Monday, December 31, 2012

Year-End Reading Report 2012

I almost can't believe another year of reading has come to an end ... as usual, it fairly flew by.

In 2012 I joined one of the LibraryThing reading groups, the 75 Books Challenge for 2012, which was great fun: I enjoyed the group reads and the neat atmosphere (plus the semi-obsessive stats-keeping). The 2013 group is already getting active, so if you're keen on such things, join the fray!

At least partly due to the gentle competition of the reading challenge, but also since things were at least a bit more settled this year than last, I read 184 books in 2012, for an average of one every 2 days. That's by far the most I've read in a single year since I started keeping track, and the grand total surprised me greatly. It was also, I must say, one of the best reading years I've had in a while: it was difficult to come up with just ten "top" titles this time around.

As per last year's resolution, I did read more books published before the current year: 2012 publications made up just 52% of this year's total, but the vast majority of books read (84%) were published since 2000, so I'll maintain the same resolution for next year and try to continue reading more not-so-recent titles.

The titles broke down into 93 fiction and 91 non-fiction books, running just about even there this year. For the true stats geeks, I read 84 hardcovers, 50.5 paperbacks, 48 ARCs, and 2.5 e-books (the .5s are a book I started in paperback and left behind when I went on a trip, so I finished it in the e-version). For a full breakdown of 2012 reading stats, see Message 11 here).

Since I didn't manage it last winter, I still have to get all my books back into order on the shelves. We'll see if I can make more progress with that goal this year.

And now, my favorite ten fiction and non-fiction reads for 2012 (in no particular order within the lists):


This Very Tree by Josephine Young Case (Houghton Mifflin, 1969). Review.

Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer by Wesley Stace (Picador, 2011). Review.

PYG: The Memoirs of a Learned Pig by Russell Potter (Canongate, 2011). Review.

The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann (Ecco, 2012). Review.

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Picador, 2007). Review.

Arcadia by Lauren Groff (Voice, 2012). Review.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (Random House, 2011). Review.

Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories (Library of America, 2010). Review.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Henry Holt, 2012). Review.

Galore by Michael Crummey (Other Press, 2010). Review.


Books as History: The Importance of Books Beyond their Texts by David Pearson (Oak Knoll Press, revised edition 2011). Review.

The Rector and the Rogue by W.A. Swanberg (Collins Library edition published by McSweeney's, 2011). Review.

The Social Conquest of Earth by E.O. Wilson (W.W. Norton, 2012). Review.

The Passage of Power by Robert Caro (Knopf, 2012). Review.

The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom by Marcus Rediker (Viking, 2012). Review.

Writings from the New Yorker, 1927-1976 by E.B. White (Harper, 2006). Review.

The Dark Defile: Britain's Catastrophic Invasion of Afghanistan, 1838-1842 by Diana Preston (Walker & Company, 2012). Review.

The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies by Allan Taylor (Knopf, 201). Review.

Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile by Taras Grescoe (Times Books, 2012). Review.

A Man of Misconceptions: The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change by John Glassie (Riverhead, 2012). Review.

I also want to make a special mention of a literary podcast I discovered this year: A Podcast to the Curious, about the weird fiction of M.R. James. I've enjoyed making my way through all the episodes of this so far, and hope the hosts are able to keep up the great work.

My reading resolutions for 2013: continue reading more books published prior to the current year, and spend more time catching up on scholarly periodicals as they arrive.

Happy New Year, and may your 2013 be filled with good health, good fortune, and good books!

Previous year's reports: 20112010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006.