By the numbers, here’s a recap of the Masthead’s 2018 reading year and, with one last quarter to close out before its second birthday on the 15th, a quick peek into each book read and reviewed over the past three months.
2018 by the numbers
Books read: 25 (see the full listing)
…that’s NINE fewer than in 2017.
Translated Fiction: 10
…that’s THREE fewer in number to 2017, but making up 2 percent more of total books read.
…and coming from SEVEN languages: Russian, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Greek and Spanish.
New-to-me Authors: 17
…everyone but Steinbeck, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Fitzgerald, King, Orwell and Lowry were new authors to me!
…and the two Tolstoy novellas, as well as Lowry’s The Giver, were re-reads.
Shortest Book: The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy (52 pages)
…30 pages shorter than my shortest read of 2017, Othello, at 82 pages.
Longest Book: The Stand by Stephen King (1153 pages)
…which is exactly equal in length to King’s other behemoth I read last year, It.
Total number of pages read: 9,464
…compare to the 12,476 pages I read in 2017.
Oldest Book: The three Theban plays of Sophocles (c. 441-406 BC)
…compare to Shakespeare’s Othello, last year’s oldest read, written in 1603.
Newest Book: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (2016) and The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (2016)
…compare to the 2017 release dates of Paul Auster’s 4321 and Colm Tóbín’s House of Names, both of which I read last year.
Miss the round-up of the best books?
And finally, a quick review of the last books of 2018 – those read and reviewed here since October 15:
Comemadre, Roque Larraquy
A queer little exhibition of a novel that trades in the liminal. What is the moment of death like?
The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann
Read it. (Okay, that isn’t much for you to go on, but it has become my favorite novel I’ve ever read). Read it and you’ll see why 😉
Red Sparrow, Jason Matthews
A thriller that does not thrill, a romance that does not arouse. Matthews’ talent was ill-placed with this one.
The Giver, Lois Lowry
Maybe one of the hardest things about growing up is realizing the grown-ups don’t always know the answer, that they might conceal the truth and that they may need your guidance as much as you need theirs. Also, utopia isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The Theban plays of Sophocles
Give Oedipus his due and read this. There’s a reason Sophocles’ plays have survived the centuries. Sophocles understood the workings of theater and his pathos is high drama.
The Adolescent, Fyodor Dostoevsky
Aspiring to self-surety. When the height of maturity still looks like raw youth: Dostoevsky’s often-overlooked novel is a son’s quest for his father and his learning what growing up actually entails.
Still Life with Woodpecker, Tom Robbins
A postmodern fairytale that professes the individual’s role in living the mysteries of love and life, Woodpecker is also a humorous read for those who revel in a master writer’s words.
The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry
Perry’s novel took a wrong turning and her serpentine mystery came out a nuanced tale of mismatched love. Not a bad book but not one for the ages, Serpent feels very 21st century despite it’s Victorian setting.