Home > About reading, Opinion > Happy New Year from Book Around The Corner

Happy New Year from Book Around The Corner

I wish a happy New Year to all the people who will – intentionally or not – read this. I hope 2011 will bring you health, happiness and success in your projects.  

2010 has been my first blogging year. Well, 8 months precisely, since I started in May. I have posted 70 reviews and thoughts, more than I imagined I would when I started this. The list of the books I covered will be published on the Reading Lists page. I know at least one person who used one of those lists for her reading trips at the library, so it’s worth publishing.

I’ve been in touch with people from different countries and different backgrounds and it was the aim of this blog too. I’ve told this before but switching permanently between French and English wasn’t easy at the beginning. It’s getting better and I stopped worrying about the mistakes I make. I’ve decided to consider them as a cute written French accent.

Regarding my imperfect knowledge of the English language, I warmly thank all the persons who kindly and patiently answered to all my what-does-it-mean questions. My knowledge of British slang and acronyms hasn’t magically improved over the night, so you can expect more of those questions in 2011.

According to the comments I receive, there must be three to five people who regularly read my thoughts on the books I read. Thank you, book-friends, for the time you gave me and the interesting discussions we’ve had. I also enjoy time difference: when I throw my little literary bottle in the Internet sea just before bedtime, I’m almost certain to have a good-morning comment when I wake up. It’s so nice. Thanks. If I have other regular readers I’m not aware of, don’t be shy, leave comments, I’ll be delighted to know you.

I’ve also enjoyed reading other people’s blogs, it allowed me to discover authors I’d never heard of before. Looking back on 2010, when thinking of the books I have loved this year, here are the 10 books that came to my mind. They stayed with me, it means they are the best ones.  

– “I am on the threshold of expression” Arturo Bandini says. The Road to Los Angeles by John Fante is Arturo’s adolescence and departure to Los Angeles. It’s a funny and kind description of the working class in California before WWII and the birth of a writer. Arturo and Alexander from Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth would have much to share on their loving and invasive moms. 

A Journey Into the Past by Stephan Zweig. I was blown away by that short powerful book. Can a lost love resurrect from its ashes? Zweig’s description of Ludwig discovering love was sensitive and true-to-life.

 – She moves him in mysterious ways. South of the border, West of the Sun, by Haruki Murakami. I was curious to read what Murakami had done with the same theme as Zweig’s Journey Into the Past. He wrote a wonderful and melancholic book, one of those that stay in mind.

 – Eleanor Rigby is Hungarian and lives in Normandy. Or in Vancouver? Skylark by Deszó Kosztolányi. This is the story of an ugly girl who is bound to remain single. She lives her parents for a vacation and her absence reveals what her destiny has imposed on their lives. Thanks to Max from Pechorin’s Journal to make me discover this book. It was full of emotion, from Skylark’s point of view and from her parents’.

– Wisdom from an Older Poet. Letters to a Young Poet, by Reiner Maria Rilke. I’ve heard an audio version of these letters, read by the French actor, Denis Podalydes. The spoken form gave life to the letters Rilke had sent to Franz Kapuss, who wanted advice about writing. These letters are kind, soothing, intelligent, full of spot-on thoughts on life and creation. It’s the kind of book you want to keep on your bedside table, to have a look at it in tough moments.

– Nick’s Perfume: ‘je promets’. The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. This one I should have read in translation, I think. I probably missed a lot of the beauty of Hollinghurst’s prose. However, I was overwhelmed by Nick’s story and truly interested in the description of London during the Thatcher years.

– Nudity of a selfish, horrid and arid soul. Novel with Cocaine by M Ageyev. “No one here gets out alive”, I could say. Vadim is a horrible character. But the novel is stunning by the crude description of the workings of Vadim’s mind and by the incredible Proustian style. It’s a book hard to offer, because it’s bleak, but it’s worth reading.

– Somebody Owes Me Money by Donald E Westlake. There’s no review of this one. I discovered it through Max’ post here. I loved it for the fun, the style and the cinematographic pace. It left with wanting to read more of him.

– When lost time is not searched but stubbornly imposes itself. Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. Billy Pilgrim’s coping with post-wars memories in a book that we French would categorize as “Conte philosophique” (Philosophical Tale).

 – The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. An inventive style, a story full of rhythm and my first encounter with Philip Marlow. I’m curious to see how Chandler developed his character in the following novels.

 In 2010, I have also started to read Proust again, the first two volumes. It’s even better than in my memory. It’s not in the 10 books of the year because, like in Cannes, it’s a special prize. It’s hard to compete with Proust, though ‘competition’ is not the right word.

Enough of 2010. My reading project for 2011 is not to have a reading project, actually. So it’ll be a surprise.  I’ll be following other bloggers’ literary adventures with interest and pleasure and I hope you’ll enjoy reading mine.

