I’m not that keen on new year’s resolutions – they are too easily broken – but I must admit the start of a new year is a good time to change old habits and manage to do some of the things you want to do. I have made a few promises to myself this time, which I will keep to myself as I think that will make them more valuable to me. One of them is to make sure I have time to read the way I used to, and getting through the books-I-want-to-read-list, which is only ever increasing.

As the list person I am I have to keep track of this or it will fizzle out into nothing – so I put my secrecy aside, here is my list of books.

1. Jeg forbanner tidens elv, by Per Petterson (a Christmas gift from my brother and sister. I read his Ut og stjæle hester early last year and loved it. I must say I didn’t enjoy this one as much, but it is still a beautiful study of people and destinies and together/apart-ness.)

2. Death: The Time of Your Life, by Neil Gaiman.  (After reading the Sandman books I’ve been keeping an eye out for the stories about Death. A recent visit to the local library proved fruitful, and I had a great night in diving into this sad love story. I will be moving on to The High Cost of Living as soon as possible after this).

3. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi. (I’d heard a lot about this book before picking it up at the library, especially when the animated movie came out last year. I’m yet to see this movie, but am even more keen after reading the book. Fantastically told story, an honest, blunt and sad account of growing up in Iran during the wars in the 1980s. Should be school curriculum).

4. Innsirkling, by Carl Frode Tiller. (Third book from Tiller and just as insightful and depressing as always. But depressing in a good way – if such a thing exists…)

5. Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi. (Another story from the author of Persepolis. This time revealing the secret and sensual life of women in Iran. Provocative, interesting and very cheeky! The title refers to the pressure on women to be virgins when they marry… and what to be done when they’re not…)

6. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. (re-reading this fantastic book showing mythical creatures and gods that are very much alive in a very real way. The United States of America have never seemed as intriguing.)

7. Death – The High Cost of Living, by Neil Gaiman. (As mentioned above, I had planned to read this and was very pleased when I found it at the library. However, when I came home and read through it I realised I had read it before while I was living in Edinburgh. Well, it’s so good I don’t mind repeating.)

8. Arrival, by Shaun Tan. (No words in this book – but I include this on my list for the fabulous story it’s telling. I’m ordering my ticket to see the play which is on at the Auckland Festival this year.)

9. Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. (This was a strange book to read. It is divided into three very different parts, and I found myself struggling to adapt each time the book changed. Although the book left me a little suspicious and critical, I had to forget my cynicism for a while and admit that it is a joyfully well-written book with many good observations which was very enjoyable.)

10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. (Yes I know – a bit of teenage angst but who can resist? I have to admit I came to these books after seeing the movie as apposed to many others. I was just after a bit of Sunday afternoon veg in front of the telly, and found myself really enjoying it against my better judgement. The next day when we went shopping I bought the book. I’ve watched the movie again since then too… and am really keen to read the other three books. A bit of escapism never hurt anybody…)

11. Love and Rockets: Heartbreak Soup, Los Bros Hernandez. (I absolutely loved this comic book collection of cute/creepy/weird/lovely/endearing/disturbing stories from the fictional town of Palomar.)

12, 13 and 14: The rest of the Twilight Saga. Yes you can stop taunting me now, I’ve completed it and it’s over. Except I might go a bit nuts when the next movie comes out.

15. The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story, by Julia Reed
(The only book I read this year that I truly didn’t like. The only thing that got me to finish it was what I learnt about pre-, during and post-Kathrina New Orleans. Not so keen on the author’s point of view or selfcentred-ness. But maybe I expected a different story, and that’s not really fair on any book/writer.)

16. Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke (My German friend gave me it for my birthday. A fantastic story for young book lovers, and made into a decent film with Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany and Helen Mirren, among others.)

17. The Household Guide to Dying, by Debra Adelaide (Sounds morbid, and was at times, but it somehow made sense in Delia’s universe. A very grounded and sincere story about dying.)

18. The Book Thief, by Markus Zuzak (Heartbreakingly poetic.)

19. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold (Yes, I’m a bit slow to jump on this band wagon, and people have been telling me how great this book is for the longest time. It took a Kiwi director to make a film out of it for me to actually read it.)

I’m sure there are books I have forgotten to add on my list, as I fell out of the habit of recording my reading towards the end of the year.  Or maybe I just don’t like the fact that the number of books isn’t as high as I thought it would be. This means that there are heaps and heaps of books out there that I haven’t read yet and might not have the time to read – ever! It was an interesting excercise nevertheless, because I got an idea of my reading habits and have decided that I want more time for reading in the year to come. So one New Year’s resolution lead to another!

There are at least three books I have started and not finished, for various reasons:

Victor – An Unfinished Song, by Joan Jara

Orlando, by Virginia Wolf

Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson