Retrospective

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re past the halfway mark in this, er, interesting year — some would say a tumultuous year. I’ve found that, when successive local and world events each seem to exceed the previous in horror or bizarreness, reading has always been found some sort of consolation, balancing the sense of powerlessness that I sometimes feel at those times.

And then, as an exercise in looking back at my reading habits over the last six months, I compiled some basic stats which, with massive diffidence, I now share with you.

In the table below 1st indicates a first read, rr means a reread and y means … ‘yes’. I show whether a book is new or secondhand (2nd), whether the author is female or male and whether the book counts as fiction (with possible genre) or nonfiction. I’ve already shared which titles belong to my Mount TBR challenge, so you don’t need to be told that again, do you? (Though you may argue that you don’t need to be told any of this, and that’s fair enough.)

Author Title 1st rr new 2nd f m fic nf
Alison Croggan The Bone Queen y n f fantasy
A S Byatt Angels and Insects y 2 f literary
Donna Leon The Jewels of Paradise y 2 f crime fiction
J K Rowling Fantastic Beasts and where to find them y n f fantasy
Fleur Dafydd The White Trail y 2 f magic realism
Joan Aiken The Stolen Lake y n f fantasy
Erich Kastner Emil and the Detectives y n m classic
Gregory Maguire After Alice y n m magic realism
Gerald Morgan Castles in Wales y 2 m history
Rainbow Rowell Kindred Spirits y n f YA
Steve Silberman NeuroTribes y 2 m history
Timothy Husband The Cloisters y n m history
Terry Pratchett Reaper Man y n m comic fantasy
Glenda Leeming Who’s Who in Austen & the Brontës y 2 f who’s who
Jane Austen Emma y 2 f classic
Joan Aiken A Bundle of Nerves y n f YA
Marie Brennan A Natural History of Dragons y n f YA
Nicola Bayley & William Mayne The Patchwork Cat y n f m picture bk
Henry James The Spoils of Poynton y 2 m classic
Kate Atkinson Case Histories y 2 f crime fiction
J A Hazeley and J P Morris How it Works: the husband y n m humour
Michael Crichton The Andromeda Strain y 2 m SF thriller
Neil Gaiman The Ocean at the End of the Lane y n m fantasy
Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea y 2 f classic

So, any conclusions? Well, first off that’s 24 books in 26 weeks, which isn’t bad going for me. Only two were re-reads, which was a surprise to me as I’d thought I’d planned to do more than that. A little over half (13) I’d bought new, which was also a surprise as I haunt an awful lot of secondhand bookshops and charity shops! Fourteen titles were authored or co-authored by women as against eleven of the other gender (I haven’t however analysed any writer’s sexual orientation or enquired whether they are trans or intersex, though not through any bias, I emphasise).

Nonfiction titles so far show a leaning towards history and literature, while fiction genres include fantasy (5), magic realism (2), crime fiction (2), modern classics (4), young adult (3) and one each of humour, literary, techno-thriller and picture books, though I’m prepared to concede that boundaries between genres tend to be very amorphous.

And you, dear reader, are you succeeding with your planned book consumption, exceeding your expectations or ceding the battle over completing your reading list because of lack of time and opportunity, or even due to disinclination or just plain laziness?

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14 thoughts on “Retrospective

  1. I’m happy to report I’m more or less on track. At the very beginning of this year our first child was born, and I couldn’t really predict the impact on my reading – I thought becoming a father would about cut the available time in half. Turns out that’s about right: from one book a week to about one book every two weeks. I’ve read a bit more SF than usual, and less fantasy. This month we’re also in the process of moving to a proper house with a garden, so I don’t have high hopes for my usual summer reading peak, but still, I’m happy as can be. Enjoy the remainder of 2017!

    1. First off, congratulations on becoming a first-time father — a life-changing event which I hope is still proving a delight to you both. 🙂

      Secondly, good luck on house moving with all the breaks to routines that also implies! But another delight to rejoice in when it all comes together. Still, two major life stresses in one year is more than one would wish for, hoping that at the end of the year you’ll both look back at it with a happy glow!

      And reading — it’s all about the inherent enjoyment rather than the statistics, isn’t it, though it’s also a good thing to end the year thinking how well we’ve done. That’s my feeling anyway. 🙂

    1. Fleur Dafydd’s The White Trail is a modern treatment of a medieval Welsh Arthurian tale Culhwch ac Olwen which I read and reviewed earlier this year. But it’s true that I’ve not been visiting much Arthuriana of late; however, I have a couple of possibles lined up for later this year.

  2. I’m really enjoying reading this year again. I have previously struggled a bit with pain making it difficult to hold a book up especially in the evenings – I can no longer manage hardbacks at all. But I have been swapping between audiobooks and paperbacks this year and it seems to work. I’m currently in the middle of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ on audio and Alec Worley’s excellent new sci-fi collection based on Judge Anderson from the Judge Dredd universe called ‘Judge Anderson Year One’. I thought it would be fairly low grade pulp fiction but it’s actually really interesting and very well written. I’ve also read Richard Morgan, Philip I Dick, Orson Scott Card, some classic Asimov, William Gibson and Neal Stephenson this year.

    I was really interested in Gaiman’s ‘Ocean at the end of the lane’. Was it any good? I love Neil’s work as a comic writer but I’ve only ever read one of his novels – a joint effort he wrote with Terry Pratchett called ‘Good Omens’ which had me laughing out loud on the train at the time!

    1. It must be dispiriting when one of life’s innocent but inspirational pleasures becomes difficult, so I’m glad you’ve found ways to get round those difficulties, Jo. Especially as there’s so much to enjoy; and it’s wonderful that quality literature is being generated out of the products of its under-regarded mass market cousins.
      You can see my review of Gaiman’s Ocean posted on the 3rd July this year, and of Good Omens at http://wp.me/s2oNj1-omen

  3. We have similar tastes. I’ve read about half of these and enjoyed them immensely. Always impressed when someone meets a reading target and this one is impressive.

    1. Thanks, Simon! My ‘targets’ are deliberately kept vague, only becoming viable and therefore visible when within a gnat’s whisker of achieving them. Anyway, good to know there are fine people out there who exhibit similar literary tastes!

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