Sunday, January 13, 2013

2012: The Year in Review

I'm back from my trip to India!  What better way to deal with jet lag than to get some blog posts finished up?  Here's my belated, but hopefully still interesting, 2012 year in review.

And it has been a year of a LOT of books for me - almost 120 finished this year!  Let's break that number down:

Total Books Read:  116 - GoodReads says 118 and LibraryThing says 114, so I went with the middle.  I read 72 books last year and said that the number for 2012 was likely to fall dramatically.  Instead, it went way up.  I cannot explain this.  Maybe my goal of having no goals - reading whatever I wanted, whenever it took my fancy - really worked out in my favor!  Also, I read many more novellas and shorter histories this year that took the number up.  And audiobooks!

Male/Female Author Ratio:  Pretty much 50/50.  I expected this to be more skewed towards women.  I used to want this to be as close to a 50/50 ratio as possible, but now I don't really care any more.

Non-Fiction/Fiction Ratio:  1:3.  I thought this was almost 1:1, so I am surprised that it was just 25%.  But that's still pretty good I guess, and I'll explain it away by pointing out that non-fiction books are usually longer than fiction ones.

"Out of Comfort Zone" Reads:  I used to use this to comment on books I read that were not in the historical fiction or fantasy genres.  But I no longer think this is necessary for me to track.  More than half my reads in 2011 were not fantasy or historical fiction, and the same is true for 2012 - I am reading more widely, which is great, BUT it also means that I am reading less from my own shelves.

Classics Read (Note:  This is based on my hazy idea of a classic):  15  That's a little more than one a month, which isn't great but is pretty good.  Especially as one of those is Middlemarch, which I think we all know should count as four books, at least.

Books Read that were on the Shelf on 12/31/11 (Reduction in TBR Pile):  19  Two of which were re-reads and 4 of which just barely made it onto the shelf in 2011.  Yikes.  This just goes to show that you never want to read what you already have!  Again, I thought this number was way higher.

Books Read that were from the Library:  54  Well, this makes me feel better about the number above!  At least I didn't buy a ton of books.

Audiobooks:  25 Obviously a huge impact in my reading number when I can read while commuting!

Books read by POC Authors:  13  (I think).  Wow.  This is just over 10%.  While I didn't have a specific goal for this, I definitely thought it was higher.  I hope 2013's number is an improvement.  I'd at least like this to be 25%, if not higher.

Books read about POC Characters:  31  Maybe that's why I thought my POC author number was so much higher.  A good number of these were non-fiction books about POC - looks like I need to find more non-fiction by POC.

Longest Book Read:  A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth.  Clocks in at 1,448 pages.  Second place to Middlemarch, which is well over 800 pages

Best Newly Discovered Authors:  Jo Walton and Patricia McKillip.  I can't believe I never read them before!

Characters I Wish I Could Hug:
Joe from The Round House
Eli Sister from The Sisters Brothers
Miles Vorkosigan from The Warrior's Apprentice
Pretty much everyone in Green Grass, Running Water

Characters with whom I would enjoy an evening of fine wine and conversation:
June from Tell the Wolves I'm Home (once she's old enough)
Helena and Marcus from Nemesis
Mor from Among Others

Seriously Awesome Female Characters I want to Emulate:
Seraphina from Seraphina
Ella from Ella, Enchanted
Bab from Bab:  A Sub-Deb
Marian from The Woman in White

Really Lame/Psychotic/Boring Females that I Don't Ever Want to Encounter:
Amy from Gone Girl
Laura from The Woman in White

Funniest Book:
Bab:  A Sub-Deb, by Mary Roberts Rinehart.  Seriously, people, why haven't you read this book yet?

Unexpectedly Amazing Books:
Bayou, by Jeremy Love
Alphabet of Thorn, by Patricia McKillip
Crow, by Barbara Wright

Books that Expanded My Mind:
1493, by Charles C. Mann
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown 
Delusions of Gender, by Cordelia Fine

Biggest Literary "Holy Cow, I can't believe someone came up with this idea!":
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Most Obscure Topic I Can Now Talk about with Authority:
Why American barns are shaped the way they are

Best Cover:
The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick DeWitt

Unexpected Reading Themes for the Year:
Alternate English History (Lord Darcy, The Shadow of Albion, Farthing)
Folk Tale Retellings (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Trickster, Once Upon a Time Machine, Two Old Women, Green Grass, Running Water)

Best Event:
I don't mean to brag, but #Diversiverse was pretty amazing.  It will be repeated.

Most Read Authors:
Patrick Ness
Jo Walton
Patricia McKillip
Georgette Heyer

Marcus Didius Falco
Chaos Walking

Let's not even go there.

Most Disappointing Book:
Death Comes to Pemberley, by PD James.  Sigh.  It could have been SO GOOD. 

Best Fiction Books of 2012 (In No Particular Order):

Bring Up the Bodies - Read early this year so I often forget it, but a fantastic book about Tudor England and Thomas Cromwell's life by my girl crush Hilary Mantel.

A Monster Calls - Sobbed my way through this one, in the best way possible.

Green Grass, Running Water - Seriously amazing.  So funny, so touching, and I loved the subversion.

Farthing - Alternate history rocks my world, particularly when it brings light to the foibles of our own world.

A Gathering of Old Men - Beautifully written book from multiple POVs about African-American men taking back their dignity.

The Song of Achilles (review forthcoming) - WOW.  This came in at the end of the year and it was so, so good.  I loved the romance, I loved the history, and I loved the ending.

