Paris-Nice 2022.

It’s the Monday after the end of Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico and I’ve got what feels like the post-Grand Tour hangover I don’t usually get after watching week-long stage races (although there is a similar feeling for one day races, don’t you think?). What I mean by that, if I’m not making any sense, and maybe I’m not (probably!), is that one-week races have never been my favourite kind of race to follow, yet these two have been epic – Paris-Nice in particular. Although Tirreno-Adriatico had some thrilling moments, it was, in the words of Ned Boulting, Pog ‘running amok’ and winning as he wanted, when he wanted and how he wanted. It was a clear and evident domination by the (current) greatest rider in the world (and, you can dispute that, but there’s plenty of evidence to support this conclusion).

Paris-Nice, however, was on a knife edge, right till the line. Stage one was a wonderful Jumbo-Visma one-two-three, and Laporte kept yellow until Van Aert took it in the stage 4 time trial (with a second one-two-three by the Dutch team). When Roglic took yellow the following day, he was the clear favourite to take the GC by the end of the week. Except that it was Roglic, in a stage race, in France, and there’s last years edition of this race, a Dauphiné and a Tour de France (that day on la Planche des Belles Filles!) which meant that nothing was certain. On the Col d’Eze, Yates (Simon, that is, Adam already dropped) attacked, and Roglic couldn’t follow. And Van Aert pulled off one of the, if not the, ride of the race, limiting the Slovenian’s losses, and ensuring that the France curse was finally broken.

February Wrap Up

Two months in, and I’ve read some more books. Of course.

Les Gratitudes by Delphine de Vigan

Short, poignant, memorable, and a story about forgetting. Told from the perspective of two different people, their encounters with Michka, a woman with aphasia, build up this brief story (is it a novel? I don’t know). It’s good, not my favourite of Delphine de Vigan’s books (that title goes to D’après une histoire vraie), but not my least favourite either. The one thing I wished this book was? Longer. It was so promising: it was going so well. And then it was over, before I really felt like it had got going. Shame.

Of Love And Other Demons by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Edith Grossman

I’d never read any of Gabriel García Márquez’s books before, although I’d heard a lot about them (obviously, and mainly about One Hundred Years Of Solitude, which is so high on my TBR it’s mad). This short novel took a while to get going, revealing itself slowly, until suddenly you’re in the middle of the story, and hanging on his every word. It’s enchanting, dramatic and glorious. I’ve never read anything quite like this before, and can’t wait to read some of his other works.

2084: La fin du monde by Boualem Sansal

I didn’t love this, unfortunately, and it felt like the poor relation to Orwell’s 1984, which it is greatly inspired by. The idea was there; it could have been fascinating. Except that the plot and the characters were quite dry and, overall, it was a pretty unoriginal dystopian novel. I also thought that it lack a soul, the religion/faith aspects of the totalitarian regime weren’t explored enough. This book has won lots of prizes, I know, and I think I missed the point of this one.

Le mystère Henri Pick by David Foenkinos

In Brittany, a library collects all the books refused by publishers (sounds like and interesting selection!). Among these, Delphine Despero, a young editor, finds one by Henri Pick and wants to find out more about it. When she speaks to his widow, she finds out that he never wrote anything other than shopping lists… could he have had a secret life? (As secret lives go, being a secret, unpublished author doesn’t sound too bad, does it?) Two words: such fun. Ok, this book had a serious side, yes, but it was great fun and the book lover in me adored it. It’s available in English under the title The Mystery of Henri Pick as part of the Walter Presents books collection/series.

Pas Pleurer by Lydie Salvayre

English title: Cry, Mother Spain. It’s beautifully written, with an interesting mix of French and Spanish in some of the dialogue (which is fun for someone who studied Spanish for a couple of years a couple of years ago and is seeing if it’s all fallen out of her head). It’s description and discussion of the Spanish Civil War was really interesting, especially because much of the book is told from a female point of view (that of Montse), who is talking to her daughter. It’s plot is more meandering than linear – something I either love, or hate – and is far more character and history driven than it is telling a story. I loved this and it was fascinating.

Checker and The Derailleurs by Lionel Shriver. I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Young-Ha Kim. Two great books, but I didn’t have many thoughts about either.

The Beast, the Emperor and the Milkman by Harry Pearson

A (rather niche, perhaps?) kind of book that I really enjoyed. It’s a slightly meandering history of Flemish cycling, that doubles as a travelogue of sorts. It gets a little repetitive towards the end, and some sections are a little long, but it’s definitely made me look forward to the Classics this season (as if I wasn’t already 😂).

