Home > Personal Posts > My Top-Flop 2011 and Happy New Year from France

My Top-Flop 2011 and Happy New Year from France

I wish a Happy New Year to everyone. Many thanks to all the readers and commenters of this blog; it’s been a pleasure to share this year of reading with you. Thanks for the pertinent comments, the recommendations, the answers to my questions and the time you gave me. We all have busy lives and I see the time you spend reading me as a priceless gift. I virtually kiss you on the cheeks à la française (not to be mistaken with a French kiss, right?) and I wish you happiness and success in your life for this brand new year.

I also send into the electronic void a special thank you to the followers who have subscribed to Book Around The Corner or follow me on Twitter but never make themselves known through comments. I hope my automatic e-mails don’t land in your spam box!

As far as literature and blogging are concerned, 2011 has been eventful and funny. I was involved in the Dutch literature Month in June and in the German Literature Month in November. I almost completed Sarah’s Not a Rat’s Chance in Hell’s Challenge and managed to read one of books of the Literature & War Readalong hosted by Caroline. My friends and me also started our Book Club. Should you be interested in joining us for one book or the other, welcome on board.

2011 was my second year of blogging and my English has improved, at least that’s how I feel. I write and read faster and I’m able to discover original English texts more easily. I’ve read about 100 books this year, which is a lot more than the usual due to special personal circumstances. The list of all the books I’ve read in 2011 is available on the Reading List page. Hopefully, 2012 will be back on the normal track even if that means less reading time. I also realize that one third of the books I’ve read in 2011 were brought to my attention or recommended by fellow bloggers or commenters. So thank you Caroline, Guy, Leroy, Max, Himadri for Nooteboom, West, Fontane, Thompson, Barry, Joyce, Bukowski, Lermontov, Tagore or Spark. Keep on reviewing excellent books and suggesting reading ideas.

Book bloggers enjoy lists and I’m no exception. I have a lot of fun discovering other bloggers’ best-of-the-year reading lists, so I won’t spare you mine. I’ve linked each title to its review, in case you’d like to read it –that’s self-promotion, i.e. time for me to put into practice all the marketing classes I endured!!

I’m afraid they’re mostly classics and I should have added Proust but he has a special pedestal. I enjoyed some contemporary books but hardly discovered two that deserved to be on this list. I think Delphine de Vigan and Max Barry captured something essential about our modern working lives in corporations. If it’s not your world, it’s worth discovering it through their books. If it’s your world, you’ll feel less alone with your daily experience.

In April, I wrote a review of Time for Outrage! by Stéphane Hessel. It was entitled Much Ado About Nothing as I thought that there were no new ideas in this book and nothing to fuss about. I was wrong since it launched movements in Spain, in Greece, in America and in other countries. Will they change something?

I’ve also put together a list of my worst 2011 reads, as they tell you who I am as much as the ones I loved. So, here’s my hell list:

  • Madman Bovary by Claro (Abandoned)
  • War of the Worlds by HG Wells (Abandoned)
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. (Abandoned but I had fun writing the review)
  • Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek (Endured until the end because I was stuck in a hospital and had nothing else to do)
  • L’otage du triangle d’or by Gérard de Villiers (Endured until the end for the sake of my lovely daughter)
  • Things by Georges Perec (Endured until the end for the sake of Great Literature)
  • The Passport by Herta Müller (Endured until the end for the sake of the Nobel Prize)
  • La fille aux yeux d’or by Honoré de Balzac (Endured until the end because it was short and well, Balzac is Balzac)

Good for me, there were less than 10 painful reads. Some of them are good literature but didn’t suit me and some were simply trash books. I’ve also linked each title to its review as I’m a strong believer that negative reviews are as useful as positive ones. Personally, I follow a blogger more than I read reviews and I care to read about the books they didn’t like.

 But I prattle, I prattle and I almost forget the essential,



Categories: Personal Posts
  1. January 1, 2012 at 1:33 am

    And a Happy New Year, reading and generally, to you, Emma.

    Like you I found that contemporary books were thin on the ground in my top ten. I’ve only read two of your top ten, so there are a few there to go at there.

    And some on your worst ten to avoid, but I plan to read The Passport eventually. Having said that, it is the item on my Amazon wish list which is consistently ignored, which is beginning to seem like fate.


    • January 1, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Happy New Year to you too.

      I’ll follow your reviews in 2012, I enjoy reading your blog.
      No one gets you The Passport ? Is that Fate or Wisdom?


  2. January 1, 2012 at 1:49 am

    I should have added Merimee to my best-of list now that I think about it.
    I’m eager to begin 2012 and of course it starts with a BANG… The Fairy Gunmother.


    • January 1, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      I owe you for that Mérimée.
      I do hope you’ll have a great time reading The Fairy Gunmother.


