Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Reading Roundup

In all, 2012 was a banner year in the reading department, seeing an significant increase in both the quantity and quality of books consumed.

First, here are some overall stats:
Total number of books read: 176
Total number of pages: 52,570
Average Book Length: 299 pages
Average Read Per Day: 144 pages
Longest Book: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by JK Rowling, 870 pages

My goal this year was to read as much non-fiction as fiction, but although I greatly improved the number of non-fiction books that I read (65), I still read much more fiction (111).

Here's the breakdown by category:
Young Adult: 31
Scifi/Fantasy: 28
Misc. Fiction: 21
Classics: 18
History/Biography: 17
Devotional/Religion/Theology/Missions: 14
Misc. Non-fiction: 14
True Crime: 7
Poetry: 7
Mystery: 7
Western: 6
Literary Criticism: 4
Travel: 2


Most Enjoyable of the Year:

No Man Knows My History: The Life Story of Joseph Smith, by Fawn Brodie - When I'd learned that its publication eventually led to the author's excommunication from the mainstream LDS church, I became curious to see what all the fuss was about. Although LDS leaders may have found the non-hagiographic nature of the book upsetting, plentiful footnotes and informative supplements prove her work to be both accurate and well-documented. Brodie's flawless prose, infused with keen insight and rich commentary, adds greatly to the already interesting story. Think what you may about the validity of Mormon theology: Smith's life makes for a very entertaining read. 

Glow and Spark, both by Amy Kathleen Ryan - It's as if The Lord of the Flies got together with 1984, had a baby, then raised it on reruns of Firefly and Stargate Atlantis with all of the funny bits sucked out. The writing's fantastic, the development superb, the plotting beautifully intricate, the characters complex, the dialogue realistic, and it's obvious that a fair amount of realistic science was taken into consideration as the story arc was plotted. Above all, there's a fine sense of urgency driving the reader through the story, an effect not achieved often enough in books of this style. Although some readers have complained that the first volume left most of the characters with few redeeming qualities, the character growth in the second installment puts this concern to rest. I eagerly anticipate the third book.

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter, by William Deresiewicz - I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this delightful piece of literary criticism. Strongly recommended, but only if you've read a full complement of Jane Austen first. 

Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson - This was very, very good: articulate, interesting, and well-paced. However, if you're not into architecture, true crime, history, or narrative non-fiction, I wouldn't recommend it. 

The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1), by Maureen Johnson - I have to say that Johnson can be hit or miss with me. This one, however, was a total hit. All known YAF tropes go flying out the window, and after an entertaining exposition, the plot kicks into high gear and doesn't let up. The second volume comes out early this spring, and I'm very excited to see where this series leads.

Promised Land, by Connie Willis - Nobody does frothy speculative fiction quite like Connie Willis. One part space odyssey, one part romance, two parts comedy of manners, and wholly entertaining. 

Least Enjoyable of the Year:

For details on books that were such dismal disappointments that they earned only one star, please see here. In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that most of the books in this category were read for no other reason that they were free downloads for Kindle that week. So I really should have known better.

Due to other goals I have in mind for 2013, I've scaled back my reading goal to 150. I am determined, however, to continue increasing both the quality and quantity of my non-fiction intake as much as possible.

No matter what your reading habits are, I hope that 2013 is a productive and enjoyable reading year for you.

2 comments:

  1. I am humbled by your reading achievement! I'd be happy to read a fifth as many good books as you do.

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    1. Yes, well... I've found that not having any children underfoot or a family to take care of really expands my reading time, Jon. :) It doesn't matter how much you read as long as you make it a goal to keep reading.

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