Wednesday, January 18, 2017

On to-reads and re-reading

I mentioned in my last post about my plans for my reading in the year ahead. While I don't like to plan too much (in favor of allowing myself some flexibility and spontaneity in what I read, especially if something interesting comes through the circulation desk here), I do like to have a good stack of to-reads at home. I like to balance picking books from my 'offical' To Read spreadsheet with being able to grab something randomly off the shelf if it catches my eye. I keep my To Read and Read spreadsheets color-coded by genre, in my attempt to keep a rough balance of the types of books I read, throwing in some non-fiction and mysteries in my fantasy and historical fiction choices, for instance.

One of the top items on my To Read list will be Tolkien's Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series, which I will be re-reading with some friends / colleagues in conjunction with a new series by one of our favorite podcasters, StoryWonk. Hosted by a husband-and-wife team of writers, they've analyzed many great book, tv, and movie series, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Outlander to the MCU. Now they're about to dive deep into the Lord of the Rings, first the books and then the movies. I'm really looking forward to re-reading this series and seeing it from a new perspective via both the podcast series and my friends! Feel free to join in as well.

2017 might end up being the year of the series for me. In addition to the Tolkien books and the other series I mentioned last time (Outlander, Dark Tower, V.I. Warshawski, and Anne of Green Gables), I have many others near the top of my To Read list. I've been thinking about giving Agatha Christie a try, which might be a good contrast to the modern setting of the Warshawski mysteries, and once I finish Outlander and Dark Tower, I'll be moving on to the Dresden Files. After Anne of Green Gables, I'll pick another children's series. Perhaps a new one, or I might go back and re-visit my favorite of all time, the Little House books. Though I usually have a hard time justifying re-reading books when I have so many not-read ones on my To Read list, sometimes it's nice to find comfort in an old favorite.

Keep reading! Beth

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016: Reading Year in Review

Now that 2016 is well and truly behind us (thank goodness), I thought I might take a look back at my reading from the past year. I have a personal, ongoing goal of expanding my reading horizons and making sure I don't stick to my mainstay genres -- namely fantasy -- so I keep track of what I've read by genre and my own rating.

In 2016 I finished reading 73 books:

14 Fiction
1 YA Fiction
10 Children's Fiction
2 Fantasy
4 YA Fantasy
4 Children's Fantasy
2 Science Fiction
6 Historical Fiction
6 Mystery
1 Thriller
4 Non-Fiction
7 Memoirs
12 Graphic Novels (not including all the Marvel, DC, etc. comic books I read)

This included a re-read over the summer of the Harry Potter series (the first half of which I count as children's fantasy and the last few books of the series as YA fantasy), catching up to the Ruth Galloway mystery series, and beginning the Dark Tower series in anticipation of the movie (starring Idris Elba!) coming out this year.

I started and did not finish an additional 2 books:

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin: I tried to read because of the hype, but I found the writing style to be very off-putting. Way too much telling and not enough showing, and after several chapters I still didn't feel that I actually knew any of the characters, even the main one.

Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded by Jim Offaviani: As a graphic novel, I had hoped this would be a more accessible way to read a biography about Alan Turing's life and work. However in this case the drawings made it harder to understand -- the people all looked so similar I had no idea who was who, and I was just hopelessly lost right away.

On the other end of the spectrum, the books I rated a full five stars (in no particular order) were:

Ready Player One (science fiction) - Ernest Cline
Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4) (historical fiction) - Diana Gabaldon
Paper Towns (YA fiction) - John Green
Marvel 1602 (graphic novel) - Neil Gaiman
Dad is Fat (humor / memoir) - Jim Gaffigan
Darkest Part of the Forest (YA fantasy) - Holly Black
Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine (non-fiction) - Sarah Lohman [stay tuned for my review soon!]

All in all, I think it was a very successful reading year for me! Now I still have several series I'm continuing to juggle (Outlander, Dark Tower, Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski mystery series, and Anne of Green Gables) while also reading non-series books, and plenty more in my to-read list. So I'm really looking forward to what 2017 will bring (reading-wise...).

Keep reading!