Time for a roundup of the past year of reading! I’m going to start out by sharing my favourite books of the year, then go into some geeky stats on my reading and buying habits in 2012. Hope it’s interesting, and/or helpful to those of you who, like me, are trying to make money in the industry. Please chime in!
Year in Review
Favourite Books of 2012
I’m perpetually behind in my reading. I don’t pretend to have a handle on “genre fiction in 2012” or even “fantasy fiction for adults in 2012”. So I’m not even going to try for that. What I’m giving you instead is a very personal list of the books I liked best this year (never mind when they were published), and an explanation of why.
In no particular order, my favourite reads of 2012 were:
- A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (I’ve blogged about GRRM here and here)
- Persephone’s Library and Other Stories by Kathryn Anthony (collection of SF&F short stories)
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (seen at least two versions, but somehow never read it before)
- Embassytown by China Miéville (SF; review here)
- The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe (YA SF; blog post coming soon!)
Honorable mention: The Wounded Sky by Diane Duane, which was a reread of one of my favourite Star Trek novels.
Why They Made the List
Obviously that’s quite a diverse list — everything from YA apocalyptic to literary classic. Even so, books that make my favourites list tend to have some common elements. What moved me this year were books that:
- were not necessarily perfect, but that failed magnificently; whose sky-high ambitions and wonderful bits outweighed their shortcomings
- tackled big ideas: the nature of death, entropy, language, love, morality in the face of a world gone terrible
- had sensawunda: settings or concepts that fired the imagination (the term normally applies to speculative fiction, but I get a very similar feeling when reading, for example, historical fiction set in an English manor house on the moor)
- played with language or had higher ambitions for their prose
- had vivid, memorable characters: Tyrion Lannister, Jane Eyre and Rochester, the alien scientist K’t’lk from The Wounded Sky
- had a sense of hope and/or redemption, even as a flicker in the darkness
Not surprisingly, I try to shoot for some or all of the above in my own writing as well.
And now, for the numbers geeks, or those of you who have a vested interest in people’s reading habits…here are my stats and some analysis for my reading and buying habits in 2012.
In 2012, I read 21 books, including two rereads. That’s been pretty consistent over the last couple of years.
The genre spread was almost evenly split between:
- adult fantasy
- adult science fiction
- “other” adult speculative fiction (defies categorization)
- YA science fiction
- “other” fiction (not speculative fiction; includes adult, YA, and MG)
- short story anthologies/collections
In the past few years I’ve also read YA fantasy, non-fiction, and poetry, but not this year.
Half of the books I read were part of a series. All the YA SF was either dystopian or apocalyptic fiction, whereas all the adult SF involved spaceships (though it was otherwise quite varied in tone, worldbuilding, and so on).
Authors and publishing
I read books by 15 different authors, not counting multi-author anthologies or collaborations. 6 of the authors were new to me this year, 2 were rereads, and 7 were new reads by authors I’d read previously.
12 of the books were published in 2007 or later.
Ebooks and Dead Trees
Only 5 of the books I read were ebooks, even though I own a Kobo. I like reading on my Kobo, but I tend to use it only for specific purposes. For example, I’m buying one series in ebook form rather than paperback because I didn’t want to lug around 800+ page tomes. (That would be GRRM.)
I also use it for:
- public-domain works (if I don’t want a fancy trade paperback edition)
- self-published and small-press ebooks
- books that are hard to find in print but not in ebook format
- books that I intend to take travelling
This mixture makes the Kobo recommendation algorithm very confused, let me tell you.
I read 2 hardcovers and a couple of trade paperbacks, but my preferred format (because I do a lot of subway reading) is mass market paperback. Or ebook, but see below…
Of the books I read:
- 3 were secondhand
- 2 were won
- 2 were gifts
- 1 was a loan
- 2 were books I edited for Turtleduck Press
The other 11 or so were bought new from my local SF&F bookstore (Bakka Phoenix) where possible. This is another reason why I’m not buying more ebooks — I want to support my local!
I don’t buy from Amazon as a matter of principle (it’s why I chose a Kobo instead of a Kindle). I also am not using the library, because my reading habits at the moment don’t require it. For one thing, at the rate I read, I can afford to buy new and support the industry. For another thing, I’m not reading that fast — I could just about get through one library book per loan period, and I can’t imagine walking out of a library with just one book!
Your turn! What were your favourite books of 2012? If you keep track of your reading or buying habits, what did you notice this year?