There are still about ten hours left in 2012 from where I sit, but my yearly reading is, at this point, a forgone conclusion. I will finish reading Ganymede shortly, and will not have time to read anything else unless I go and find some more children’s picture books, which puts me at a grand total of 105 books (not to mention an uncountable amount of online reading this year — more so than most years — and a great deal of other non-book readings) for the year.
If you’d like to see the complete list of 2012 books, with links to their Goodreads pages, look here; that page will be up for a few weeks, at which point I will add its contents to this page and start a new one for 2013.
Thus begins the nerdiest (and, depending on your interest in graphs and other peoples’ reading tastes, most boring) post of the year.
I think I’d like to start off with the most interesting bit: my favorite books of the year. It’s always kind of difficult to pick this selection; in fact, I think I may have never done so last year. But, through sheer stubbornness and a little bit of carelessness, I did narrow my 105 books down to the top 13. (NOTE: This doesn’t include the Dark Tower books, which very well may be deserving of this spot, but I won’t include a series until I’ve finished the entire thing.)
This year’s top picks include quite a bit of nonfiction; when I find good nonfiction, I really love it. The nonfiction selections include Baby Catcher (a midwife’s memoir), Panic in Level 4 (a collection of narrative science essays about a wide range of fascinating subjects), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (a memoir written by a man suffering from locked-in syndrome following a massive stroke), The Fiddler in the Subway (a collection of beautiful pieces by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist), American Nerd (a humorous sociological text about what it means to be a modern-day “nerd”), and Bring Back Beatrice (perhaps the most useful and interesting baby name book I’ve found).
It also includes some terrific fiction, much of which was in one way or another heartbreaking. I finally got around to Dracula (which was much better than I’d anticipated) and Brokeback Mountain (absolutely beautifully written). I also enjoyed American Wife (a “novel” that bordered perilously close to biography), The Language of Flowers (a book club selection that traces a former foster child’s struggle to find normalcy and a sense of family), and Winter’s Bone (an utterly chilling novella about an Ozark girl trying to find her father and save her family against enormous odds). Both The Fault in Our Stars (a charming, often-funny romance centered on two teenage cancer patients) and Divergent (an adventuresome dystopian novel) were excellent YA offerings. I meant to read more YA this year, but got sidetracked; I have a stack of must-reads for the early part of 2013.
Okay — on to the stats!
As is to be expected in the life of a teacher, most of my reading takes place during school breaks. My peak months in terms of books were June and July, despite my participation in the rather taxing Boise State Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute — then again, the high workload of June and early July was partially reading, so that helped. My highest number of pages read (which is really the more accurate measurement) was in August, as I frantically finished reading multiple hefty literature anthologies in preparation for the upcoming school year.
In terms of what I was reading, 2012 seems to have been a big year for the mystery genre. A lot of those books were urban fantasy/mystery (Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison) but there were also some straightforward mystery books (Andrew M. Greeley) and historical fiction mystery (Laurie R. King, Lauren Willig). Unsurprisingly, 2012 was also a big year for paranormal fiction (much of which was paranormal romance) and nonfiction.
I took a big interest in nonfiction science books this year, reading several great books (Richard Preston, Gene Weingarten) during the summer and then shifting into pregnancy books this fall/winter. I also finally started reading Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, which I’d love to finish in 2013, and Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series.
Although it doesn’t show up in the graphs, 2012 was also the year of the re-read. As the weather began to cool, my brain decided that it wanted to read familiar things so I went back to an old staple (Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books). I’d also had the opportunity to re-read several books for teaching new literature classes this school year. Finally, I returned to three favorite baby name books to re-absorb them and their many ideas for naming Kermie.
This wasn’t as big a year for reading as 2011 was, but I did meet my Goodreads challenge and I handily trumped 2010.
I am not sure what 2013 will bring in terms of reading. I am due to have my hands very full (and my brain very sleep-deprived) come late April/early May, and I know this will have a big impact on my page counts. This isn’t a big deal; I keep track because I enjoy making lists and graphs, and because it gives me something nerdy to do every New Year’s Eve. Sort of a tradition, I guess. 🙂 What I’m trying to say is, I’m not really competing with anyone, even myself — I just find it interesting to see what my reading does, and I like aiming for goals, especially when it comes to reading. This is kind of like the grown-up version of libraries’ summer reading programs for kids, only instead of earning prizes I earn… er… graphs!