2017: A year in books

I might not have been too enthused about my Year in Movies, but looking back over my reading is a much more interesting picture – to me, at any rate! 😉

Metrics

According to my records, I’ve read 72 books over the year (okay, technically I finished 2 of them in the first days of 2018, but the actual reading was mostly last year so I’m counting them!), of which 3 were very short (I’ve not counted actual short stories, despite logging these on GoodReads).

What’s changed? Well, since I last did this sort of post, I’ve become quite a heavy user of NetGalley – more than half of my reads (38) were ARCs! This means that my numbers of both new-to-me authors (44) and books from the current year (36) have gone up significantly.

I find it rather encouraging, too, to see that my ratio between the genders has improved – in 2015 I logged just 29% from female authors, whereas this year it was almost 51%! I think this is at least in part down to a better/fairer marketing, particularly in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, meaning it’s easier to find recommendations across the genders.

Novelty

NetGalley has also encouraged me to try some slightly different genres. While the bulk of my reading remains fantasy (27) and sci-fi (15) (and 7 non-fiction titles), I’ve been reading a lot more mystery, including ‘discovering’ the ‘cosy mystery’ genre. Often straying a little too chick-lit for my tastes overall, there’s definitely been a place for some ‘fluffy’ reads in a tough year!

Of the authors I ‘discovered’ this year, I was most impressed with Ann Leckie, Adrian Tchaikovsky, John Scalzi, and Mark Lawrence. The latter three are all well-established FSF authors, but for some reason I’d just never tried any of their work before – I foresee a great deal more of it in 2018!

Resolution

Every year – including this one! – I resolve to lessen that TBR pile by reading more of my own books and fewer borrowed/etc ones. Urm.. okay, not so much! o_O By my reckoning, I bought 23 books in 2017, and I read 17 purchased volumes – 6 of them over 10 years ago (!), and only 3 bought and read in the same year. Ahem. As well as ARCS, I had another 4 freebies, 10 from the library, 1 borrowed from a friend, and 2 online/SerialReader.

So I re-resolve: I *will* decrease the huge Mount TBR this year! 🙂 Perhaps more, though, is my intention to stop putting series down halfway through, and actually finish things before I forget the beginning!!

Rereads

A big change to GoodReads this year was the ability to log rereads – huzzah! Still, I only had three: American Gods, ahead of watching the TV adaptation and also a first read of the slightly-updated anniversary edition; Blade Runner 2: Edge of Human as a reminder before finishing the series, and again ahead of a big-screen Blade Runner sequel; and Abhorsen also as part of a reread of the early bit of the series before going on to the newer books.

 

Lows

To be honest, the trio of BladeRunner books were probably a low – I only stuck with them through sheer bloody-mindedness! I love the movie, though, and the concept was good – just, not executed well on any front.

I was also massively disappointed with Allen Carr’s Easy Way to MindfulnessIt read as an advertisement for his stopping smoking program, which is of no interest to me, and very little of any use about actual mindfulness.

Otherwise, there was a reasonable amount of ‘meh’ that wasn’t unexpected when I was picking up books slightly randomly, for free. I was, however, quite disappointed to put a Robin Hobb book, Dragon Keeper, into this category – it was still full of wonderful writing, but the story never got going and so I’ve yet to move on to the rest of the series – see above!

Highs

There were, thankfully, also plenty of books that made me go ‘wow’! So, here are my ‘Golden Hummingbirds’ for books read in 2017:

  • Red Sister – Mark Lawrence: once you’ve read a lot of fantasy fiction it can get a bit samey, but this made me feel reinvigorated about the genre.
  • Ancillary Justice/Sword/Mercy – Ann Leckie: just, wow. Sci-fi as it should be: intriguing, thought-provoking, and just bloddy good!
  • The Rabbit Back Literature Society – Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen: this is a bit of a marmite book, but I was firmly on the side of ‘love’: the mix of mystery and fantasy, wonder and cruelty, just hit my imagination button in the right way.
  • Bryony and Roses – T Kingfisher: I could also have gone for Summer in Orcus, all of Ursula Vernon’s writing is fabulous! This retelling of Beauty and the Beast adds a wonderful wry dollop of common sense, and was this blog’s first 10/10 review 🙂
  • Greenglass House – Kate Milford: and my second 10/10 review. This is a ‘middle grade’ book, so for slightly younger readers, but like Narnia or The Neverending Story, it has magic for all ages and just swept me up into such joy for the power of stories and adventure – reminding me why I want to write.

Honourable mentions for John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire which made me laugh more than sci-fi usually manages; and Lianne Moriarty’s Big Little Lies that only lost a place on the list through being outshone by its own adaptation.

2018 is already shaping up to be a great reading year – looking forward to finding all the new ‘Golden Hummingbird’ contenders for next year’s list 🙂

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