Bye Bye Blondie by Virginie Despentes

“Gloria lives in seething rage, lashing out at everyone—particularly, a string of bewildered boyfriends—at the local bar. But when her latest explosion leaves her out on the street, she unexpectedly runs into famed television personality Eric Muir. Incidentally, he’s also her teenage boyfriend, and the one who started it all. Once upon a time, Gloria and Eric met while institutionalized, and then became a mascot couple for those homeless and high on a noisy mix of drugs, music, and counterculture. Now, twenty years later, Gloria is enamored by youthful love resurrected and determined to immortalize their story by writing a screenplay. Whisked away to Paris, she’s transformed from a provincial loose cannon into an urbane party guest. But navigating life and love isn’t any easier for the middle-aged.” – blurb from Google. I actually don’t have much to add. It was fine, this book, but I didn’t love it, I won’t really remember it and I’m slightly disappointed because I liked the Vernon Subutex series.

January Wrap Up

One month down, only eleven more to go. And it’s the hardest one done, as well, I think. January is rough, tough, and now it’s February and spring is in sight. Despite the madness of the new year, I’ve managed to get some reading done – more than I had expected to do, yay! – and here are some reviews of what I’ve read. If you didn’t already know, I also post mini-reviews of each book I read over on my Instagram (@emnicbooks) as I go along, whereas here, even if they’re a bit longer, they get all lumped together at the end of the month. Hope you find something to enjoy, happy reading, Em xx

The Translator by Leila Aboulela

First book review of the year, and it’s not of L’été des quatre rois – I’ll finish it soon – but of Aboulela’s The Translator, which I read through my library on BorrowBox. The Translator tells the story of Sammar, a Sudanese widow working as a translator at a university in Aberdeen, and her relationship with her past and her present. Not much happens in this book, as the narrative opens well after the tragedy that haunts the story. The discussions around religion and the importance of it to the different characters interested me, especially as someone irreligious, and from a non-religious background. The writing is beautiful, and almost poetic I hadn’t ever read anything by Aboulela before, and hadn’t heard of her until seeing this book listed on BorrowBox. I’m definitely planning on reading some of her other works.

L’été des quatre rois by Camille Pascal

Well, I finished it: the longest book I’ve ever read in French. It was fascinating, if absolutely mad, as was the turbulent nature of the period (although I hadn’t realised just quite how much.) It’s a history book, to a certain extent, but is also very obviously a novel – it reads like a political saga – which it is, so is never dry or dull. L’été des quatre rois is the story of July and August 1830, with the quick succession on the French throne of Charles X, Louis XIX, Henri V and Louis-Philippe, and the rapid transformations of the July Revolution.

The City of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I’d have read this whatever it was, what with Carlos Ruiz Zafón being one of my favourite authors of all time. I’ve now read all of his work and, while reading this collection of short stories, there were moments when I didn’t want the book to end because I knew that, once I reached the end, it was the definitive finish. There’d be no more, ever, because he sadly died in 2020. I got, from this book, everything I could have wanted: a return to a world – that of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, over the top gothic-style writing… I loved this book but, perhaps if you don’t love the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series like I do, it might not be the one for you.

En attendant Godot by Samuel Beckett

English title: Waiting for Godot. I finished reading this play a few days ago and I still haven’t quite processed it yet. It’s an odd one, I knew that before I starting reading, and I think I loved it. Nothing happens, I don’t think that’s a spoiler (maybe it is? Sorry!) but that’s the magic of it. Nothing happens to the two protagonists, the passive characters, while they ‘wait for Godot’, and interact with the active characters, who appear in some parts of the play and not in others. Beckett’s perspective on the absurdity of human nature fascinated me throughout, and now I need to read lots of explanations, because this is the kind of philosophy that interests me. Anything absurd.

So Many Rooms by Laura Scott

“Maybe they’re like fish, swimming inside you, waiting for someone, to tap the glass.” Until the end of last year, I wasn’t a big poetry reader, and now I love it. Short but sweet, Scott’s poetry is wonderful, and the collection is beautifully woven together with repeating themes including art and Tolstoy (which I very much appreciated as a Tolstoy fan!). Getting in to reading poetry has been one of the best things about reading more from my library as their selection on the BorrowBox app is amazing. Absolutely recommend (both this book, and reading from your library).

