Category Archives: Read Around the World

Obligatory end of year post

Dear Reader,

The end of another year is upon us and I welcome you to this, my end of 2014 post in which I endeavour to remember what it is I ‘ve done this year and make some bold claims about how I’m going to make the most of the coming 12 months.

2014 was an incredibly exciting year for all sorts of reasons (although the measly 22 posts on this blog probably don’t reflect it very well). Firstly I finally completed my PhD passing my viva in October and meaning that I can now call myself Dr Kathy. Secondly I got myself a job with the stem cell donor register Anthony Nolan which I absolutely love. It meets my remit of being very sciencey without needing me to actually DO any science. I’m directly involved in giving patients a second shot at life and it feels great. Add to that the fact that I work with a group of really lovely people and I couldn’t really ask for much more!

But it wasn’t just career-wise that I had a great year I also saw a lot of great theatre productions, went to some incredible gigs, finally finished knitting that jumper I started two years ago and all sorts of other stuff.

In amongst all of that lot I also found time to meet my reading target of 52 books finishing number 52 on the 30th December. In fact I actually read Mockingjay twice in quick succession because I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed it this time round making for a total of 53 but I’m only counting it once.

Here follows some statistics to accurately chart my reading progress:

  • I read 52 books with a total of 17,904 pages which is an average of 48.8 pages/day.
  • 59% of the books I read were written by male authors and 80% were written by authors I hadn’t read before (and the 20 books I read by authors I knew were written by only 8 authors including: 5 by Stephen King, The Hunger Games, and the Silo trilogies).
  • I read 4 non-fiction books (7%) which as usual is pretty poor so I might have to see what I can do to up that figure in 2015.
  • The average age of the books I read was 23 years with the youngest being published in 2014  (Willow Trees Don’t Weep and Daughter) and the oldest, A Christmas Carol, in 1843 making it 171 years old.
  • I gave an average of 4 stars  with a massive 17 achieving 5 out of 5 and only one volume receiving a lowly 1 out of 5 (I won’t name and shame but I did write a scathing review if you care to hunt for it).

But getting on to the really important stuff, I only read five books from The List which absolutely shocking and brings me up to a rather pathetic 57 out of 100.  This is definitely something I’m going to work on this year. I got a couple of List books for Christmas but my problem is that I’ve read all the exciting books and I’m down to the stuff I’ve been putting off. However this is no good so I’m going to make a promise to you, my dear reader that this year I will read AT LEAST ten books from The List. Hold me to that, I need the encouragement.

In more exciting terms, this year I embarked on a project to Read Around the World and try to increase the number of books I read by non-English authors and I have to say it’s gone pretty well: since deciding to undertake the project I read books from nine new countries (ten if you count the Faroe Islands which is technically part of Denmark but which do have their own language). Which means that I’ve read books representing 25 of the world’s countries and making my map of the world look like this:

DEcember 2014 map
And the graphs for this wee project? Well they look like this:

December 2014 graphs

 

12% of the world read and I’m very much looking forward to continuing this project this year!

So all that’s left to say is: Here’s to 2015, I hope it brings you everything you wish for dear Reader and I hope to be a better correspondent from now on 🙂

Yours,

Books on the Tube.

A Girl Made of Dust, Nathalie Abi-Ezzi

I have to admit, my plan to read the world has slipped a little of late. I blame firstly, having to prepare for my viva and secondly, not being based near the bookshop which sold me the vast majority of my well-travelled novels. However these are all excuses for what is essentially a disappointing lazy streak, I really must try harder.

LebanonHaving made that confession, I do have an international book to talk about. Way back at the start of September I read A Girl Made of Dust which is from the pen of Lebanese author Nathalie Abi-Ezzi and is set in the midst of the Israel-Lebanon war of the 1980s.

There were a number of times, especially early on that I was forcibly reminded of another book I read for this project – Willow Trees Don’t Weep, my Jordanian effort which I slated in this post. Both stories involve young girls trying to rescue their fathers from the tolls of war. But there the similarities end.

Unlike WTDW which was told from the point of view of a naïve, one-dimensional twenty-something whose voice was flat and unrealistic; A Girl Made of Dust is narrated by an actual child but one who speaks with real depth, humour and warmth. A much better comparison to make would be between Ruba (the central character here) and Scout of To Kill A Mockingbird. Both characters have authentic voices and both novels capture the innocent world of the child and the way that the lines between reality and fantasy blur when you’re under 10.

Like Scout, Ruba has to deal with an older brother who is growing away from her, a father buried by his own concerns and the intrusion of complicated adult concepts into her world.

A Girl Made of Dust is a genuinely charming tale which was a pleasure to read and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good coming-of-age story.