The 2013 End of Year Book Survey

2013 book survey

I did this survey last year so here it is again….

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (You can break it down by genre if you want)  This is hard… in terms of fiction, highlights definitely include ‘A Tale for the Time Being‘ by Ruth Ozeki, ‘Life After Life‘ by Kate Atkinson and ‘Red Joan‘ by Jennie Rooney. The best non-fiction book was probably ‘Quiet‘ by Susan Cain.  I don’t give books star ratings in my reviews so it is difficult to judge and compare a whole year’s worth of reading.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? I was not so much disappointed but just rather perplexed by ‘The Orphan Master’s Son‘ by Adam Johnson.  I was intrigued by the story’s setting in North Korea but it didn’t really grab me as much as I thought it would.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?  ‘Bring Up the Bodies‘ by Hilary Mantel was a pleasant surprise after struggling a bit with ‘Wolf Hall‘ in 2012.  I also really enjoyed ‘The Stone Diaries‘ by Carol Shields more than I thought I would

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2013? ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain – both introverts and extroverts need to read this book.

5. Best series you discovered in 2013? I haven’t read many books which are part of series but I enjoyed ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling‘ by Robert Galbraith/J. K. Rowling and look forward to reading more Cormoran Strike books in the future.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2013? I read a lot of books by authors which were new to me this year. My favourites include Antoine Laurain, Lydia Davis and Jhumpa Lahiri.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? This year, I have read a lot more non-fiction on subjects I don’t know much about.  ‘No Logo‘ by Naomi Klein, ‘Eating Animals‘ by Jonathan Safran Foer and ‘Fever Pitch‘ by Nick Hornby were all intriguing.  ‘Bad Science‘ by Ben Goldacre deserves a mention too for the chapter on Gillian McKeith alone.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013? I didn’t read anything this year that made me miss my stop on the train but I found Hilary Mantel’s memoir ‘Giving Up the Ghost‘ genuinely gripping and read most of it in one sitting.

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:  I don’t think I have re-read anything for at least three years so anything I have read this year definitely won’t be revisited in 2014.  When my TBR pile goes down a bit, I might re-read some of the first proper classics I first read when I was about 13 like ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier and ‘1984’ by George Orwell but I can’t guarantee that will happen this year (eeek!).

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2013? I really like the lobster cover of ‘The Dinner‘ by Herman Koch and ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette‘ by Maria Semple.  Both are very striking and original.

11. Most memorable character in 2013? Sugar from ‘The Crimson Petal and the White‘ was highly unconventional as was Dellarobia from ‘Flight Behaviour‘.  I have come across a lot of strong female characters this year which is always good to see!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013? I really enjoyed Tracey Thorn’s memoir ‘Bedsit Disco Queen‘ which was as eloquently written as her lyrics.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? I have come across a lot of good books this year but I think the style of writing that has really stayed with me is probably ‘Blindness‘ by José Saramago.  ‘The Yellow Birds‘ by Kevin Powers was also very powerful.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? I felt like I had waited forever to read ‘The Casual Vacancy‘ by J. K. Rowling.  It was pleasing to see so many comments from bloggers who agreed that the initial reviews had been very unfair.

15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?  I don’t really note down my favourite quotes but a flash fiction story by Lydia Davis called ‘Companion’ really stuck in my head: “We are sitting here together, my digestion and I.  I am reading a book and it is working away at the lunch I ate a little while ago.”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013? The shortest book was probably ‘The Testament of Mary‘ by Colm Toibin closely followed by ‘Levels of Life‘ by Julian Barnes and ‘The Buddha in the Attic‘ by Julie Otsuka.  The longest books were ‘11/22/63‘ by Stephen King and ‘The Crimson Petal and the White‘ by Michel Faber.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? Obviously ‘Gone Girl‘ by Gillian Flynn and also ‘Under the Skin‘ by Michel Faber.  I try not to give spoilers in my reviews though.

18. Favourite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).  David Mitchell’s chapter in ‘Back Story‘ about his relationship with Victoria Coren was very moving.

19. Favourite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You Read Previously  The vast majority of books I reviewed this year were written by authors I had never read before.  This wasn’t something I had consciously set out to do this year but there is so much new stuff out there that sometimes it takes a while for me to revisit an author… As for books I read this year by authors I have read previously, ‘Flight Behaviour‘ by Barbara Kingsolver really stands out.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else: I would never have read Artemis Cooper’s biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor if Waterstones hadn’t sent me a review copy.

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012 (optional)

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2013? The Matilda Project is awesome.

