I read 11 books in December 2015. Also, just for fun, I’m including some of my 2015 reading statistics at the end of this post. (I’m a bit late posting this, but I plan to start getting back to a regular blogging schedule soon.)
Lord Brocktree, The Taggerung, Triss, and Loamhedge by Brian Jacques
You’re probably tired of seeing these books on my “books read” lists, but, yes, I am still reading through Brian Jacques’s Redwall books. I don’t have much to say about them this month that I haven’t said already, but I think The Taggerung was the best book of these four.
Birds of America edited by T. Gilbert Pearson
This book was originally published in 1917; my copy is unfortunately a later edition from 1936, but it’s still one of the older books in my collection. It’s a reference book to the birds of North America, but is also an interesting book to read. The authors frequently quote Thoreau, and describe how easy or difficult different bird species are to shoot. It is obvious that this book was written at a time when our attitudes to wild animals and our relationships with them were different from what they are today. The book also contains many beautifully illustrated colour plates, as well as black-and-white photos. It’s quite long (nearly 900 pages) and it took me much of November and December to get through it. I doubt that many people other than myself would be crazy enough to read through the entire thing, but if you are interested in the birds of this continent, I would recommend it.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Marie Boroff
I’ve written about Sir Gawain here before, and as I said then, this is a book I like to read around this time of year (although Marie Boroff’s translation was new to me). It’s a long Arthurian poem originally written in Middle English, but don’t let that turn you off, as it’s also a good story, complete with a brave hero and a villain who is not quite who he appears to be.
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time. It’s an early fantasy novel (originally published in 1926) about Fairyland and the people of the city of Lud-in-the-Mist – people who have decided that, according to their law, Fairyland, and anything to do with it, no longer exists. Fairy fruit, which makes ordinary mortals mad, is not to be talked of in polite society, even though law-abiding citizens have been curiously unable to prevent it from being smuggled into the city for years. Fairyland, in this book, is a place of inhuman, inexplicable, and yet alluring danger. I have read few modern books that manage to capture that so well (with the notable exception, I think, of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell). I think it was fitting that this was the last book I read in 2015, as it was one of my favourite books of the year.
Many of the books I read are about my local region (British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, and surrounding areas), and therefore might not be of interest to someone who lives on the other side of the world. From now on, I’m going to group all of these books together in one section called “local books”, and if you’re not interested, you can easily skip over it.
Glacier Country: Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks by John G. Woods
This was a relatively short book about two of Canada’s national parks that are located in British Columbia’s mountains. I thought it was an excellent introduction to the natural and human history of the parks, and it even gave me some ideas of places I would like to visit in the parks.
Birds of Coastal British Columbia by Nancy Baron and John Acorn
(You may also find this book published as Birds of the Pacific Northwest Coast.) This is an introductory field guide to birds of the region. It doesn’t include all species, but focuses on the most commonly seen birds and groups similar species together to simplify things for someone who is new to bird identification. I thought this was an excellent book: the illustrations were large and clear, and the written descriptions interesting. Even though I don’t live on the coast, most of the species are ones I’m familiar with, and I found this book particularly helpful because it focused on the key characteristics that you can use to distinguish related species.
Wild Flowers of Western Canada by William Copeland McCalla
Published in 1920, this is one of the oldest books in my collection. It’s a field guide to some of the wild flower species of western Canada. The illustrations are black-and-white photographs, and McCalla’s descriptions of the flowers are rather charming.
2015 Reading Stats
I read 144 books in 2015. This is more than I read in 2014 (103 books) or 2013 (112 books), but less than in 2012 (171 books). I read the most books in April (23 books) and the fewest in August (4 books). Of the books I read in 2015, 62 (43%) were fiction and 82 (57%) were non-fiction. 42 of the books (29%) were books that I re-read.
My reading goal for 2016 is to re-read more books. I own over 800 books, and I would like to cut down on that number as I am running out of space for my books. I want to keep only those books that I want to re-read or use for reference (or that are part of my growing collection of field guides and related books). By focusing on re-reading books this year, I hope that I will be able to identify more books that I am not interesting in reading again and that I can eliminate from my library.
What good books did you read in December and 2015 as a whole? Do you track the numbers of books you read? And do you have any reading goals for 2016?