I had one of the strangest days ever at work on 11 December 2008, when I had not one but two presidents of unrecognised states in my office at different times. (They did not and still do not recognise each other, so I had to juggle schedules carefully.) Sadly, neither is in office any more; Mehmet Ali Talat lost his re-election bid in 2010, and Mohamed Abdelaziz died a couple of years ago.
I put a lot of energy into following the fall of the Belgian government the following week. All forgotten now. I joined Twitter, and my first Tweet was a link to my review of Terry Pratchett's Nation.
I was in London in the first week of the month, but otherwise in Belgium. Christmas seems to have been just us, with a bit of a rabbit theme.
I read only 16 books in December, the end of an epic year where my 371 books was a record that still stands.
Non-fiction 6 (total 70)
The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, by Anne Frank
Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture, by Patrick E. McGowan
Daughters of Britannia: the Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives, by Katie Hickman
If I Had Been…: Ten Historical Fantasies, edited by Daniel Snowman
The Cecils: Privilege and power behind the throne, by David Loades
The Genius of Shakespeare, by Jonathan Bate
Non genre total 24
SF 1 (total 54)
Nation, by Terry Pratchett
Doctor Who 3 (total 172)
Sometime Never, by Justin Richards
The Roundheads, by Mark Gatiss
The Dark Path, by David A. McIntee
4,100 pages (total 89,400)
2/16 by women (total 49/371)
None by PoC (total 6/371)
Again, I'm going to be nice and single out four good books here:
- The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, which is my book of the year for 2008; you can get it here.
- As You Like It, a Shakespeare play I had not previously encountered; you can get it here.
- Nation, by Terry Pratchett: "the perfect world is a journey, not a place"; you can get it here.
- The Fixer: A Story from Sarajevo, by Joe Sacco, a tremendous evocation of a tragic time and place; you can get it here.
2008 books roundup
The 371 books I read in 2008 remain my record for a single year – boosted by easily digestible Doctor Who novelisations and fairly brief Shakespeare plays. I did a roundup at the time, but am now reformatting to my current system (and reclassifying a few books as well).
Doctor Who: 172 (46% – biggest of any year)
Best of 2008: Two of the First Doctor novelisations, the very first one, Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks, which you can get here, and Donald Cotton's Doctor Who – The Romans, which you can get here.
Best original fiction: All-Consuming Fire, by Andy Lane, in which the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Benny encounter Sherlock Holmes and the Great Old Ones. You can get it here.
Best non-fiction: Who Goes There, by Nick Griffiths, exploring the locations of Doctor Who filming around England and Wales; you can get it here.
The one you haven't heard of: Time and Relative, by Kim Newman, a novella set on Earth in 1963 before the Doctor and his granddaughter meet Ian and Barbara. At a cost, you can get it here.
The one to avoid: Doctor Who – The Twin Dilemma, a dreadful adaptation of a dreadful story. You can get it here.
Non-fiction: 70 (19%, a tad below average)
Best of 2008: Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girlyou can get it here.
Runner-up: The Periodic Table, by Primo Levi; you can get it here.
The one you haven't heard of: Brussels Versus the Beltway: Advocacy in the United States and the European Union, by Christine Mahoney, a great explanation of the world of my work; you can get it here.
Worst of 2007: J.R.R.Tolkien: Architect of Middle Earth, by Daniel Grotta, a poor effort. You can get it here.
SF (other than Doctor Who): 54 (15%, lowest of any year – squeezed out by Doctor Who books)
Best of 2008: Alan Garner's The Owl Service, which I hadn't read before. You can get it here.
Runners-up: Terry Practchett's Nation, as noted above, which you can get hereHall of Fame anthology, which you can get here.
The one you haven't heard of: The Fifth Interzone Anthology, which you can get here.
The one to avoid: Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice – the most awful tosh. You can get it here.
Scripts 23 (6%, a peak)
At the top, it's difficult to choose between Romeo and Juliet (which you can get here), A Midsummer Night's Dream (here) and As You Like It (here) as my favourite Shakespeare of the year; also enjoyed the two rather less well known scripts I read, Improbable Frequency (about Schrodinger in Ireland, here) and The Office (here).
However I really bounced off both The Taming of the Shrew (here) and Love's Labour's Lost (here).
Comics 6 (2%, a record low)
Best of 2008: The Fixer (here), as noted above, and Jessica Jones vol 4 (here).
The one you haven't heard of: Macedonia, written by Harvey Pekar, Heather Roberson, art by Ed Piskor; you can get it here.
The one to avoid: Tales of Human Waste, by Warren Ellis; you can get it here.
My book of the year 2008, as noted above, was Anne Frank's Diary, which I have also writen about here and here. If you haven't yet read it, you should. And as mentioned twice above, you can get it here.