Friday, December 30, 2011

Where My Books Come From

Here we are at the end of the year, with all the fun stats and surveys that entails.  Last year I divided up my year-end stuff into 3 posts, and I think I'll do that again: #1 for a look at why I pick up (and read) the books I do, #2 for a little survey action, and #3 for all the stats and lists that I like to have on record.

What compelled me to read this year's books?

I did this last year, inspired by Jay, and found it to be eye-opening.  It actually inspired me to keep better track of the reason I chose to read each book of 2011.  I'm on the never-ending quest for balance, so let's see how this year compared to last year.

Total Books (so far!): 125 (111 in last year's stats)

Book Club: 9 (+2 I didn't finish = 3 less than 2010)
Some were great, some I didn't finish (*cringe) but I always love meeting with my groups and talking books. My favorite was The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell (picked by me, recommended by you, and yet to be reviewed).

Read-Aloud to my Kiddos: 13 (11 less than 2010)
I'm not homeschooling as many kiddos this year (just 1 of my 4) so many less read-alouds this year.  Most of these weren't incredibly enjoyable for me, but the kiddos liked them, which is what counts, right? My [perennial] favorite was Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White.

ARCs: 13 (4 more than 2010)
A couple of these were really terrible, which prodded me to adopt stricter personal guidelines for accepting a book for review.  I can't choose my favorite: I loved both The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach and Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb by George Rabasa.

Interest/Mood:  23 (9 more than 2010)
Comprised of my highest rated books of the year (except for Lord of the Flies--yuck) My favorite? A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry (actually my favorite read this year over all).

Recommendations  (from many different sources): 17 (1 more than 2010)
I always have mixed luck with these, but most of them were enjoyable.  My favorite was recommended by a bookshop in Clifden, Ireland: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry.

Challenges  (all qualifying books): 51 (31 more than 2010!)
First, most of these books I was interested in -- it isn't as if they were all a chore.  At some point I think I decided that this category preempted the others.  Second, most of these were the novellas I read in August...otherwise the number would have been about the same.  Picking a favorite here is hard--I had a lot of wonderful classics, including a favorite I re-read (O Pioneers!) and a couple of terrific read-alongs (Villette and Anna Karenina) but I think that I'm in the mood to pick the Tales of Belkin by Alexander Pushkin.

  - Last year I decided to try to let go of obligations, and focus on reading more books for challenges, recommendations, and interests.  I think I did a good job with that.
  - I'm pretty happy with how these categories balanced out this year, though I wouldn't mind amping up the number of books I read just because I want to read them.

Up Next:
the handy dandy survey!


  1. Oh, I forgot about your novella challenge! Are you going to do something similar this year?

    And I'm in the same place as you regarding ARCs, I need to read less of them next year and focus more on older books.

  2. Interesting thoughts. Makes me want to look through the books I've read this year & why. Happy 2012

  3. I WILL read A Long Long Way in 2012... and more Cather, too!

  4. I'm completely in awe of you reader/bloggers who read into the 100's each year...WOW!

  5. I really liked The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, too. I haven't met anyone else who has read it! I have a copy of another novel by Maggie Farrell called The Hand that First Held Mine that I haven't read yet. Have you read it?

  6. Hi Melody,
    Thanks for the mention and for carrying on this "tradition." :-) I compiled and wrote up my stats this morning, but i probably won't get them posted until tonight as I'm only 3G connected at the moment.

    I have no ARCs (someday I will pursue that, but I barely have time for now to read my own choices). I don't have kiddos to read to either, so some of our categories are different.

    One thing I want to do a better job of this year is keeping better track of where I heard about books first in the blogosphere, as I want to be able to give proper credit to those who trailblazed a path for me...


  7. I also decided to go more for the "Interest/Mood" this year, but I'm doing less challenges and more readalongs (or join readings) of books already on my TBR.

    The Villette readlong was a great experience (even if the book was far from my favorite). It's one of the reason why I'd like to invest more in these events this year.

  8. Sam, I really enjoyed how my novella challenge worked...I think I'll finish up those novellas next August, and I want to add in another similar challenge...maybe junior fiction in the spring since I have a lot of those I want to get read too.

    Joan, I've been reading so much more in the last couple years that I want to make sure I don't burn out, you know? I love organizing of any kind, so this is fun for me. :) I actually kept track throughout 2011 so I didn't have to go back and figure out each book at the end of the year. SO much easier!

    JoAnn, I hope you do! I'd love to have someone to chat about A Long Long Way with...I want to read more Cather in 2012 too.

    Peppermint, all it means for me is that my other hobbies get set aside. :/ For some reason reading tends to be my preferred outlet where I'm currently living, but when I go back home to the mountains I tend to do a lot more handwork (quilting, knitting/crocheting etc) Either way, I need to have some sort of solitary pursuit. I preserves my sanity. :)

    L.L., I need to talk about it soon! I really enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. I have The Hand that First Held Mine on my wishlist (love the cover) & want to get to it soon!

    Jay, I've not been on the computer much, so I need to catch up on my Google Reader--looking forward to seeing your stats! I also want to keep better track of who recommended books to me...(need to add another column to my spreadsheet!) Also, thanks for the inspiration in the first place!

    Alex, I've really enjoyed the 2 group reads I've done this year (Villette and Anna Karenina) and want to make sure to do a couple in 2012. It made the reading experience so much fuller. I haven't posted on my 2012 reading goals/challenges yet because I'm not sure if I really want to do the 2 challenges I'm thinking of participating in. :/ ah, procrastination.


I'd love to hear what you have to say, leave a comment!