Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End of Year Wrap Up

The clock is counting down to the end of 2011. Now, I am ready to sum up this year of reading and tell you about my favorite books this year. It hasn't been the strongest year for me, I didn't finish a lot of reading goals I've set for myself, but I had a lot of fun reading and that's what really counts, right?

Without further adieu, top 5 favorite books read this year:

1. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss - review
I have been waiting for this installment in the Kingkiller's Chronicles for a long time and it was well worth the wait. Amazingly well-written, immersing epic following Kvothe's adventures. It's a must for anyone who loves epic fantasy, character-based stories, and good writing.

2. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami - review
This atmospheric science fiction novel set in 1984 Japan won my heart this year through its amazingly windy plot and literary references.

3. The Prestige by Christopher Priest - review
Two magicians vie to discover the mysteries of each other's special techniques. Somehow I missed the movie, but the book is excellent in its own rights.

4. The Local News by Miriam Gershow - review
A heart-rendering story of a sister coping with the mysterious disappearance of her older brother. Touching and impossible to put down, this is my favorite non-genre reading of the year.

5. Ship Breaker by Paolo Baciagalupi - review
An apocalyptic young adult fiction about a boy who has to survive by scavenging on the old oil rigs and his adventures after he discovers a ship crash on his shores.

Now let's see how I did on my goals this year. The first one was to finish 48 books this year. I fell really short of the goal and only completed 36 books, so 3 per month instead of 4 I wanted to do. The second goal was to read 20 new authors. Looking back, I've read 13 new to me authors, which is not too shabby given that I didn't even come close to my total book goal. My third goal was genre diversity, here's a summary of the genres I read this year:

Science Fiction - 13
Fantasy - 8
Young Adult - 6
Fiction -2
Mystery - 2
Urban Fantasy - 2
Children - 1
Romance - 1
Steampunk - 1

I did get at least 7 different genres, but only 3 of them have at least 3 books read in them. Ack!
It's quite interesting to notice that for the first time this year science fiction has overtaken fantasy in the book count. I've been finding myself reading more and more science fiction lately and this trend is likely to stay in 2012.

A few other reading stats: 13 of the books I read were written by women and 26 by men. I read 4 books released in 2011, 9 released in 2010, 3 in 2009, 5 in 2008, 9 in earlier 2000s, with the oldest book being published in 1892.

All in all, it has been a long year with its ups and downs. I hope the next year will bring lots more exciting books to read and I am ready for it with my newly minted Kindle Touch. Thanks to everyone who's been reading my reviews. Happy New Year!


  1. I hardly brought up my reading goals for this past year because I was so terribly off. What was the steampunk book you read and what category did you put 1Q84 in?

    I'm gonna get to Baciagalupi this month but it will be The Wind-Up Girl.

  2. I consider Gail Carriger's Blameless a steampunk, though it is on the soft side of the genre.

    I consider 1Q84 to be science fiction, though with this book and many others the distinction between science fiction and fantasy is somewhat arbitrary on my part. It felt more like science fiction to me. I generally consider fantasy to be set in an entirely different world from ours. Though urban fantasy is making this distinction awfully complicated :)

    And I am looking forward to your thoughts on Baciagalupi. The Wind-up Girl was my #2 favorite in the last year's wrap up.

  3. I was originally planning to jump right into 1Q84 when it came out but then it looked to be such a large book and I had come off of reading several chunksters and I decided, probably foolishly so, to wait until a later time. Glad to hear that it is good.

    I haven't read Carriger, but it is certainly considered steampunk everywhere I've read about it. Murakami's books are often hard to classify. Hard-boiled Wonderland had science fictional elements but also fantasy ones as well. He is really good and blending genres and coming up with works that are uniquely his.

    I think I was just worn out because I skipped over writing about categories read and other things in my wrap up post. Looking back at my list I read 16 new to me authors and out of a more broad definition of genres (not breaking out steampunk for example) I read 15 science fiction books, 18 fantasy and two mixed sff collections. That is out of 50 books total. I read 10 books written by women, 3 collections with both male and female authors, and the rest were male authors.

    I liked both The Prestige and The Illusionist films and I very much want to read both stories that these films were based on. Perhaps I can save those for R.I.P. this year.

    I wish you an even better reading year in 2012! Happy New Year Maria!!!

  4. Yes, 1Q84 is a combination of genres also. Most of it is realistic, but with subtle touches of both science fiction (time travel) and fantasy (little people). I hope you don't put it off for too long, it's really amazing despite being a chunkster.

    I am rather surprised that you have read more fantasy than science fiction in the past year. I guess it's just selective memory on my part that remembers all the science fiction reviews.

    It's funny how the author gender ratio switched for me since I started reading more science fiction. Last year I read more fantasy and the ratio was more like 50:50. This year, not even close. I need to find more kickass female science fiction.

    Thanks for the good wishes, Carl! :)

  5. Frankly I was very surprised as well. It wasn't until I counted that I realized that. Of course doing a group read of a couple of fantasy books certainly helped that cause, and I am counting books like Jack Vances "Eyes of the Overworld" as fantasy despite its being in his Dying Earth series because there was really nothing at all science fictional about it.

    Have you read any of Priest's Clockwork Century novels (Boneshaker, Dreadnought, Ganymede)? I've enjoyed the first two quite a bit.

  6. No, I haven't yet. I should give it a try. I often find that steampunk novels don't sound that appealing to me when I read the covers, but then turn out to be really fun to read. I've heard Priest get mention a lot, I think I'll give her a try sometime.

  7. My experience with Priest's novels is that the steampunk elements are there in the background, they aren't the primary focus. The stories are much more focused on the protagonists. And I like that. I love the steampunk aesthetic and still most steampunk books don't appeal to me because if I want to see steampunk stuff I'll look at pictures, I don't want a story to be all about those elements. In that respect the Priest books and Blaylock's Langdon St. Ives adventures do a good job of making the story about the story, not about its trappings.

  8. I am totally with you on enjoying the stories that are character-driven more than any particular feature of the world-building. It seems like many of the Steampunk books (or at least the ones I've happened to read so far) have adopted females as primary characters which actually makes me like them better. I guess I have a bias towards reading about women interacting with technology :) I will take a look at Blaylock too -- have never heard of him before.

    Thanks for all the recommendations, this is going to make 15 new authors resolution a breeze :D

  9. Homunculus is the first of the Langdon St. Ives novels and it should give you a good taste for the kind of stories he writes. And subsequent stories refer back to events in this one. They are a bit more like steampunked Sherlock Holmes mysteries, in my opinion.

    And I don't think there is anything wrong with that bias at all. I think you'd love Mercy, the character in Priest's second book set in that world, Dreadnought. You don't necessarily have to read these in order. I mentioned in my review that it is mostly the ending that is slightly less impactful if you haven't read the first book.