Friday, January 3, 2014

2013: My Epic Year of Books

Dear Jenny,

At the end of the year for the past few years, you have reported how many books you read that year (2011 and 2012), which has prompted me to look at my Amazon and Audible accounts and make a rough guess. In 2012, I read about 50 books based on that unscientific figuring.

At the beginning of 2013, I started writing down the books that I read. Part of that was that I moved to a city with an awesome library, so I committed to using it and I wanted to track my progress on that goal. At the halfway point, I realized I was slated to read 100 books this year, so... I went for it.

Yup -- I consumed a total of 100 books in 2013 (counting all 19 volumes of The Walking Dead as one book). Of those, nearly half (48) were aBooks. Surprisingly (to me) only 12 were eBooks, leaving 41 as good old-fashioned pBooks -- if you had asked me before this moment, I would have guessed that I don't read many pBooks anymore, but I guess I do! Aaand... 31 were books from the library. (Of those, 6 were aBooks and the rest were pBooks.) So my library goal was a pretty successful.

The reason that I managed to read so much this year? Because I didn't do much else! As you know, I  now exercise a lot, which is makes for good quality book time (aBooks when walking and e/pBooks on the bike) but -- and this is really the key -- I didn't make anything this year! I usually spend a lot of my free time crafting and I read books instead this past year. I will tell you right now that that is going to change in 2014, so I anticipate returning to my usual number as more of my time is spent making, rather than reading.

One nice thing about keeping a written list this year was that I could refer to it whenever anyone asked me for a book recommendation (that question always makes me draw a blank -- so weird) Here are a few of my favorites from 2013,  in no particular order:

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Thank you for recommending this book to me. Awesome story and a fantastic narrator on the aBook. I think this is one of those books made better by listening to it. The accents brought so much to the story and when I saw some of the names spelled later, I realized I totally would have butchered the pronunciations in my head. Heh.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Terrific YA book that transcends the "YA" genre. Partially because it's set in the 80s, so anyone who grew up in the 80s is transported (mix tapes, baby!) but partially because of how the characters' lives (especially Eleanor) are drawn. Her family life is a disaster and the description was so poignant. I really loved this book.

Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell

Really fun little read about time travel plus a decent mystery. I enjoy time travel books, so this was right up my alley.

Wool by Hugh Howey

SF book about a dystopian future with a good story and great characters. I really enjoyed this book, but there have since been two more books in the saga that don't seem to be living up to the hype, so I'm probably done.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Original and imaginative story about two supernatural creatures who seem completely unrelated, but end up developing a neat, unexpected relationship.

The Initiates by Etienne Davodeau

Very cool graphic novel wherein a graphic artist and a winemaker "exchange jobs" (sort of -- more like educate each other about their jobs) for a year. And then, of course, the artist creates this book all about it. Fascinating information about both wine and graphic novels, two topics I enjoy. I recommend this book for anyone looking to get into graphic novels, since it's got a great appendix that lists all of the novels recommended/read throughout the book.

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

I don't really have to tell you about this -- it won the ToB and the Pulitzer and it's by far the book I have recommended the most this year and everyone who has read it has really enjoyed it. The narrators on the aBook were fantastic and it was great to actually hear the booming voice of the loudspeakers. The only thing I cannot believe is that I read this in 2013 -- it was one of my first of the year and it seems sooooo long ago now!

Those are my Top 7 and that's a weird random number, but I'll leave it at that.

Aaaand... I have said it before, but I will say it again: 2014 is my year to start abandoning books (with abandon!) I slogged through a couple this year (Jonathan Strange and Little, Big come to mind) that I should have ditched after 50 or so pages. I did manage to abandon an aBook or two sooo... I'm getting there!

Soooo... Other than Americanah, what were your favorites this year?



  1. K,

    I can't believe you read 19 volumes of The Walking Dead, and only counted it as one book! I feel like that's the most shocking revelation in your post.

    One thing we can definitely agree on is that having a list is super helpful when it comes to making recommendations. I feel like so many of the books I recommend are the ones that are the most recent, and it's so great to be able to scan back though the list.

    I have also been much better about using the library this year. It's just so satisfying. I do think there are books that I buy that I then wonder why I spent the money on them, so I feel great about the library. favorites this year would definitely include Americanah and The Orphan Master's Son. I also really loved Cloud Atlas and Life After Life. The dark horse is probably a ToB book that I didn't think much of at the time, but has really stuck with me, How Should a Person Be? I have even thought of rereading it, but that just seems silly with all the *new* reading I have to do. Meanwhile, I am getting more and more antsy to see this year's ToBX list! I thought for sure it would drop yesterday or today! Grumble, grumble.

    Looking forward to the return of Kelly the Maker! As for me, I'm wondering how I'll do this year now that I'm starting school. We shall see!

  2. I don't know -- it's just one long story (that's not over yet). Also, it's graphic novels -- we burned through that sh*t (Bill and I both read them) so it seems weird to call them 19 separate "books."

    How Should a Person Be? Really! I didn't read that one. Life After Life is on my pile right now -- looking forward to reading that one soon.

    As for ToBX... I am with you! Just *some* communication about what is going on would be helpful, people. Just a *hint*!

  3. You know which book basically got panned in the ToB but I have thought a lot about as a book I really liked this year? May We Be Forgiven. I should have hated everything about that book, but I didn't. I really liked it and I find myself thinking about those characters from time to time.

  4. ME TOO! I ended up really liking May We Be Forgiven. I do love that about the ToB, pushing me to read stuff I otherwise wouldn't.