and a total of 100,493 words, according to WordPress (to 218 posts and 172,029 words in 2018). The most viewed post was my riff on book blogging, followed by my review of Aurora Leigh, by Elizabeth Barret Browning (1856). The countries that visited my blog the most were the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, India, Italy, France, The Netherlands, and Brazil. Thank you, folks, whoever you are out there ❤

A curious fact: the most used search term that led to my blog was “beware for i am fearless therefore powerful” ❤ ❤

This is the year I reviewed the least amount of books in comparison to the amount I read: only 29,6%, to 54,7% in 2018. But 2018 seems to have been an exceptionally good writing year:

Number of Books Percentage
2019
Not reviewed 88 70,40%
Reviewed 37 29,60%
2018
Not reviewed 51 45,24%
Reviewed 69 54,76%
2017
Not reviewed 73 65,77%
Reviewed 38 34,23%
2016
Not reviewed 46 53,49%
Reviewed 40 46,51%
2015
Not reviewed 97 77,60%
Reviewed 28 22,40%

It is also interesting to compare the stats about the books I read & the books I end up talking about on my blog.

The countries I read the most were England (31 books), United States (28), Brazil (15), Germany (8), Canada (6), Switzerland (5), Japan (5), Ireland (4), France (4), Russia (3), Argentina (2), Italy (2), Austria (2).

The countries I reviewed the most were England (15), United States (6), Japan (3), Italy (2), and Ireland (2). So, we can see that my reviews continue to be more eurocentric than my readings…

Finally, the authors I read the most in 2019 were Annemarie Schwarzenbach (4), Brigid Brophy (3), Elizabeth Gaskell (2), Lydia Chukovskaya (2), Emily Bronte (2) and George Eliot (2). The author I reviewed the most on my blog was Elizabeth Gaskell (2).


My Reading Spreadsheet

If you are curious about how my reading spreadsheet works, I made a video about it. You can download the spreadsheet here, and read the corresponding blog notes here.


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A restrospective of the reading and blogging events in 2019

This year I took part in many delightful reading events! The reading year started in a high note with our beloved Japanese Literature Challenge 12, hosted by Meredith over at Dolce Bellezza, for which I read Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata, tr. Ginny Tapley Takemori (2018. Original: コンビニ人間, 2016); A Riot of Goldfishby Kanoko Okamoto, tr. J. Keith Vincent (2010. Original: 金魚撩乱, 1937/ 食魔, 1941); The Pillow Book, by Sei Shōnagon, tr. Meredith McKinney (2006. Original: 枕草子 – Makura no sōshi, c.1002); and Territory of Lightby Yūko Tsushima, tr. Geraldine Harcourt (2018. Original: 光の領分, Hikari no ryōbun, 1979).

Still in January, we had the Classics Spin #19 (January, 31st, 2019), for which I read & loved Cassandra at the Wedding, by Dorothy Baker (1962).

For Didi‘s #ReadSoulLit, also in February, I read two novels by promising contemporary authors: Stay with me, by Ayobami Adebayo (2017), and Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi (2016).

In March, Cathy and Niall hosted our beloved Reading IrelandMonth, and I read two classic novels, Belinda, by Maria Edgeworth (1801) & The Beth Book, by Sarah Grand (1897), and a poetry collection, Selected poems, by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin.

Also in March, we had the exciting Wales Readathon, hosted by Paula, and I read one of my favourite novels this year, The Pumpkin Eater, by Penelope Mortimer (1962).

In April, Karen and Simon hosted The #1965Club, during which I read two novellas in translation,Astragal, by Albertine Sarrazin, tr. Patsy Southgate (1968. Original: L’Astragale, 1965) & Sofia Petrovna, by Lydia Chukovskaya, tr. Aline Werth, emended by Eliza Kellogg Klose (1994. Original: Sofia Petrovna, written in 1939-40, and first published in 1965. Also published as The deserted house, tr. Aline B. Werth. (1967).

From May, 31st to June, 9th, Jessie hosted the lovely Persephone Readathon, when I crossed ‘the Whipple line’ & read another of my favourite books this year, Someone at a Distance, by Dorothy Wipple (1953).

From June 3rd to September 3rd, Cathy hosted one of my favourite reading events, 20 Books of Summer, during which I read eight of the ten books on my original list:

  1. Nada, by Carmen Laforet, tr. Edith Grossman (2007. Original: Nada, 1944)
  2. Someone at a Distance, by Dorothy Whipple (1953)
  3. The King of a Rainy Country, by Brigid Brophy (1956)
  4. Speedboat, by Renata Adler (1976)
  5. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
  6. Fidelity, by Susan Glaspell
  7. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
  8. The Doll’s Alphabet, by Camilla Grudova

In July, I participated in Jane Austen in July, hosted by Katie and Marissa, where I reread my favourite novel by Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813), and read an interesting biography of her, Only a Novel: The Double Life of Jane Austen, by Jane Aiken Hodge (1972).