Bonne Année 2011 et Bonne Santé.


Special thanks to my children for the drawings.

Categories: About reading, Opinion
  1. January 1, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Book Around the Corner: Happy New Year. For some reason, the New Year always makes me optimistic. No idea why.

    A copy of Therese came in the post today, so that’s on the books for 2011, and I agree, it’s so pleasant to wake up to comments.


    • January 1, 2011 at 8:16 pm

      Happy New Year to you too. I wish you the best for 2011.
      A New Year is like an new open notebook full of possibilities. The possibilities make us optimisitic I think. There’s a beautiful passage in A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleur regarding the coming of a New Year and it’s a sensitive description of that hope that instils in us at that time of year.

      If Thérèse is sitting on the shelf near A Journey Into the Past, then she’s in good company. I hope you’ll like it and, of course, I’ll read your review.


  2. January 1, 2011 at 5:12 am

    Happy new year to you 🙂

    Btw, you should consider entering Haruki Murakami reading challenge, i can see that you like him


    • January 1, 2011 at 8:19 pm

      Hi, Happy New Year to you too.

      I don’t think I’ll join the Murakami reading challenge, sorry, though I enjoyed South of the Border, West of the Sun and Kafka on the Shore. I’m sure it will gather lots of readers — and more organized readers than I am.


  3. January 1, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Bonne Année! I am glad I met you last year and looking forward to more posts and discussions from you this year. I am up early as usual… Chandler… He gets better and better and better. His most accomplished is The Long Goodbye, the one he thought was more literary fiction than crime and also his last one. Do join the Murakami Challenge or at least have a look. I will post on it on Tuesday (with link).


    • January 1, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      Très bonne année 2011 à toi aussi. I’m also glad we’ve ‘met’, we can expect interesting discussions this year too. The relationships created here are hard to define, aren’t they? Talking with people on an almost daily basis without meeting them in flesh and blood or even knowing their real name…

      I’ll definitely read more Chandler. ‘Literary fiction’ : typically anglophone. There’s no word for that in French, or if there is one, I don’t know it. How can ‘literary’ be non fiction and fiction be ‘non literary’?


  4. January 2, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    BookAroundthe Corner: you might be intersted in checking out http://www.goodreads.com You bascially just go there and rate the books you read. It a good way of finding similar tastes and very low maintenance.


    • January 2, 2011 at 11:47 pm

      Hi. THanks, I’ll have a look to see how it works. Probably not this week, but I’ll keep that in mind.

      I’ve seen two lovely French films lately : Le Nom des gens (starring Jacques Gamblin & Sara Forrestier) and Les Emotifs anonymes (starring Benoît Poelvoorde & Isabelle Carré). The first one is really French, a mirror of our society. The second one is sweet, a bit oldfashioned.


      • January 3, 2011 at 2:42 am

        Thanks for the film tips. I’ll keep my eye open for a release. I just watched Not Here to be Loved


    • January 24, 2011 at 9:49 am

      OK, I’ve created my account on Good Reads and added books read in 2011 in addition to the ones from the initial test. This test is only on Anglophone literature (of course) so there were many books I haven’t read. I don’t know if that can give a sample of what I like.
      I’ll see how I can use this.


  5. January 3, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Guy, I haven’t seen Not Here to be Loved but I remember it caught my attention when it was released. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to the cinema very often at that time. Did you have a good time watching it?


  6. January 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I liked it, but someone else found the relationships implausible. The acting was excellent and I thought the subplot about the main male character & his dad was very strong.


  7. January 5, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Happy New Year!

    There’s a lot on that list I already know and love. Skylark, Somebody Owes Me Money of course, the Murakami, Vonnegut and Chandler. It all suggests I should check out those I don’t already know, particularly Novel with Cocaine and the Hollinghurst (I’ve read two of his, but not that one).

    A nicely eclectic list. I look forward to your coming reading year.


    • January 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm

      Happy New Year to you too. I hope you are well settled in your new house.

      You provided a lot of the titles on the list. I think you’d like Novel with Cocaine and The Line of Beauty. They’re very different on the style as well as the story but both powerful.


  8. leroyhunter
    January 5, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Happy New Year, bookaround, hope you enjoy your reading year in 2011!
    Only starting out with Raymond Chandler, lucky you! There’s so much to enjoy in the rest of his work. I’ll second Caroline’s praise for The Long Goodbye and add that Farewell, My Lovely is one of my favourites.

    I’ll also add my name to the list of those interested in Ageyev…


    • January 5, 2011 at 7:27 pm

      Happy New Year to you too.

      I intend to read Chandler chronogically, to better see how he developed his character. So I’ll get to The Long Goodbye someday.

      If you read Ageyev, I hope you’ll leave a comment to tell me what you thought about it. I’m interested in your take on this book.


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