In 2010, The Soldier's Cross was published and I upped my - what do you call it? - "online presence." Part of that involved actually using the splendid site Goodreads instead of just having an account, so 2011 has been one of the few years in which I've kept track of the books I have read. I didn't set a goal, liking to go through books at my own speed or lack thereof, and so the quantity wasn't as great as some of you, but I did wander into the worlds of some excellent books. I read some classics; some brilliant fantasies; a heap of rereads that didn't make it on the Goodreads list (Jane Austen, mostly); and some histories and other nonfiction. I didn't enjoy everything, but it was a nice, eclectic year. Here's a taste.
Away back in January I commenced my education proper in Sherlock Holmes. He makes for easy reading, so I have now read all the novels and most of the short stories (having already seen the Jeremy Brett TV-series, I knew how those ones ended and only read the ones I hadn't watched). I read Mutiny on the Bounty at last and just this month read the second in the trilogy, Men Against the Sea; I also added to my collection of sea novels such books as The Line upon a Wind (lift with your legs!), the 1950s novel The Tall Ships, and about the first hundred pages of Master and Commander...until I determined that it is most distinctly a man's novel. I met Jack Easy some time last year, and Hornblower awaits me after I've completed my own novel.
I took a huge bound out of my comfort zone and read The Killer Angels, perhaps the most not-me book in 2011's collection, and yet one that I enjoyed nonetheless. I read a new novel (gasp!), Liz Patterson's charming debut, The Mark of the Star. Just a couple months ago I also got Anne Elisabeth Stengl's newest novel, Veiled Rose, read it and promptly backtracked to read Heartless as well. They're some of my favorites from this year. (Yes! Abigail does read modern novels! ...Sometimes. Rarely. Alright, moving on.) I succeeded in finishing the Puritan Paperback The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (take a bite, chew ten times, swallow, digest, repeat); grudgingly picked up The Odyssey (even Athena recognized that Odysseus was an idiot!); and dabbled in some light reading with James Herriot. I had to read something light, you see, because at the same time I was reading Little Dorrit (you can't just come in saying you want to KNOW, you know).
In June I read my first G.K. Chesterton work, Four Faultless Felons. I can't decide what I think of Chesterton. I'll get back with you at a later date. Then there was...Team of Rivals. (May I remind you about lifting with your legs?) It involved some trudging, but it was very interesting. Then, Jenny having been on to me to read Beowulf, I picked that up (I like Wiglaf better than Beowulf). I read Rosemary Sutcliff's novel Frontier Wolf, which was like having my heart wrung a couple times (but wait, it's Sutcliff, so we expect that). The Forgotten Spurgeon, by Iain Murray, earned one of my rare five star ratings. It was good, accessible, encouraging, convicting, and did I mention that it was good?
For some light reading and inspiration for Sunshine and Gossamer I picked up the little book Dew on the Grass, a sweet read with some inside-out theology. I reread a couple Agatha Christie novels, Towards Zero (a favourite) and Murder at the Vicarage (not so much). I ventured a little dubiously into my first Robert Louis Stevenson novel, the odd Master of Ballantrae. Last week I finished The Count of Monte Cristo, complete and unabridged in its 1400-page glory. I'm not sure if I would read it again; it had its high points and its low points. Last night I (finally) reached the last page of Harry Blamire's The Christian Mind. I believe the crowning jewel of the year, however, was Howl's Moving Castle. This little book was clever, light and serious at once, and absolutely hilarious; after finishing it I loaned it out to various family members, and have yet to get it back.
The year is not quite finished; I hope to complete Thomas Costain's The Magnificent Century before January rolls around. But I am pleased with the books I've read and I enjoyed just about all of them. Unlike Jenny, many of my books had little (or little that I can pinpoint) to do with The White Sail's Shaking, and yet so many of them were beneficial in expanding my horizons. I read my first Dumas, my first Stevenson, and my first Chesterton this year. I found some new writers whose works I can watch for. I ventured into some very different eras, including the Civil War and the Age of Sail. And then of course there were those wonderful rereads.
what have you read this year?