Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Thursday Thirteen 362: Year in Books

It's time for my annual reading review. Here is how 2014 shaped up:

Number of Books read:
I had a goal of 100; I read 109. I also had a goal of 10-12 classics and read 20, so nicely exceeded both goals.

Genres I read: Classics, Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Literary Fiction — some in the romance, mystery and YA genres with paranormal elements.

Number of Different Authors: 75 authors, 26 of whom were men, the bulk of those in the classics genre. Seventeen of the twenty classics read were by men.

New-to-me authors: I read 36 new-to-me authors in 2014.

Authors I read more than once: Avery Aames, Vivien Arends, Nancy Atherton, Patricia Briggs, Agatha Christie, Casey Daniels, Martha Grimes, Victoria Laurie, Jenn McKinlay, Julie Miller, Ridley Pearson, Rick Riordan, Nora Roberts, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Debra Webb, Wendy Lyn Watson

Most-read Author: Nora Roberts (15 total — four trilogies plus three single title releases)

Authors I plan to read again: Nancy Atherton, Patricia Briggs, Agatha Christie, Kate Collins, Catherine Coulter, Charles Dickens, Jeaniene Frost, Kay Hooper, Elizabeth Lowell, Carla Neggers, Nora Roberts . . . to name but a few.

Book I did not finish: Emma by Jane Austen. It's been a long time since there was a book I could not finish — more than a decade. I gave Emma a valiant effort, but could not get past the halfway mark in this book — and this was my second attempt to get through it. I think one of the biggest problems with trying to finish is that there isn't a likable character in the entire book. Definitely my least favorite Austen. I may make a stab at finishing it this year, as one of the items on the Ultimate Reading Challenge is a book you did not finish.

Best overall mystery: I'm going with the classics for this one — The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, and both The Mysterious Affair at Styles and Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie.

Biggest Disappointment: It's a tie between The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, The Widow’s Walk by Robert Barclay, and First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones. I have seen part of a movie version based on the first, so was looking forward to the book, but did not enjoy it much — I think it would have seemed much more plausible to its original audience. The second was a book I won from Goodreads and which I looked forward to reading. The intro and premise pulled me in, but the editing was disappointing. The author used "just then" at least once in every chapter, and as many as five times in one chapter near the end of the book. How an editor could let an author get away with this lazy and weak writing is beyond me. The book over-sensitized me to the phrase "just then" and began my year-long crusade against it. I had heard a lot of praise about the last book (which even won a RITA), but did not like it — plus I was seriously annoyed by the overuse of "just then," especially coming so soon after the previously mentioned book.

Most imaginative world(s): Ridley Pearson and Rick Riordan.

Weirdest read: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I am tired of: Authors who use the lazy and weak "just then" in their writing. In every instance I saw it crop up in 2014, it was unnecessary and the sentence/overall writing would have been stronger without it. There are a couple authors I will no longer read due to their overuse of this trite phrase.

Reading goal for next year: For a sixth consecutive year, I have joined the Goodreads Reading Challenge. In recent years I have set a goal of 100 books, but am starting a bit lower this year — 80 books, with an option to increase it later — due to some life changes. Within that are mini-goals, such as reading at least 10 classics and catching up on some of the favorite authors/series in Mount TBR. And I want to finish the "Read the USA Mystery Challenge" once and for all. Only states books to go, and I have books for all, so shouldn't be that difficult, right?

What about you? What was your year in books like? What was the best book you read?

For a complete list of books read, click on the Books 2014 tab at top of the page.

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen


Lea said...

Have you read any books by Maeve Binchy? I like all her books, but "Scarlet Feather" is my favorite. Hope your week is going well.

Alice Audrey said...

A Hundred Years of Solitude is indeed weird, but I think some of my reading last year is a bit further out there.

I discovered Vivien Arends just a few years ago. She was working hard to expand her readership.

CountryDew said...

I only managed about 40 books last year; I have discovered that pain medication really keeps me from being able to focus on a book like I used to. That said, I liked The Book Thief and The Invention of Wings very much. Happy reading!

colleen said...

I went right to the disappointments to make sure I won't read them. I only read about six books last year and probably didn't finish 3 of them, although I researched maybe 100 biographies online.

colleen said...

PS If you are counting children's books I'm right up there with you.

Heather said...

Lea: I read Light a Penny Candle eons ago, and nothing since, though I do have a few of her books in Mount TBR. One of hers, A Week in Winter, was nominated for a March group read, which we are currently voting on, so will be interesting to see if it wins.

Heather said...

Alice: Sadly, I know all too well that there are weirder books than One Hundred Years of Solitude, LOL. A friend and I discovered Vivien Arends through a couple free reads picked up at B&N.

Anita: Medication can really mess up one's life, even when it is supposed to be helping. The Book Thief is an all-time favorite, so glad you liked it.

Heather said...

Colleen: LOL -- I didn't think you were a pessimist. Sounds like you did a lot of online research last year.

And children's books certainly count, especially when being read to one's grandsons. ;-)

Mia Celeste said...

Wow! One hundred and nine books! That's amazing! I bet your brain made lots of new connections!

Heather said...

Mia: And that's not including short stories or online articles read! ☺

Ron. said...

To my shame, my numbers are much smaller, unless you count chapbooks and literary journals...

Forgetfulone said...

I did my book review a week or so ago. I love reading! I also use Goodreads. You are superwoman for reading 109! That's amazing!

Jana said...

Nicely done, Miss Trix! :-D

I miss the days when my brain would let me soak up books faster than I could breath. These days I'm shocked if I can manage one or two books a month. Not because I don't have the time, just don't have the brain energy, if that makes sense.

Heather said...

Jana: Thank you. I've been through reading slumps at times, and sometimes you need to turn off the TV, radio and any other electronics and not give your brain a choice. Completely disconnecting on a regular basis is good for body, mind and soul. ;-)