2020 in review: looking back and low-key reading resolutions

I don’t think I need to reiterate again that 2020 was, to say the least, weird. I have made that point in several of my latest posts and I think I should just get on with it. First though, I want to look back at my reading in 2020.

I read fewer books than in other years: Goodreads says 75 but if we’re being honest it’s more like 73. Of those books 56 were written by women, 6 by men, one by a non-binary person, and ten by more than one author of different genders. This tells me a few things, for one that my year of reading only women and non-binary authors was as easy as it was because my reading in general is dominated by female authors. It also tells me that I really should make more of an effort to read books by agender or non-binary authors.

The statistic I am most unhappy with is that only about a third of the books I read were written by a non-white author and this really is something that needs to change going forward.

Genre-wise, my reading was pretty much how I expect it to be: the biggest chunk with 29% is fiction (here I lumped in everything without speculative elements), 26% was what I call speculative romance (everything from Urban Fantasy with heavy romance elements to Paranormal Romance to Fantasy or Sci-Fi Romance), 18% non-fiction, 14% short stories, 5% Romance and 5% Fantasy, and one book each of horror and graphic novel. I am more or less happy with this as I like my reading to be fairly broad.

Looking at my ranked books, one thing became obvious pretty quickly: I am better at choosing book for myself when I don’t read them based on them being on a list or so hyped that I request an ARC for books I might otherwise not read. So, going forward I will try to make an effort to read more books that I choose just by whim and those by authors that I have enjoyed in the past. I know that there is no way I will stop reading review copies and being swept up in the hype but ideally, about half the books I read should not fall in that category. I will also not try to read the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist again because, wow, did I hate some of those books this year (and ultimately didn’t even read everything because I was so displeased with the list).

I did not plan on making proper resolutions as I am utterly unsure how 2021 will go – I am going back to work in June and I am really not certain I will manage to read as much as I would like then (what happens with this blog then is also up in the air). I set my reading goal on Goodreads to an all-time low 52; anything less would make me very unhappy. I want to make sure that what I read is mostly great. Which is why I will aim for one short story collection a month, for about a third of my reading being non-fiction again (because I more often than not adore the ones I get to), and I want to try and finally go back and read the backlist of those authors I want to read everything of. First of I am going to try and read a few of Deborah Levy’s older books, that she has written fiction as well as short stories and non-fiction is perfect for my goals.

But even if I have lofty plans now, most importantly for me, I need to allow myself to let my reading go where it wants to go because I do have the time any more to read books I am not excited for. Which is why I am stopping with those three reading plans and not adding any other (read more series! finish more series! read more high fantasy!).

2020 in review: all the books I read, ranked.

This year I decided I wanted to rank all the books I read for the first time this year. This took a lot longer than I thought and then writing this post was a whole other thing as well. It has shown me, however, that I did not have a reading year as bad as I thought it was, I liked way more books than I did not like. This ranking is not an exact science because my ratings are not exact. I tinkered with this over months and always found something to change. But I had fun doing it and hopefully this will be at least slightly interesting for somebody else. Below are the books I read for the first time this year, from least favourite to most favourite. From 2.5 stars and above are books I am glad to have read, everything else I should maybe have DNFed (that I didn’t is due to them either being ARCs or books I read as part of the Women’s Prize longlist). I will talk about my general stats and thoughts on this year in another post because this ranking has given me some insight into my reading that is giving me pause.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

70          Girl by Edna O’Brien

69          Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

68          The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

67          Daddy: Stories by Emma Cline

66          Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie

Rating: 2 out of 5.

65          The Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey

64          You Will Never Be Forgotten by Mary South

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

63          The Dom Who Loved Me by Lexi Blake

62          Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

61          By A Thread by Lucy Score

Rating: 3 out of 5.

60          The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

59          All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

58          Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

57          The Chiffon Trenches by André Leon Talley

56          The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

55          Magic Mourns by Ilona Andrews

54          Black Light by Kimberley King Parsons

53          Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh

52          Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh

51          Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

50          Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

49          Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch

48          Dragon Bound by  Thea Harrison

47          Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

46          Pew by Catherine Lacey

45          Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh

44          Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

43         The Harpy by Megan Hunter

42          A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

41          The Cool Aunt by Ilona Andrews

Rating: 4 out of 5.