      • January 2, 2012 at 3:43 am

        It’s a lot of fun, but that’s all I’m going to say until the post later this month.


  3. January 1, 2012 at 3:29 am

    Happy New Year too! Hope you can read some Filipino literary works too in the future. . . All the best from the Philippines 🙂


    • January 1, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      Happy New Year to you too! I wish you all the best too.

      I’m afraid I don’t know any Filipino book; I need your help to read one.


      • January 2, 2012 at 5:47 am

        I’m not sure if they ship to other countries, but http://uppress.com.ph has a copies of Rosario Cruz Lucero’s Feast and Famine: Stories of Negros. Cave and Shadows, among others, by Nick Joaquin should also do fine. 🙂


        • January 2, 2012 at 9:06 am

          I’m sorry but they haven’t been translated into French.


          • January 12, 2012 at 12:26 am

            Oh, no. That is sad to hear. I can understand Lucero’s not being translated but even Nick Joaquin? That speaks a lot about the sorry state of Philippine literature. 😦


            • January 12, 2012 at 10:37 am

              I was disappointed too but not really surprised. We’re very Western-centred around here.


  4. January 1, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Of course, your English is excellent – it was a strain for me to write one post in German (and as for French…)


    • January 1, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Hi Tony,
      I wasn’t fishing for compliments 🙂 Just telling how I feel.
      Your French is very good; will you write a review in French in 2012?


      • January 2, 2012 at 12:07 am

        In a word, no 😉


  5. January 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Happy New Year to you as well Emma.
    I hope that 2012 brings you all you wish for.
    And a longer best of list. No more books that have to be endured or abandoned!


    • January 1, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      Thanks Caroline, I wish you the best for 2012.
      Let’s hope I’ll be better at picking my books this year. Actually, I knew the de Villiers would be a pain but I could not not read it; I didn’t expect to enjoy Herta Müller and Perec.


  6. January 1, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Happy happy New Year, Emma! I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts and your thoughtful, detailed reviews. I think your English is excellent. Very interesting to see your favourite books – I love Edith Wharton, and have been meaning to read What Maisie Knew for ages now. You’ve bumped it up the list!


    • January 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Happy New Year, Litlove. I’m still in awe of your cake adventure! Thanks for your kind comment.

      What Maisie Knew is amazing for many reasons and it overwhelmed me.


  7. January 3, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Happy New Year to you too.

    I like the hell list – I could easily create one of my own I think.

    Your English is better than many native writers – its hard to realise you’re not born to the language.

    Interesting that you enjoyed the Somerset Maugham – he’s a writer who will one day be rediscovered but its years since I read one of his.

    I also place Proust on a special pedestal but don’t take him down often enough.


    • January 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your message, I hope 2012 will be kind to you and your family.

      I intend to read more Somerset Maugham in the future.

      I have updated the Reading Proust page recently after discovering Violet’s reviews of Proust’s Overcoat and Proust:A Life.


  8. January 3, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Happy 2012 to you too – in reading and otherwise.


    • January 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      Thank you for dropping by and for your best wishes.
      I wish you a happy 2012.


  9. January 3, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Things is still on my TBR list. I hope that doesn’t mean I have a hell list of my own in 2012.

    I’d forgotten What Maisie Knew. I’ve now downloaded a free copy onto my kindle.

    The Mérimée is good isn’t it? I think I got that one from Guy too.

    Otherwise, some definite classics. Interesting to see the de Vigan make the list.

    For a moment I thought you’d put Madame Bovary on the hell list. I was, well, surprised. Fortunately I was wrong.

    And with that, happy New Year!


    • January 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      Happy New Year to you too.

      Perhaps you’ll like Things better than me. I’m interested in reading your thoughts about it.

      When I asked for Madman Bovary in the bookshop, the clerk looked down on me like I was another of her illiterate clients and corrected me “You mean Madame Bovary”, so you see, you’re not the only one. The title is well-chosen though.

      I think Guy got the Mérimée from you but I’m not sure.

      The de Vigan is worth reading, really. It’s been translated into English. It makes Caroline’s year end list too.


  10. January 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I’ll just add another Happy New Years greeting. No, one more thing – the trajectory or growth or whatever you want to call it of your site has been really impressive, whether it is your English or your insights.


    • January 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm


      Happy New Year to you too and thank you for your message.

      I’m interested in reading your blog too, even if I rarely leave comments there.


  11. January 3, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    And a very Happy New Year to you also, Emma. I have greatly enjoyed my first full year of blogging, and coming into contact with other literary bloggers. Here’s to more of this in 2012!


    • January 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm

      Happy New Year to you too, Himadri.
      I also really enjoyed this year of blogging too.
      It’s a lot of fun and meeting other bookworms is great. And a relief? I’m normal after all? 🙂


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