The top 9 books to read in April 2021

Here are

The top 9 books
I plan to read in April 2021

Click on the covers to know more

CURRENTLY READING

  FutureofBuildingsBookCover    Dictionnaire amoureux du polar

  The Archipelago of Another Life    A Swim in the Pond in the Rain

📚 The Future of Buildings, Transportation, and Power, 
by Roger Duncan and Michael E. Webber
Published in July 2020
See my latest words about it here.

📚 Dictionnaire amoureux du polar, by Pierre Lemaitre
Published on October 22, 2020
See my latest words about it here.

📚 The Archipelago of Another Life/ L’Archipel d’une autre vie, by Andreï Makine
Published in French in 2016
Published July 11th 2019 by MacLehose Press

I will technically begin to read this book in French on April 5 with Carol from Cas d’intérêt. We will post bilingual Q&A on her blog and mine, let us know if you would like to join our buddy read.

“A tense “Siberian Western” set in the inhospitable, boundless Russia taiga at the height of the Cold War.
On the far eastern borders of the Soviet Union, in the sunset of Stalin’s reign, soldiers are training for a war that could end all wars, for in the atomic age man has sown the seeds of his own destruction.
Among them is Pavel Gartsev, a reservist. Orphaned, scarred by the last great war and unlucky in love, he is an instant victim for the apparatchiks and ambitious careerists who thrive within the Red Army’s ranks.
Assigned to a search party composed of regulars and reservists, charged with the recapture of an escaped prisoner from a nearby gulag, Gartsev finds himself one of an unlikely quintet of cynics, sadists and heroes, embarked on a challenging manhunt through the Siberian taiga.
But the fugitive, capable, cunning and evidently at home in the depths of these vast forests, proves no easy prey. As the pursuit goes on, and the pursuers are struck by a shattering discovery, Gartsev confronts both the worst within himself and the tantalising prospect of another, totally different life.”

📚 A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders
Published on January 12, 2021

“From the New York Times bestselling, Booker Prize–winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo and Tenth of December comes a literary master class on what makes great stories work and what they can tell us about ourselves—and our world today.
For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it’s more relevant than ever in these turbulent times.
In his introduction, Saunders writes, “We’re going to enter seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world, made for a specific purpose that our time maybe doesn’t fully endorse but that these writers accepted implicitly as the aim of art—namely, to ask the big questions, questions like, How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it?” He approaches the stories technically yet accessibly, and through them explains how narrative functions; why we stay immersed in a story and why we resist it; and the bedrock virtues a writer must foster. The process of writing, Saunders reminds us, is a technical craft, but also a way of training oneself to see the world with new openness and curiosity.
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is a deep exploration not just of how great writing works but of how the mind itself works while reading, and of how the reading and writing of stories make genuine connection possible.”

READING NEXT

Monet and Oscar   The Old Capital

Double Indemnity

📚 Monet & Oscar, by Joe Byrd
Release date: May 1st, 2021
Will be reading for France Book Tours
There are still review copies available: click on the link or on the book cover to get your free copy!

“At the end of WWI, Oscar, an American soldier in a French Army hospital, learned of his mother’s death while recovering from his war wounds. He remained in France to search for his father, an Impressionist painter, whose identity his mother never revealed. Through curious circumstances, he’s hired to be a gardener for Claude Monet.   Oscar jumped at the opportunity to further his landscaping career by working in Monet’s world-famous garden at Giverny. He hoped the most renowned Impressionist could help him find his father.
Monet, tired and disheartened by his ailing health and deteriorating eyesight, took Oscar along on visits to his previous painting venues and allowed him to meet some of his art-world friends. These meetings provided insights into Monet’s life and art and clues to Oscar’s father’s identity.
On a train returning from Paris to Giverny, Oscar met and fell in love with Isabelle, a beautiful young American artist, who introduced him to the emerging 1920’s fashions and mores. She is the daughter of one of Monet’s major American clients, which interests him. Over Monet’s daughters’ objections, Isabelle and Oscar become regular guests at family gatherings as their infatuation blossoms into a unique love affair. Oscar’s past, present, and future collide in a way that he could not have anticipated.”

📚 The Old Capital, by Yasunari Kawabata
Published in 1962
Will be reading during April 19-25 with the Japanese Readathon Community (on Discord), and for Books in Translation Challenge and for The Classics Club

The Old Capital is one of the three novels cited specifically by the Nobel Committee when they awarded Kawabata the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. With the ethereal tone and aesthetic styling characteristic of Kawabata’s prose, The Old Capital tells the story of Chieko, the adopted daughter of a Kyoto kimono designer, Takichiro, and his wife, Shige.
Set in the traditional city of Kyoto, Japan, this deeply poetic story revolves around Chieko who becomes bewildered and troubled as she discovers the true facets of her past. With the harmony and time-honored customs of a Japanese backdrop, the story becomes poignant as Chieko’s longing and confusion develops.

