December 2011 books and 2011 books roundup

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging which will fall in 2023. Every six-ish days, I've been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I've found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

December 2011 was the month that I had my single biggest lobbying success in my time in Brussels – there have been a couple of others almost as good, but this was special. By a margin of 30 votes, we got the European Parliament to reject a planned fisheries deal with Morocco, which would have allowed exploitation of the rich fisheries of the Western Sahara, which is not Moroccan territory, without any benefit to the Saharawi people. I had honestly expected to lose, and found myself crying with relief for the next hour or so. I have a very bad photograph of the two crucial MEPs and a fellow Belgian activist clutching glasses of champagne after the result came through.

Each of the people in this picture had interesting futures ahead of them.

  • On the left, Isabella Lövin went back to Sweden where she was Minister for International Development Cooperation from 2014 to 2019, Minister for the Environment from 2019 to 2021 Deputy Prime Minister from 2016 to 2021, as well as being co-leader of the Green Party from 2016 to 2021. She retired from politics earlier this year.
  • In the middle, Raül Romeva is due to be released from prison this week, and may be a free man by the time you read this. He went back to Catalonia in 2014, where he was elected to the Catalan parliament in 2015 and served as Minister for External and Institutional Relations and Transparency in the Catalan government from 2016 until it was suspended in 2017. In 2019 he was sentenced to twelve years in prison for sedition and misuse of public funds, a blatantly political prosecution. Now that he is out again, perhaps a new era can be envisaged.
  • And on the right, my Belgian fellow-activist S came back with me on the same train to Brussels. Nine months later to the day, she gave birth to a baby girl. Her other half must have been very glad to see her that evening.

Strasbourg was my only trip that month. H came and spent Christmas with us, taking this rather nice picture of all five of us on Christmas Day itself.

I read 25 books in December 2011.

Non-fiction 10 (Total for year 70)
Interpreting Irish History, edited by Ciaran Brady
Elisabeth Sladen: The Autobiography
Unrecognised States, by Nina Caspersen
Gulistān, by Sheikh Muṣleḥ-ʾiddin Saʿdī
Būstān, by Sheikh Muṣleḥ-ʾiddin Saʿdī

The John Nathan-Turner Memoirs
A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, of the State of Tennessee
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Vol 3 by Edward Gibbon
Vanished Kingdoms, by Norman Davies

Fiction (non-SF) 2 (Total for year 48)
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson
Het Boek Van Alle Dingen / The Book of Everything, by Guus Kuijer

SF (non-Who) 5 (Total for year 78)
The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula Le Guin
The Farthest Shore, by Ursula Le Guin
Tehanu, by Ursula Le Guin
Tales from Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin
The Other Wind, by Ursula Le Guin

Doctor Who + Torchwood 7 (Total for year 80)
Theatre of War, by Justin Richards
Interference Book One, by Lawrence Miles
Interference Book Two, by Lawrence Miles

First Born, by James Goss
Nuclear Time, by Oli Smith
The Eye of the Jungle, by Darren Jones
The Silent Stars Go By, by Dan Abnett

Comics 2 (Total for year 27)
Kuifje in Afrika / Tintin in the Congo, by Hergé
Operation Red Dragon, by Thierry Robberecht, Marco Venanzi and Michel Pierret

~8,000 pages (total for year ~88,200)
7/25 by women (Sladen, Caspersen, 5x Le Guin); total for year 65/302
2/25 by PoC (2x Saʿdī); total for year 15/302

This was the month that I finished Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, more than two years after starting it. It was the best book of the month and the year. You can get it here. The other new read that I particularly enjoyed was the third Stieg Larsson book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. You can get it here. Worst of the month was the appalling Tintin in Africayou can get it in English here, if you really want.


2011 books roundup

Reformatting my previous tally to my current system. 301 books for the year is the third highest of my annual tallies. 88,200 pages is my fifth highest. 22% by women was lower than any subsequent year. 5% by PoC is low.

1) Doctor Who

Novels, collections of shorter fiction, etc excluding comics
2020/ 2019/ 2018/ 2017/ 2016/ 2015/ 2014/ 2013/ 2012/ 2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008/ 2007/ 2006/ 2005/ 2004/
18 32 32 51 39 43 59 72 75 80 71 71 179 27 28 5 1
7% 14% 12% 21% 18% 15% 20% 30% 29% 27% 26% 21% 48% 11% 14% 3% 1%
All Who books including comics and non-fiction
2020/ 2019/ 2018/ 2017/ 2016/ 2015/ 2014/ 2013/ 2012/ 2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008/ 2007/ 2006/ 2005/ 2004/
25 43 42 55 42 54 68 81 75 87 79 81 180 49 32 5 1
9% 18% 16% 23% 20% 19% 23% 34% 29% 29% 28% 23% 49% 21% 15% 3% 1%

One of the stronger years.

Top Doctor Who fiction of the year:
(Torchwood) First Born, by James Goss. My reviewget it here.

Runner-up:
Paul Cornell's fannishly gleeful No Future. My reviewget it here.

