2014: My Year in Books

Note the bite marks on the novels. My sons are great consumers of books. They come by it honest.
Note the bite marks on the novels. My sons are great consumers of books. They come by it honest.

Oh, books and spreadsheets, how do I love thee!

I’ve been keeping data on which books I’ve read for the past five years, since early 2010, which is awesome for those times when I want to figure out, for instance, the percentage of female authors I read or how many fantasy novels I’ve scarfed down.

Since it’s the end of the year and everybody’s doing their best books lists, I thought I’d compile my own list, with stats on how I read as a sort of appetizer.

In 2014, I attempted to read around 65 books. For the past five years, I’ve read an average of 37 books a year, so this figure is much higher–but may be partly due to reading more novellas and comics this year, and also romances, which tend to be shorter. But probably a lot of it is because I’m a bigger book nerd than ever.

Out of those 65 books, I abandoned around 14 due to lack of interest–or an approaching library due date. Six of these were classics for my classics book club, four were romances, two were nonfiction, and one was a short story collection. I’ll probably return to a few of these someday. Over the past five years, I’ve abandoned a total of 36 books (ouch!), which is about seven a year on average. So I was not only reading more this year, but DNFing twice as much as well. I will have completely read a little over 50 books this year–not as many as some of the writers in the blogs I follow, but my book-a-week rate works for me.

The vast majority of books I read in 2014 were published in the past six years, with the numbers increasing with the years, the 16 books I read that were published this year being the highest count. In addition to recent reads, I read a handful of books from the early 2000s, one in the ’90s, two in the ’80s and two in the 70s, and then one each in the 60s, 50s, and 40s–most of these older books read (er, attempted) for my classics club. I also read three in the early 19th century: two Austens and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I’m too lazy to see how this compares to previous years, but it’s probably fairly typical; I’m a mostly contemporary reader, for better or worse.

I read nine nonfiction books this year (14%), compared to a 22% average for the past five years. These includes three memoirs (one graphic), two books on writing and/or editing, two books on psychology, one on religion, and one on reading.

Among the fiction I read, around thirty of the novels, or nearly half, were romance or YA with a strong romantic element; a third of these romances were in the subgenre of romantic comedy, followed closely by contemporary romance, and a smattering in the subgenres of New Adult, erotica, and historical, with one paranormal romance read. I attempted ten literary or classical fiction, four mysteries, four comics, four fantasies, two horror, and one YA that didn’t fall neatly into romance or fantasy.

Out of the 185 books I’ve read since 2010, 62 were written by male authors (or author teams with at least one man), which shakes out to about 33.5%. I read eighteen male authors this year, or 29%. This lower percentage may be due to reading more romance, which is usually penned by women; many of the men I did read were classic or comic writers.

I didn’t track author race or national origin, but it’s something I’m thinking of starting to track in 2015, to be sure I’m reading outside my culture more.

Anyway, if any of you track your reading, please post in the comments! And, if your eyes haven’t completely glazed over by now, here are my ten favorite books I read this year–though I’m not sure any were actually published in 2014. (A note that this list was really hard to make, as I read a lot of books I really liked. Also I excluded books I beta-read, since these were earlier drafts.)

1.) Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (YA). Beautiful written, utterly romantic Australian YA that hit lots of my book kryptonite. I read this after drafting my own street artist love story, and am so glad I stumbled upon it.

2.) Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh (graphic memoir). I was new to Allie Brosch, and found this graphic memoir so funny and delightful.

3.) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (YA). So witty, so much swoon, so Rainbow Rowell.

4.) Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (comic). Wonderfully imaginative, funny, tender, captivating, sexy, wild.

5.) Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl (romance). Sexy, fun romance with erotica writer heroine. I couldn’t put this down.

6.) Unteachable by Leah Raeder (romance). Great New Adult read. Beautiful imagery, tantalizing forbidden romance.

7.) Romance is My Day Job by Patience Bloom (memoir). Funny, well-done, with poignant moments.

8.) Ripped by Sarah Morgan (romance). Short, funny holiday romance.

9.) The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (romantic comedy). Hilarious, unique Australian romance between socially clueless genetics professor and a grad student.

10.) Deepest Desires by Charlotte Stein (erotica). Spare, evocative language. Racy yet emotionally intense. Charlotte Stein is one of my can’t-go-wrong-with authors.

Comments

  1. Bryn Donovan says:

    Love this post! I think it’s right to abandon books you’re not feeling. I haven’t read Charlotte Stein’s work yet and I want to!

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