Saturday 24 December 2011

GBRYIR!!! (ta daa!!!)

For some reason, this is what
comes up when you search
GBRYIR on Google Images.

It's not exactly a logo, but
I guess it'll do
That’s it. Just a few days away from being a whole entire year of book reviews. I’ve missed the odd one, but 2011 has seen pretty much a review every week. And the traffic to the blog has grown, which means you must not hate it too much. Or my mum is visiting it with increasing regularity. Either way, I’ve enjoyed writing it a bunch. So I’ll probably continue next year, if you don’t mind.

And so time for a treat. If there’s one thing none of us get enough of at this time of year, it’s treats. Famously devoid of treats, the Christmas season. No heaving plates of food. No expertly wrapped goodies. No thirstily supped nectar. Nothing. A barren season indeed.

Wait, no, that’s a lie.

But in case you still have room for more treats, here’s one to add to your leaning tower. A cherry on the top if you like. Or, if you’d prefer, another rambling string of sentences from that bloke you know who writes a book review blog which you feel you have to read in case he ever asks you about it.

I present the inaugural Gav's Book Reviews Year in Review, henceforth to be known as the GBRYIR!!! (ta daa!!!)

Thanks Brad
First review: for those of you that were there at the beginning (bless you), the first ever GBR review was on Moneyball on the 1 Jan 2011. Little did I know there was a film in the works. I think they did that just to help out with traffic to the GBR blog. Thanks Brad.

Best review: I could judge this in two ways. The one I liked best, or the one you read most. As I can’t make my mind up, best go with your opinion (I guess). You read The World of Jeeves most, closely followed by the blog on Room. Third place was the blog on Cream Teas Traffic Jams and Sunburn. Well done you, showcasing your range. Seems you like Wodehouse-ian farce, psychological dramas and non-fiction travel books.

Best book: There were a bunch. I don’t think I’ve read quite as many books in a single year. Ever. Partly due to the blind fear of needing something to blog about every Sunday to be honest. But whatever the reason, I read some crackers this year, and told you about all of them.

Glen Duncan - a hero of 2011
It could go down as the year I stumbled upon Glen Duncan, thanks to a shove in the right direction from my brother. I read three of his, blogged about two of them, and gave them both 9 GBR. I Lucifer is probably the Glen Duncan book I enjoyed most though.

Another honourable mention should also go to The Great Gatsby, also a 9 GBR score. Finally got around to reading it, and it didn’t let me down. Which was a relief. If I hadn’t liked it, I fear my brother-in-law would have led me down a dark alley and quietly explained why I don’t deserve to have nice things. He’s a bit of a Gatsby fan.

But there were two 10 GBR scores this year. The World of Jeeves got one of them. It’s P G Wodehouse. If you’re not a fan, then get off this blog immediately.

For those of you still here and still reading, the other 10 GBR score went to what will win the GBR Book of the Year (GBRBOTY - I love acronyms) for 2011. A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh. Odd to give an old book an award for 2011 you may think, but this isn’t the Man Booker Prize we’re talking about. It’s GBR. And I make the rules. And they are thus - the GBRBOTY award will go to the book I enjoyed reading most in the given year, regardless of publication date.

So there.

Worst book: Only one book got a 1GBR score this year - A Brief History of Time. Two separate friends have since told me that I read the wrong popular science book. That I would have been better served going for any number of more accessible offerings.

But I didn’t. I read this one. And I did not enjoy it one bit. Only book all year that I struggled to get to the end of.

Still, any book that you read for a bet should be approached with caution I guess. On the plus side, Dave Lamb now owes me a guest blog for 2012. Come on Dave, don’t keep your fans waiting…

Best comment: Lot's of comments, some even by people I don't know. I turn the stage over to you...

My brother. A cheeky git
Glorious gold - ladies and gentlemen, I give you my brother. Not known for overstating things at all:
Brilliant, another perfect book, out of how many you've read? 40 or so? So what, 5% of all books you have reviewed are 'perfect'? Are you kidding me? I disagree with Mark. I think you should feel bad. You're a million times worse than Hitler. Signed, James Patrick Collins esq. Your Brother
By Anonymous on A Handful of Dust - another maximum on 18/10/11

Respectable silver - Marky Essex, dangerously close to calling his new born daughter Evelyn:
You should get commission from the author - sales have gone up seconds after your post! Oh and I learn something new everyday - I'd assumed Evelyn Waugh was a female author, not so - Mr Arthur Evelyn Waugh...
By Anonymous on A Handful of Dust - another maximum on 16/10/11

Shameful, shameful bronze - Katie H, with a threat I fear she will actually carry out:
You realise we will now be rating our Christmas presents out of 10? Katie
By Anonymous on Making History - high risk reading on 30/10/11

Special mention - I suspect this was written by someone incredibly intelligent and without any hint of sarcasm:
This is the best blog ever. I agree with everything you've ever said.
By Anonymous on The Book Thief - Darling of the commuter book club... on 14/03/11

Worst comment: I hate to give a negative award to my father. But I will. Not known for his brevity, my dad. Don't feel obliged to read it to the end:
Having read the book I agree that it is not light escapism and requires some deeper unpacking than other books. This said that is the nature of philosophy writing and it is more accessible than most philosophy I have read. Gray’s comments on the views of famous philosophers are controversial to say the least and some of his contentions are not closely argued, but against this his more general expositions are original and very thought provoking. One of Gray’s basic themes is that humanism (progress of humankind by humankind) is false. Scientific progress does not equate to political and ethical progress. He also outlines a view that life (or more accurately being) is the present and is for experiencing; it does not in itself have a purpose. We are bound to have an emotional reaction to his arguements however for me philosophy is about exposing truth and truth does not have emotional content. If we find Gray’s reasoning and conclusions inaccurate then it helps confirm our own views  but if we find Gray’s reasoning correct then we should, where necessary, adjust our views. I don’t agree with large parts of the book's content but it certainly made me think and in 2002 when it was written is was classed as the book of the year for 11 book reviewers including – J.G. Ballard, Will Self, Joan Bakewell and Andrew Marr. I wouldn't go as far as book of the year but I think it is a worthwhile read. Nigelc
By Anonymous on Straw Dogs - uncomfy philosophy on 10/07/11

So that’s that. My first year of blogging done. Another one on the horizon.

I bet you can’t wait.



Anonymous said...

Wow, I made the best comment list twice, I'm honoured (the special mention was also me). This is the proudest I've been for quite some time.

I'm looking forward to recieving the award, and also to what GBR will bring us in 2012.

Your Brother, James P. Collins.

P.s. It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Gav Collins said...

Fa la la la la , la la la la.

Anonymous said...

Ive loved reading your blog this year and look forward to lots more reviews next year. We have asked for some of the books from Santa! See you Christmas morning for some present reviews... Katie

Anonymous said...

Well done Gav. A great blog and I am picking up books I wouldn't otherwise have heard about so thank you. Looking forward to what 2012 has in store.

Anonymous said...

Yey, i am becoming more computer literate every day! I have really enjoyed reading these reviews and your end of year review, I may even read The Great Gatsby now! I am ashamed to say I never have before!M