📚 Double Indemnity, by James M. Cain
Published in 1936
Will be reading for The 1936 Club, and for The Classics Club

I have never participated in any club readings posted by Stuck in a Book.
As I have two books published in 1936 on my Classics TBR list, I might as well use this opportunity. Actually, I had a third book, which I just read : A Cat, a Man, and Two Women.

“Tautly narrated and excruciatingly suspenseful, Double Indemnity gives us an X-ray view of guilt, of duplicity, and of the kind of obsessive, loveless love that devastates everything it touches. First published in 1935, this novel reaffirmed James M. Cain as a virtuoso of the roman noir.”

📚 For The 1936 Club, I’m also planning on reading The Swedish Cavalier, by Leo Perutz

📚 If all goes well, I will read a French novel with one of my student:
Cinq cartes brûléesby Sophie Loubière
And Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, with another friend

CURRENT AND NEXT AUDIOBOOKS

Murder in the Mews Appointment with Death

📚 Murder in the Mews (Hercule Poirot #18) by Agatha Christie
Published in 1937
Part of my project to listen to all of HP, for The Classics Club

“Are you ready for a question about each of the stories? How did a woman holding a pistol in her right hand manage to shoot herself in the left temple? What was the link between a ghost sighting and the disappearance of top secret military plans? How did the bullet that killed Sir Gervase shatter a mirror in another part of the room? And who destroyed the “eternal triangle” of love involving renowned beauty, Valentine Chantry?

Hercule Poirot is faced with four mystifying cases: Murder in the Mews, The Incredible Theft,, Dead Man’s Mirror and Triangle at Rhodes. Each of them is a miniature classic of characterization, incident, and suspense.”

📚 Appointment with Death (Hercule Poirot #19) by Agatha Christie
Published in 1937
Part of my project to listen to all of HP, for The Classics Club

“Among the towering red cliffs of Petra, like some monstrous swollen Buddha, sat the corpse of Mrs Boynton. A tiny puncture mark on her wrist was the only sign of the fatal injection that had killed her.
With only 24 hours available to solve the mystery, Hercule Poirot recalled a chance remark he’d overheard back in Jerusalem: ‘You see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?’ Mrs Boynton was, indeed, the most detestable woman he’d ever met.”

📚 I should be able also to listen to at least Hercule Poirot #20, plus 5 Biblical books (Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum), and a French audiobook. 

CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Listed on the homepage 

Review copies available throughout March:
The first two for book tours,
the third one to read and review at your own pace!

    Madeleine Last French Casquette Bride in New Orleans  Island on Fire Monet and Oscar  Church of Tango
On tour in April and May

List of books I can swap with yours

PLANS FOR APRIL

📚 Several buddy-reads, as you see
📚 And usual refrain, trying to catch up with my reviews…

Eiffel Tower Orange

HAVE YOU READ
OR ARE YOU PLANNING TO READ
ANY OF THESE?
WHAT ARE YOUR READING PLANS FOR APRIL?

 

 

Year of reading 2020 Part 2: Statistics

After the list of my 2020 favorites, here are my statistics.
Then tomorrow you can see the fun I had with the titles I read in 2020.

Year of reading 2020
Part 2: Statistics

As I wrote yesterday, if I personally didn’t experience a reading block this past year due to Covid-19, as unfortunately several other book bloggers went through, still, these statistics reveal some major new trends in my recent reading habits.

Ok, let’s go into numbers:

My total numbers of books read/listened to is actually the highest ever since I have started tracking it seriously through Goodreads and Google sheets:
76 books reads (90 in 2019), and 47 listened to (28 in 2019) = 123, which is an average of 10.25/month (118 books in 2019, with a monthly average of 9.8).

Books read in 2020:
76
. That’s an average of 7.5/month
Total of 20,317 pages (23,033 in 2019), which is an average of 55 pages/day (63 in 2019).
That’s an average of 267 pages/book (255 in 2019).

So I read far less books and pages (3 thousand less!), but the books I read were slightly bigger than in 2019 – probably because I read less mangas!

Books listened to in 2020:
47
[28 in 2019]. This is an average of 3.9/month (2.3 in 2019)
Total of 16,937 mn (14,323 min in 2019) with an average of 46 mn/day (39 in 2019)
That’s an average of about 6 hours/audiobook. (8 hours/audiobook in 2019).