I also took part in the Spanish and Portuguese Lit Month, hosted by Stu, in July & August, and read A Falência, by Júlia Lopes de Almeida (‘The Bankruptcy’, 1901) & Nada, by Carmen Laforet, tr. Edith Grossman (2007. Original: Nada, 1944).

For All Virago All August, hosted by the Virago Modern Classics Group at LibraryThing, I read the fascinating The King of a Rainy Country, by Brigid Brophy (1956) & A Woman, by Sibilla Aleramo, tr. Rosalind Delmar (1980. Original: Una donna, 1906).

Still in August, we had Women in Translation Monthhosted by Meytal, where I read the novella A Woman, by Sibilla Aleramo, tr. Rosalind Delmar (1980. Original: Una donna, 1906) & the poetry collection alphabet, by Inger Christensen (1981).

Also in August, Simon hosted one of the most fun blogging events this year: My Life in Books, where he asked book bloggers to talk through significant books from different periods in their lives, and then swapped the lists of titles and asked them to comment on their partner’s choices. Fun! And he most kindly invited me to participate, so you can see my answers here. Thank you, Simon!

Then, Summer was over, and it was time for R.I.P. – R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril,  hosted by Andi and Heather (September 1st, 2019 – October 31st, 2019), when I read the following books: Emmeline; or The Orphan of the Castle, by Charlotte Smith (1788); Gothic Tales, by Elizabeth Gaskell, edited by Laura Kranzler (2000); Victorian Ghosts in the Noontide: Women Writers and the Supernatural, by Vanessa D. Dickerson (1996); Goblin Market, by Christina Rossetti (1862); Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë (1847); & Gondal’s Queen: A Novel in Verse, by Emily Bronte, edited by Fannie E. Ratchford (1955).

In October we had The #1930Club, hosted by Karen and Simon, and I read & loved the Diary of a Provincial Lady, by E. M. Delafield (1930).

October was also time for my beloved Victoberhosted by KateKatieAnge, and Lucy, and I read the folowing books: Gothic Tales, by Elizabeth Gaskell, edited by Laura Kranzler (2000); Victorian Ghosts in the Noontide: Women Writers and the Supernatural, by Vanessa D. Dickerson (1996); Ambitious Heights: Writing, Friendship, Love: The Jewsbury Sisters, Felicia Hemans, and Jane Welsh Carlyle, by Norma Clarke (1990); The Journals of George Eliot, edited by Margaret Harris and Judith Johnston (2000); Aurora Leigh, by Elizabet Barret Browning (1856); Goblin Market, by Christina Rossetti (1862); Belinda, by Rhoda Broughton (1883); and Gondal’s Queen: A Novel in Verse, by Emily Bronte, edited by Fannie E. Ratchford (1955).

During Victober, Kate also kindly invited me to take part in a lovely collective video (Thank you, Kate!). If you like, you can watch a bunch of Victorian Lit aficionados talking about their favourites here:

Then, we had Nonfiction November, hosted by KatieJulzRennieSarah, and Leann (and, on Booktube, hosted by Olive), where I read Shakespeare’s sisters: feminist essays on women poets, by Sandra M. Gilbert (1979); Around the World in 72 Days, by Nellie Bly (1890); Nobody’s Looking at You: Essays, by Janet Malcolm (2019); & School for Barbarians: Education under the Nazis, by Erika Mann (1938).

Also in November, we had our beloved German Lit Monthhosted by Lizzy and Caroline, for which I read the play & the novel corresponding to the story The Child Manuela, by Christa Winsloe, tr. Agnes Neill Scott (1994. Original: Das Mädchen Manuela, 1933, also known as Mädchen in Uniform) & the fascinating novel Nachdenken über Christa T., by Christa Wolf (1968. The Quest for Christa T.,  tr. Christopher Middleton, 1982).

A glimpse into 2020

As for the year-long challenges I took part in 2019 and my personal reading projects, I wrote a separate post about them here. And, if you want a glimpse into what I am planning for 2020, you can read all about my reading projects for the coming year here. And now, on to my favourite section of this post:

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The good, the bad, and the ugly
Best novels (in no particular order)
  • The Pumpkin Eater, by Penelope Mortimer (1962)
  • Belinda, by Rhoda Broughton (1883)
  • Cassandra at the Wedding, by Dorothy Baker (1962)
  • The Morgesons, by Elizabeth Stoddard (1862)
  • Nachdenken über Christa T., by Christa Wolf (1968. The Quest for Christa T.,  tr. Christopher Middleton, 1982)
  • Territory of Light, by Yūko Tsushima, tr. Geraldine Harcourt (2018. Original: 光の領分, Hikari no ryōbun, 1979)
Favourite short-story collections

 

