Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Annual Book Wrap Up

My goal this year was to read 52 books. And I did! In fact, I read 57.

Yay, me. But I can't say they were all long ones! I got deeply into two authors -- three books by Helene Hanff (I think "84 Charing Cross Road" was 71 totally delightful pages) and Georges Simenon's "Maigret" mysteries. Those clock in between 150 and 170 pages each.

So, last year's page total was 19,570 from 59 books. This year, only 16,785.

Still, it was all good reading and a few of the books (David Starkey's comprehensive book on Henry VIII's six wives -- especially the first two -- was a solid 765 pages. Sally Bedell Smith's "Prince Charles" was no slouch at 514)

If I had to pick a "best" list (or favorites) from the list below, it would include (in no particular order):
  • "Everyone Brave Is Forgiven" (Chris Cleve) -- The story of three people in World War II England and fighting abroad.
  • "Pachinko" (Min Jin Lee) -- From pre-World War II Korea, through the war and into contemporary times, following the story of a strong, female survivor and her family.
  • "The Hare with Amber Eyes" (Edmund deWaal) -- This memoir/history/biography covers lives in 1880s Paris, WWII Vienna, post-WWII Japan and the life of its author, a contemporary artist as he seeks the story of a family heirloom.
  • "The Child" (Fiona Barton) -- Fascinating mystery about a reporter uncovering the death of a child.
  • "To Die But Once" (Jacqueline Winspear's current "Maisie Dobbs" book) -- It's Maisie. 'Nuff said.
  • "Annie's Ghosts" (Steve Luxemberg) -- Powerful and fascinating telling of one man's quest to find the true story of his aunt who had been in a Michigan mental institution for much of her life.
  • "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake" (Anna Quindlen) -- Delightful memoir on turning 60 by one of America's best writers.
  • "My Family and Other Animals" (Gerald Durrell) -- Biography meets natural history in some of the most beautiful writing I've ever read. One of the books that inspired "The Durrells in Corfu" on PBS.
  • "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" (Maryanne Shaffer/Annie Burrows) This is old to some, new to me. I loved it more than the Netflix movie, which I also loved. Watch the movie before you read the book so you don't feel cheated!
  • "The Japanese Lover" (Isabel Allende) -- I love Allende's writing. This weaves the story of two women of different generations with troubled pasts who form a powerful bond as their stories are revealed.

The Art of Beatrix Potter and Les Parisiennes are high on the 2019 list

That's leaving off most of the mysteries but I have to say that the series I read -- Ashley Weaver's "Avery Ames" books; Jerilyn Farmer's "Madeline Bean" books and the Maigret series (Georges Simenon) never failed to delight. I also enjoyed several of the British Library's classic British mystery series featuring books of the mostly 1930s and the ongoing entries in series by Louise Penny, Jacqueline Winspear and Susan Elia Macneal.

I especially enjoyed reading three books by people I actually know, two of whom I've met in real life (Jenny Woolf and Richard Lassin) and Vivian Swift's "When Wanderers Cease to Roam," someone I wish I could and maybe someday will! (That's a re-read because it's month-by-month and I love it!)


"84 Charing Cross Road (Helene Hanff)
"The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street"(Helene Hanff)
"Q's Legacy"(Helene Hanff)
"The Ungarnished Truth" (Ellie Matthews)
"The Hare with Amber Eyes"(Edmund deWaal)
"Somewhere For Me" (Meryle Secrest)
"Royal Feud" (Michael Thornton)
"Annie's Ghosts" (Steve Luxemburg)
"Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake" (Anna Quindlen)
"My Family and Other Animals" (Gerald Durrell)
 "The Mystery of Lewis Carroll (Jenny Woolf)
"Prince Charles" (Sally Bedell Smith)
"When Wanderers Cease to Roam" (Vivian Swift)
"The Alice Network" (Kate Quinn)
"The Japanese Lover" (Isobel Allende)
"Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII" (David Starkey)

