Monday, 31 December 2018

Another Year Over...

almost...and a new one just about to begin!

So it's high time I sat down to write my 2018 summary post.

2018 was an odd year for me, full of personal challenges. I juggled, I compromised, I got on with it, I fell apart, I tried again, I reassessed, I held on tight, I let go. Through it all I lived, and loved and learnt.

I'm sure we all have years where things don't necessarily go to plan. Those years where we spend most of our time coping with the fallout from change, death and stress. It's one of the reasons why I love celebrating NYE. The new year promises a psychological reset, a do-over. It's a chance to reflect on the old year, then start again.

I've lived through enough NY's now to know that resolutions are very rarely kept and that changes almost never happen miraculously. But I still find it a time of hope. A chance to look forward.

But before I can do that, I need to review my year in books!


Today I'm in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, sweltering away thanks to a breathless 30℃ day. The promise of a storm is on the horizon and I'm counting down to a quiet NYE beer on the balcony with Mr Books.

According to Goodreads I have read 107 books this year. I gave 6 books a 5-star rating, 2 books a 2-star rating with everything else falling in between (except for the 20-odd books that I haven't finalised reviews for!)

My favourite and most memorable books for the year were Normal People by Sally Rooney, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry and Shokoofeh Azar's The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree.

Azar's book also won my favourite cover of the year award!


My best feel-good, spark-joy book for 2018 goes to both A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and Angela Thirkell's Northbridge Rectory.

I reviewed 85 books on my blog - 49 by female authors and 36 by men. Twenty-four of these books were written by Australian authors and twelve were books in translation. I read eighteen non-fiction titles. I lost count back in February of the number of picture books I read for work!

My longest book, at 1232 pages, was Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

After 365 days, I have come to the end of my Les Miserables chapter-a-day readalong with Nick @One Catholic Life. It was an adventure as well as an exercise in patience and perseverance. A full review will be penned sometime in the NY.

Hopefully I will also finish David Bellos' The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Miserables tonight as well. If I can achieve this I will have completed my Goodreads challenge of 110 books - although I also need to work out how to add multiple editions of books as being 'read'. I not only read the Norman Denny translation of Les Mis, I also referred to the Rose and Donoghue editions throughout the year. But right now I cannot make this happen on Goodreads. I have to assume that it's a weird time zone glitch. In Goodreads land it is still the 30th December, yet I marked my Denny edition as 'read' on the 31st Dec (which is what the date is here right now). My review notes exist in my time but not yet in Goodreads. I'm hoping that after 7pm (my time) I will be able to add the two other editions of Les Mis to my 'read' stats.

As a newbie to Les Mis, much of it was a fresh surprise. But I was amazed at how many ideas and half-truths I had formed about the story from simply being a member of the human race that interacts online, reads voraciously and loves a good meme/gif.

So I don't think I will spoil it for anyone else by jumping straight to the end.

I'm sure I will have a lot more to say about the tragedy and majesty of Jean Valjean's life in posts to come, but for now, I hope that when my time comes, that I can share Jean Valjean's simple epitaph - she lived. She loved.

It happened of itself, in the calm way
That in the evening night-time follows day.


But that is not the end after all!

Because tomorrow is a brand new year and Nick is kicking off a brand new chapter-a-day readalong. We voted and decided that we couldn't manage another 365 chapter book in 2019 (my War and Peace reread will have to wait for another year!) so instead we will be reading four books that add up to 365 chapters (bravo Nick for doing the maths!) 

The 2019 Chapter-a-Day Read-along looks a little like this:

  • Don Quixote: January 1 to May 8 (126 chapters plus 2 prologues = 128 days)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo: May 9 to September 2 (117 chapters = 117 days)
  • Lilith: September 3 to October 19 (47 chapters = 47 days)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop: October 20 to December 31 (73 chapters = 73 days)
I currently have Don Quixote and The Count of Monte Cristo on my TBR pile, so I will definitely join in for the first two books. The final two will depend on how my year is travelling and whether or not I have acquired a copy of the books in the meantime.

I'm rather nervous about Don Quixote as I have heard many mixed reports about it, but I hope that reading it with Nick & co will keep me going during any tough patches.


An hour after starting this post, Mr Books has finished water-blasting our sandstone pavers, the storm is still threatening to arrive and it is now beer o'clock on New Year's Eve in Australia.

Happy New Year one and all and let's do it all again in 2019!

21 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to the read-along as well!! Happy New Year, Brona!!

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    1. Happy New Year Risa - how lovely to have you with us for the #Quixotereadalong - I'm looking forward to tackling the 'best work of fiction in the world'!

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  2. Happy New Year, Brona - hope it's a good one! The idea of celebrating New Year in sweltering heat feels very strange to my Scottish soul... 😃

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    1. Probably as strange as shivering & freezing your way into a New Year is for me! Happy New Year FF - hope your blogging year is full of amazing books :-)

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  3. Happy New Year, Brona! Good luck with your new read-along project... I loved The Count of Monte Cristo. Pachinko was my favorite book read in 2018 and I'm looking forward to reading Normal People soon.

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    1. Pachinko & Normal People are poles apart in content and style, but both were memorable, emotionally engaging stories. I'm very excited to be reading both Don Quixote & The Count in one year - two big classics that I've had on my TBR pile for a LONG time.

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  4. You had a great 2018 for books. I hope to read some classics in 2019 - Les Miserables was favorite that I read twice.

    Happy 2019, Happy Reading, Happy Travels (love your Instagram pics)!!

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    1. Happy New Year to you and your family too Diane. I do love my instagramming, so thanks for the encouragement :-)

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  5. Congratulations on a great year of reading Brona, and finishing Les Mis on time. I can't wait to see what you think of a musical/movie version. I hope 2019 is calmer sailing.

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    1. I'm trying to excite Mr Books about the musical version of Les Mis, he doesn't seem too keen about Hugh Jackman & Russell Crowe singing!

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  6. Happy New Year, Brona, and thanks for participating in the Les Mis Read-along! I'm so happy that you'll be joining the 2019 Chapter-a-Day Read-along!

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    1. Our third year of reading big books/series together Nick - I'm looking forward to it. Your twitter live read of the final chapter of Les Mis was great (although it took me a couple of minutes to work out how to view it best). Mr Books even stopped what he was doing to listen in on the last part too :-)

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  7. Thankyou for another interesting year Brona. It's only a year or so since my daughter got me to read Les Mis - I look forward to your review.

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    1. I have no idea how I'm going to review such a mammoth story and find something fresh to say about it!

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  8. Sounds like you had a wonderful reading year! Wishing you a very happy New Year and good luck with your readalongs. Should be a lot of fun!

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    1. Happy New Year to you too Iliana. Thanks for your friendly support all year :-)

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  9. So much good reading in 2018... may 2019 bring you much joy in books as in life. Persoanlly I cant sign up for read alongs, but I do enjoy the commentary . Keep it up.

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    1. Readalongs are not for everyone, but I've participated in some amazing ones over the years, and read books I may never have got around to reading otherwise. I should be finishing up The Count by the time Paris in July rolls around again - so at least I will be able to combine two challenges with the one book :-)

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  10. Happy 2019, Brona. Have a great reading year!

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  11. Happy new year and what great projects you have lined up!

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  12. Thank you for you sum-up. A good reading year it seems, with a lot of finished books.
    Good luck with all the new projects.

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