40          The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

39          Pain Studies by Lisa Olstein

38          Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews

37          Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

36          Alpha Night by Nalini Singh

35          Luster by Raven Leilani

34          Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh

33          Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews

32          Headliners by Lucy Parker

31          Home Remedies by Juliana Xuan Wang

30          Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford

29          Kink: Stories ed. by Garth Greenwell & R. O. Kwon

28          How To Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa

27          Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz

26          A Touch of Stone and Snow by Milla Vane

25          Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

24          Weather by Jenny Offil

23          The Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso

22          Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford

21          Sisters by Daisy Johnson

20          Machine by  Susan Steinberg

19          Deal With The Devil  by Kit Rocha

18          I Hold A Wolf by the Ears by Laura van den Berg

17          How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

16          Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

15          Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

14          Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

13          Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

12          A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

11          The Unspoken Name by A. K. Lardwood

10          Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

9             Actress by Anne Enright

8             A Mind Spread Out On The Ground by Alicia Elliott

Rating: 5 out of 5.

7             The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

6             In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

5             Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

4             Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson

3             No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder

2             The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy

1             Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

2020 releases that I really should have gotten to

I am sure I am not the only one who had a weird year. My reading certainly mirrored that. I read less books (between living in a literal global pandemic and having a child, my focus just wasn’t there) and I also read nearly exclusively on my kindle – which means that I did not get to the books I pre-ordered. When I wrote my wrap-up post for my most anticipated 2020 releases it became obvious just how many books I did not get to, added to this are the books that came out during the second half of the year that I really wanted to read but didn’t. I am limiting myself here to books I already own (or nearly own) as I do want to try and actually get to these soon rather than buying even more books that I then not read.

Real Life by Brandon Taylor
Maybe the one I am most upset at myself for not reading – I am sure I will love this once I finally get to it. Everything about this Booker shortlisted book appeals to me, people whose taste aligns with my adored this, and what I have read of Taylor’s writing, I loved.

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
Mitchell is one of my very favourite authors whose books I have been rationing to not be without any to read, so obviously I pre-ordered it even thought that meant getting the weird huge paperback size that UK publishing insists on. Its huge size is also the reason I didn’t read this – I rarely have two hands free long enough to pick up a book.

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky) by Rebecca Roanhorse
Another of my favourite writers, my most anticipated release of the second half of the year, another huge book that I somehow did not pick up. I love Roanhorse’s writing and I am very excited to see what she does in a mor epic fantasy setting.

The Death of Vivik Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
I adored Emezi’s debut and was over the moon when I managed to snag a Netgalley ARC for this – and then somehow didn’t get to it. I am slightly mad at myself for not reading this yet (the reviews I’ve seen from people I trust are all very positive) and want to remedy this as soon as possible.

Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang
My colleagues got me a copy of this book when I went on maternity leave and I have been excited about it since – but I rarely read hardback books as I said, so I haven’t been able to pick this up. It sounds absolutely incredible though and I want to prioritize it sooner rather than later.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
I adored Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and had been waiting for another novel by Susanna Clarke for what feels like ages – and then never got around to buying this. My brother got me this for Christmas (I think, we haven’t actually seen each other since) and I am very excited. Everybody seems to really love this and I am hoping I will too.

Have you read any of these books and want to shout at me for not getting to them yet? Do you have any 2020 releases you cannot believe you haven’t gotten to?

Favourite books of 2020

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a New Year’s Eve as good as it could be under the circumstances. Mine was low-key but lovely and I am genuinely excited to live in the new year. I always spend New Year’s Day looking back at my reading and planning ahead. This year I decided to start this with one of my favourite posts to write: My list of favourite books of the year.

I read less in 2020 than I have in the past: usually I easily manage to read 100+ books a year; this year it became clear early on that this wouldn’t happen and I ultimately read 75 books. But I also read some truly amazing books that I want to keep shouting from the rooftops about. Quite a few books on this list can be categorized as “Rachel was right and I should have listened earlier” (if you look at her best of 2019 year list, you’ll see (spoiler alert) quite some overlap).

My list is composed of ten books, 8 of which were written by women, one by a husband and wife team, and one by a man. 5 books are fiction and 5 books non-fiction. The list is embarrasingly white (7 of the ten authors) which is something I want to be more mindful of this coming year.

10) Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
One of the first books I read and one of the very best. I loved this book a whole lot – everything about it just ticked a lot of my boxes. The big draw for me is the way in which Evaristo’s language flows (this will be a running theme here) and the way in which she made me invested into every single character’s story. I would have loved for this to win the Women’s Prize (even if I also really really liked Hamnet) or for this to have won the Booker on its own. (review)

9) Actress by Anne Enright
This was hands down my favourite of the Women’s Prize longlist and a book I would surely not have read if it hadn’t made the list. I thought the prose was beyond excellent, and the winding, narrowing stream-of-consciousness narration a thing of absolute brilliance. I think part of my enjoyment comes down to the audiobook which Enright reads herself, absolutely pitch-perfect. I liked this so much that I want to go back to Enright’s older stuff to see what I missed before. (review)

8) A Mind Spread Out On The Ground by Alicia Elliott
In this absolutely incredible work of non-fiction, Elliott combines memoir with essay writing, drawing from her own experience and extrapolating to larger societal problems in a way that seems custom-made for me. I thought this was incredible. Heart-breaking. Clever. Impeccably structured.

7) The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
I loved this. So very, very much. It does many things I adore in fiction: old unchronologically from a variety of points of views, featuring difficult characters that I nevertheless rooted for (especially Vincent who I just adored), with hints of the supernatural as manifestation of guilt, scenes that would recontextualize what came before, and above all the author’s incredible way with words. (review)

6) In The Dream House by Carmen Mario Machado
One of the rare books that is as impeccably written as it is emotionally resonant. Machado was already one of the writers I am always most looking forward to reading but this was something else. She chronicles her own abusive relationship while also flexing her impressive writing muscles and the end result is a stunning, perfect book of narrative non-fiction.

5) Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
I love, love, love this series by Ilona Andrews and this installment was my favourite of the year by the author duo (and I read 9 books written by them). I cannot believe I have to wait until 2022 for the final book in this second trilogy but I am sure the wait will be worth it. I am making my way through their complete backlist (including the novellas) and I am loving pretty much every minute of it. (review)

4) Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson
Incredibly well-written memoir in essays; dealing with female bodies, illness, bodily autonomy, and many things more. The essays hit me right in the feelings and I found them perfectly structured. Everything about this works for me. I listened to the audiobooks which I can whole-heartedly recommend.

3) No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder
One of the final books I finished this year and really one of the very best. It is impeccably researched and absolutely breathtakingly structured. Snyder uses case studies to illustrate her points and to drive home the emotional impact of what she is writing about. She did have to make some decisions regarding what she will focus on and I am not always sure they were necessarily the best (she nearly exlusively focusses on heterosexual relationships) but it did make the book insanely readable. I teared up more than once reading this and I want to put this into everybody’s hands.

2) The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy
or, the book that should have won the Women’s Prize but somehow wasn’t even longlisted. This is brilliant. Hands down, perfect. Structured incredibly clever, with wonderful prose, and a narrator that I wanted to shake but also could not help but feel for. I will eventually read everything Levy has ever written, probably starting with her ongoing non-fiction project – this book was just that good.

1 ) Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe
I read this book back in February and nothing could top it for the rest of the year. This is narrative non-fiction at its finest. Combining more personal stories with a more general overview of The Troubles, I could not imagine this book being any better. I felt more knowledgable upon finishing it while also thinking this was impeccably written. What an absolutely brilliant piece of narrative non-fiction.

What was your favourite book of the year? Have you read any of these?

Favourite Books of 2019

I had a weird reading year – I mostly read romance novels which while they were just what I needed also don’t tend to stick in my brain for any length of time and I read very few SFF novels which usually comprise the majority of my reading. Thus compilling this list turned out to be a lot more difficult than usual – because I did not read that many absolute stand-outs.

Honorable Mentions:

Baiting the Maid of Honor by Tessa Bailey (my favourite of the many books of hers I read this year), A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride (read with the best reading group), Almost Love by Louise O’Neill (too harrowingly close to my own experiences to be something I enjoyed while reading but too brilliant to ignore), the complete Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh (the stand-out reading experience of my year)

Top 10:

2575054610) Act Like It by Lucy Parker (review)

My absolute favourite romance novel of the year, this combines many things I love in the genre: snarky enemies-to-lovers, fake dating, hilarious banter, wonderful secondary relationships. I have since then read every single book in this series and I will do so until Lucy Parker stops writing them. Did I mention it is set in London’s West End?

