52 Books In 52 Weeks Wrap-up 2013

While I didn’t have a blog last year, I did particiapte in the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge.  Robin is the host and she encourages participants to answer questions at the end of the year, to review their reading experiences.  I admit, I haven’t completed the questions previously but, with a new blog, this year I thought I’d give it a go!

  1.  How many book did you read this year?

       I should end up with about 70 books read, which is 8 less than the
       previous year.  

  2.  Did you meet or beat your own personal goal?
       My personal goal was 65 books, so I beat my challenge.  

  3.  Favourite book of 2013?

       Oh, this is a difficult question.  I would say The Divine Comedy 
       because of the ambitiousness of Dante’s writing, the differences 
       between the three books and the opportunity he gives the reader
       to intimately explore Heaven, Hell and Purgatory.

  4.  Least favourite book of 2013 and why?

       I have no problem answering this!  Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
       The whole structure of the story seemed not only forced but poorly 
       stitched together, and the storyline shallow.  The main character’s
       husband is a murderer for really no good reason, and the only emotion
       the second Mrs. deWinter displays is joy that her husband doesn’t 
       love his first wife, the murdered Rebecca.  I know that Rebecca
       was supposed to be the force that dominates the story, I think we 
       are supposed to sympathize with Mrs. de Winter II and be chilled 
       by Mrs. Danvers but, honestly, I was ready to tear my hair out by 
       the end of the story.  Never again unless by torture!

  5.  One book you thought you’d never read and was pleasantly surprised
       that you liked it?
       The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  I thought I would like it but I never
       imagined that I would love it as much as I did.  Wharton was a master of 
       character development when she created Lily Bart.  The reader is 
       introduced to an innocent child, an accomplished flirt, a damaged
       product of society, a redeemed angel, and each of these traits shone out
       just as strongly as all the others.  Just, WOW!

  6.  One book you thought you’d love but didn’t?

       Walden Two.  I expected a good utopian read.  What I got was B.F.
       Skinner’s philosophical treatise of the perfect society, but in a way
       that was rambling and unappealing.  I didn’t feel he really made an 
       attempt to engage with the reader.

       Also, The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson.  It was a story of a girl
       who had lost her mother and was spending her time on an island off
       Finland with her grandmother, and of their relationship together.
       Jansson only mentions the mother’s death once and then doesn’t
       explore this theme further, asking us to surmise the girl’s often
       unpleasant behaviour is a result of this tragedy.  Fine, but the
       grandmother is a little off-colour too, as well as other characters in
       this  novel.  I didn’t hate it and, in fact, some parts were amusing,
       but it left me with no connection to the characters and a very uneasy

  7.  One book that touched you  — made you laugh, cry, sing or dance.

       Oh, lots of these!   First The House of Mirth …… my heart just ached for
       Lily, but because I’ve mentioned this title already, I’ll pick another:  All
       Quiet on the Western Front.  I found this book particularly poignant
       because, while it was realistic, it wasn’t sensationalistic.  I felt the author
       intimately knew his characters and was able to communicate their
       struggles with the reader.  As enjoyable as a book on war can be.

  8.  Any new to you authors discovered and you can’t wait to read more of
       their stories?

       I enjoyed The Master and Margarita, so I’d like to read more of Mikhail
      Bulgakov.  Oh, and Emilé Zola, absolutely.  I also enjoyed M.R. James’
      Ghost Stories.

  9.  Name the longest book you read?  The shortest?

      If I finish in time, it would be War and Peace at 1392 pages.  If not, my 
      next closest is Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens at 996 pages.  The
      shortest was Cautionary Tales for Children by Hilaire Belloc at 72 pages.

10.  Name the most unputdownable book you read?

       The Brain That Changes Itself was fascinating!

11.  Book that had the greatest impact on you this year?

       The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  I still think about it:  Lily’s fate
       and was it necessary?

12.  What book would you recommend everybody read?

        The Divine Comedy, The House of Mirth, Beowulf and Pride and

13.  Share your most favourite cover.

       What a lovely cover!  I speaks of adventure and makes you want to
       pick up the book and read!


14.  Do you have a character you fell in love with?

       Lily Bart from The House of Mirth.  A tragically loveable yet sometimes
       unlikeable character!  Also Rilla from Rilla of Ingleside, Miette from The
       Fortune of the Rougons, Antonia from My Antonia …… the list could go

15.  What was your most favourite part of the challenge?  Did you do any of
       the mini-challenges?

       I enjoy how this challenge gives me focus.  I didn’t do any of the mini-
       challenges but I’ll certainly be considering some for 2014!

My goals for 2014 are to read less books and to spend more time with the books I read.  I want to take the time to read over passages that resonate with me, be able to ponder the thoughts the book has provoked, and leave time to journal.  The beginning of the year is shaping up to be busy; I have probably too many books scheduled to read but I am feeling positive about starting the year off without many leftovers from 2013.

