Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Year in Books

Whew, I just survived a harrowing grocery shopping expedition. When I got to the store, the parking lot was almost empty and the store was a ghost town. I thought I'd timed it perfectly. And then hordes of people suddenly descended on the store, buying enough groceries to survive the entire winter and with their whole families in tow -- generally stopping dead still in the middle of aisles to contemplate their purchases. Because the store had been utterly dead mere minutes earlier, it wasn't staffed to deal with the mobs, so there were two regular checkout lanes open and one express, aside from the self-check stands.

The forecast calls for a chance of snow this afternoon (and since it's forecast, it will probably amount to nothing. We only get serious snow when it's entirely unexpected), so apparently people were stocking up for when they're snowed in by an inch of snow that will be gone by morning. I was there getting supplies for the items I'm making for various New Year celebrations as well as foods that go well with the leftover Christmas ham. And a frozen pizza for when I'm sick of leftover Christmas ham.

As the year winds down, I've taken a look at my reading journal for the year, and here's my assessment of my reading patterns.

By the time the year is over, I will have read about 116 books (extrapolating based on two books I'm currently reading that I will likely have finished by Thursday night, but not counting anything I haven't yet started).

I still have a bad re-reading habit, as 32 books on this list were books I had previously read (and there are a few that show up twice even within the same year). That's not even counting reference books that I may have read previously or that I skimmed through multiple times. I think some of the re-reading comes from those authors who make you just want to read something else like that when there's nobody else quite like that. Then there's the "comfort food" scenario, where I get into a certain mood and only one particular book will do.

Most of my reading comes from the library. I only bought about ten new books this year (at least, according to the reading log -- there's a chance I bought something that remains on the to-be-read pile). Part of this is because I'm poor and cheap and haven't run across too many things I'm eager to spend money on lately, but part is because the library is more convenient than any bookstore. I can walk to the library a couple of blocks from my house, while going to a bookstore requires driving. However, I may have influenced book purchases at the library, as I talk books with the librarian. My used book purchases were all either out of print or were textbook type books by authors who are now dead.

I read 26 non-fiction books for work-related purposes -- either writing how-to, general psychology type stuff or research/reference books. I read 15 novels primarily for work purposes. Since a lot of books that might count as "work" are also books I'd read for fun, I only counted for this the books I would not have read if I hadn't had some work-related reason to do so. That includes books I read for judging a contest, books "assigned" for workshops and genre research where I didn't really enjoy the book but felt I needed to know what had already been written. I also have on this list some classics I read for research/reference (because I was planning to allude to or somehow use something from those books).

I'm still on a huge Terry Pratchett kick, with his books accounting for 24 of the books I read this year. Nine of those were first-time reads. Otherwise, there was a lot of re-reading, as he's one of those authors where reading one book gets me in the mood for more like that and nobody else is quite like that. His books also hold up really well to re-reading because I always notice something new.

The bulk of my reading was in fantasy, with 50 books falling into that category. Next was chick lit, with 10 that could be classified that way. Then there was mystery with six and science fiction with five. I've really fallen off on my science fiction reading lately, I think mostly because there's not a lot of really fun science fiction out there. Most of the science fiction I read would fall into the steampunk category, and there were two quasi-steampunk books I counted as fantasy that could possibly have been considered science fiction.

My two main discoveries of authors I read for the first time this year and plan to follow in the future were Philip Reeve, who writes young adult steampunk, and KE Mills, who writes quirky fantasy.

I think my favorite books of the year were Witches Incorporated by KE Mills (actually published this year!), The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett andThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

I have an idea that I hope to work on next year that will involve a lot of research and reference reading (some of which I've already started), and that should have an interesting effect on my statistics next year. I'd like to make more of an effort to read current books, since I can nominate books for the Nebula award. That may depend on library availability or finances and there being something I want to spend money on.

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