 Fiction Based on Real Lives

"The Swans of Fifth Avenue" (Melanie Benjamin)
"A Piece of the World" (Christina Baker Kline)


"The Charming Quirks of Others" (Alexander McCall Smith)
"The Blue Bistro"(Elin Hilderbrand
"Pachinko" (Min Jin Lee)
 "Red Jacket" (Richard Lassin -- proof and final)
"Everyone Brave is Forgiven" (Chris Cleve)
"The Alice Netowrk" (Kate Quinn)
"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" (Maryanne Shaffer/Annie Burrows)
"The Hypnotist's Love Story" (Liane Moriarty)
"The Japanese Lover" (Isabel Allende)
"French Exit" (Patrick Dewitt)


"The Art Thief"(Noah Charney)
"Maigret and the Old Lady"(Georges Simenon)
Sympathy for the Devil" (Jerrilyn Farmer)
"The Last Detective" (Peter Lovesey)
"Murder at the Brightwell" (Ashley Weaver)
"Inspector French and the Box Offis Murders"(Freeman Wills Croft)
"The Moving Toyshop" (Edward Crispin)
"Death Wears a Mask" (Ashley Weaver)
"Pietr the Latvian" (Georges Simenon)
"Immaculate Reception" (Jerilyn Farmer)
"The Child" (Fiona Barton)
"The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien" (Georges Simenon)
"A Most Novel Revenge" (Ashley Weaver)
"To Die But Once" (Jacqueline Winspear)
"Killer Wedding" (Jerilyn Farmer)
"Maigret and the Tall Woman" (Georges Simenon)
 "The Paris Spy" (Susan Elia Macneal)
"The Essence of Malice" (Ashley Weaver)
"Maigret" (Georges Simenon)
"The Wench is Dead" (Colin Dexter)
"Maigret Takes a Room" (Georges Simenon)
"Madam Maigret's Friend" (Georges Simenon)
"Glass Houses" (Louise Penny)
"The Saint Fiacre Affair" (Georges Simenon)
"Mumbo Gumbo" (Jerilyn Farmer)
"Quick Curtain" (Alan Melville)
"Maigret's Travels" (Georges Simenon)

Non Fiction

"The Sound of Music Companion" (Laurence Muslon)
"The Perfect Summer" (Juliet Nicolson)

There you have it! I'll keep next year's goal at 52 (because you never know -- I might read longer books!) and see if I can top the page count!

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David M. Gascoigne, said...

I am very much a fan of Isabel Allende, but I confess that most of what I read is ornithological/ecology stuff and I seem to have little time for novels. Every so often my wife or my daughter bugs me to read something and when they say, “Let me know what you think of it” I feel a bit of a compulsion to read it. I have never considered keeping count of the books I read, and certainly not the page count, but at a rough guess I would say that I read about twenty novels last year. I keep telling myself that I want to read some of the classics over again, but I have not started on that plan yet. I have always had a great love of poetry and this past year I did immerse myself in Wordsworth for a few weeks. I also reread some Hemingway. Many of the of the “technical” books I read are not the kinds of works where you pick up the book and read from cover to cover. Right now I am working on three new presentations and I use lots of reference material in doing so. Does this qualify as reading? Obviously I “read” but only in the sections where I can find the information I am looking for. In any event, books are wonderful, I could never be without them, and they make me realize how shallow and superficial most television is. A couple of years ago our TV died and we went six and a half months without one. I think I will smash the one we have now! Miriam keeps a list of the books she reads and she sometimes has two books on the go at the same time. I am sure that would confuse me to no end! Final word -probing through second hand bookstores should be made a national passtime. I have spent many, many happy hours doing so, as recently as two days ago where I found a real gem for $15.00. That’s enough to make me happy for the week!

Joyful said...