Bab:  A Sub-Deb - Again, why haven't more people read this hilarious, light, and super-fun romp through pre-WWI America?

The Round House - Barbara Erdrich's book about rape on an Ojibwe reservation and how a family attempts to come to terms with it.

The Woman in White - Ok, Wilkie Collins, I admit you know how to write.  Marian may be one of the coolest women ever to populate a Victorian novel.

Best Non-Fiction Books of 2012 (in no particular order):

Delusions of Gender - This book has the ability to make ANYONE into a feminist, and therefore should be required reading since really, everyone should be a feminist.

A Midwife's Tale - Brilliantly researched book about midwifery in revolution-era Maine that incorporates a TON of interesting facts not just about midwifery, but about life, gender roles, the local economy and so much more.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers - A heart-breaking look at life in a Mumbai slum.


  1. Lol, yes why are your barns shaped like that :)

    Good year!

    I do not really care for the woman to men ratio. I do not get books cos who has written them, I get them if they are good. Though I must confess I rather want my fantasy to be written by men cos women always drags too much romance into the mix.

    1. LOL, you may be right on the women fantasy authors, but KJ Parker and Patricia McKillip do it really well!

    2. Also, Jo Walton! She's awesome.

  2. Oooh, so many good ones, including some I've read such as Gone Girl...which was awesome...and others I'd like to read: by Jo Walton and Wilkie Collins. Thanks for reminding me of them.

    1. YES, read Jo Walton - she is AMAZING!

    2. I've wanted to for a while...and it's at our library. I guess that's why I'm lazy about her, because I know I can get to her any time. :)

  3. Love all these stats! I didn't do very well with reading my own books in 2012 either - looking to improve that. I definitely want to read Behind the Beautiful Forevers - sounds fascinating!

    1. That book was really good but also so depressing! Based on the way 2013 is starting, I don't know if I'll do much better with reading my own books... but it's ok, they'll stay where I put them :-)

  4. Diversiverse was great! I wish I kept stats like these about my reading.

    1. Well, I track my reading on LibraryThing, so it makes it easier to compile the stats. I highly recommend it!

  5. So many great books - some I've read, others TBR or added to the list. I did download Bab when I first saw your review but have yet to read it.

    Hope 2013 will be a wonderful reading year for you.

  6. You read some awesome books! I read A Suitable Boy in 2012 too and it was just such a brilliant book.

    1. It was! Such an epic read, but well worth it :-)

  7. I hope I never meet Gone Girl's Amy either - she freaked me out! You read some great books last year! I did start Suitable Boy but could never hold on to it so another try is due.

    1. It's definitely a book that rewards patience but I think it can be hard to get into. I only persevered because it came so highly recommended by a good friend.

  8. Great summary of your year. I think 19 from the TBR shelf is really good; my number is WAY lower than that (unfortunately). I want/need to do your A More Diverse Universe this year so keep us posted!

    1. I think 19 from the shelf would be good if I read fewer books for the year, and if I did not THINK the number was so much higher! But the 50+ library books helps explain the disconnect.

  9. Welcome back! Interesting points to focus on, especially the most obscure topic one. When you learn random information it's nice to be able to use it some way.

    1. Well, I don't know when I'll next use that fun fact, or if I'll remember it when the opportunity arises, but at *some* point I knew!

  10. Bring Up the Bodies is on EVERYBODY's list! I'm just waiting for it to come out in paperback and I'll read it with my bookclub. Our discussion of Wolf Hall was one of the best.

    Laura from The Woman in White... *rolls eyes*

  11. What a great way to break down your reading! I am so happy that you surpassed your expectations! Alas, I did not. I had such a rough year, and I wasn't able to even keep up with anything, so I didn't put up an end of year post. I do have to agree with some of your choices for best books. Especially Bring Up the Bodies. That was a favorite of mine too!

    1. I miss you, Heather! I hope 2013 is WAY better than 2011 and 2012 were for you.

  12. Nice to see an old favorite of mine on your list, namely The Shadow of Albion! I remember loving the book when I read it years ago & being really dissapointed when no sequal was ever published.

    1. I think if I had read it in high school, I would have been in love with it, too! I enjoyed it but I didn't think it was amazing. Was disappointed at the lack of sequel, though! I think it's because Norton passed away.

  13. Man, how did I miss so many of your reviews? Off to do some back-reading...

    What a great year for you, though. So glad you finally discovered McKillip, and even more glad you liked her! :)

  14. Yay for stats! Also, you reminded me I still haven't received Delusions of Gender from the library and I should chase them for it. :)

  15. I love the way you broke down your reading. Congrats on a great year!

  16. What a fun wrap up! I've bookmarked it for future reference. ;)

    It's crazy how easily white authors can dominate your reading, even when you don't want them too, isn't it? That's why I started setting number goals to begin with, so I can get in the habit of reading more equitably. Last year I tried not tracking it to see how it worked out organically but then I ended up not recording what I read for the last third of the year, so I'm not sure what it would have been. I'm positive, though, it was nowhere near 50/50, so this year I'm back to paying more conscious attention.

  17. Wow, 2012 went well for you! And what an awesome post!

  18. Ha! Love your categories. I'm reading Gone Girl now, and I would stab Amy in the eye with whatever I could find if I were to encounter her in real life. Glad to see some love for The Sisters Brothers, and I see a lot of books that are on my shelves that I need to get to in 2013. :)

  19. Green Grass was pretty amazing! I started off not really caring for it, put it down, came back to it three weeks later (when it was due back at the library) and I don't know what I'd thought I'd been reading! It was so engaging and delightfully sardonically happily twisted.


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