The Dinner Guest by Gabriela Ybarra, translated by Natasha Wimmer

This book is short, at less than 150 pages, but it packs a hell of a punch. Probably one of the most intense books I’ve read in a long time, although also an example of the limits of autofiction. The sections of the book about Ybarra’s grandfather fascinating, but other parts were more meandering, and I lost interest slightly. I wanted to love this book, unfortunately I didn’t. Ybarra’s novel/non-fiction work is heartfelt and is very focused on personal loss and grief, rather than any wider events. The book focuses on two deaths: the kidnapping and murder of her grandfather by ETA and her mother’s death from cancer. Both events are examined from a close, personal perspective, of course, and that was one of the book’s highlights. If you’re looking for a meditation on grief or a book about loss and death, perhaps this might be the one for you. If you’re looking for something more political or something considering wider issues, I’d say you’re likely to be underwhelmed (I was, because that’s what I was expecting, which the book turned out not to be).

Mon maître et mon vainqueur by François-Henri Désérable

I loved this book. It’s title comes from the Verlaine poem ‘Es-tu brune ou blonde?’ Perhaps it’s not the most original story in the world (it’s really not) but it’s told in an usual way, with a heavy, and very effective, use of flashbacks so that, even though you know exactly what’s going on, you’re never quite sure if you’re right. It manages to be a balance of dramatic romance (not usually my thing, but I liked this one) and thriller/investigation. It’s also packed with literary, poetry references and sections of verse, which I thought was wonderful. Highly recommend, short but sweet (not that sweet actually).

The Things We’ve Seen by Agustín Fernández Mallo, translated by Thomas Bunstead

I didn’t love this book and that’s probably my own fault given that some of it went over my head. This work is three shorter works, linked together, all of which exploring the after effects and echo of war. It’s a brilliant work, if not one for everyone, with its recurring imagery and long monologues. It’s fragmented, yes, but it’s the aftershocks of war, so that’s, I’d think, to be expected. In terms of each of the sections, first interested me, the second went on a bit too long but the third, I adored the third. During the second part, I was considering DNFing, given that it seemed, unfortunately, to be becoming more dull, and then it picked up. Dramatically. The only overall statement I can make about this book is that, if you’re looking for a clear conclusion, a neat link between each of the sections that ties the whole thing together in a nice, satisfying way, you’ll be disappointed. If you like questions, open endings, if you like to be left to wonder, this one (three?) is (are?) incredible.

Une promesse by Sorj Chalandon

Discussing life, death and friendship, Chaladon’s novel manages to not be overly sentimental but still pack an emotional punch. It isn’t fast-paced, it isn’t particularly dramatic, but it slowly unfolds, with brilliant characters and beautiful prose. I loved this, and now need to read everything else Chalandon has written.

Obabakoak by Bernardo Atxaga

“Those from Obaba” is a wonderful novel. I call it a novel, because that’s what it’s described as, but it could just as easily be described as a collection of short stories. There are many recurring themes and people, who drift between stories, the most obvious of which being the location: a Basque village called Obaba. The fictional village of Obaba is brought to life by Atxaga, as are numerous other locations – Hamburg, the Amazon – as the characters venture into the ‘big, wide world’. Parts could be magical realism, with a fairy-tale-esque style, but they could just as easily be the imaginings of a rural community. The melancholy feel of the novel (as it does all tie together beautifully in the end) is what made me love it most. It’s genre-bending, it’s tragic and adventurous and quirky and funny and poetic and I could be here all day listing things I loved about this book. I’d wanted to read this since I found it mentioned in an article I was using for EPQ research early last year and I’m so glad I did. I highly recommend, if you’re looking for something unlike what you’ve read before. It won’t be for everyone but that’s part of its charm.

Three O’clock In The Morning by Gianrico Carofiglio, translated by Howard Curtis

It’s a book that’s as good as it’s cover. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but this one is beautiful, and so is the story it contains. It’s pretty simple, deeply honest and deceptively wise, without being overly profound or pretentious. It’s a father and son getting to know each other, a series of conversations between the two as they explore Marseille. And, as someone who went to Marseille a couple of years ago, i thought the setting was great too. Primarily set over forty-eight hours, more happens than you’d expect, without the story seeming cluttered or confusing. Recommend this one: it was great.

