Hi all! It’s time for my annual reading recap, where I look back on my favourite books and also geek out about my own reading stats. *grin*
Favourite Books of 2016
This year it’s a tie between:
- The Virtu by Sarah Monette, and
- An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet
…and an honourable mention goes to The Fellowship of the Ring (reread) which had a huge influence on me and which I am incapable of judging properly, especially with the movies confusing things in my head. It’s my first time rereading LOTR since seeing the movies. Weird experience, let me tell you. (I ended 2015 / started 2016 with Fellowship and am in the middle of rereading The Two Towers right now – part of a 7-year tradition of starting the new year with an epic fantasy novel. I started my LOTR reread after running out of Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones books. *wink*)
All three of these are fantasy novels, two written for adults and one, Bobet’s, for the upper YA market.
What I loved about these:
- depth in worldbuilding – the world feels real, there are layers and unexpected things and pieces that aren’t about the plot
- character depth (okay, not so much in Fellowship) – the characters are vivid, they have complicated relationships, they struggle to think their way through the things they want to change about themselves, they fail and try again and fail worse and keep trying, they feel like real people
- the feeling of epicness – while each story is very much about the struggles and relationships of a few key people, it’s also about enormous danger that affects the broader world, and these two aspects, the intimate and the global, are well balanced throughout
- beautiful description, which also contributes to the epicness
- strong narrative voice (or voices, in the case of The Virtu, which has two first-person narrators)
I read 20 books last year, same as the previous year. That’s a little lower than I’d like, but then several were very long and took a month or more to read.
Here’s a genre breakdown:
- 6 of them were adult fantasy (same as the last 2 years), 4 were adult SF (3 last year), and 2 were hard-to-classify adult speculative fiction (1 last year)
- 2 were non-SFF adult fiction (same as last year): one was magical realism but I decided to classify it as literary instead of genre, and the other was a contemporary gay romance novella
- 2 were YA fantasy (same as last year) and 1 was YA SF (same as last year)
- 1 was middle-grade fantasy (0 last year)
- 1 was non-fiction
- 1 was an anthology (an 800-page behemoth that I’ve been working on for several years and finally finished)
11 of the books were parts of series – about three-quarters of my (SF&F) genre reading.
For 2017, I’m aiming to finish some of the many series I’ve got on the go. That also means forgoing new-to-me series in favour of standalones. I’ve got plenty of all of those already stocked on my shelf and ereader. Now to see if I can resist temptation…
Authors and Diversity
12 of 19 books were by women (the last was an anthology), which is on par with my reading in most years.
3 of the authors were people of colour, coincidentally all black women – Octavia Butler (Parable of the Sower), Nnedi Okorafor (Who Fears Death), and fellow Canadian Nalo Hopkinson (Brown Girl in the Ring). I was particularly struck by the writing of Butler, whom I’d never read before even though she’s a major figure in SF&F, and will be reading more of her work in future.
6 of the books were by Canadians (5 authors, as I read 2 books by Leah Bobet).
11 of the authors were new to me.
Publishing and Acquisition
Of the 20 books I read, only 5 were published in the last 5 years (11 in the past 15 years). That’s not good for a writer trying to keep up with current publishing trends – must do better this year! The oldest was The Fellowship of the Ring (1954).
Where I got my books: 1 was a reread, 3 were passed on from family or friends, 1 was a loan, and 1 was from when I used to volunteer at a small press (and was allowed to take home free copies). The other 14 I bought.
9/20 (45%) were ebooks, down slightly from last year but higher than any other year since I started using an ereader in 2012. What I acquired in ebook form:
- 2 books that are too big to hold comfortably in paper form – that is, they’re only out in trade paperback format, or they’re really thick
- 2 books that are only out in hardcover, so the ebook is more comfortable to hold and also cheaper
- 3 books I couldn’t find in the bookstore – either too old, or indie-published
- 2 books I bought as ebooks for no particular reason
Side note on ereading tech: I use a Kobo Touch primarily, as well as the Kindle app on my iPhone for books that aren’t available from the Kobo store, and sometimes the Kobo app when I’m feeling lazy and/or don’t have my ereader with me. I find my phone slightly too small to read on comfortably, but it’s the right size for my hands, so I’m not terribly motivated to get a bigger phone. Will probably upgrade to a newer Kobo this year, though.
And there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the trip through Siri-reading-land. What were your favourite books last year?