Since I mean to be curbing my book purchasing a bit this year, I thought it would be a good idea to look at last year’s additions to my shelves and whether my purchases back then have been read and whether they were worth it. After that I will list the books I bought so far this year and how I am feeling about those.
2022 HAUL RETROSPECTIVE
I tend to buy quite a few books in January and February. Probably because a lot of people online on Book blogs and BookTube post their Favourites and there are always books that sound good!
So, in January/February last year I brought 21 new books into my house. So, let’s look at the books and see whether I am still interested and whether I have read them:
- Selected Poems (Pablo Neruda) – Yes, read and really enjoyed!
- Notes From Underground (Fyodor Dostoevsky) – Read and kind of enjoyed.
- The Collected Works (Kahlil Gibran) – I have read two of his works and loved them both, so I got myself this one. It is not really one I want to finish in one go. I want to savour it over time, so I don’t really think I will count this one as a normal book. I love Gibran’s writing. There’s something magical about it.
- The Overcoat and Other Short Stories (Nikolai Gogol) – Read! This one really surprised me. I really enjoyed Gogol’s writing and I want to read more.
- The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (Elisabeth Tova Bailey) – Read and absolutely loved!
- A Ghost in the Throat (Doireann Ni Ghriofa) – Read recently, but unfortunately I did not enjoy it as much as expected and it’s on my unhaul pile. Disappointed.
- Almond Blossoms and Beyond (Mahmoud Darwish) – Read – I think I pretty much love everything Darwish has written that I have read so far and this one is no exception.
- Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) – Still on my TBR, but it’s on my 2023 TBR, so will get read this year.
- Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) – Read and loved this Russian classic more than I expected! I listened to this one on audio and it was a great listen.
- The Silence that Remains (Ghassan Zaqtan) – I haven’t read this one yet! I really want to! I think this is a Palestinian poet and I think it’s a translated work.
- Samarkand (Amin Maalouf) – Read and enjoyed. I want to read more by the author. Translated from French.
- My Damascus (Suad Amiry) – Read and loved. Really nice mix of fiction and non-fiction.
- House of Leaves (Mark Z Danielewski) – This was on my TBR several times last year, but just never got round to it. Hopefully this year!
- Spain, Take This Chalice From Me and Other Poems (Cesar Vallejo) – A poetry recommendation from my Peruvian friend. I haven’t got round to it yet. Fingers crossed I will read it it this year, as I am reading quite a bit of South American literature.
- Wintering Out (Seamus Heaney) – Read, but not my favourite poetry collection. I have another by him to read and I hope I will do better with that one.
- Dead Souls (Nikolai Gogol) – I am in no rush to read this Russian classic, but I’d like to read it, as I loved the short stories I read by this author.
- Gold Dust (Ibrahim Al-Koni) – I did not quite love this as much as I had hoped but it was an interesting read and I have kept it on my shelf. Translated from Arabic.
- Migrations (Charlotte McConaghy) – Read this year and enjoyed it, but I may unhaul, as I don’t think I will read it again.
- The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (Nikolai Leskov) – This was a recommendation by a Russian friend. This is her favourite classic Russian author. I will get to it, but it’s big!
- The Making of a Marchioness (Francis Hodgson Burnett) – Have not read it yet, but hopefully soon! This was one of two Persephone books I purchased via eBay.
- Still Missing (Beth Gutcheon) – This is the other Persephone book, but I haven’t yet picked this one up either.
I read 12 of the 21 books, leaving 9 unread, one of which is a complete works. I am quite happy with that. The ones I haven’t read yet I found that just typing out the titles made me excited about them again!
The type of books I bought a year ago is quite interesting. I bought a lot of translated fiction, mostly Russian (5), Spanish (3) and Arabic (4). There were four poetry books, three translated. Quite a few of these are classics of some sort or another.
I know I picked A Ghost in the Throat, Migrations and House of Leaves up because I had seen other people talk about those.