La septième fonction du langage by Laurent Binet

I adored this, in its completely bonkers madness; it’s a murder mystery, at its heart, but it’s so much more than that. When linguist Roland Barthes is hit by a van, police officer Jacques Bayard, helped by linguistics researcher Simon Herzog, has to find out what happened. What follows is a mad investigation, filled with politicians, academics, writers… It’s weird, pretentious but very aware of it and packed with self depreciation, high-brow intelligentsia and it’s such fun. This was a rubbish review, but I highly recommend this book. It’s available in English, under the title The Seventh Function of Language.

Even more bike races – National Cyclocross Championships

Nationals weekend is over. Here are some of the most significant results, in varied levels of detail.

Belgium. Women’s Race: for an incredible 13th consecutive year, Sanne Cant is the winner of the women’s race, which she won, in Middelkerke, in dominant fashion. Men’s Race: he was the favourite and for good reason. Out of ten race days, this was his ninth victory (only a badly timed mechanical stopped it being ten out of ten) and Wout Van Aert defended his national champion’s jersey, making this his fifth year as national champion, ending his cyclocross campaign with another win.

Netherlands. Women’s Race: the unofficial world championships, some people call it, and perhaps they’d be right. But, if they were, Lucinda Brand would have to give up her rainbow bands to Marianne Vos, who won the Dutch nationals for the seventh time. Men’s Race: it was Lars van der Haar who won the Dutch men’s race, eight years after his last victory in this race.

Thomas Mein beat Cameron Mason to win the British Elite men’s race, while Harriet Harnden took victory in the women’s. Kevin Kuhn successfully defended his Swiss title and Alessandra Keller won the women’s race.

Other races: Denmark – Men’s race: Simon Andreassen, Women’s Race: Caroline Bohé. Spain – Men’s race: Felipe Orts (for the fourth year in a row), Women’s Race: Lucia Gonzalez. Germany – Men’s race: Marcel Meisen (for the seventh time), Women’s race: Elisabeth Brandau. France – Men’s race: Joshua Dubau (Clément Venturini, the defending champion, finished 10th) Women’s race: Line Burquier

That’s it from me, thanks for reading, Em xx

A bike race, another bike race and some speculation about bike races.

X2O Badkamers Trofee Herentals, with Van Aert winning his eight race out of nine starts and Lucinda Brand extending her winning streak. The home favourite (Van Aert) won with over a minute, by the end of the course, over Tom Pidcock (who won’t be defending his British National Champion’s jersey this weekend) and Toon Aerts. In the women’s race, Denise Betsema finished second with Annemarie Worst finishing third.

No Worlds for Wout (or MVDP), with Van der Poel still suffering from his back injury (from the Olympics) and Van Aert not wanting to delay/affect the beginnings of his road season and classics campaign, especially because this year’s Worlds are in Fayetteville, Arkansas, not in Europe. Van der Poel’s cyclocross season is now over, and Van Aert’s ends with the Belgian national championships in Middelkerke this weekend.

The Vuelta a San Juan cancellation is disappointing but not surprising. Remco Evenepoel is, for the second year, unable to defend his victory due to the cancellation of the race because of the pandemic. The beginning of the road is season is, of course, now fast approaching, with the end of January bringing the first races, and the World Tour beginning with the UAE Tour on 20th February, and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on 26th February.

No other news to summarise, I don’t think, and I’ve not finished reading my book yet (check my Instagram if you’re interested).

Thanks for reading, Em xx

Even more cyclocross, and nothing else

Three days of cyclocross to round up, with (spoiler alert!) more wins by Lucinda Brand and Wout Van Aert.

30th December, X20 Trofee Loenhout. Women’s Race: With a gap of fifteen seconds over her compatriot, Denise Betsema, Lucinda Brand took her thirteenth win of the cyclocross season. Men’s Race: With the absence of Mathieu van der Poel (due to injury) and Tom Pidcock (not participating in this race), Wout Van Aert was the favourite to take his sixth consecutive win of the season, which he did, with Michael Vanthourenhout and Toon Aerts finishing second and third.

1st January, X20 Trofee Baal (GP Sven Nys). Women’s Race: Whilst the two had been neck and neck up to towards the end of the final lap, it was Lucinda Brand again who won, with Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, Dutch national champion, in second and Betsema in third. Men’s Race: Despite a crash, which led to a dramatic shoe change where he lost around thirty seconds, it was Wout Van Aert who made it seven out of seven so far.

