The Ninety-Three Books of 2014

Thanks to the Goodreads Reading Challenge widget, it's easy for me to take a survey of my year in books. Before i joined Goodreads, i kept a reading journal of what i had read and what i thought of the books, so this is an end-of-year tradition going back maybe ten years or more. And, really, I'll probably finish at least two more books before the end of 2014 but i'll add those into the post later if i do finish them and decide i want to do so.

For now though, my top five books that i read this year (alphabetically by author, since i cannot possibly rate them in relation to one another) with my text-message summaries:

  1. Gods of Gotham, by Lyndsay Faye (1845: criminal mayhem among Irish immigrants in New York)
  2. The Revolution of Every Day, by Cari Luna (1994: squatters on the Lower East Side fight the city for their right to residency)
  3. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel (a theatre troupe navigates the postapocalypse after a pandemic decimates the Earth's population)
  4. Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution, by Sarah Marcus (yeah, see subtitle)
  5. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin (a rare book goes missing and a foundling baby appears in a New England bookstore)

If you want to read my thoughts on them as to why they're my top five, my reviews are there on Goodreads. The short version though is, every one of these books reached deep into my heart and my thoughts, and changed me for the better.

And, because i read far and away more books this year than in prior years, i thought it would be interesting to take a statistical look at what those books are. By the numbers--I read:

  • 47 fiction books, mostly novels, but two collections of short stories
  • 5 graphic novels, which i split out into a separate category from fiction
  • 23 works of nonfiction, split largely between biographies and writing craft/career books, with a few costume history thrown in
  • 4 plays, all ones which were programmed into the theatre season at work
  • 3 books of poetry

In addition, i took a look at some other statistics.

  • Eight of those 93 books were free digital books in the public domain, classics like Age of Innocence and Vanity Fair
  • 40 were books I checked out of my local library or received through Interlibrary Loan
  • Six were paper copies provided to me for free by the publisher through either Goodreads giveaways or other offers, sent with the hope that i would review the book online, which I did
  • 21 were e-books i purchased, either through the Apple store or Kindle store
  • 15 were paper books i purchased in actual physical bookstores (largely Flyleaf, my local indie)
  • Three were paper books i purchased online to be delivered

So basically, 54 of the books i read this year were books I did not spend money for, and the vast majority of those came from library use; 39 were books i paid for.

I read 29 e-books and 64 print books. So at least in my reading world, print is far from dead. I like e-books for their convenience--when traveling, or laying in bed at night--though i did buy one paper book in an airport bookstore this year (The Yard, by Alex Grecian). I would have thought that i read a higher percentage of digital books, but nope, it works out to about two print books to every one e-book.

And, of the 93 total, i gotta admit that nine were books i did not finish, largely novels that i just couldn't get into. I'm not counting in that number free e-book samples that i downloaded and decided not to buy--i'm only counting books that i purchased or checked out of the library or whatever and read far enough into them to make a considered choice of "I am abandoning this book without finishing it," not just "Enh, didn't grab me in the first couple chapters."

Also, these figures don't even begin to take into account the number of times i reread my own damn novel, revising the manuscript in preparation for finding a literary agent and moving toward hopeful publication. Because i would upload an epub of the most recent version of it to my iPad once i got a substantial rewrite done in order to reread it, i can guesstimate based on that practice--my iPad registers 21 different versions of The Decadence Papers. So, given that i also reread it start-to-finish on my laptop probably half as many times during revisions, let's just say that i read my own novel 30 times this year. Did i mention that i read a LOT?

And that, my friends, is what comes of last year's resolution to reduce my Facebook consumption by reading actual books instead.

Let's be friends

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