2013 – The RB Lit Review

Well hello, dear readers.

Amazingly, we’ve come to the end of another year – our fourth, here at Raging Biblioholism.  Can you believe it?  2014 is upon us – who’d’ve ever imagined it?  But, before the year turns over and starts anew, it’s time to take a quick look back on the year that’s passed.  We successfully expanded the content of the blog into editorials and features and recaps – all of which will continue to expand in our fifth year.  It was also, I have to say, a banner year for reading.  I read more extensively this past year than any year in recent memory, perhaps any year ever.  The proof, of course, is in the pudding – and so, in a moment, the stats.

First, I can’t say that next year will be as impressive a year as this one was (I’m already lining up some larger, longer books and so who knows if we’ll reach such lofty heights in terms of sheer numbers) – but I can tell you this: it will include the third year of The Ten Year Catch-Up.  Dickens2012 is long gone, Austen2013 now ended… and so we begin Murakami2014, featuring the masterful imagination of a writer who I’ve only encountered in New Yorker stories and one non-fiction book.  I’m looking forward to it, I can tell you that.

Second, I ought to just throw out a general thanks to the authors and publishers who’ve helped make this year far and away the strongest yet for me as a reader and for this blog.  Joe Hill joyously reblogged my review of his fantastic NOS4A2, the folks at Harper and Quirk have become friends as well as advance-review suppliers, FSG doesn’t mind me writing recaps of their always-so-awesome parties, and I’ve been lucky enough to carry on extended conversations with authors who I so intensely respect – Chris Holm, Kevin Barry, George Mann, and more.  Oh yeah and I started writing for TNBBC, which has been nothing short of an honor.
So, thanks to all the people mentioned here and to all the people I’ve only alluded to – you all make this a joy beyond what I could’ve imagined in Fall 2009.

Anyway, onto the stats.  Have a wonderful year’s end and a marvelous new year, dear readers!  Thank you, as always, for joining us.

Vital Stats, Year Four:

  • Books Read: 158 
  • Pages Read: 51,185 (holy geez)
  • Average Rating: 4.31 (a better year than last year, although that may have something to do with the increased # of books…)
  • Highest Rating(s): Night Film by Marisha Pessl / Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff / City of Bohane by Kevin Barry – 6 out of 5.
    • Night Film is just a triumph in every possible way, for me.  The experience of reading a book I knew nothing about and being completely swept up in it from page one is nearly unprecedented.  I wanted to both blast through it in a day and to take as much time as I could – and both options would’ve been joyous.  And the sheer imagination, from the formatted pages to the extracurricular app-additions to the story on the page itself… My favorite book of the year, hands down.
    • Present Shock was a book I read for work – and I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Rushkoff during a work event a few weeks ago, Public Forum’s The Long Christmas Dinner Drama Club.  His perception of time and how time changes for us, how our modern era has impacted the way we experience time… really wonderful stuff.  Yes, he was saying a lot of the things that I already sort of knew and believed in and so sure there’s some preaching to the choir – but I’m not sure I can point to a non-fiction text that has changed my life in such a fundamental way since perhaps The Myth of Sisyphus.  I am a different person for having read that book.
    • City of Bohane was a crowning moment in the year, although the book came out several years ago.  Kevin Barry’s voice and imagination are unparalleled and while he’s received some major accolades at home in Ireland, he’s still rather unheralded here in the States.  Well, start heralding, folks.  This novel is like an Irish A Clockwork Orange, only more nuanced in its handling of characters and more heartfelt in its examination of what our future could look like.  Plus, it inspired my Halloween costume this year – and as the author himself told me, could there be a better honor?
  • Lowest Rating(s): How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti / Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee – 1 out of 5.

    • How Should a Person Be? was one of those lit experiences that just passed me right the hell by.  While everyone was touting it for its honest and open semi-fictional examination of young people and their lives… ugh, I just loathed it with every fiber of my being.  It felt so pretentious, so overwrought, so completely lacking in worth that I enjoyed telling people not to read it.  That said, it also provoked some of the best conversations over at the Tournament of Books that I’ve ever seen – including the author herself dropping in to try and defend.  It was quite something.  But I hated it nonetheless.
    • Bobcat and Other Stories was a little more innocuous of a hate… but again, I heard critical praise coming in and on the way out I just couldn’t understand why it had been so lauded.  Rebecca Lee’s writing is, quite simply, nothing special.   The stories had some great (by academic standards) writing but that doesn’t elevate you above anyone else who has academically perfect writing – instead, you need to actually tell me a story. And Lee just simply didn’t, to my eyes.  I could barely bring myself to finish.
  • DNF – None! Huzzah!  Although, it was close with a couple.  But anyway.

That’s it, folks.  What were your best/worst reads?  What are you looking forward to?  Anything good coming up?  Be sure to share – and, again, thank you for being my own constant reader.

Warmly,
Drew

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