Now that 2014 is officially coming to an end it is time to do some reflecting on the year. I think 2014 has been a great year for personal growth for me as a reader and a blogger. I have pushed myself to improve and read more critically and I believe it is starting to pay off. While I am not fully satisfied yet, blogging and reading are passions of mine and I will continue to work towards improvement. One of the biggest steps I made this year was actually joining BookTube and in the New Year, I am curious to see if that will help me in my reading and blogging.
I have already posted a ‘Best of 2014‘ post a few days earlier but I want to also point out the introduction to ‘What I Think About When I’m Not Blogging‘ on my blog which is where I am trying to push myself and my writing with some bookish personal essays. I love this section and I plan to do it more often in the coming year; hopefully this will allow people to see the natural progression of my writing and watch it improve. Other highlights on my blog include; My Vacation (the Literary Highlights), Plot, Character, Style, and Themes, A Rant about my TBR, and Contemporary Fiction Vs. Literary Fiction. Of course I wouldn’t be that pretentious if I didn’t mention that this year I also wrote My Bookish Manifesto, in which I set out some goals to help me improve as a book blogger and critic. I haven’t been keeping to those goals too well but it is still a very important post and I should reflect on it some more.
As it is also the end of the month so I should also talk about my December reading. This month I have been reading a lot of classics and books in translation; after almost six months I finally finished Middlemarch by George Eliot. I loved this book and taking my time with it allowed me to reflect and absorb everything that was happening. Obviously taking your time with a book isn’t always an option but this is the kind of book you can dip in and out of and still experience everything that is wonderful with this classic. To aid my reading of Middlemarch, I used a reading guide called Eliot’s Middlemarch by Josie Billington and I think this was a huge help and allowed me to get historical and personal context into George Eliot’s writing. I wasn’t ready to leave the world of Middlemarch so after this book I picked up Rebecca Mead’s memoir called My Life in Middlemarch, but sadly it didn’t work for me.
I realised that I hadn’t read much Russian literature this year and after enjoying Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky in November I knew I had to rectify this situation. Most people who read my blog or know me will know that I love Russian history and literature. Thankfully I spent ten days with In The First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, which allowed me to learn so much about the Soviet era, since most novels I have read on this subject are not by someone who lived through it. I also read The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy because it was a short read and finished off all the Tolstoy I need for the ‘1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die‘ list.
More books in translation included the German novel Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann, the Norwegian book A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgård and a French graphic novel in Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh. I even read a few more classics in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. But it wasn’t all older book, I also read some contemporary novels including The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Authority by Jeff VanderMeer and All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld.
It has been a great year and I hope that 2015 will be just as great. Please let me know what books you read this month.