As you can see, the major difference is an explosion in audiobooks: 67% more than in 2019!
The content is mostly my two audiobooks projects: I meant to reread the whole Bible, and decided to do it as audiobooks. And I’m in the process of listening to the whole Hercule Poirot canon, as I did for Sherlock Holmes.
But more audiobook time means also more cleaning around the house and exercise!

In graphs, this is what it looks like:

2020 average pages_day

So quite erratic!

2020 average minutes_day

It definitely increases with Covid!!
And becomes nice and steady, whereas last year it was very inconsistent.

2020 genre

Nice diversity, with each group more represented.
More mystery, but also 7% more nonfiction than last year.
And historical fiction still decreasing.

2020 format

Less graphic novel than last year.
But 13% more audiobooks!

2020 authors

4% more female authors than last year.
Though male/female doesn’t matter for me,
as long as they know how t write well!

2020 nationality

5 less nationalities than last year,
probably due to the fact that this year, I wasn’t on
the Man Booker International Prize Shadow Panel

2020 languages

5 less nationalities than last year,
due to the same reason as above.

Still, I’m glad that 50% was not originally written in English

In translation: 48 [51 in 2019]:

  • 17 from the Japanese
  • 15 from the Hebrew
  • 5 from the French
  • 4 from the Greek
  • 3 from the Russian
  • 2 from the Chinese
  • 1 from the Spanish
  • 1 from the German

29 in original language: in French (16 in 2019)

Out of a Total of 79 authors (90 in 2020)
34 were new to me (43%. It was 58% in 2018)
It reflects my desire to read more of he authors I love.

Books by the same author: 50 [32 in 2018]
(which goes along with the above number):
11 by Agatha Christie
9 by Georges Simenon
4 by Haruki Murakami
4 by Franck Thilliez
3 by Natsume Soseki
3 by Michel Bussi
and 2 by Hirimu Arakawa, Mary Oliver, Nnedi Okorafor, Katherine Applegate, Antoine Laurain, Sylvain Tesson, Nicolas Beuglet, and Maxiums the Confessor.

Re-Reads:
17 (mostly Bible books).
And I also read twice a book by Michel Bussi (one as audio, and then again in print with one of my students),
and twice a book by Maximus the Confessor, in two different translations.

Oldest: The Book of Judges (8th BC)
Newest: And the Earth Will Sit on the Moon – rescheduled publication for April 6, 2021.

2020 publication year

Wow, only 50% of very recent books. Thanks to my Classics project
If I count Biblical books, I actually read 47 classics,
that is 38% of all my 2020 books

2020 source

Most books bought are part of my EStories audio subscription.
4% less books received for review than last year,
preferring to go with books on my shelf or on my TBR – 
thanks to my public library!
Among the free books are a lot of audio through youtube

33 countries these books led me to (21 last year):
France (34),
Japan (18), Israel (15), England (15), US (12)
Russia (6), Egypt (3)
2 were set in Namibia, Iran, Poland, Italy, Iles Marquises
1 was set in Wales, Peru, Iceland, Spain, Argentina, Turkey, Iraq, Switzerland, Brazil, Antarctica, Ireland, Australia, The Netherlands, Tibet, Germany, Belgium, Lebanon, China, Hong-Kong, and Norway.
Plus Space (2), the digital virtual world, old Mesopotamia, and mythology.

I also visited 7 US States:
Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia

Shortest book: Civil Disobedience, by Thoreau –  33 pages

Longest book: The Mirror and the Light, by Hilary Mantel 757 pages

Shortest audiobook: The Book of Esther – 28 minutes

Longest audiobook: Atomka, by Franck Thilliez – 17H10

Funniest: Complètement cramé, by Gilles Legardinier

Most Unique Book: Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor – a mix of Himba culture and science-fiction!

Most tearjerker: Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate

Most disappointing: Foundation, by Asimov

Creepy: Atomka, by Franck Thilliez

Eye-opener: L’Humanité en péril, by Fred Vargas – very detailed info on catastrophic results on how we have been treating our planet

Best reading companion: Lessons from Walden, by Bob Pepperman Taylor, on books by Thoreau

Beautiful illustrations: Goddess Power, by Yung In Chae

Biggest discovery: Nnedi Okorafor, Serge Joncour, Jo Walton

Favorite characters of the year:
Alex (Eagle Strike), Maime (Au Soleil redouté), Kate (Three Hours in Paris), François (If You Cross the River), De Marco (No Woods So Dark as These). Andrew (Complètement cramé), Bob (The One and Only Bob), Armand Gamache (All the Devils are Here), and Zyzo (La Chute du soleil de fer).

