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The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

06 January 2010

A year in books

My spreadsheet of books finished during 2009 shows that I finished only 47 books. That’s the fewest since I started keeping a spreadsheet.

The spectrum of books was different in 2009 as well. This year’s list had at least three genres of books that had not appeared on earlier lists:
•first graphic novel
•first book of literary criticism
•first Western that wasn’t a romance

I also read more books this year that I had trouble classifying on my spreadsheet. Was M.J. Rose’s The Reincarnationist a thriller or a fantasy? Was Italo Calvino’s short story collection Cosmicomics literary fiction, fantasy, or science fiction? Was Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt historical fiction, fantasy, or science fiction? And so on.

Roughly one-third of the books I read were fantasy, the exact number depending on how one defines the many interstitial books. Nonfiction was second most popular on my list, and historical fiction and science fiction duked it out for third place.

This year only two of 47 books (4%) I read were romances, compared with 15 of 56 books (27%) in 2008.

In 2009, 21 (45%) of the books I read were by people I knew by the end of the year versus 19 (34%) in 2008. I recently started shelving books by people I know separately from other books in my to-be-read stacks, and that should make it easier to find my friends’ books when I’m choosing something new to read.

Missing altogether this year were quilting books and gardening books. 2009 was all about becoming a better writer, at the expense of every other aspect my life. I hope to achieve a better balance in 2010.

What was noteworthy about the books you read last year, and what does your list say about your 2009?


Tomorrow, 7 January, I will be blogging at Novel Spaces at on why focusing solely on remunerative tasks is not always the greatest idea.


ninthmuse (roz m) said...

This year I started reading autobiographical graphic novels, which I previously had no interest in. STITCHES: A MEMOIR by David Small left me shaken and surprised that a bunch of pictures could have that strong of an emotional effect on me.

Lana Gramlich said...

47 books? Heck woman, you make me look like a total slacker (at maybe 3 or 4!)

Lisa said...

If there was a distinguishing characteristic about my 2009 reads, I'd say it was the year of the doorstop. I read far fewer new releases and far more older books that I've always meant to read -- as it turns out, some of them were long, difficult books. Like you, I read fewer titles. Happy New Year!

Charles Gramlich said...

I started keeping a separate shelves for books by folks I know a few years back. It's grown by leaps and bounds, faster than any other shelf.

Rae Ann Parker said...

My Books Read in 2009 list included a few non-fiction books this year, something new for me. It's interesting how our reading lists show the different directions our writing takes.

Shauna Roberts said...

NINTH MUSE, did you read the graphic novel about Katrina yet? We have it but I haven't gotten to it yet.

LANA, I think I would wither away and die on four books a year. Forty seven felt too lean a diet.

LISA, happy new year to you, too! The problem with keeping a spread sheet is that I like long, meaty books, but I sometimes find myself choosing short books from my shelves to up my book count. Perhaps I should give myself double points for doorstop books—that might help!

CHARLES, isn't it exciting to have such solid evidence of one's friends' growing success?

RAE ANN, I didn't realize you weren't a nonfiction fan. Were the nonfiction books you read in 2009 background reading for your WIP?

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

47 is mighty impressive. I wonder how many words that equates to?

Rae Ann Parker said...

Shauna, the non-fiction books I read last year were award-winning juvenile non-fiction books. I read them to get a feel for other authors' style in writing creative non-fiction for kids. And I really enjoyed them.

Liz Argall said...

You're so amazing. I'm hopeless at keeping track of such things (though that's why I've started to blog about what's in the read pile and what I've read recently -> if only to put pressure on the to read pile).

Sidney said...

I find I can't read as fast as I once did. I think it has to do with a shortening attention span or an increasing number of distractions. I track my reading in a spiral notebook. The cover's held on by duct tape now. Guess I should be higher tech.

Steve Malley said...

'09 wasn't real great for either, readingwise. I don't track the numbers, but I do know that my available time went right down, then got filled up with useful crap-- that's right, Mafia Wars, I'm looking at you!