Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Meditation on My 2011 Year in Reading

It's hard to believe that another year has come to a close, and with so many books on my TBR list still unread! This past year I challenged myself to read 50 books, and I exceeded that goal handily, so obviously I am going to have to up the ante for 2012.* As usual, I did a significant chunk of my reading in audio format. This was the first year that I read a significant number of books--more than one or two--in electronic format. I can't say I prefer  reading on a screen, but I appreciate the convenience factor, especially where review copies are concerned. I've been keeping track of books I've read using Goodreads, because I no longer have the time or energy to write reviews here for everything I read. Here is the breakdown:

Read: 62 books + one awful novella (including 19 audiobooks and 10 ebooks)
Lesbian Fiction: 12
Fantasy: 11
Science Fiction: 8
Young Adult: 8
Mystery: 5
Romance of the non-lesbian variety: 5
General Fiction ("literary" or otherwise): 5
Nonfiction: 4
Humor: 2
Manga: 2
Children's: 1

I read fewer Young Adult books this year in my attempt to branch out, and those I did read were generally SF or Fantasy. Some of the books I finished, such as Reamde and A Dance With Dragons, were real doorstops, and I read several SF works that collected 2-3 books in one volume (Goodreads estimates the total page numbers as over 23,000, but of course the audio factor complicates that statistic).

I read many first volumes of a series and failed to read the next installment, even if it had already been published (Wake, The Penderwicks, The Name of the Wind, Acacia, The Red Wolf Conspiracy, Dust, Leviathan). My uptick in lesbian fiction reading was due largely to signing on as a reviewer at the Lesbrary. In that capacity I now have a monthly deadline to read books that I'd probably read at some point anyway. Everyone wins. For a full list of the books I read last year, visit my Goodreads page.

In last year's meditation on my reading year, I claimed that I would read more books that were recommended to me, and that I wanted to participate in the "Women of Science Fiction" online book group. I did in fact read several books that were out the usual way, placing impulse holds on things when I came across a review that particularly appealed to me. The online book group started well but my attention petered out quickly as my priorities wandered. It turns out that I am terrible at reading books on a schedule now that I've been out of school a few years, and the Lesbrary takes up all of my minimal power in that regard. However, I did read Cordelia's Honor as part of that group, which led me to the Vorkosigan universe in which I am still happily enmeshed.

In the coming year, my goal is to read as much nonfiction as I do fiction, not only because reading The Swerve reminded me that I love history (there's a reason I had a History minor to go along with my English major), but because I'm participating in a panel at ALA 2012 entitled "The Great Non-Fiction Readalike: If You Like This, You’ll LOVE That!" I have ideas on what makes for good reader's advisory in nonfiction, of course, but I would like to do a little more personal experimentation as I prepare.

I am looking forward to a year full of books and discussion!

ETA my favorite books of the year:

In the Woods
The Spymaster's Lady
The Long Goodbye
Cordelia's Honor
The Swerve

*Although if I counted the many, many picture books I've read to my son in the past year, I'm sure I'd be in the 200s.


Victoria Janssen said...

I am glad you are enjoying the Bujold books. She wrote some fantasy, as well.

Bethany K. Warner said...

Glad to see you met your goals!

You should keep going with Westerfeld and the Leviathan trilogy... try them on audio! Highly entertaining.

I've never tackled the Miles V. books by Bujold... as a fairly dedicated sci-fi fan, am I missing out?

Helgagrace said...

I did listen to the first Westerfeld book on audio--fantastic! I've had a hold on the second for a while and it refuses to come in to the library.

As for the Bujold books, they are really enjoyable. Start with The Warrior's Apprentice and see how you like it.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading the third Spymaster book (didn't realize it was a series when I started it) and it's great. There was Actual Research done for a historical novel, which is kind of refreshing. I'm going to go back and read the first two books once I've finished this one, and I have my name on the list for number four.