2013 Reading in Review

I’ve been thinking about my 2013 reading and how to summarize the year well. There isn’t an obvious book-of-the-year that popped out at me in the last 12 months, but as I inputed my year’s reading into my books read database during the last week, I found some things to remark on. (Aside: yes, I have a books read database. I’ve been keeping track of what I read for the last 20 years — I only record books finished, so books I’ve partially read, or dipped into for research don’t make the list. Yes, I’m a bookish reading nerd. Didn’t you know that?)

Most Disappointing Books of 2013: Lit! by Tony Reinke and A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin. Books are disappointing only if they’ve been some how built up in one’s mind. I had great expectations around both of these books, different though they are, and those expectations were dashed. I’ve gone on and on about Reinke’s book in previous posts, so I will not dwell on that disappointment here. Martin’s fifth book of the Game of Thrones set was disappointing because the action slowed to a crawl. I’m not sure what actually happened here that could not have been told in far fewer words. The achingly slow action does not build suspense. It makes readers impatient. It made me wish to hurl the book against the wall. To be fair, a server at a local diner that I frequent told me that Dance was her favourite of the books so far. I disagreed, and said that A Storm of Swords (book 3) was my favourite so far. It felt like Things Happened in Storm, whereas in Dance it felt like Martin had lost his editor and/or his way. Possibly he was hoping inspiration would strike if he kept writing?

Most Interesting (to me) Book Statistics of 2013: I read 141 books in 2013, the highest total for a year of reading since I started keeping track in July of 1993. Of these 141, 40 were audio books downloaded from the public library via my iPad. I did a lot of my re-reading via audio book this year — I find that listening to a book is a completely different experience than reading a book. I enjoyed revisiting favourites like the Harry Potter series via audio books. It gives someone else’s spin on the book. You may not agree with the other person’s spin, but it also shines a spotlight on one’s own spin on a book — you realize you understand something differently than the person who read it, and it allows you to see your own reading as one understanding of a story.

Most Enjoyable Re-reading of 2013: I revisited all of the Lord Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy L. Sayers. I’d not read some of these for more than 20 years — I can tell because they were not in my books read database — and it was fun to return to these old friends.

Recommended Reading from 2013: Three novels that I particularly enjoyed (in the order in which I read them) reading: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

What did you read last year?

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