2015 In Review

It’s traditional at this time of year to do a bit of a retrospective, looking back at the year and reflecting on it.  And who am I to ignore that trend, even if the day we change our calendars is a pretty arbitrary choice?  So, as well as this run-through of 2015, with some nerdy statistics and awards, I’ll also do a little look ahead to 2016.

2015 has been on the whole pretty awesome, if marked by sadness at the end.  It’s been a year of cons and cosplay, of time spent with friends, exciting trips to great places, the publication in a real book of my first essay, and the making of many lovely things.  There are things I probably should have blogged about, but haven’t, including our holiday in Prague in September and the prizes I won in a work craft competition.  Sorry about that.  Life kind of got in the way.

One of the biggest things to happen in 2015 is this blog.  As I explained back in February, I started it as a bit of a personal challenge during the 6 Nations.  Since then, it’s become an established part of my routine, with a growing number of followers (*waves*) even without me making strenuous efforts to publicise it.  A large part of the blog has been about recording book reviews, and that has led to me writing slightly longer reviews than the brief notes I’d previously captured for myself.

One of the most rewarding things about doing this has been pointing people towards books they love but might not otherwise have found.  That, if nothing else, makes the whole thing worthwhile.  In particular, one friend bought an overlooked treasure on my recommendation, and keeps telling me just how amazing it is and how much he loves it.  You’re welcome.  I hope I can do the same for many other people too.

Statistics

Goodreads does some pretty awesome statistics.  As well as offering you a curated ‘year in review‘ page, there’s also the scope to delve into things in a little more detail.  As a geek, I love some good statistics!

The headlines are that in 2015 I read 60 books, totaling 22,452 pages.  The average rating I gave was 3.7, which is higher than my overall average of 3.67, and lower than the Goodreads average of 3.89.  (What can I say?  I’m a tough marker ….)

GR stats 1This screen grab shows all of the 60 books I read this year, broken down by the star rating I gave them.  There is even a pie chart of the ‘shelves’ those books fall into (though I’d prefer a Venn diagram, to be honest, given that so many books fall into more than one shelf).

Some interesting points for me from this:

  • Of the 60 books I read this year, 29 were written by women.  That’s not bad, but I know it felt like quite an effort over the course of the year to read that many books by women.  I had to go out of my way to do it.
  • Related to that, of the 12 books I rated 5*, only 4 were written by women.  3 were books I’d read before.
  • 28 of the books I read this year (just under half) were review copies.  14 were book club books.  So that leaves only 18 books that I chose to read for myself.

GR stats 2This chart is also interesting too.  It shows the publication year of the books I’ve read.  You can see a marked change in my reading habits this year: far more of the books have been newly published (the three outliers from the 1960s are Dune, The Master and Margarita and Solaris, all three of which were book club books).  Much of that – but not all – will be down to half of all the books I read being review copies.

Awards

And now for the fun bit: some entirely arbitrary awards in made-up categories.  Which I may or may not repeat next year.

Best novel: Hild by Nicola Griffith.  This really is an astonishing book: multi-layered, rich, profound and a true pleasure to read.  It’s Hilary Mantel does Anglo-Saxon England.  Seriously.  Go buy it and read it.  Tell your friends.

The Michel Houellebecq Award (for an amazing book that will only appeal to a niche audience): A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar.  A novel about the Holocaust that includes BDSM sex scenes involving Hitler that are played for laughs will not be to everyone’s tastes.  But I loved it.

Best genre novel: The Crippled God by Steven Erikson.  This year, I finally made it to the end of Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series .  It’s a truly epic undertaking spanning ten novels, the last of which alone is 1,200 pages.  But despite parts of the series feeling like a slog, I had all the feels at the end, sobbing as I read the ending on my way into work one morning.  It’s a fitting end for an astonishing feat of writing.

Most promising debut: The Vagrant by Peter Newman.  Peter’s writing shows real talent and The Vagrant is fresh, exciting and interesting.  I can’t wait for the sequel.

Best YA novel: Uprooted by Naomi Novik.  I don’t read much YA, but I loved this novel with its fairytale style and setting for its empowered themes of finding ones own way and female friendship.

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