The 2012 Tony’s Reading List Awards

Welcome to the fourth annual Tony’s Reading List Awards, a time for me to look back at the year’s reading and sort through the winners and the grinners, the dull and the dreary, the terrific and the terrible – you get the drift (if you’d like to look back at what happened in 2009, 2010 and 2011, be my guest!).

There are a number of awards to be handed out this evening, and I’ll be commenting all the while on little interesting stats about my reading year, so let’s get on with it, shall we?  Drum roll, please 😉

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As always, the first prize up is 2012’s Most-Read Author Award – and the winner is:

1) Anthony Trollope (4)
2) Sjón (3)

Trollope takes home the gong for the third consecutive year – well done, sir!
The lack of contenders here is because my cut-off point was three books by one writer, and only two managed to fit that criteria this year.  This is due to a much wider spread of reading this year and can also be seen in the results of my next category…

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…which is the Most-Read Country Award!

1=) Germany (18)
1=) Japan (18)
3) England (17)
4) Iceland (9)
5) Australia (7)

In a hard-fought battle (with a much wider field of participants), Germany retains the crown it wrested from England last year – but only just.  Japan was very close, and if the year had included January 2013, we may have had a new champion 🙂  Stop the Press!  My reading in preparation for January in Japan since writing this post sent J-Lit surging up the charts to share equal billing at the top of the list!

Looking at my original language stats, it’s clear to see that my focus shifted even more clearly to translated fiction this year.  Of the 125 books read, just 30 were originally published in English, meaning that a staggering 95 (of which I read 27 in the original language) were originally written in a foreign language.  I’m fairly sure that this is a trend which will continue into 2013 and beyond…

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It’s now time to hand out the individual honours, and one of the highlights of the literary calendar round these parts is the bestowal of the Golden Turkey Award.  This highly-coveted honour is given to the book which, in my very personal, most subjective opinion, was the biggest waste of my precious reading time over the past twelve months.  And the nominees are: 

The winner (of course) is the truly awful Please Look After Mother, one of the first books I read this year, and without doubt the one I really wish I hadn’t bothered with… 

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Let’s move on now to more pleasant affairs, namely the year’s good books.  Each month, in my wrap-up post, I nominate a book or two as my recommendation, and these books form my longlist for the Book of the Year.  This year’s nominees (links to my reviews) are:

JanuaryCarpentaria by Alexis Wright
FebruaryIn Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts (In Times of Fading Light) by Eugen Ruge
MarchThe Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
AprilThe Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst
MayDie Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) by Günter Grass
JuneOnce Were Warriors by Alan Duff
and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
JulyPetersburg by Andrei Bely
and Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas
AugustIndependent People by Halldór Laxness
SeptemberA l’ombre de jeunes filles en fleurs (Within a Budding Grove) by Marcel Proust
OctoberStone Tree by Gyrðir Elíasson
NovemberBerlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
December –  The Old Man and his Sons by Heðin Brú
and My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

The fifteen books on the list come from nine different countries, with Germany’s three nominations topping the list.  Australia, England, Spain and Iceland all provided two nominees, while books from Russia, France, New Zealand and the Faroe Islands(!) round out the selection.

In the first three years of the blog, I cheated massively by choosing a series as my pick for the year, but this year I am determined to stick my neck out.  Of the fifteen books above, five stood out enough to make it onto my shortlist:

The Unconsoled
Petersburg
Dublinesque
Independent People
Berlin Alexanderplatz


Finally, after lengthy deliberations (and some rather vicious exchanges) in the jury room, a winner was chosen.  The Tony’s Reading List Book of the Year for 2012 is:

Andrei Bely’s Petersburg


It was an extremely close-run race between Petersburg and Dublinesque, but in the end I had to go for the Russian classic over the Spanish modern classicCongratulations to publishers Pushkin Press for their excellent taste 🙂

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And that’s it for 2012, another great year in reading 🙂  Thanks to everyone who has visited and commented this year – I hope you’ll continue to do so in 2013…

…and speaking of 2013, it’s already shaping up to be a busy year.  I’m looking forward to taking part in the Shadow Panel again for next year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, but before that, there’s another event taking up my time.  I’ll be spending the first month of 2013 with January in Japan, my first ever blog event.  If you’d like to join me, you know where to look 🙂

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32 thoughts on “The 2012 Tony’s Reading List Awards

  1. Great list, although sad Sjon didn't make the final. I've posted The Parrish Lantern's top posts, but will be posting my own favourites at the beginning of the new year. Will hopefully be joining you in both January in Japan & the IFFP shadow jury. Best wishes for you & yours for the coming year

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  2. Dublinesque was already on my radar for 2013. If it managed to get so close to the top of this illustrious pile I'll have to get it for myself this year.
    Congrats on what looks like a great years reading.