COMPARED TO 2023
These were my purchases so far this year:
- The Beggar/The Thief and the Dogs/Autumn Quail (Naguib Mahfouz) – this is a combined volume of three of the author’s novels. I ordered this one in 2022, but it took a while to arrive. Translated from Arabic.
- Specters (Radwa Ashour) – This was an interesting read – mostly non-fiction with some fiction thrown in. I liked it. Translated from Arabic.
- Pedro Páramo (Juan Rulfo) – This one is on my 2023 TBR and I have put it on my March TBR. Translated from Spanish.
- Sound Mind (T J Singh) – I did read this poetry book. It was just ok, but I will keep it on my shelf for now.
- A Little Larger than the Entire Universe (Fernando Pessoa) – I read a small book of poetry by this poet last year and loved it. I do hope to read this soon. Translated from Portuguese.
- Near to the Wild Heart (Clarice Lispector) – Read. The author’s debut novel and I enjoyed it, even if it left me baffled sometimes. I will definitely be reading more. Translated from Portuguese. Part of my South America project this year.
- Go Ahead in the Rain (Hanif Abdurraqib) – I decided I needed a Abdurraqib book on my shelf ready to read when I feel the need for one! I adore his writing. This one is all centered on A Tribe Called Quest. How niche!
- Adrift in a Sea of M&Ms (Marcel ‘Fable the Poet’ Price) – I read this poetry collection. It was good, but did not blow me away. Nonetheless it lives on my poetry shelf.
- The Tea Dragon Society (Kay O’Neill) – I read the three graphic novel volumes in this boxset. It was a joy!
- The Hurting Kind (Ada Limón) – Read and loved!
- Skyward/Starsight/Cytonic (Brandon Sanderson) – Skyward is on my March TBR.
- Alone With You in the Ether (Olivie Blake) – on my March TBR
- A Fortune For Your Disaster (Hanif Abdurraqib) – The second poetry collection by this dude.
I was supposed to only buy 5 books this January/February. That did not quite work out and I ended up buying 10 books in January and I have 5 more in February. The five I bought this month include all three of the Skyward series by Brandon Sanderson. I have the urge to read some Sanderson and I don’t feel quite ready for either Stormlight Archive or to start the next Mistborn series, so I decided to pick this series up. Book 1 (Skyward) is on my March TBR. The fourth book is Alone with You in the Ether by Olivie Blake. That one just really appealed to me and I was buying a book for my daughter and the special edition of this one caught my eye. It has lovely sprayed edges. The synopsis already appealed to me greatly. Finally, after six weeks of waiting on Book Depository, my copy of A Fortune for Your Disaster came in. I am reading that one at the moment, but I am taking my time, as it is poetry.
I have read six of 10 books I bought in January so far and Pedro Parámo is on my March TBR, as are Skyward and Alone with You in the Ether. I think that is the reason I feel happy about buying these books at the moment. Because I am planning my TBRs, I try and put them on there as soon as I can, so they actually get read quickly.
There are definitely similarities with the books I bought in 2022. Back then I was doing a project of reading some Russian literature (which turned out to be bad timing – though none of the authors were at fault!) and this year I am reading some South American and translated Spanish/Portuguese classics, which is reflected in the books I purchased.
I am also enjoying poetry at the moment, so that is also reflected in my book purchases. I have read three of the five poetry books I bought, with another the 4th being read at the moment.
The thing I have not done this year was buy books because I watched other people talk about them. I have found that usually I end up not liking hyped books, so I am finding it easier to not be seduced by a review or a pretty cover – most of the time. The Olivie Blake book is kind of in that category, but it also really sounds like my kind of book. In general I am more likely to wait for those kind of books to be in the 99p Kindle sale and prefer to read them that way, exactly because I am not sure whether I will like them.
Fact is, I did buy almost three times the books I meant to. However, hopefully by the end of March I should have read at least 10 of those 15 books. More would be nice, but I would be very happy with that.