40236964._sy475_09) Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

I did not read nearly enough short story collections last year (something I will try to remedy in 2020) but of those ones I read, this was hands-down my favourite. While I normally gravitate towards the more weird end of the spectrum, these hyper-realistic stories focussing on familial relationships worked incredibly well for me.

2977402608) The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (review)

I loved this – even though I rarely think any book needs to be longer than 400 pages, this 800 page tome captured not only my attention but also my heart. This is a love letter to women – in the best possible way in that the women in here are allowed to be flawed and different and absolutely wonderful.

3839105907) The Winter of the Witch (Winternight #3) by Katherine Arden (review)

My love for this series is well-documented and this final installment was no different. There is just something about Arden’s writing that makes me happy – her distinct sentence structure combined with her literary and real world influences make this series just custom-made for me.

44543851._sx318_06) Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden (review)

This is such a cleverly constructed memoir that came together with the final essay in a way that I found beyond impressive. While I did not love every single chapter, the overall book is near perfect.

3792049005) Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse (review)

My favourite fantasy book of the year, I loved this enough that I am seriously  considering reading Roanhorse’s middle grade release from the Riordan imprint. I adore this post-apocalyptic urban fantasy grounded in Native American mythology more than I can say. This year will hopefully bring the first book in another UF fantasy series by Roanhorse and maybe if I am very lucky the third part of this series.

4012199304) The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang (review)

Hands-down my favourite non-fiction book in a year where I did not read enough non-fiction by a long-shot. This book is impeccably structured and unbelievably needed. Wang’s way of talking about her struggle with Schizoaffective Disorder is brilliant – and I not only felt like I learned a lot, I also really enjoyed my experience listening to this book.

3633213603) The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley (review)

I loved this so. I love her wonderfully flawed and actually quite awful women, I love the way Headley plays with language and perspective, I love the way she modernizes Beowolf and made it feel both modern and universal.

3847022902) The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (review)

This was my favourite from last year’s Women’s Prize shortlist by far and the one book that single-handedly made me excited about the list again after I spent a lot of time being rather underwhelmed. It’s another mythological retelling, this time a lot closer to the original myth but brilliant nonetheless.

3613638601) Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney (review)

No contest. I love this a nearly unhealthy amount. Everything about this book worked for me. I have listened to the audiobook twice this year and I will forever read everything Rooney writes.

 

Favourite Fiction Books of 2018

I have already talked about my least favourite books and my favourite non-fiction books of the year. Today I can finally talk about the fiction books I loved the most this year. These are books I read this year but not necessarily ones published this year. I have tried putting them in order of preference, but this order might have been a different one had I done it another day.

11) Florida by Lauren Groff

36098092I adore, adore Lauren Groff’s writing and her newest short story collection was one of the best things I read this year. I am slowly making my way through her back catalogue because I love the way she structures her sentences and her stories. These stories center (as the title indicates) on Florida, but more so they center women and their difficult relationships to themselves and their children. Beautifully done. Full review here.

10) Hidden Legacy Book 2 and 3 by Ilona Andrews

And this is where I cheat a little. I obviously adored reading many of Ilona Andrews’ books this year and this second series written by the duo made me very happy indeed. I adore the worldbuilding and I appreciate the central couple, which all things considered is surprisingly drama free and honest in their interaction.  My series review can be found here.

09) Kate Daniels’ Book 3 and 4 by Ilona Andrews

I adored my whole reading experience of this series, which I read completely this year and couldn’t not put it on my favourites list. I most of all loved books 3 and 4 which I read on two consecutive days, reading way too long into a night (something I don’t really do all that often because I need my sleep to properly function at work). These books are wonderfully plotted with a brilliant world and a relationship at its heart that I rooted for way too much. My two series reviews are here and here.

08) Everything Under by Daisy Johnson

36396289My favourite of the Man Booker longlisted books I read this year, I cannot believe this nearly went under my radar (I blame the cover which I do not like and which everybody else seems to weirdly love). Johnson retells an ancient myth and thoroughly modernizes it. I loved her prose and her play with perspectives (I do love a well-done second person narrative) and thought this was impressively done, even if the ending makes quite a lot of the subtext text and consequently loses some of its magic. My review can be found here.

07) Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

38606192This book made me very, very happy. I love fantasy books inspired by fairy tales and when they are set in the winter, I am in love. I adored this. My review can be found here.