2nd January, UCI Cyclocross World Cup Hulst. Women’s Race: Annemarie Worst in third, Puck Pieterse in second and Lucinda Brand again first (having won six races in a row, now), the Dutch (as ever) dominated the race. Men’s Race: Would it be eight out of eight for Van Aert? With a mechanical at the beginning of the first lap, Van Aert lost more than forty seconds before the race had really got underway, and was in around fortieth place. The fight was on to return to the front of the race and, as the race continued, Van Aert moved up and finished fourth. Victory went to Tom Pidcock, with Eli Iserbyt (whose overall victory in the World Cup is now certain) in second and the European Champion Lars van der Haar in third.

What’s next? National championships weekend. Can Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado retain the Dutch national champion’s jersey? Will Wout Van Aert be beaten in the Belgian national championship?

Thank You 2021!!

2021. Wow, if you were to tell me that it was 2017, Chris Froome had won this year’s Tour de France and that next year I would still have to do art classes at school because I wasn’t allowed to drop it yet, I’d have believed you. Well, not quite, but you get the idea. But it’s not, and 2021 has been, for me, an amazing year. It’s not been without it’s ups and downs – but what year is perfect? – and, for me, it’s been a year of changes. I started translating (which has been so much fun and I’ve loved the books I’ve worked on and have worked with some lovely people, thank you!), I started a new job (which is also going really well, yay!) and have got back into blogging properly for the first time in six years, which is mad.

It’s also been a fantastic reading year (I’ve already posted a reading wrap-up – check that out: https://emnicbooks.wordpress.com/2021/12/17/what-i-read-in-2021/.

On a language related note, I have got into reading loads in French (!) – which is a habit I’m very glad to have developed this year – and watching TV in French without subtitles (Eurosport French (cycling) commentary – what other sport do I watch? Thank you! #lesRP). However, I’ve not practised Spanish as much has I’d have liked (never mind, there’s always 2022 for that, if I have time?) and have finally motivated myself to learn some Dutch (because I’ve started and then got distracted and then tried again so many times – this time will be the time, won’t it?).

For 2022, I’ve not got any New Year’s resolutions in particular: I never make any specific ones because I think if you don’t make any, you can’t fail at it. However, I do have a few goals: keep learning French and Dutch, try to pick Spanish back up, read, study…

Well, I think that’s it from me today, after this incredibly self-centred post. I haven’t counted the number of times I’ve said ‘I’ – the total is probably embarrassing! However, please comment any New Year’s resolutions or goals you might have made, I’d love to read them.

Thanks so much for reading and for all your support this year, it’s been amazing,

Lots of love, Em xx

2022 Road Season Thoughts, Cyclocross Again & Christmas

2022 Road Season Thoughts

UCI Rules – the beginnings of my thoughts, I’ll share some more at a later date. I watched a really interesting Lanterne Rouge YouTube video today where he discussed a UCI rule that I had heard about in l’Équipe a while ago but didn’t know much about. It goes like this (highly simplified, watch the video):

  • for the 2023 season, teams apply for WorldTour licences from the UCI (maximum of 18 licences)
  • if more than 18 teams apply for licences, the 18 teams with the most points get them
  • however, points are the combined UCI points for the top 10 best riders on the time – only while they are on the team (not including stagiaires)

What this means: teams that currently have World Tour licences might not get to remain in the World Tour (while the UCI does not publish the points table, one was made for Lanterne Rouge’s vidéo which shows two current World Tour teams in the relegation zone – Lotto Soudal and Cofidis), these teams may therefore lose their sponsors because the sponsorship may be conditional on their remaining in the World Tour. However, the points are also (surprise, surprise) not very fairly distributed with points heavily skewed towards one day races (including .Pro races) and against stages of the biggest stage races – including the Tour de France.

What effect could this have: teams, especially those most at risk, will have to plan their season around targeting races that they are likely to get points from, even if they aren’t the highest profile races – this goal can be seen from some signings teams have made, including by Cofidis (in the relegation zone) and Intermaché-Wanty-Gobert (who are at risk). Arkéa-Samsic, however, who are not a World Tour team, are planning to apply for a World Tour licence (and aren’t among the teams in the relegation zone) so will have to plan their season around having enough points to be considered. If they don’t, one out of Cofidis and Lotto Soudal will be safe.

The team, however, that makes all of this even more uncertain, is Alpecin-Fenix who are in the top ten in terms of points but they have not suggested that they are planning on applying for a World Tour licence – as the top Pro Continental team, they get the benefits of the World Tour without the downsides.