Top Doctor Who non-fiction of the year:
tie between
The Unsilent Library, eds Simon Bradshaw, Tony Keen and Graham Sleight. My reviewget it here if you are lucky..
Ahistory by Lance Parkin. My reviewget it here

The one you haven't heard of:
The Wonderful Book of Doctor Who 1965, by Paul Smith. My reviewget it here.

The ones I bounced off:
two less impressive Eleventh Doctor stories, both by Oli Smith.
Nuclear Timemy reviewget it here.
Blackout my reviewget it here.


2) Science Fiction and Fantasy (excluding Doctor Who)

2020/ 2019/ 2018/ 2017/ 2016/ 2015/ 2014/ 2013/ 2012/ 2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008/ 2007/ 2006/ 2005/ 2004/
114 77 108 68 80 130 124 65 62 78 73 78 54 75 68 79 76
43% 33% 41% 29% 38% 45% 43% 27% 24% 26% 26% 23% 15% 32% 33% 55% 51%

Below average in percentage, average in numbers.

Top sf book of the year (discounting rereads):
Philippa Pearce's Tom's Midnight Garden. My reviewget it here.

Runners up:
Tolkien's The Treason of Isengard. My reviewget it here.
Ted Chiang's The Lifecycle of Software Objects. My reviewget it here if you are lucky.

The one you have't head of:

The Time Dissolver, by Jerry Sohl. My reviewget it here.

The one I bounced off:
Ian Watson's Miracle Visitors. My reviewget it here.


3) Non-fiction

2020/ 2019/ 2018/ 2017/ 2016/ 2015/ 2014/ 2013/ 2012/ 2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008/ 2007/ 2006/ 2005/ 2004/
50 49 50 57 37 47 48 46 53 69 66 94 70 78 70 42 42
19% 21% 19% 24% 17% 16% 16% 19% 20% 23% 24% 27% 19% 33% 34% 29% 28%

Above average in both absolute numbers and percentages.

Top non-fiction book of the year:
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon. My eventual write-upget it here.

Runners-up:
Frederick Douglass' autobiography. My reviewget it here.
Olaudah Equiano's autobiography. My reviewget it here.

The one you haven't heard of:
A Reader's Companion to A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold. My reviewget it here.

The one to avoid:

The Cambridge Historical Encyclopedia of Great Britain and Ireland. My reviewget it here.

4) Non-genre fiction

2020/ 2019/ 2018/ 2017/ 2016/ 2015/ 2014/ 2013/ 2012/ 2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008/ 2007/ 2006/ 2005/ 2004/
40 45 36 26 28 42 41 44 48 48 50 59 24 33 35 9 19
15% 19% 14% 11% 13% 14% 14% 19% 19% 16% 18% 17% 6% 14% 17% 6% 13%

Top non-genre book of the year:
Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. My reviews here, here and herehere, here and here.

Also excellent in category:
Three of Ian Rankin's Rebus novels, Fleshmarket Close, The Naming Of The Dead and Exit Music. My reviews here, here and herehere, here and here.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Love in the Time of Cholera. My reviewget it here.

The one you haven't heard of:
Collector of Treasures and Other Botswana Village Tales by Bessie Head. My reviewget it here.

Worst:
The Onion's Our Dumb World: 73rd Edition: Atlas of the Planet Earth. My reviewget it here.

5) Comics

2020/ 2019/ 2018/ 2017/ 2016/ 2015/ 2014/ 2013/ 2012/ 2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008/ 2007/ 2006/ 2005/ 2004/
45 31 28 29 27 18 19 30 21 27 18 28 6 20 6 8 8
17% 13% 11% 12% 13% 6% 7% 13% 8% 9% 6% 8% 2% 8% 3% 6% 5%

A bit above average,

Top comic / graphic novel of the year
The first two volumes of Mike Carey's The Unwritten, Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity and Inside Man. My reviews here and herehere and here.

Runner up:
Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour, the sixth of the six Scott Pilgrim volumes. My reviewget it here.

The one to avoid:
As mentioned above, Tintin in the Congo. My reviewget it here.


Most read author of the year: Arthur Conan Doyle, with all 9 Sherlock Holmes books. Also-rans: James Goss (7), Hergé (6), Ursula Le Guin (6), J.R.R. Tolkien (6), Justin Richards (4), Ian Rankin (4), David Martin (4).

Worst books of the year: A close-run thing between Kuifje in Afrika / Tintin in the Congo and The Onion's Our Dumb World.

My Book of the Year for 2011

There is nothing quite like Gibbon's Decline and Fall fo the Roman Empire. It took me over two years to read, at the rate of a chapter most weekends, and the leisurely pace I took helped me to digest it. You can get it here.

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1 Response to December 2011 books and 2011 books roundup

  1. coth says:

    39, plus a handful more where I have other books by the authors, and a good few names I know and know why I have read the books (or not). But I’m impressed by 20 or so writers I have not heard of – I am not used to not recognising writers’ names in this area – and will be checking some of these out.

    So well done, list compilers.

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