 

 

06) A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel

16158505By far the best short story collection I have read this year. And my favourite cover. I love the way Ramona Ausubel’s language flows and how she constructs her beautiful but dark stories. (review here)

 

 

05) Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko

38633526I cannot believe I left this book off when I excitedly published this post 20 minutes ago. Because I loved this so! It is so very custom-made for me that I cannot comfortably recommend it because I am so not objective, but believe me when I say it is brilliant and special and so so very worth reading. I am currently mostly positive that the next book will be translated into English as well and I cannot wait to spend more time in this world. My full review is here.

04) Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

35412372One of the first books I finished this year – and what a start that was. Emezi’s debut novel explodes on the page into something stunning and beautiful and very different. Their story is intimate and violent and apparently at least partly autobiographical in the best possible way. My review can be found here.

03) Monstress Vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

33540347The only comic series I am currently properly following, something about the collaboration between Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda really blows me away. The art is stunning and the story intriguing. It is a bit complicated to follow but all the more rewarding I find. I have heard people saying they cannot stomach the brutality of the story line, but for me it works extraordinarily well – the grimness of the world is juxtaposed with the stunning brilliance of the art. (Review here)

02) There There by Tommy Orange

36356614I adored this book from the very first page. Something about Orange’s prose just clicked with me and I was very impressed with the way he constructs his characters and their voices. I cannot wait to see what he does next. My review can be found here.

01) The Pisces by Melissa Broder

37590570It feels like I just cannot stop talking about this book. Of all the books I have read this year, this one sticks out the most. It might not technically be the best book I read but it is for sure my favourite. I just loved everything about this, but most importantly I found Lucy an incredible protagonist. My full review is here.

What were your favourite books of the year?

Favourite Non-Fiction books of 2018

If you had told me a few years back that I would read enough non-fiction in a year (for fun that is) to be able to name favourites, I would not have believed you. This year, however, I have read more non-fiction than ever before. Around a quarter of the books I read this year were non-fiction and some of those were absolutely breathtaking. Today I want to talk about five of those.

Mean by Myriam Gurba

34381333I adored this. One of the first books I read this year, this has stuck with me. It took me a few essays to get on board with the writing style but once I did, it blew me away. Myriam Gurba’s impeccable structure tore my heart out once I realized what she was working towards and I am in awe by her command of her tone. Do read this, please. My review can be found here.

Dopesick by Beth Macy

40821527I still have not written a review for this and at this point I am not sure I will still do it. I have fallen of the waggon a bit (I really should not wait this long to get my thoughts down). This book is still absolutely worth reading. It is an impeccably researched overview of the US-American opioid crisis, enriched by case studies of people affected. Macy manages to show both the immediate, private reach of this crisis and the overarching problems in the health system that led to it.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

25175985Laura Bates talks about sexism here, the small acts and the larger acts and how they together form a society that is not particularly nice to women (or men for that matter). Drawing on the extensive collection of women’s experiences with sexism and an impressive amount of research, Bates has written an incredibly important book here and one that should be required reading. My mini review can be found here.

Not That Bad ed. by Roxane Gay

35068524Another book dealing with sexism, this anthology edited by the brilliant Roxane Gay is brilliant and heartbreaking and absolutely stunningly put together. There was not a single weak essay here and the diversity of voices shows the impact rape culture has on us all. Some essays hit me hard, some made me angry, all of them are needed. I cannot wait for the upcoming works of some of these brilliant women (mostly Lyz Lenz’ non-fiction book about her faith and her own failed marriage and Aubrey Hirsch’s graphic memoir she is working on). You can find my review here.

Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot

35840657I adored this fragmented, short, impressive memoir. Terese Mailhot put all her pain and anger on the table and refuses to back down – I have so much respect for this. I still do not have the words to adequately talk about this book other than that it spoke to me. My review can be found here.

What was your favourite non-fiction book this year? I am always looking for recommendations.

Least Favourite Books of the Year 2018

It is that time of the year again where we all look back and talk about the books we read this year. I am starting with my least favourite books and will then during the next days talk about the best books of my reading year. Overall, I had a wonderful year but there were five books that disappointed me for one reason or another. None of these books got one star from me and they all are books I am sure would work for a different reader. I think the fact that I haven’t disliked a book I have finished this year enough to give it one star is a wonderful development. As much as I like reading other people’s one star reviews, I don’t always like reading books I dislike.

