2008 reading in review

This year was a rather poor year for reading quantity, unfortunately. For the year, I only finished 68 books, the lowest yearly total (by quite a lot) since I started writing reviews and 12 fewer than I was vaguely aiming for. I also made little progress towards finishing another group of award winners, although I did read all of the Hugo nominees again before the voting (and, in a delightful surprise, my favorite book actually won).

The low reading count was for a variety of reasons, some good and some bad. On the good side, things eating into reading time included playing more video games, watching the Summer Olympics, three great visits with close friends, and getting engrossed in photography. Those are all good reallocations of my leisure time, and I don't regret them.

On the bad side, last year was an extremely stressful year, and my reading volume was low some months because I was working over 50 hours a week or for some other reason feeling too tired and too stressed to concentrate on reading or take time for it. That's something that I hope to fix next year. Given that much of my stress, as always, is feelings of obligations, I'm not setting a reading target. I hope to continue increasing the time I spend playing video games, which will cut into reading. The goal instead is lower stress and more focus on making time to do what I feel like doing, including reading.

This year, I read only one book I rated 10 out of 10: The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, which won both the Hugo and Nebula awards. This is an alternative history novel rather than a typical SF or fantasy story, which makes it all the more surprising that it won both awards. It's an excellent book with a wonderful sense of personality. I recommend it to both SF fans and fans of mainstream novels.

The non-fiction highlight of the year was my discovery of George Orwell's writing outside of the novels that people read in school. I read three volumes of his collected non-fiction works, the non-fiction Homage to Catalonia and The Road to Wigan Pier, and the novel Animal Farm, all of which were excellent. I'm planning on reading the remaining volume of his collected non-fiction and all the rest of his novels.

Also in the notable non-fiction category were Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness, non-fiction books about randomness and markets that anticipated the economic crash in the latter part of the year. Notable novels were Barry Hughart's wonderfully witty Bridge of Birds and Jo Walton's Half a Crown, an excellent conclusion to her Small Change series. I also thoroughly enjoyed reading through the rest of Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series and all of the Khaavren Romances (the last of which I'm halfway through as I write this).

There is also a version of this post with additional statistics that are probably only of interest to me.

Posted: 2009-01-01 15:26 — Why no comments?

Last spun 2013-07-01 from thread modified 2013-01-04