I think you did well with your reading Jeanie. No slouch at all! I read 58 books. I exceeded my original goal of 35 books but like you, several of the books were not that long. I read a total of 16,843 pages. I'm not sure what I'll do in 2019. So far I've set a very modest goal of 20 books. I'm sure it will increase in time :-) Here's to more great reading in 2019 for you and I and all the other readers of the world!

Joyful said...

Ooh, I didn't compare last year's reading like you did. Just for interest, last year I read 46 books for a total of 15,022 avg. 326 pages per book vs. 290 pages per book in 2018. I usually like to read one or two very long and good books a year but didn't seem to last year or this year.

Olka said...

Wow! 57 books is a lot!
I actually haven't read a lot this year - few books only. I've focused more on DIY things. My Art Spirit can't focus on few things at the same time. And sometimes it says "read!" And then I can read one book after another.
I've learned some time ago that I can't force myself for doing something. I won't give me any joy then. So I'm reading, knitting, sewing etc only when I feel that I want to :)

Iris Flavia said...

Wow, that is a lot of books!
I mostly these days only manage to read when I´m waiting, shame on me!
But as a kid I was like you, even on Sundays I woke up at 06:00 am to read.

Ohhhhh, I do love those pictures of you!

I really should read more! My kindle is prepared for the holiday for sure.

Vicki @ lifeinmyemptynest said...

Nice list! I read The Guernsey Potato Peel Society book so long ago I couldn't really remember the story, but thought the movie on Netflix was great. It gave me a Downton vibe and I miss Downton.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Jeanie,
This is a great post. Last year I picked a few off your list to read myself. Louise Penny is one of my favorites. I do love the mysteries. I will check out a few of the mysteries on your list this year. I did read and enjoyed "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society". What was the name of Jenny Woolf's book? I will try to find it. Enjoy your new books and reading. Have a great day and week ahead.

Mae Travels said...

Impressive list -- in fact I'm impressed by just the act of MAKING a list. I'm a Goodreads drop-out, as it happens, another listing failure. I've read around 10 from your list as well as the Maigrets, which I have probably read all of them at some point but not recently.

Happy New Year again.

best... mae at

La Table De Nana said...

Way to go Jeanie! I am so bad.I beach after book after book..and waiting room read..
I have started felt ronaments and an afghan and have been painting the last 2 days LOL.I am a hobby horse.For lack of a better word..I have one in mind ..but it's just not me.
I read The Child..TGLSAPPC..The Alice Network..The Blue Bistro.
My list of have reads this yr is on my Goodreads..Thank goodness for Goodreads.I had 5 on my shelf for December and have to renew them all.
I always love your little girl pics.Someone loved you bunches and bunches♥
And of course I love Vivian's books..have them on my real shelf;)
I can't remember the books I read this yr..the ones I mentioned are from your list..I''l be back...

La Table De Nana said...

I'm back..just checked my Goodreads..pitiful the number of stars I gave most..which means I probably would not read again given the chance..
But the ones I rated well were:

Every Note Played~ Lisa Genova
After Anna ~Lisa Scottoline
The Lonely Hearts Hotel~Heather O'Neill
Before We Were Yours~Lisa Wingate
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine~Gail Honeyman

Loved the last one.
I am omitting the books that got 3 stars or less.
:)Happy Book Year! said...

Wow Jeanie, very impressive! I always enjoy seeing what people are reading and love book reviews. You have quite a variety of books on your list! Reading more in 2019 is part of my NY resolution, so cheers to books!

Joanne Huffman said...

I always enjoy your book recommendations. I have a pile of books I'm looking forward to reading. I may have to start keeping a record of what I read.

Linda said...

Thanks for the suggestions and critiques.

And thank you for your tremendous kindness. A am truly grateful to have had a chance to get to know you if even just a little bit.

Valerie-Jael said...