  • Last Vanities: Stories, by Fleur Jaeggy, tr. Tim Parks (1998. Original: La paura del cielo, 1994)
  • The Doll’s Alphabet, by Camilla Grudova (2017)
Favourite poetry collections

 

Best nonfiction books (in no particular order)
  • The Years, by Annie Ernaux, tr. Alison L. Strayer (2017. Original: Les Années, 2008)
  • Ein Kind (Die Autobiographie n. 5), by Thomas Bernhard (1982)
  • Vivir entre lenguas, by Sylvia Molloy (2016)
  • Janelas irreais: Um diário de releituras, by Felipe Charbel (2018)
  • The Journals of George Eliot, edited by Margaret Harris and Judith Johnston (2000)
Disappointments
  • Conversations with Friends, by Sally Rooney (2017)
  • Call Me By Your Name, by André Aciman (2007)

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Reading Retrospective Tag | 2019

As a final rumination on my reading year, I also think it would be fun to do this meme/tag created by Pauline. You can watch her original video here:

  1. Which book you read this year would you recommend to anyone and why? I would recommend A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792). At a time when women’s rights are under attack, it is important to go back to the roots and look at one of the most solid foundations of early feminism.
  2. Which book you read this year has taught you something new? Janelas irreais: Um diário de releituras (‘Unreal Windows: a Journal of Rereadings’), by Brazilian author Felipe Charbel (2018), has shown me an interesting framework for writing about books.
  3. Which book you read this year came just at the right time when you needed it? Vivir entre lenguas (‘Living between Languages’), by Argentine author Sylvia Molloy (2016) came just when I needed a book that articulated the experience of being raised multilingual.
  4. Which book you read this year will stay with you for a long time? The Morgesons, by Elizabeth Stoddard (1862), is a book I am still thinking about since I read it (back in February!), and I am sure I will reread it.
  5. Which book you read this year expanded your reading horizons (new genre, author, theme, style, format)? I am still ruminating about the subversive humour in The King of a Rainy Country, by Brigid Brophy (1956), and I think this is a novel I will reread & an author whose books I will further explore.
  6. Which bookish things did you particularly enjoy doing/purchasing/using this year? I particularly loved two book-related exhibitions I went to this year: “Erika Mann: Kabarettistin – Kriegsreporterin – Politische Rednerin“, at the Monacensia & “Orlando“, at the Literaturhaus München. And I am still digesting the opera adaptation of Woolf’s Orlando, by Olga Neuwirth at the Wierner Staatsoper. Not exactly book related, but still: I loved the exhibition on Caravaggio at the Alte Pinakothek. Earlier this year, I made a very special trip to Ouro Preto (MG, Brazil), where it was a delight (and a surprise) to find Elizabeth Bishop’s house. I also visited two very special libraries this year: the Juristische Bibliothek in München & the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Wien. Also in Vienna, I enjoyed visiting the Literaturmuseum. Blogging-wise, the post I most enjoyed writing this year was a riff on book blogging. I started a new blogging series, Know Thy Shelf, where I am enjoying to document my bookshelves. Finally, in 2019 I started a literary podcast (in Portuguese), where I talk about lesser-known classics written by women writers, as well as queer classics in general. I am loving to learn more about the format – and I even created a bingo reading challenge to go with it!
  7. Who are some booktubers, subscribers or other bookish friends that you got to know better this year (through watching, comments, personal contact online or in real life or otherwise)? Through Simon‘s series of posts for My Life in Books, I came to know quite a few new-to-me book bloggers! And I loved interacting with bloggers Cathy, Karen, Paula, Susan, Jane, Simon, Jacqui, and Ali through their blogs and twitter. 🙂 On Booktube, I really enjoyed interacting with Sharon, Hannah, Mel (who also blogs here), Silje, Amy, PaulineKateKatie, Shawn, Laura (who also blogs here), Claudia, Andreea, and Natalie (who also blogs here) through their channels 🙂
  8. What Booktube video(s) did you particularly enjoy this year? All the Victober videos!
  9. Did you discover a new all-time favorite book? This year, I reread two favourites which I had not read since high school – Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë (1847) & Middlemarch, by George Eliot (1871) – and I am happy to report that they remain two all-time favourites of mine. And I think Rhoda Broughton has the potential of becoming a favourite author of mine – I read her novel Belinda  (1883) this year and it was a delight!
  10. Tag your favorite bookish people! If you enjoyed this tag, feel yourself tagged! 🙂

THANK YOU

Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. Our blogging community is a source of joy to all of us. May the new year be gentle on us; may we be generous towards one another.

I’ll be signing off now, folks, and will be back in January. I wish you all Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! I leave you with a poem by one of my favourite poets, W. S. Merwin, who sadly passed away in 2019:


“Thanks

(W. S. Merwin)

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is”

4 thoughts on “With the night falling we are saying thank you

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