All the best to everyone for 2014!

15 thoughts on “52 Books In 52 Weeks Wrap-up 2013

  1. Regarding All Quiet on the Western Front: I have a copy, but I never thought about it. I will have to check to see if I have it on my TBR list. How could I over look that?

  2. I loved Lily Bart! 🙂 Like you, I thought I'd like it but never thought I'd love it as much 🙂

    I'm looking forward to re-reading Dante. I loved Inferno, but I got two rotten translations of Purgatorio and Paradiso. I've recently acquired new translations, so hopes are high 🙂

  3. I think that you'll like it, Ruth. I was impressed that it was very simple but very effective, and I felt it gave an accurate portrayal of war. Not to mention, it was from a German point-of-view which was unique. An excellent read!

    Do you get the feeling your book pile for 2014 is going to grow? 😉

  4. I'm so surprised that The House of Mirth is not recommended more frequently.

    Thanks! I love children's book covers ……. they often make you want to escape this world and jump right into theirs!

  5. What translation did you get, O? Who were the rotten translations by?

    Did you see that there is a 2014 Divine Comedy + Decameron read on Goodreads?

    Aren't I full of questions today? 😉

  6. Yes! With all of these other great options, I do want to add more. It would be a miracle if I could finish 70 books in one year.

    Oh, and I do have AQWF on my TBR list already. : )

  7. New translation is by C H Sisson, and the old – Inferno was translated by Dorothy L Sayers (I liked that one), Purgatorio was by C. G. Wright (prose translation from 1905), and Inferno – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

    I'll go check out the Goodreads 🙂

    Happy New Year, by the way! 😀

  8. I highly recommend Ciardi. I think he is the closest you'll get to the real Dante, even though he takes liberties with the content. And that recommendation is straight from an Italian professor who is an expert in Dante (and speaks English like a native too). I'd like to read Mandelbaum and Sayers too, but I'm considering reading it again, and you know who I may default to? Ciardi. I just loved his translation the first time around!

    Happy New Year to you too!! Hope you're feeling better soon!

  9. Nice list. The House of Mirth was a hit for me too, when I read it in 2011 (I think). But then so were the other two Edith Whartons I have read, Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome.

    I had some serious issues with Rebecca as well, specially the protagonist, though the book had its own strong points.

    I hope you were able to finish War and Peace in time, I myself finished it on December 31 in 2012.

    I agree with 2 of your 4 recommendations of books everyone should read, haven't read Divine Comedy and didn't care much for Pride and Prejudice (Emma and Lady Susan are my favourite Austen works).

    Happy 2014 and happy reading.


  10. I definitely must read more works by Wharton. I was so impressed with her handling of the characters in THoM. If she shows the same abilities in her other novels ….. WOW!

    I really loved du Marier's descriptions in Rebecca but other than that …….. I'm sorry but I really hated that book. I even had long discussions about it in different books groups, which usually help me at least appreciate a book more ….. not so with Rebecca …… Ugh!

    War and Peace, sadly, is stalled due to my over-commitments for January. I will get back to it when I have even a slight window in my schedule! Did you enjoy it? I have a feeling it wasn't your first Tolstoy ….???

    Happy reading to you too in 2014!! Thanks for stopping by!

  11. While House of Mirth is more realistic, it makes one more involved with Lily, Age of Innocence is probably the one better written. Ethan Frome is a novella, very different from the other two. I will probably pick up another work of hers towards the later part of the year, my reading schedule permitting.

    Not all books, even Classics, are for everyone, there are a few I haven't much liked myself either, Northanger Abbey comes to mind.

    I quite liked War and Peace, I specially liked how the characters evolve and change over the course of the novel, quite a unique experience that. You guessed right, W&P was my second Tolstoy, first being Anna Karenina, sadly I haven't been able to read any more Tolstoy since.

  12. I disliked Northanger Abbey too, until I learned it was a parody of the Gothic novels of Austen's time. When I realized that I could look at it from a different point of view and, while it's not my favourite Austen, I would certainly read it again.

    Anna Karenina was a very enjoyable read but I must say I'm enjoying the different aspects of War and Peace. Now if I could only get around to finishing it! 😉

  13. The Brain That Changes Itself is amazing isn't it?
    I read it about 3 years ago and still think about its implications and applications (I also smell chlorine every time I think about it as it was my poolside reading whilst my stepson did swimming lessons!).

  14. Chlorine?! Next time you read a brain book, you have to bake chocolate chip cookies or read it in a meadow full of fragrant flowers!

    It was fabulous, wasn't it? Such good news for stroke victims that their improvement doesn't have to end after 1-2 years.

    Along the same lines, have you read Oliver Sacks book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat? That's an excellent read. I'd highly recommend it!

Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear from you and have you join in the discussion!