It’s time again to look back on a year of reading. Today I’m sharing the best books I read in 2013, and looking back on my reading and buying habits over the year. Because who says writers can’t also be numbers geeks?
Best Books in 2013
Disclaimer: I’m always playing catch-up in my reading, so these aren’t the best books published in 2013, just the best I read that year. For SF&F “best of” round-ups that are more current, check out Tor.com or io9.com.
And now, in no particular order, my top 7 books of 2013:
1. The Hair Wreath and Other Stories by Halli Villegas. Short story collection. My review is here.
2. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. My response from a writerly perspective is here.
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I never did blog about it, but this literary fantasy novel was popular enough when it came out that it probably needs no explanation.
4. Cripple Poetics by Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus. Poetry chapbook co-written by two disabled people as they fall in love.
5. A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear. My review is here.
6. XKCD by Randall Munroe. Yes, I follow the webcomic, so I’d read all the strips before, but it’s still awesome to have and read in book form. And it hits all my geek buttons.
7. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. My analysis of the book versus the movie is here.
What I loved about these:
- the numinous in unexpected places
- sense of wonder in settings or concepts (e.g., a circus full of wonderful things)
- sophisticated worldbuilding (e.g., fantasy politics in GRRM; wolf psychology in A Companion to Wolves)
- psychological depth (e.g., the Girl on Fire coping with life after survival; poetry; the boy bonded to a she-wolf and facing the consequences)
- sense of surprise – whether a really big twist or something that made me laugh
Reading Habits in 2013
And now, on to the stats…
I read 31 books over the course of the year — about 10 more than in each of the previous three years, thanks to having a six-month sabbatical from work. I expect that number to drop back down to normal levels in 2014, alas.
- 9 were adult fantasy (4 last year) and 5 were adult SF (4 last year)
- 1 was non-genre adult fiction (3 last year)
- 2 were YA fantasy (0 last year), 2 were YA SF (3 last year), and 1 was non-genre YA fiction (0 last year)
- 5 were non-fiction (1 last year)
- 1 was an anthology or collection of short stories (3 last year)
- 1 was poetry (0 last year)
- 3 were “other”, in this case graphic novels or webcomics (0 last year)
14 of the books were from my to-read list (8 last year).
13 of the books were part of series (consistent with the numbers from last two year, though not the proportions, since I read so much more this year).
I read books by 23 different authors (not counting collaborations or travel guides), of whom 12 were new to me this year (6 last year) and 11 were new-to-me books by previously read authors (7 last year).
9 of the authors were male, 14 female. Last year was a 6/9 split – almost identical proportions.
To my knowledge, only 2 authors were persons of colour (both women). I keep resolving to do better in this regard and falling short.
Of all 31 books, 14 were published in 2008 or later (last year, 12 were published in 2007 or later).
The only self-published books I read were the two Turtleduck Press novels and a webcomic anthology or two.
5 of the books were gifts, 2 were secondhand, 2 were borrowed. None of these were ebooks, obviously.
10/31 of the books were ebooks, including 4 travel guides and 2 from TDP. (The other four included one big fat fantasy novel that I didn’t want to lug around, two novels that I bought to bring with me while travelling, and one that I bought in ebook form for no particular reason.) Last year 5/21 were ebooks, so the proportion has gone up from about 25% to 33%, but the travel is skewing the numbers. We’ll see how it goes this year, especially since I now have a smartphone as well as a dedicated Kobo ereader.
Other Reading Recaps
If you’re the curious type and/or need more book recommendations to add to your list (excuse me while I die laughing…), here are some other bloggers’ reflections on their year in books:
And looking ahead:
Your turn! How did your reading go this past year? What were your favourite books in 2013?