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  3. Oh Tony your post did make me giggle. I am in awe of you reading over 75% translated fiction too and Petersburg jumps straight onto my wishlist.

    I'm looking forward to the shadow IFFP posts too as I reckon I might read the longlist this year and had such fun seeing how everybody responded to the titles. 🙂

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  4. Gary – 'The Blue Fox' is great (as are his others), but all of my shortlist had me thinking 'possible book of the year' as I was reading them. Looking forward to 'January in Japan' and the IFFP Longlist reading immensely 🙂

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  5. Séamus – I chose it as my book of the year when another blogger asked for one, and it was really a toss up for the top spot. 2012 has been a great year for reading, largely because of the focus on translated fiction – hopefully next year will continue in that vein 🙂

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  6. Alex – I'm hoping that I've already read a few of the longlist before I begin. Last year, I'd already read three of the fifteen (including '1Q84'!) before the announcement – which helped me to finish the list… eventually 😉

    These days, English-language books are the exception for me, rather than the norm, and to be honest, I don't regret missing out on a lot of the over-hyped output we're *supposed* to want to read…

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  7. I've had a copy of Petersburg put aside to read for longer than I'd care to contemplate, (along with Michel Tournier's The Ogre), so I will make sure that I'll read it in 2013. Thanks for sharing this inspiring list!,all the best for 2013.

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  8. Fun post Tony but you're a brave man. I plan to do my reading highlights post for tomorrow (or 2 jan if I don't quite get it completed) but I'm not game to pick a single top one. I do love some of your top choices – particularly Independent people and Carpentaria (I see she has a new one coming out next year). But it looks like I should put Petersburg on my list too …

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  9. obooki – A great book from a writer I'd never heard of before – that's what presses like Pushkin are all about! As for Proust, if it had been a more objective choice, he might have been higher up the list. Being a little more subjective, his writing can be hard work at times (and not always for good reasons). I suspect that when I finish the whole novel, he's more than an even-money bet for that year's prize 🙂

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  10. Jo – Nooooo! 125 is far too many when you consider that I post on every book I read. I'd prefer to read around the 100 mark – if only translated fiction didn't tend to be so short…

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  11. me. – Make sure you do 🙂 Oh, and try the Tournier too. I read it a couple of years back (in a German translation of the French – long story…), and I enjoyed it immensely.

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  12. whisperinggums – You've got to stick your head out! Mind you, it took me four years to do it properly 😉 And yes, I saw that Alexis Wright has a new one coming out in 2013 – I'm sure I'll be able to make some time for that 🙂

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  13. Rise – If I was more of an IT genius, I could have made you click another button to reveal the winner… next year 😉

    And cheers yourself – here's to a productive January in Japan and a great 2013!

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  14. fun as ever Tony ,I think we agree on some and as you know others we don't two of your least favs be in my list of nearly top as for places german be language I ve read most from this year myself ,all the best stu

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  15. You just saved me what sounds like a world of pain, my friend–I'd been planning on reading Please Take Care of Mother very soon! What would I do without you to read the duds before I get to them!

    Congrats on such a great reading year, in spite of it….

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  16. Colleen – A lot of people liked it (including the panel for the Man Asian Literary Prize), but…

    …I really, truly think that you would hate it. The most fun I had with that book was naming my review 'How I Lost Your Mother' 😉

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  17. Reading your posts has inspired me to read more translated fiction this year. I think I am guilty of sometimes reading a bit too much of what you've mentioned we are 'supposed' to read and neglecting lots that I would actually love if I found out about it and spent some time on it. Happy New Year!

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  18. Lindsay – It's a fine line to walk, especially if you want to get involved in the community side of blogging, but there are always those of us out here who are happy to let other people deal with the best-sellers 😉

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  19. Wonderful post, Tony! I am late in commenting, but I was really looking forward to reading your summary post of 2012 and I really enjoyed reading it. It was sad to find Goethe as one of the contenders for the Golden Turkey award 🙂 But I guess even if he is Goethe, he can't keep churning brilliant works day after day. I will add 'Petersburg' to my 'To be read' list. Happy New Year 2013! Hope you have a wonderful time discovering new books and authors and have beautiful reading moments! I will look forward to following your reading adventures this year.

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