Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: The Year in Review

The year is over!  I can't believe it flew by so quickly.  It seems like time speeds up more and more as I get older.  But one constant every year is reading - and below are my reading stats for the year.

Best wishes for a happy 2014, filled with adventure, knowledge, romance and humor - all of which can be found between the covers :-)

Total Books Read:  99

% Books by Female Authors:  55%
 Like last year, I expected this to skew more heavily towards women this year, but I seem to be pretty much around 50/50 no matter what I do.  I don't really care about this ratio myself, but I have reported it in the past and I am all about consistency!

# of Audiobooks:  45
God, I hate my commute.  God, I'm glad the Chicago Public Library has such an extensive collection of audiobook digital downloads.

# of Books by Diverse Authors:  40
This is about 40%.  Last year, it was about 10%.  My stated goal was 25% and my personal goal was 50%.  I am actually very happy with this number.  I was nervous about this goal because it just seems like a kind of horrible way to choose the next book to read.  But it introduced me to so many new authors I might never have found otherwise and has made me actively seek out books written by authors in so many different parts of the world.  It made me realize just how limited in scope my reading was before 2013, and I feel so lucky that my world has expanded by so much.

# of Non-Fiction Books:  18
This is much lower than I expected!  Gack!  So much non-fiction on my bookshelves - must get on that in 2014!

# of Classics Read:  13
Pretty low, but as most books that qualify as classics are written by dead white men, this doesn't really bother me so much.

# of Books Checked off the TBR List (books read that I owned prior to 12/31/12 and that were not rereads):  20!  
That's not too bad...  And I think this is because of my goal to read more diversely and because I read so many audiobooks.  This stat has been around 20 for the past few years, so maybe that's just what happens...

# of Books read that were checked out from the Library: 60
Most of these are audiobooks (see audiobook number above), but I've also been using the library to bring more diversity to my reading than can be found on my own bookshelves.  I fell in love with the library again this year!

Favorite New Author:  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Best Female Characters:
Groa from King Hereafter
Flavia de Luce from the Flavia de Luce mystery series
Aminata from Someone Knows My Name


Best Narrative Voice:
So many!  I loved Flavia and Nao in particular.

Biggest Sleeper Hit:
Thorn, by Intisar Khanani

This one is getting a new cover in 2014, which I'm quite excited about!  I hope you all read it.

Best Adventure Story:
The Long Ships, by Frans Bengtsson

Best Tragicomedy:
City of Thieves, by David Benioff

Best commentary on American race relations:
Wench, by Doren Perkins-Valdez
The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King

Best commentary on class relations:
The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga

Best books about women's lives today:
Factory Girls, by Leslie Chang
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Most bizarre topic that I can now speak on with some knowledge:
Most hyped, and lived up to the hype:
Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith

Most hyped, and did not live up to the hype:
The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch

Most informative yet readable:
Salt Sugar Fat, by Michael Moss

Most evocative of its setting:
Tales from Outer Suburbia, by Shaun Tan
Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson 
Best books that waited patiently on the shelf for me to finally read them:
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
Heat, by Bill Buford
King Hereafter, by Dorothy Dunnett

Small Change trilogy by Jo Walton
Elizabeth Wein's WWII duology

Not even going to list those here 

Best reads of the year (in no particular order):

King Hereafter - An epic, beautiful retelling of Macbeth that took a lot of concentration and patience to get through but was so rewarding.

City of Thieves - A coming of age tale of friendship and overcoming the odds during WWII

Thorn - A strong female lead uses good sense and kindness in this outstanding retelling of The Goose Girl.

Americanah - !!!  Love.  Love, love, love.  So much here about everything, but particularly about race and gender and courage to be different.

Tales from Outer Suburbia - I didn't read many graphic novels this year, but this illustrated book of very short stories and their accompanying illustrations reminds me of what makes them great.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Oh, Neil Gaiman.  He can do no wrong.

A Tale for the Time Being - This book is so good. I have not reviewed it yet, but I will!

Salt Sugar Fat - A very important and telling book about America's food system.  Arm yourself with information!


  1. This was a fantastic recap, and I'm even more excited to start my own year of reading more diversely. And I'm tickled to see some of my own faves on your list: Tales from Outer Suburbia is superb, I loved The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and two of my most anticipated books to read in 2014 are A Tale for the Time Being and Americanah.

    1. Yay! Obviously, we are book friends for a reason ;-) I am excited for you to read Americanah and A Tale for the Time Being! Can't wait to hear what you think.

