Monday, 28 December 2009

2009 and 2010

As 2009 draws to a close, and we get ever closer to 2010, I thought it would be a good time to look back at a busy reading year and look forward to what's in store next year. I will look back at particular books in another post; in this one, I'd like to consider the year from a more general point of view.

The first, and (perhaps) most important, occurrence this year was the little electronic piece of fluff you are currently reading. I started my blog on New Year's Eve, pledging to post on books I read so that I could remember what I'd been reading and to keep me on the straight and narrow regarding the quality of what I was reading. On both counts, the blog has worked spectacularly well. In addition, the responsibility of posting has forced me to analyse the books I read on a much deeper level than was the case before. Whether or not that is always a good thing...

This incursion into the blogosphere also enabled me to discover other people's blogs as, amazingly, it turned out that I was not exactly the first person to have had the idea. In fact, as you all know, there are trillions of passionate readers out there, frantically typing out their thoughts on books as we speak. Even if you discount the Twilight fans and other various nutters, there are still a good few people out there who write interesting and meaningful reviews of books which are well worth reading. Astoundingly, even some of them like Twilight (it's a strange world).

Of the many blogs I follow and peruse, I would have to mention two here. The first is Colleen's Bookphilia, a wonderful site run by an English Literature PhD turned second-hand book shop owner, which was my first connection to the world of blogging. Like me, Colleen has her own niche areas (especially French writings from the middle ages) and brings a nice sense of educated disdain to some of her posts - something which is otherwise missing in the somewhat anodyne world of blogging

The second is Belezza's Dolce Belezza, notable for the Japanese Literature Challenge it hosts. This year has seen an explosion in my Japanese reading habits, especially with regards to Yukio Mishima, and I doubt that this would have happened if I hadn't stumbled across the challenge. Belezza has also acted as a counterweight to all the award/nomination/comment-obsessed bloggers that you can come across out in the blogosphere, posting on the importance of community and the relative ephemerality and uselessness of the popularity game (for which she should be highly commended).

Another innovation which caused a quantum leap in my reading this year was the discovery of the best thing since sliced bread (nay, since the wheel), The Book Depository. Virtually any book you want, postage free (and, since the Australian Dollar appreciated massively against the British Pound, for a most reasonable price)? Yes please; don't mind if I do. Do I feel guilty that I'm not supporting the overpriced cartels which have set up shop inside all of Melbourne's major shopping centres? What do you think... The only down side is the possibility of developing a book-buying habit which I will then need to hide from my wife. I'll keep you posted.

Enough of the past, on to the future: what does 2010 hold in store for me and my blog? Well, sadly, I doubt I'll be posting as regularly as in 2009. Reviewing each and every book I read is proving to be a bit of a strain (December has seen me struggling to keep up with my posts), and I don't think I could bring myself to cut down on how much I actually write for each review. I see myself limiting my blogging to weekly updates with full reviews for books I feel strongly about. I also see myself winning a Nobel prize for Literature at some point, so don't take anything written here as gospel.

While I will continue to read widely and try to get into new authors and countries (just as 2009 brought an interest in Woolf, Wharton and Indian literature), 2010 may well be the year of rereading. As well as continuing my second tour of Haruki Murakami's novels and beginning a trip through Trollope's Barchester Chronicles, I will be reading David Mitchell's books again (in order this time) in preparation for the release of his Dejima novel. George Eliot may have to wait until 2011, but Hardy and Dickens will almost certainly be towards the top of my most-read author list in 2010 (as they were this year). But let's not get ahead of ourselves...

Finally, I would like to think that next year will see the gradual development of what I am starting to think of as 'my book'. For Free E-Day on the 1st of December, I wrote a short story entitled 'Far From Home', and I have already written a second chapter following on from the first story. While I already know I will be insanely busy next year, what with finishing my Master's in TESOL and with other family business taking up most of my time, I hope to plod along with the story when I get time and (eventually) publish it on Smashwords, Lulu etc. If I do (which is highly doubtful, especially before the end of 2010), then I may even change the subtitle to my blog. Having said that, maybe it's time for the blurb to go. I mean, I must have written close to 100,000 words in my blog this year; surely that qualifies me as a writer...

Anyway, that's all for now. Check out my 2009 Awards post, and have a very Happy New Year: see you in 2010 :)