Another thing that will make 2022 and even more interesting year, maybe, or perhaps all this speculation will be for nothing?

Cyclocross Thoughts

Boxing Day Cyclocross, World Cup Dendermonde. Men’s race – winner: Wout Van Aert (again!!) Women’s race – winner: Lucinda Brand (again!!). Both races were exciting – when is cyclocross not? – and both wins well deserved by the current best! The much anticipated return of Mathieu van der Poel to cyclocross made the men’s race even more exciting, with him finishing second, with, for a number of laps, he and Van Aert ‘synchocrossing’ (thanks Sporza for the term, ha ha!). The following days’ cyclocross – Superprestige Heusden-Zolder – had the same winners (although van der Poel abandoned part way through due to knee injury). So, as the build up to the World Championships (last weekend in January, Fayetteville, Arkansas) continues, the remainder of the cyclocross season promises to continue to be as exciting as ever.

I hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas if you celebrate it, and a lovely few days if you don’t. I’ve got a few thoughts, today, on a few different things, especially because it’s getting nearly to the end of the year now – it’ll be 2022 before we know it. Where’s the time gone? Thanks for reading, Em xx

Rucphen & Namur (Cyclocross Recap)

Two rounds of the cyclocross World Cup – Rucphen and Namur – gave two different winners (both in the men’s and women’s races), in dramatic fashion – although, when is cyclocross not dramatic?

In the women’s races, it was clear that Rucphen would be a battle between Marianne Vos and Lucinda Brand and that Namur could bring some surprises. In the men’s races, with the absence of Wout Van Aert and the delayed return of Mathieu van der Poel – who will both return to cyclocross on 26th December for the next round of the World Cup), it could be Tom Pidcock’s opportunity for victory or a chance for a surprise winner, if Eli Iserbyt was not successful.

Rucphen

Women’s Race

Victory for Vos. Going into the final lap, Brand, Vos and Betsema were in a group, Brand leading, Betsema hanging on: it looked like the world champion was going to win again, and then Vos came passed her, sprinted, crossing the line first and raising her arms.

Men’s Race

For the first time in his career, Tom Pidcock won a round of the cyclocross World Cup, making him also the first ever British man to win a round of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup. Pidcock caught Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout towards the end of the final lap, passing first Vanthourenhout and then Iserbyt, narrowly beating the current leader of the World Cup.

Namur

Women’s Race

With the absence of Vos, it was the Lucinda Brand who won another round of the World Cup, with Betsema in second. The race was not without drama, amplified by the course around the Citadel, with steep sections, off-camber sections and cobbles.

Men’s Race

At the beginning, it was Toon Aerts leading the race, but he was caught and later passed by Pidcock and Vanthourenhout. Around the final laps of the technical course, Pidcock was ahead of Vanthourenhout until Pidcock crashed again on a steep, slippy section and never caught the Belgian, who took the biggest win of his career.

What I read in 2021

2021 is nearly over and, by the end of the year, I might have read a couple of books more but, if I do, it’ll probably just be finishing The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk (and translated by Jennifer Croft) and maybe starting something else – but maybe not, with The Books of Jacob being as long as it is.

So, overall, I read: 123 books (34639 pages), with an average rating of 3.57/5 and an average length of 281.6 pages. 39 of those books were in translation, 26 of them were in French, 25 were non-fiction books, 47 were written by women and 6 were re-reads. Because that’s the information about books that I track. From this, I’ve already got some clear reading goals for 2022: read more books written by women and read more translated books.

Favourite books this year: The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse, Life and Fate by Vasily Grossmann, The Tin Drum by Günter Grass, L’élégance du hérisson by Muriel Barbery (The Elegance of the Hedgehog) and, my newest all-time favourite book, Homeland by Fernando Aramburu.

So, goals for next year? Other than doing a better job of blogging/Instagramming about the things I’m reading?

  • Read more books by women! Yes, it’ll be 2022, yes, I’m a woman, and, yes, this year I didn’t read very many books by women and I’m disappointed in myself for that.
  • Read more books in French (that, I think, requires no explanation other than that I’m studying French)
  • Read more non-fiction (I love non-fiction, I just don’t read very much of it)

Those are my goals for next year, do you have any? Also, if you’re interested in my recommendations, check out my Instagram or bookshop.org shop (affiliate), linked on the blog.

Thanks for reading, lots of love, Em xx