2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2013? I enjoyed writing my thoughts about Cloud Atlas‘ by David Mitchell and also reading the comments left by numerous bloggers.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog? I enjoyed the responses to my list of Best Book to Film Adaptations.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?  I wrote my own post in response to a post on Book Riot about book snobs.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? The Women’s Prize for Fiction readings and the Man Booker Prize readings at the Southbank Centre in June and October respectively.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2013? Getting Freshly Pressed for the second time.  As much as I would like to make this an annual event, I think I would be pushing my luck for it to happen again.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)? For comments and views, that was my post about international authors being eligible for the Man Booker Prize from next year onwards. I have also had a lot of hits recently from sneaky people googling the answers for the Caboodle Book Quiz! ‘Why Libraries Are Important‘ was also consistently popular throughout the year.  The most viewed book review was ‘Under the Skin’ by Michel Faber closely followed by ‘The Dinner’ by Herman Koch, ‘Cloud Atlas’  by David Mitchell (a little ironic seeing as I didn’t actually finish it…) and ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? The Observations‘ by Jane Harris didn’t get many views which is a shame because it is a really good book.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?  Books for Free is a really great book exchange initiative run by Healthy Planet in the UK.  It has been an excellent source of books for my blog.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? I didn’t set myself any real goals this year… I just read whatever I feel like and intend to keep it that way.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014? Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that when I say I want to investigate something “soon” or “in the near future”, what I actually mean is “I might get round to it in the next five years or so but I can’t guarantee it”.  See my Reading List for books that I will hopefully read in 2014 but might even get pushed back to 2015 and beyond… it’s scary that there are some books I might not read for years but then I also live in perpetual fear of running out of books to read so I also find it oddly comforting that the list is so long at the moment.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014? It looks like a new novel by Sarah Waters called ‘The Paying Guests’ will finally be making an appearance this autumn and Haruki Murakami’s new novel should be published in the UK in 2014 too. Hopefully, both will be worth the wait.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014? Read more.  Blog more.  I should also make more of an effort to reply to the comments that people leave on my page as I can be quite lazy with that…

Merry Christmas and happy new year to you all wherever you are and whatever you’re doing…. here’s to a prosperous 2014!

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7 Comments

Filed under Books

7 responses to “The 2013 End of Year Book Survey

  1. Chris Sullivan

    Here are my answers.
    1. Best Book You Read In 2013. Fiction- A Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan. Non-Fiction – Hitch 22 by Christopher Hitchens.
    2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t. Candide by Voltaire.
    3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013. Anne Tyler’s ‘The Ladder of Years.
    4. Book you recommended to people most in 2013. Amy Tan’s A Hundred Secret Senses. (I have bored customers silly about this book in the bookshop where I volunteer).
    6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2013. Sorry to be repetitive but Amy Tan would be one and Joan Mendelsohn.
    7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you. Difficult one. It would have to be, Aphra Behn’s ‘Oroonoko’.
    8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013. ‘The Testament of Mary’ by Colm Toibon.
    9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year: Like you I have too much in my TBR pile to start thinking about re-reading anything.
    10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2013. ‘Fugitive Pieces’ by Anne Michaels.
    11. Most memorable character in 2013. It has to be Christopher Hitchens though I know you meant a character from a fiction book.
    12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013. Colm Toibon’s, The Testament of Mary.
    13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013. A biography of the poet, Matthew Arnold, ‘A Gift Imprisoned’.
    14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read. Christopher Hitchins, ‘Hitch 22.’
    15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013. From Anne Michaels, ‘The Fugitive Pieces’. “While I hid in the luxury of a room, thousands were stuffed into baking stoves, sewers, garbage bins. In the crawlspaces of double ceilings, in stables, pigsties, chicken coups. A boy my age hid in a crate; after ten months he was blind and mute, his limbs atrophied.”
    16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013. Shortest was Colm Toibon’s ‘The Testament of Mary’. and the longest was, Margaret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace’.
    17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It. I cannot think of any off the top of my head. Like you I try not to write spoilers into my reviews.
    18. Favourite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc). I think it would have to be the one between Olivia Lugani and her half sister Kwan Lee in ‘A Hundred Secret Senses.
    19. Favourite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You Read Previously. Hermione Lee’s biography of Edith Wharton.
    20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else. That would be ‘The King’s Grave’, by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones.

    I hope you had a lovely Christmas. Have a great New Year.

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  2. I’ve wondered about A Tale for the Time Being so many times. You’d say it was worth a shot then?

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  3. Yay! Life After Life and The Cuckoo’s Calling also made it to my top ten books 🙂 How could they not?

    Happy 2014, Clare!

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  4. Pingback: Page212

  5. following your blog now. glad I clicked through. 😉

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  6. Meg

    I love the idea of doing a end of the year book survey! Great idea and great read!

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