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2016 in reading

Let’s have a quick look at my 2016 reading year. I’m not much into reading statistics because numbers are for my office life, not my literary life. I’ll just say that I read 62 books in 2016, which is not much compared to other book bloggers but not so bad if you consider that I have a full time corporate executive job and a family. All this reading wouldn’t be possible without a wonderful husband, that’s for sure.

I have ended 2016 the way I started it: concerned about my growing TBR. Sure, I read 19 books out of it without including my Book Club reads that also qualified for it. But I got crime books at Quais du Polar, French Canadian books when I was in Québec in August, people lent me books and I got tempted here and there. Consequence: the TBR is higher in January 2017 than it was is January 2016. *Sigh* I’ll try to do better in 2017.

What where the highlights of my reading year?

Book I’d buy to all my friends if it were available in French.

The Hands. An Australian pastoral by Stephen Orr. It’s the story of farmers in a remote part of Australia. The painting of the land, the harshness of their lives and the family dynamics are extremely well-drawn. It stayed with me for the descriptions of the landscape, the curiosity about everyday life in such an isolated place and the characters.

The book that will make you understand what alcoholism does to your flesh and to your mind.

Leaving Las Vegas by John O’Brien. It’s the book that was made into the eponymous film. It’s the meeting of two lost souls, a prostitute and an alcoholic. As a woman, I should have felt closer to Sera but in the end, I was drawn to Ben. It’s a book that stayed with me for its violence and its honesty and I’m looking forward to reading another one by him, Stripper Lessons.

Old book that best resonates with today’s society

Business Is Business by Octave Mirbeau. See how much Isidore Lechat sounds like some modern politicians in this incredible play that dates back to 1903. Isidore and Trump have definitely something in common.

Best of Guy’s recommendations.

In 2016, I read six books recommended by Guy and all of them were very good. I loved the Charlie Hardie series by Duane Swierczynski and I urge you to try them. I loved Calling Mr King by Ronald De Fao, the story of a hitman who’s tired of his job and starts obsessing with architecture and I laughed out loud when I read Apathy and Other Small Victories by Paul Neilan. These aren’t famous books and that’s where Guy’s a genius: he’s able to find little gems like this in the forest of books put on the market. Guy, a publisher should hire you.

A classic that is even better than its reputation.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. I’ve been to an exhibition about Wilde in Paris and it pushed me to read his most famous play. It’s so good that it’s like a giant literary quote.

Best Sugar Without Cellulite Book

I didn’t have time to write a billet about it but I had a delightful reading journey with Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson. I couldn’t put it down.

Best book blind date.

Le garçon by Marcus Malte is a book I read after a libraire set me up with it. What a ride! It won the prestigious Prix Femina, so I guess it will be translated in English.

Best book from my Québec reads.

The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay. Discover the life of a neighborhood in French speaking Montreal.

Worst reading experience of the year.

A Season in the Life of Emmanuel by Marie-Claire Blais. It’s bleak, violent and lacks nuance and compares to The Passport by Herta Müller, a book I didn’t like either. At least I’m consistent

The billet you liked the most.

Here’s the billet that got the most likes and comments: Literature in relation to American paintings in the 1930s. I always hesitate to publish billets about the exhibitions I visit or book festivals I attend. Who cares about my life, really? But each time, these billets get lots of comments and likes. So I’ll keep writing about events as long as they are book related.

The billet you missed.

I’d like to draw your attention to The Great Depression. America 1927-1932 by Paul Claudel. It is an excerpt of Claudel’s correspondence as the ambassador of France in Washington from 1927 to 1932. I know, it’s in French but there might be similar books in your language. It’s focused on economics and it was really enlightening. Lots of current issues and proposed solutions existed already and it was fascinating to put things in perspective.

That’s all folks! You can find another overview of my reading year in my Reading Bingo 2016 billet. 2016 was another great reading year and I expect 2017 to be at least as good. I don’t have plans but I will continue to work on the TBR.

I really want to thank all the visitors, commenters and “likers” of Book Around The Corner. It’s a pleasure to share my thoughts with you and interact with other readers. I’m always amazed that you’re willing to spend some of your free time reading me. I’ll try to be better at reading your blogs; I owe several of my best reading experience to other bloggers and that’s a great side of book blogging. And last, if any of you comes to Lyon, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Cheers to a wonderful 2017 reading year!

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  1. January 7, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    I’ve given up getting worried that I wasnt reading anywhere near as many books as some bloggers. Like you I had more than my hands full with work and other committments. Your 62 still means you read more than one book a week which is a lot more than some people manage…..


    • January 7, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      Oh, I’m not worried about that either. Reading needs to remain a pleasure, not a contest or a duty. I’m just jealous that they have so much time to read! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. January 7, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    The Hands was my book of the year. Absolutely adored it. Those characters will stay with me a long time. And so pleased to hear you enjoyed Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, it’s one of my favourite happy reads!


    • January 7, 2017 at 8:40 pm

      Orr’s characters stayed with me as well. All of them. This book deserves a better recognition.

      Miss Pettigrew is an excellent happy read.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. January 7, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    A wonderful diverse list of books and their origins, happy reading in 2017!