Folk by Zoe Gilbert

35892355This is one of those books that I grew more irritated by the more time passed. I initially gave it three stars on the strength of one or two stories in it but now I can only remember my feeling of deep disappointment in this books of interconnected short stories. If I hadn’t been so very excited about this release, I might have enjoyed this more but as it stands, this is by far my least favourite short story collection of the year. You can find my review here.

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

34846987I adored the prologue of this – and then the book rapidly lost my interest. It is wordy and descriptive with characters that more often than not follow tropes in a way I do not appreciate. The whimsy of the language (and the endless descriptions of millions of inventions) were at odds with the ever darker path the story took. My full review can be found here.

 

Suicide Club by Rachel Heng

35530073I adore the premise of this book – I think there really was something interesting to be explored in a book about a society where ideals of health and long living become oppressive. But again, this book’s failures came from uninteresting and ill-defined characters. The main character is around 100 years old but behaves like a particularly stupid teenager – it drove me up the walls. My full review can be found here.

 

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

31445891Brilliant premise – that could not sustain a plot that seems rushed and a tone that swung widely between glib and humorous and incredibly brutal. One of my reading resolutions was reading more novellas, an experience that did not quite work for me – and this book is emblematic for that. My full review can be found here.

 

Sick by Porochista Khakpour

32600407This was definitely my biggest reading disappointment of the year. I was looking forward to this for month and then did not enjoy my reading experience. I found the writing to be weirdly clumsy in parts and long stretches of it unclear. Khakpour wrote parts of this while in the throes of a Lyme relapse – and I think this shows. My review can be found here.

 

What were your least favourite books of the year?

Favourite Book Covers of 2018

I want to talk about so many of my bookish thoughts of this nearly finished year that I figured I might as well start early. Because while I think my favourite books my still change (there are over two weeks left yet), I don’t think my favourite covers will. I will be concentrating of the covers of the books I have actually read because otherwise we might be here forever.

Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko

38633526

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

35448496

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

34666764

Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot

35840657

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

37590570

And finally my absolute favourite cover of the year, even if the book has been published for a while:

A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel

16158505

The year in revue: Stats and Thoughts

 

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Writing my Best Books of the Year and Least Favourite Books of the Year posts got me thinking about my overall reading experience. I felt the need to find out more about what I read this year. The year is not quite over yet but I don’t think I will finish any more books.

Overall I read 31,935 pages across 103 books which makes less than 300 pages per book. Apparently I read fewer fantasy tomes this year.

Of these books 59 were written by women and 38 by men, the rest were anthologies or graphic novels with more than one creator. I would have thought the number of books written by women would be higher because I gravitate more towards books written by women, especially when it comes to non-fiction. This is not a conscious decision on my end but rather something that happens. My Best of the Year-list is overwhelmingly female so for the upcoming year I will try and reflect that by reading more books written by women (the rest of my bookish resolutions can be found here).

Shelves and genres:

For the genres I used my own Goodreads shelf – which works ok except I sometimes shelve books as more than one genre.

45 fantasy/ Sci Fi/ Dystopia

30 literary fiction/ general fiction

20 short story collections

19 non fiction (with 15 memoirs)

6 Young Adult (and only one of those got 4 stars)

58 ARCs (this is – a lot.)

6 DNF (shelved) + 4 DNF (unshelved) (that is a lot less bad than I thought it would be)

6 audiobooks.

I also found it interesting to find out for myself what ratings I gave this year:

15 x 5 stars

52 x 4 stars

26 x 3 stars

9 x 2 stars

I only gave one book 1 star – but that one really deserved it.

Most read authors

  • N. K. Jemisin with 6 books, which should come as no surprise. I adore her and her work is by far my favourite find of 2017.
  • Robert Jackson Bennet, Jeff VanderMeer and Lidia Yuknavitch with three books each;
  • Elizabeth Strout and Amber Sparks with two books each.

I tend to author-hop a lot, I can rarely stay focused on one series without taken breaks and this is mirrored by my very short list of authors I have read two or more books of in 2017.

So, overall a pretty typical year for me. I read widely with a bit of a focus on SFF and all related subgenres. I felt like I had read less SFF than I ultimately did which works fine for me.

Tell me about your year in reading. How was it? Also, I wish you all a very happy new year and hope you’ll spend New Year’s Eve in a way that you’ll enjoy! (in my case that means spending it with my partner and another couple, eating too much food and playing board games – what are your plans?)