2010 in Review

For the year of 2010, I finished and reviewed 56 books. That's exactly the same number of books I finished and reviewed in 2009, which I consider a significant milestone; this is the first year since I've been keeping track that the number of books I read year over year did not decline. That was despite another fairly stressful and chaotic year. (A goal for 2011: manage committments and stress better so that, next year, I can say that the year was not chaotic and stressful.)

Once again, I rated three books 10 out of 10 this year, two non-fiction and one fiction. The novel was Guy Gavriel Kay's magnificent Under Heaven, which may be the best book he's written yet. I expect to see it appear in at least award shortlists next year, if not win the World Fantasy award. Kay is high on my list of authors I want to re-read. His novels are almost uniformly exceptional, and I'd like to have reviews up of all of them.

The two non-fiction books receiving 10 out of 10 this year both received that rating by being inspiring. Coders at Work by Peter Seibel is an exceptional collection of interviews with programmers that fired me up to learn more about the craft and was the direct inspiration for learning Java this past year. Do It Tomorrow is another time management book, this one by Mark Forster, and has now surpassed Getting Things Done as my favorite time management book (although I think I needed to read Getting Things Done first to get the most out of it). There was no other non-fiction this year that particularly stood out, although if you're interested in the Supreme Court and the intersection of law and politics, The Nine is worth a look.

Fiction highlights were thick on the ground this year. China MiƩville's The City & The City deservedly won four major awards and was probably the best book published in 2009. Raphael Carter's The Fortunate Fall deserves its genre classic status (if often below readers' radar) and is possibly the best cyberpunk novel I've read. Jacqueline Carey's Namaah's Curse continues her current series and maintains the level of quality, and is a must-read for any Jacqueline Carey fan. Silence in Solitude is the second and best of Melissa Scott's inventive and thoroughly enjoyable alchemical space opera trilogy Roads of Heaven. And, finally, Bone and Jewel Creatures is a hard-cover novella by Elizabeth Bear in a new universe, a book with a small print run by a small press that's likely to escape the notice of a lot of readers, but which is some of the best solo work that Bear has done. I'm now eagerly awaiting the full-length novel set in that same universe.

I think it's unlikely that I'm going to increase my reading much beyond the level it's been at the last two years, so I'm lowering my (missed) goal from 60 books a year to 52, or a book a week. That said, I would have read 60 books last year if it weren't for coming down with a nasty cold towards the end of the year that ate about a week and a half. One thing I noticed this year was that the main obstacle wasn't the reading but the review writing: review publication dates were clustering around the ends of the month when I tried to finish up reviews. Spacing that out better would make it easier to keep up with reading and reviewing.

Below are some additional personal reading statistics, probably only of interest to me.

In 2010, I read and reviewed 56 books (the same number as last year). Overall statistics, with the change from last year:

Books read 56 (+0)
Total pages 19,848 (+411)
Average rating 7.23 (-0.13)
Pages per day 54.4 (+1.2)
Days per book 6.52 (+0)

Total pages increased slightly since I read somewhat longer books (most notably Thinking in Java, a 1,461 page monster that's probably responsible for the increase all by itself). Average rating also declined, probably because I made a push at finishing the Locus SF award winners. (I have only several monster Stephenson books to go.)

Breakdown by genre:

SF and fantasy 40 71%
Mainstream 2 4%
Graphic novels 3 5%
Non-fiction 11 20%

My mainstream reading dropped this year, which is a trend I want to reverse to maintain diversity in what I read. I read a bit more SF and fantasy than last year. The amount of non-fiction stayed the same. I'm finding myself more and more drawn to non-fiction recently, but non-fiction also tends to be significantly slower to read.

Of the SF and fantasy novels, here's a rough breakdown of the books by reason for seeking them out:

Award winners 11 28%
Award series 1 2%
Genre classics 1 2%
Current SF&F 5 12%
Favorite authors 12 30%
Re-reads 0 0%
Recommendations 3 8%
Random 7 18%

Once again, I didn't re-read any books this year. I may have to go on a bit of a re-reading binge at some point. There are still a lot of books that I read before I started writing reviews that I'd like to re-read and review.

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