Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Year of Reading: 2013

 Last year (2012) was kind of a banner year reading wise for me.  I read a lot of books I really loved  awarding seven books 5 stars which is high for me as I tend to be a little stingy.  Looking back at my top ten list for 2012 there were some pretty quality, weighty books on there.  Despite really liking a lot of the books I read, I missed my goal of reading 73 books by one.

In contrast 2013 seems like a very different year.  I lowered my goal of books to read to 65 and quickly surpassed it which prompted me to raise my goal to 80. I ended up beating that goal and reading 86 books, a new record!  (Dare I shoot for 100 in 2014?)  I think I was able to read much more for a couple reasons: 1) I read a bunch of YA this year which lends itself to quick reading and 2) I started "reading" many books at a time.  For most of the year I had an audible subscription which was awesome and that combined with the library meant that I always had a couple of audio books going - one in the car on CD and one on my mp3 which I listened to while walking the dogs and doing housework.  I would also then frequently be reading a physical book as well as one on my e-reader.  I know there are a lot of folks out there that easily read 150 books a year or more which is astounding to me. This is almost 3 books a week! I'd be interested to know how they do this!  Is it just being fast readers? Devoting A LOT of time to reading?  or like me reading in multiple formats or a combo of all these things?  Let me know!

About 64% of the books I read this year were by female authors which I'm pretty happy with and they ran the gamut of genres. Looking at my favorite genres (at least this year): Almost half (42) were fantasy, roughly a quarter were Young Adult (23), 13 were romance, 19 were mysteries, 19 were historical, 6 were non-fiction (though I did also read but not review Suze Orman and Dave Ramsay). 

As I mentioned the biggest new thing that happened this year was reading more Young Adult fiction.  I read 23 books in this genre versus 3 in 2012.  I think I will continue to include a stack of these this year even though I felt like my feelings about these books were highly variable; i.e. I really loved some and I REALLY struggled with many.  Basically I think I need to be pretty choosy.  I am well beyond young adult age so I frequently ran into books where I could not relate to the characters or the character's actions.  However, Young Adult books provide what many "adult" books don't  - adventure and fantasy free of baggage or the weight of adulthood.  They don't have to be simplistic but I do feel they are easier to escape into.  Some of my favorites for this year were, in rough order of preference:                                       

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle #1) by Libba Bray
Bleeding Hearts (Drake Chronicles #4) by Alyxandra Harvey
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare
The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson

Another place to check in is the 100 Books Project I started this year.  You can find out more about the point of the project on The Fill in The Gaps Blog.  The point is to make a list of the 100 books that you've been meaning to read or feel like you should read and to try to tackle all of them over the next 5 years.  My list is kind of all over the place but for the most part I'm happy with it.  100 books over the next five years means that ideally I should have tackled at least 20 of these this year because I can do math.  Unfortunately, I only read 16 probably because of my whim reading habits.  I gots to be in the mood to read a book and if I'm not it usually doesn't go well. The books I read from the list were pretty awesome though and in fact five ended up on my best of the year list:

Atonement by Ian McEwen
House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
Quiet by Susan Cain
The Native Star by M.K. Hobson

And a few others got pretty close; Anthony Horowitz's Sherlock Holmes story House of Silk, and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn as well as 3 from the Young Adult list above: The Age of Miracles, Shadow and Bone and Ella Enchanted. I had one from the list that was a "Did not Finish" - The Gunslinger by Stephen King.   So all in all I think this has been a good challenge for myself but I'll need to make a concerted effort to read more from the list in 2014!

Finally, I have a list of authors mostly in my head that I've never read before but that I would really like to, mostly because I think they are my kind of authors but also because they are generally beloved and well regarded.  They include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (read in 2012), Stephen King, Ian McEwen, Iris Murdoch, Cormac McCarthy, China Mieville.  I tackled Ian McEwen and Stephen King this year with spectacularly different results.  I suppose I actually started to try and tackle Stephen King in 2012 when I started reading The Stand in November 2012.  I am roughly 950 pages into that book and am determined to finish it but it's gonna be slow because I rarely feel in the mood to pick it up.  I also tried to pick up The Gunslinger and as mentioned above I did not finish it.  I got about 50 pages in and had no motivation to continue.  Obviously Stephen King is a talented writer and storyteller but for some reason he is just not for me.  I talked a little bit about my issues with this in a blog post detailing my shame at not finishing two books.  Ian McEwen, however, I loved and Atonement was on my top ten for the year list. 

 So I think that wraps things up. At least I hope so because that was a serious amount of navel gazing!  How do you feel about your previous year's reading?  Any reading resolutions or general inclinations for 2014?

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a really great year! Congratulations on blowing away your original AND modified goals. Audio books are indeed wonderful for increasing reading time, because you can listen at times when your eyes and/or hands are otherwise busy.

    I love how you broke down your reading by genre. I used to read more fantasy than anything else, and hope to increase that again this year; last year I read a lot more romance than I usually do (in part because I got so many approvals through NetGalley, vs. not getting approved for as many fantasy books.)

    I loved Seraphina, plan to read The House of Silk this year, and completely agree on Stephen King - talented writer, but too scary/grim for me. And thanks for the tip about the 100 Books Project; I will check it out.