Classics I finally got to read:
If I count Biblical books, I actually read 47 classics, that is 38% of all my 2019 books
The Book of Tea, by Kakuzo Okakura
The trilogy Sanshiro / And Then / The Gate, by Natsume Soseki
Selected Poems, by Masaoka Shiki
The Haunted Bookshop, by Christopher Morley
Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau
Foundation, by Isaac Asimov
The Letter Killers Club, by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
A Child’s Christmas in Wales
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
The first 9 books by Simenon
The first 11 books with Hercule Poirot

Books present for a while on my TBR that I finally got to read (other than the classics just mentioned):
The Ten Loves of Nishino, by Hiromi Kawakami
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World; A Wild Sheep Chase; The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
If You Cross the River, by Geneviève Damas
The Vexations, by Caitlin Horrocks
La grande escapade, by Jean-Philippe Blondel
A Very Russian Christmas – a collection of Russian Christmas stories
La Femme au carnet rouge, by Antoine Laurain
L’Énigme de la chambre 622, by Joël Dicker

Which authors new to me in 2020 that I now want to keep reading?
Chan Ho-Kei, Joncour, Andrea, Myamoto, McConaghy. Jo Walton, Geneviève Damas, Stephen Baxter, and Nnedi Okorafor

New Series I want to pursue:
Flood, by Stephen Baxter
N.E.O. by Michel Bussi

Best title:
Killer Come Back to me
Écouter le noir

Longest book title:
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami

Shortest book title:
Luca, by Franck Thilliez

MORE FUN RECAP ON FRIDAY!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

2020: December wrap-up

December 2020 WRAP-UP

I have read tons this month (the highest month, as for number of books), so for once, I’m posting before the end of the month.
Of course I will be reading some more today, but not enough to finish a book. And I’ll be spending most of my reading time actually working on my 2020 stats!

📚 So here is what I read in December.
Note, 7 different genres!

17 books:
11 in print 
with 2,396 pages, a daily average of 77 pages/day
6 in audio
= 44H29
, a daily average of 1H26!

5 in literary fiction:

  1. La grande escapade, by Jean-Philippe Bondel – ebook for review
  2. A Very Russian Christmas – collection of classics Christmas tales, for The Classics Club
  3. The Letter Killers Club, by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky – ebook for The Classics Club spin
  4. La Femme au carnet rouge, by Antoine Laurain – ebook with the French Books online book club
  5. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens – audio, for The Classics Club

4 in science-fiction:

  1. Flood, by Stephen Baxter
  2. Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline – audio
  3. Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor
  4. Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor

2 in children/YA:

  1. Silver Spoon #2, by Hiromu Arakawa – manga
  2. A Child’s Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas – audio, for The Classics Club

2 in mystery:

  1. Atomka, by Franck Thilliez – French audiobook
  2. Three Act Tragedy, (Hercule Poirot) #11 by Agatha Christie – audio, for The Classics Club

2 in nonfiction:

  1. Upstream, by Mary Oliver – a collection of essays
  2. 1st and 2nd Books of the Maccabees – audio, for The Classics Club

1 in historical fiction:

  1. The Vexations, by Caitlin Horrocks

1 in poetry:

  1. A Thousand Mornings, by Mary Oliver

MY FAVORITE BOOKS THIS PAST MONTH

  Flood   Ready Player Two

READING CHALLENGES & RECAP

Classics Club: 7/137 (from November 2020-until November 2025)
Japanese Literature Challenge: 9 books read during the challenge + 7 since.

Total of books read in 2020 = 123/110 (that’s 112%)
Number of books added to my TBR this past month = 23

OTHER BOOK I REVIEWED THIS PAST MONTH

None, though I have 3 in preparation

GIVEAWAYS

The open giveaways are on my homepage

And we offer a Book Box!
And monthly raffle with a Newsletter
(see sample with link to sign up)

MOST POPULAR BOOK REVIEW THIS PAST MONTH

How To Talk About Places You've Never Been

click on the cover to access my review

MOST POPULAR POST THIS PAST MONTH
– NON BOOK REVIEW –

Sunday Post #32

BOOK BLOG THAT BROUGHT ME MOST TRAFFIC THIS PAST MONTH

Caffeinated Reviewer
please go visit, there are a lot of good things there!

TOP COMMENTERS 

Judy at Keep the Wisdom
Deb at Readerbuzz
Iza at Books & Livres

please go and visit them,
they have great book blogs

BLOG MILESTONES 

2,260 posts
over 5,390 followers
over 210,600 hits

📚

Come back on Monday
to see the books I plan to read in January


Eiffel Tower OrangeEiffel Tower OrangeEiffel Tower Orange

How was YOUR month of December?

2019-Monthly-Wrap-Up-Round-Up_300

Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction
has created a Month In Review meme
where you can link your monthly recap posts
Thanks Nicole!