You read some great books. I spent most of my time over Christmas and New year reading, which was wonderful. And I read well over 250 books in the course of the year, mostly on my Kindle as it is easier on my eyes, ans this way I can always carry my library with me. Hugs, Valerie

Sandra Cox said...

I'm glad you widen your horizons through books.

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

I read The Guernsey Literary Society. I'm so impressed that you even track how many pages you read! A Happy New Year of reading!

Susan Kane said...

I have read none of these. But I now a list of ones to read.

William Kendall said...

You certainly are reading a lot!

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, we share the love of reading. I am impressed with your reading in 2018 and you have inspired me to keep up with mine. I have no idea how many books I read last year. But, I promise to keep up with those read this year!

Carola Bartz said...

I usually count the books I read in a year as well (59 this year), but I don't start a year with a certain number of books to read in mind.
I don't think I have read any of the books on your list except for "Guernsey Literary Society" which I loved, and "Pachinko" is on my Kindle. I will certainly look at some of those on your list, always great recommendations. "Annie's Ghost" is a book I got interested in when I read about it for the first time and it's on my wishlist. If there only was more time for reading!

Roses, Lace and Brocante said...

WOW - that's a mighty number of books - are you a speed reeader?

Jeanie, I always eagerly await your list and note in my "Books to Read".
When Wanderers Cease to Roam - sounds appealing.
Like you Les Parisiennes is on my list already for various reasons!
I've had The Hare with Amber Eyes for a long time but didn't ever finish it - don't ask me why! I've already put it on my bedside table and will start this evening.

With working so much I don't have much reading time - at night I usually only manage a few pages before I fall asleep😒
Thank you Jeanie, I appreciate this post so much.


My name is Erika. said...

I do like to read other people's book lists. It is interesting you keep a page count. I never thought to do that.I do love Maigret mystery books. He was a favorite of my mother and I have her books now. I haven't read them for awhile though. And I have Pachinko but haven't read that yet either. And LOuise Penny is one of my favorite writers. I think I might need to read one of ehrs soon. I think mysteries are calling me right now. Anyhow, I enjoyed your book post. It's always nice to get some new reading ideas. Hugs-Erika

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

I am suitably impressed. That's quite a list and a wonderful goal. Congratulations on obtaining it. I loved "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society." It was a wonderful book to discuss in my book club.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I have read a couple of the Maigret mysteries, but I'm more into reading scientific journals, which I still subscribe to. I totally love the research methods and try to determine if that was the best method for that specific research. I am in awe of all the books you read each year and those adorable photos of you as a child.

Running on empty said...

Thanks Jeanie, sharing this (with Rina). You havn’t changed much from your childhood photos! Cath

Victoria Zigler said...

Well done, and I'm glad you enjoyed what you read... That's what's most important. Looks like some great books. I haven't read "My Family And Other Animals" but I have seen an old version os shows based on it, and do want to read it.

Liz@ HomeandGardeningWithLiz said...

You have an impressive list of books you’ve read! I have a friend that reads several books a week and she will stay up until 2 am reading. I am more of a magazine/short story type of a reader as it seems as though I have a short attention span. Happy New Year Jeanie!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I must admit I mostly read mysteries and some other fiction. I enjoyed the Maigret series a couple of decades ago and should really re-read them. Happy Reading!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Well done on blowing your goal of 52 out of the water!! I recognize a lot of these titles - some are books I read and loved; some are on my TBR list (which grows by the day!!). 2018 was an excellent reading year for me as well. I managed to read 88 books which surprised me. It exceeded my previous record year in 2017 by 2 books! I thought I would not have as much time to read but reading is such an easy hobby to fit into your life. And I did A LOT of reading on the kindle ap on my phone. I'm hoping to get back to using my kindle this year as it's a much better reading experience but in 2018 I had too much stuff to haul around due to pumping so I decided to use my phone instead. And eventually, as Paul becomes more aware of his surroundings, I want to get back to reading physical books so he sees us reading. It's just not as convenient as it requires making a trip to the library!

