2012 in Review

For the year of 2012, I finished and reviewed 60 books, the same number as 2011. Given how stressful and chaotic much of the year was, I count this a major triumph. The hardest part was not the reading but the review writing; the end of the year required a significant push to finish writing reviews of all the books I'd read that year, and at one point I was reviewing things I'd read more than two months earlier. But I can enter 2013 entirely caught-up.

This continues to feel like about the right pace, striking a balance between reading enough that I can pursue multiple reading goals at the same time, while leaving enough time for other projects and video games.

I gave three novels a 10 out of 10 this year, but the stand-out even among that group was Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity. Not only was it my favorite book of the year, but it was one of the best books I've ever read. The other two 10-rated books are also highly recommended, of course: Matt Ruff's fascinating novel of multiple personalities, Set This House in Order; and C.J. Cherryh's SF classic, Cyteen. The latter was a re-read in advance of reading the sequel, Regenesis, which I also recommend if you've read and liked the last third of Cyteen.

Other fiction highlights of the year were China Miéville's Embassytown and Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games triology, particularly the third book, Mockingjay. Embassytown continues the trend from Miéville's The City & The City of tighter, faster-moving novels while moving into space opera and first contact territory. It keeps Miéville in the top rank of current SFF writers, despite having some suspension of disbelief problems. Collins's world-building in The Hunger Games also has suspension of disbelief problems, but I understood why the series was so popular. I was caught by surprise by its look at violence and its after-effects and was particularly impressed by Mockingjay and Collins's chosen ending. I think this is a popular series that lives up to the hype.

There were no 10 ratings in non-fiction this year, but several books nonetheless stood out. John Kenneth Galbraith's The Affluent Society is a thought-provoking book that questions the foundation of a consumer-oriented economy while perceptively pointing out how it distorts choices away from public goods. Susan Cain's Quiet is a passionate defense of introversion in an extroverted world. And, finally, Joshua Bloch's Effective Java and Damian Conway's Perl Best Practices are both insightful looks at the good and bad of their respective languages and taught me a great deal as a practicing programmer.

One final highlight to mention: Eclipse Phase by Posthuman Studios is an excellent RPG sourcebook, at least from the perspective of interesting world-building. I haven't played it, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it (and have acquired nearly all of the supplements).

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

In 2012, I read and reviewed 60 books (the same as last year). Overall statistics, with the change from last year:

Books read 60 (+0)
Total pages 21,554 (+590)
Average rating 7.25 (+0.45)
Pages per day 58.9 (+1.5)
Days per book 6.10 (+0.02)

I apparently read longer books this year than last year. My average rating rebounded to almost exactly what it was in 2010, apparently making 2011 a quirk due to encountering genre classics and Hugo winners I didn't like.

Breakdown by genre:

SF and fantasy 37 62%
Mainstream 7 12%
Non-fiction 12 20%
Graphic novels 2 3%
RPGs 2 3%

SF and fantasy dropped from 83% of my reading to 62% of my reading, corresponding to significant increases in mainstream fiction and non-fiction. This was due to the success of setting some specific reading goals for myself at the start of the year. I also managed to read two graphic novels and two RPG sourcebooks, which is my yearly goal going forward.

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

Award winners 14 38%
Award series 0 0%
Re-reads 1 3%
Genre classics 0 0%
Favorite authors 11 30%
Current SF&F 4 11%
Recommendations 4 11%
Random 3 8%

This is not completely accurate since some books fall into multiple categories. Four of the award winners were genre classics, for example, and five of them were re-reads. The categories are listed in roughly the order of precedence in cases of books that could be filed into multiple categories.

I successfully read considerably more award winners this year than last even though I read fewer total SFF books, which makes me happy. I primarily worked on Tiptree winners, which are mostly stand-alones, so I didn't have to read earlier books in a series to get to an award winners.

Re-reading past award winners to fill in holes in my surveys of the winners of major awards was both quite successful and quite rewarding, and I plan on doing more of that next year.

Last spun 2014-01-01 from thread modified 2013-01-04