  2. I love love love your list. There are a few I read and loved, a few I have ignored as not-me and will have to get to now, and a few on my wishlist.

    1. That's pretty much how I felt about your list, too :-)

  3. I would love to read more diversely, but I stopped going to the library again and I think I will continue that into 2014... I just own so many books! And I find when I get going at the library I am reading, which is great, but I am not cleaning off my bookshelves at all. I loved your recap. I have Thorn so must try and read it in January. I have e-reader issues, but bought myself a new one for Christmas. I also missed your post on City of Thieves and want to read it now.

    1. I know, it's hard to balance so many different goals, isn't it? I didn't buy many books this year because I leaned on the library more, but I don't feel very good about the number of books I read that I own. I don't know how to balance very well. But I read good books this year and discovered new authors, so that's a good feeling!

      I DO hope you read Thorn. It really is very, very good. I think you would enjoy it.

  4. Love this roundup of reading. Great categories to begin with! I also have Tale for the Time Being on my best reads this year -- loved it! I look forward to picking up Americanah & Thorn next year, both intriguing choices.

  5. Yes, Adichie is wonderful, isn't she? She's been a favourite of mine for a few years now so I was so excited when Americanah was released earlier in the year.
    And congrats on reading more diversely - it's one of my reading goals too but it doesn't sit well with my other goal to read more classics. I'll just have to hunt out the more diverse classics & classics in translation.

  6. The Benioff book was sure awesome, and horrid too

  7. You've read some great books this year! Groa and Flavia are two of my favourite female characters too. And you've reminded me that I really must read another book by Adichie soon - the only one I've read is Half of a Yellow Sun, which I loved!

  8. Oh, City of Thieves. One of my absolute favorites of all time. I really need to reread it, since it's been a few years. I love reading these stats posts, because I love to see what people keep track of. I think I'll put together mine to post in the new year. Have a very lovely New Year, Aarti!!

  9. You had a really successful year!

  10. Your list definitely has some of the most beautiful covers of any list! :--) I really want to read Dunnett, but I have total fear of commitment.

  11. You had a fantastic reading year! I need to add more diversity in my reading. There were almost no books read that had GLBTQ characters. Here's to new beginnings. Happy New Year!

    I can't wait to read your review of A Tale for the Time Being!! :-)

  12. I started A Tale for the Time Being but have put it down for the moment -- parts of it are so painful to read. And I completely agree about Neil Gaiman -- The Ocean at the End of the Lane was just beautiful. My only complaint is that I wanted it to be longer, I was so sad when it ended.

  13. Loved your list. Middlesex has been waiting for me to read it too - hopefully this year. Loving the sound of City of Thieves, and yet another reader who thinks Neil Gaiman is wonderful - I MUST read something by him this year. A very Happy 2014 to you.

  14. I think this will be the year where I finally end Dunnet's Niccolo (and break my heart because no more reading Lymond and Niccolo for the first time) and move on to King Hereafter, that seems to be such a favorite among Dunnet's fans. And then... what will I do with my life? Re-reading?

  15. So glad to see City of Thieves on your "best of" list. I loved it, too. Happy New Year!

  16. Audio books do make commuting tolerable, even occasionally enjoyable. I'm determined to do more audio book reading during my drives to and from work this year.

    Tales from Outer Suburbia is a wonderful book, isn't it? Tan has a new one coming out this year and I'm really looking forward to it.

    I too love Flavia's voice...and only a few weeks until the new one comes out! :)

  17. Anonymous1/03/2014

    It really is hard to balance all the different goals we want for our reading. The books you list count among many that I want to read - I have read only two mentioned in this post: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and Farthing by Jo Walton (haven't read the next two in the Small Change series yet).

  18. Americanah is one book I am kicking myself for not reading yet!! I must read that soon... just need to decide if I should wait for the paperback, splurge on the hardcover, or just get it at the library, LOL.

  19. What a great reading year! Americanah is on my book club list for this year, and I'm just about through The Inconvenient Indian (THAT is going to be an interesting book club meeting, I'm kind of scared.) I had apparently forgotten to put Thorn on my TBR but have rectified that. And thanks for drawing Invisible Cities to my attention this year - I know it wasn't quite what you wanted, but it ended up being one of my favourite reads of the year, and maybe all time.

  20. Ok I clearly need to read Thorn, as I've read all the other novels on your top list & loved them all!


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