  4. January 7, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    A particularly good and diverse year, and quite a lot of books considering that you read in both French and English (and we all know that it takes a bit longer to read in French ;-]). I like the way you have grouped them in categories, very like the Oscars. I keep getting tempted and sidetracked as well, so my TBR pile just grows and grows. I have to read the Mirbeau… but maybe it will depress me too much!


    • January 7, 2017 at 11:48 pm

      It was a good year, even if I abandoned some books too. (I could not get past 50 pages of Des grands cimetières sous la lune by Bernanos.)

      I had fun making up the categories.

      The Mirbeau is a play and a comedy. It’s not depressing but thought-provoking. It’s free on the kindle! 🙂


      • January 8, 2017 at 12:12 pm

        Oooh, will check it out!…


        • January 8, 2017 at 9:49 pm

          Looking forward to reading your thoughts.


  5. January 7, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    You had another great reading year it seems. I’ll be looking for The Hands and some if the others.


    • January 7, 2017 at 11:48 pm

      I think you’ll like The Hands, Caroline.


  6. January 7, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    Thanks for the compliment Emma. I would love a job reading manuscripts as long as I pass on the ones I disliked. I have leaving Las Vegas here to read, bought after you read and praised it. I wasn’t crazy about the film version so I’d passed over the book until your post.


    • January 7, 2017 at 11:51 pm

      I can imagine you with manuscripts. I have my own Guy TBR shelf at home, so this category might still exist next year.

      I’m looking forward to reading your review about Leaving Las Vegas.


      • January 8, 2017 at 12:40 am

        I may read it this year


        • January 8, 2017 at 9:50 pm

          I’m looking forward to your review.


  7. January 7, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    I love your blog, Emma, and yes, I like the billets about events too so please keep doing them!


    • January 7, 2017 at 11:52 pm

      Thanks, Lisa. I will keep on writing “Literary escapades” billets.


  8. Tony
    January 8, 2017 at 12:00 am

    Sixty-two books are plenty if you enjoy them – I hope 2017 brings you as much reading and reviewing pleasure as the last twelve months 🙂


    • January 8, 2017 at 12:08 am

      Thanks Tony.
      I didn’t mention I Am a Cat by Soseki but I had a great time with it, thanks to you.


  9. January 8, 2017 at 12:26 am

    Love your categories! It is so wonderful to follow the reading adventures of others, thank you for sharing some of your highlights. Bonne année.


    • January 8, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      Thanks. I enjoy following other blogs too.
      Bonne année à toi aussi. I wish you a better year than 2016.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. January 8, 2017 at 6:38 am

    “it’s like a giant literary quote” – yes, good description.

    I remember the Paul Claudel post partly because it fit with the 1930s paintings post, following a theme, even if coincidentally. Both quite interesting. Plus, I remember it because I thought “Paul Claudel, the poet?” French poets had much more interesting careers than American poets.


    • January 8, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      It was hard to stop highlighting passages in The Importance of Being Earnest.

      To be honest, I didn’t know Claudel had had this career as a diplomat. I didn’t know he had lived so much abroad.
      I don’t know much about American poets, so I can’t compare and I’ll trust you on that.
      True Verlaine, Rimbaud, Eluard, Aragon, Prévert and Claudel had interesting lives.


  11. January 8, 2017 at 9:45 am

    I remember quite a few of your billets from 20126, but it’s good to see a list of your favourites here. So glad you enjoyed Miss Pettigrew, it’s the perfect pick-me-up book. The Hands sounds excellent, as does Leaving Las Vegas, so you’ve given me some good ideas for the future.

    Wishing you all the best for 2017, Emma – here’s to another great year of reading and chatting about books.


    • January 8, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      It was a good year, overall.
      I really really recommend The Hands. I’m pretty sure you’ll like it and I’d love to read your take on this one.

      I wish you the best for 2017 too and I’m happy to share my reading journey with you and to follow yours at your blog.


  12. January 9, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    I started reading your blog last year and it was a pleasure. I add Mirbeau in my To-Be-Checked list, and I love your category Sugar without Cellulite!


  13. January 14, 2017 at 10:44 am

    I headed off for my annual mountain getaway the day you posted this, so I’m just catching up now. Lovely post. I like this way of nominating reading highlights. Interesting how many of us loved The hands.

    And I loved your category “Best of Guy’s recommendations.” Very good. I wish I had more time to read Guy’s recommendations too!


    • January 14, 2017 at 3:04 pm

      I hope you had a nice time at your mountain getaway.

      I hope that The Hands gets translated into French. I tried a tweet to Gallmeister, a French publisher who’s specialised in books like this one.

      When I went through my list of books read in 2016, I realised several ones I loved came from Guy. I thought he deserved his own category.

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 15, 2017 at 12:16 am

        Yes, it’s our favourite getaway place, Emma. We go every year.

        Completely understand re Guy!


  14. January 20, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    What a nice way to round up a year! I loved the category titles you chose 🙂 Glad you had such a good reading year, Emma, and I look forward to trying some of these.


    • January 20, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      Thanks Andrew. Let me know if you read one of my selection.


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