I should have added the Louise Penny books to my best of list for 2018! That is such a lovely series! I'd be further in the series if there wasn't such a long waiting list for the ebooks! I should get book 7 in the next couple of weeks, though! I'm glad you suggested that I read them in order and somewhat close together.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I love this post and I'm so glad you share your books with us every year! I always get ideas for some I want to put on my reading list! We like so many of the same books. I love mysteries best but some are too graphic for me so I like to find a good series like J. Winspear and Louise Penny! I love Laurie King too...and Charles Finch! So many good books and I just wasted time on my first read of the year and it was 'lame'! lol Happy reading!

Rita C at Panoply said...

Amazingly impressive!

Pamela said...

I agree, very impressive! I read 84 Charing Cross Road when I was in law school, just before I went to London for the first time. How time flies.

I love the photos!

Tracy said...

Always love your year wrap of books, Jeanie! LOTS of great reads on your list... I must add a few to my own. I was late to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society too--and this one was of my own top reads last year... perhaps one of my most fave books ever! I learned so much from that book, still am... I keep thinking about the characters...It's a book that stays with you long! The film based on the book was good. Fiction and I have been fickle friends in recent years, but I read some last year. At the moment it's back to non-fiction though, with some reading of the history of my home state of Pennsylvania. Looking forward to see about the pages you'll be turning in 2019... Here's to a new year full of books! :) ((HUGS))

Jennifer Richardson said...

I love your lists (have written down some suggestions)
and your reading pics:) So absolutely charming:)

French Ethereal said...

LOVE LOVE your reading list, Jeanie!
I have no idea how many books I've read/reread as each winter I like to pick up Jan Karon's different Christmas stories from her fictional Mitford series. Okay, if you are looking for length, you need to read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Yes, I have to skip over the sex parts but have been reading these monster novels (900+ pages, generally, per book) since my early 30's when Outlander first came out. I am watching the series and it leaves a bunch out but you get the highlights from each book.

I am pretty sure I've read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society back about 10-15 years ago. Lovely story of women working the farms while the men went off to WWII, if I remember correctly. We read it in our little book club, an off-shoot of our Victorian Tea Society in Riverside County, California, back then.

Oh! I mentioned on IG this afternoon to April J. Harris about your reading list. She put up a small one on her Instagram feed. If you don't know her, she is very nice and lives in England, if I remember correctly. <3 You'd like her!

Happy reading! The house we are looking at had bookshelves built into the garage with beautiful custom garage shelving built probably by the owner, who passed in July. Prayers for us that the family would accept our offer or a future counter-offer! Check out my IG post from yesterday, if you'd like. <3

Happy New Year hugs to you,
Barb :)

Marilyn Miller said...

I adore your book list. Isabel Allende is one I often read, now I must read the one you are recommending.

Karen said...

I love a good book... and I go through phases of reading through several quickly, then not picking one up for a while, I couldn't tell you why. Lovely post - Happy New Year!

Lisbeth said...

Seems you had a great reading year. I absolutely loved The Hare with Amber Eyes. Fascinating story and life experiences. I also very much liked The Guernsey I recently saw the movie and it was, if possible, even greater. It is not always the way with films adapted from books. Simenon and Lovesey are also favourite authors.

On on for the next year's reading.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I loved reading your book list, Jeanie! I just finished reading "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles for our book club selection and really enjoyed it.

BB said...

What a list, Jeanie. Thanks for sharing it. I will check back from time to time. I'm going to look for the movie The Guernsey Potato Peel Society. I haven't seen it or read it. Thanks again.

The French Hutch said...

Oh Jeanie, congrats, a great achievement. I'm keeping your list to refer to for 2019. I love reading but seems lately not much time devoted to it. That's changing in this new year! Happy New Year.......

Katie Mansfield said...

That is impressive. Congratulations. I hope that 2019 is as fruitful.

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