2016 in books. A lot of books.

Excluding abandoned books, but including any re-reads I bothered to track, here are some Facts about my year in reading.

Books finished: 74

Oldest book: She by H. Rider Haggard (1887)

Read old books! They’re great sometimes. This one has magic, powerful women, pillars of fire, and immortality, as well as imperialist racism, terrible sexism, and other fun bits of black mold.

Longest book (by Goodreads page count): Dune by Frank Herbert (537). Runner-up: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (522).

Average rating: 3.87

This seems utterly absurd to me!!! That’s a really high average. Have I gotten so profligate with my star ratings? Last year I was at 3.8, which astonished me at the time. Looking back — 2014 was 3.42, and 2013 was 3.64. Maybe I’ve gotten better about dropping bad books. Maybe I’m going soft.

Rating distribution:

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 = 18 books
🌟🌟🌟🌟 = 32 books
🌟🌟🌟 = 21 books
🌟🌟 = 3 books
🌟 = 0 books

Phew, that’s a lot of highly rated books.

Largest divergence from average rating: -2.21 (My 2 stars up against the average 4.21 stars)

Last year, the books I read and liked more than average were interesting to me. This year they are not. This year the books I liked less are interesting, but it still feels mean to harp on that.Things are not to everyone’s tastes.

I’m thinking of trying something different next year. I might abandon Goodreads in the end, but for now I’m going to double-log. Goodreads stats are awkward to parse at the end of the year, and don’t really give me the info I necessarily want.

To come: Should I review my paltry accomplishments in reading poetry and romance? Will I come up with some other way to talk about 2016? Will I set actual reading goals for 2017 or continue to let impulse guide me? ehhh who knows.

On expanding my horizons

In 2015, besides horror, I tried to pick a few other areas where my reading has been… lacking. Most obviously, those genres were poetry and romance. Still are. Probably forever — I don’t have a passion for either, but I will continue to look for small corners to enjoy.


This is sad. I am not impressed with myself. I thought to myself, you know what I don’t do now that I’m not in school? Read poetry. I should read poetry! And then, what did I do last year?

Read one book of poetry.

RaptureRapture by Carol Ann Duffy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don’t know how to rate poetry. I don’t know how to review it. I barely know how to read it, except to take each word, each line, as it comes. I liked some of the poems in this collection, and a good lot of the lines and phrases. That’s all I can say.

View all my reviews

It was fine! I enjoyed some of the poems a lot! I chose it by a very scientific method: I saw in in the basement at Harvard Bookstore and liked the cover, and also had heard of Carol Anne Duffy before in my life. Verrrrry scientific. So I guess what I’m saying is someone better at poetry than me should put me through a quiz and then hand me some small books of poetry to read this year. Volunteer applications are open.


Hhhokay. Okay! I had a few long Twitter conversations with romance-reading friends, and always read Mindy Hung’s writing about romance at The Toast, and listened carefully to the Pop Culture Happy Hour episode on romance while taking notes, so I barreled into this genre armed with knowledge and recommendations. I’m certain that helped!

On the other hand, of the 4 romance books I logged on Goodreads, one was probably my Worst Book Of The Year, and another was one of my few Official DNF books. Oh, there’s another I haven’t even logged in Goodreads, but I haven’t given up on reading it. However, the fact that it’s been 6 months of trying is probably not the best sign!

So what did I like? Jeannie Lin. I liked Jeannie Lin’s historicals. I read two of them and they were both really fun, and I’m almost certainly going to read more of the Gunpowder Alchemy series.

Oh! And I read a sample of A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev, and I look forward to reading it sometime soon.

Here’s the Goodreads shelf with all of them. Sorry, book I hated. Sorry, book I gave up on.

Okay, now you tell me where I went wrong, or give me other recommendations in these genres! Do it! I really want you to.

A year in reading, or, did I do anything besides read?

It’s clear I’m not going to finish another book this year — I’m only about halfway through Dune, and everything else can go hang in the meantime. (Spoiler: Dune is great!) Per my Goodreads tracking, I finished 76 books this year, which is a personal record in my GR history. This doesn’t count books I abandoned, even if I rated them, and it doesn’t count every re-read. But 76! Gosh! I have no idea how that happened.

Another day I’ll do a post about some horizons I tried to expand, and other notable things like favorites. For now, I just wanted to throw stats down before the year expired. Fun! Statistics!!

Oldest book: Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M. R. James (published 1904)
2016 resolution: Even more ghost stories. I read this one in an accidental batch with some other ghostie stories, haunted mansions, possession, the like. It was a good run, even if it was in May, not October.

Longest book (by Goodreads page count): Sabriel by Garth Nix.
Really? This didn’t seem long. It seemed very short. I wish I had wordcount. I bet other things were a lot longer, since this was mass market format, and YA. It was long overdue to read, though, and I really enjoyed it.

Average rating: 3.8 stars
This is higher than I expected. I guess I’m pretty liberal with 4 stars. I’m curious, though…

Rating distribution:

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 = 16
🌟🌟🌟🌟 = 37
🌟🌟🌟 = 19
🌟🌟 = 1
🌟 = 1

Huh. Yep, liberal with those 4-star ratings. But that’s a lot of 5-star ratings for me, too! I’m super stingy with them, historically. Look, 5 stars is 100%, perfect, A++. If I give 5 stars, it probably means I’m blind to the faults of the book (even if I’m aware of them, I don’t care) or I truly think it’s a Peak Book. I guess there was a lot of the former this year? Or I’m going soft.

Largest divergence from average rating: In other words, these are some the books that I liked a whole lot more than most people. I’m not going to note the ones I liked a whole lot less, because that feels unnecessarily mean.

Book covers for the four books I rated far higher than the average Goodreads user.
Someone psychoanalyze me and figure out why I’m an outlier in loving these books.
  • Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola (I’m a sucker for Emily Carroll.)
  • Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King (The audiobook helped, I think? Also, this was the first King I read.)
  • What Did Miss Darrington See? an anthology of feminist supernatural fiction (In part, probably, because it’s not rated by that many people. You should read it and rate it.)
  • The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne (I get it. I really do. It’s not for most people and it’s spiky and weird. But I loved it.)

Anyway, here’s the Goodreads year in books for me. More later.