Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Eight best books of 2013

My favorite books of 2013 highlight the diversity of my reading this past year. Not all of them are THE BEST BOOKS I EVER READ OMG! types, but all of them were wonderful, thought-provoking reads that I'd happily recommend. Actually, I already have. My students got a sneak peek at this list before they left for winter break.

In the order I read them, here's the best books of 2013:

1. The Rook by Daniel O'Malley (my review here)
2. The Broken Lands by Kate Milford (my review here)
3. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street and The Penderwicks at Pointe Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall (my very brief review here)
4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (my review here)
5. The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow (Unfortunately, my only review comes from Twitter!):
6. Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going (my review here)
7. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler (my review here)
8. Orleans by Sherri L. Smith (my review here)

And because I love stats, that's...

1 Dystopian / Futuristic
3 Contemporary Realistic
1 Non-Fiction / Historical
2 Fantasy
2 Historical Fiction
2 Adult
3 Authors or main characters of color
2 Middle Grade
4 Young Adult

Click here to read the statistics on all of my 2013 reading.

And while there's a lot of diversity in this list, there's one thing most of these books have in common: incredible settings, from London (The Rook), to Brooklyn (The Broken Lands), to Berlin (The Berlin Boxing Club), to a futuristic New Orleans (Orleans).

I feel I should offer a quick note about The Penderwicks... I discovered these books two years ago, after a friend who didn't get on with them handed me the first one, and ever since I've been savoring them one by one. I kept avoiding reviewing them, or talking much about them, because on the surface they seem so simple. They remind me a lot of books I read as a child. But finally, upon reading Point Mouette, I couldn't keep quiet any longer. These books are AMAZING, so sweet, happy, and comforting, perfect for either a sick day or a summer day, or anytime really.

What are your best reads of 2013?

Oh, and I don't know when I'll be back on the blog, so Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and a very happy 2014!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Reading Stats for 2013

Sorry for the lack of posting as of late. I haven't had much free time, and the bit I can garner, I try to use to work on my novel. But I couldn't miss my year end book blogging traditions!

For several years now, I've been keeping track of every book I read. I note the date I finished it, the title, the author, and a few other little details, like the type of book (audiobook, graphic novel, etc), whether I know the author, if the book was a DNF (did not finish) and why, if the author or main character is a person of color (PoC), and if and when I've read the book before. It's a lot of information, and I love being able to look back over a year and see what I read. But it really does only take me a minute to do, and gives me a chance to reflect on a reading experience.

When I started my new middle school Language Arts job, I discovered my students have been required to keep reading logs. I brought in my journal, so they could see that some adults keep track of reading, too. My 9th period asked if I could pass it around, and the kids poured over my books and codes. But I had to explain to them that I'd been reading a lot less since I started working full time. I've also been finishing far fewer books, and becoming even more impatient (who knew that was possible?!) in my limited time. But the good news is, throughout this year, and especially with the new job and numerous kid recommendations, I've been trying lots of different things: more adult fiction, more non-fiction, more bestsellers, more middle grade... one of my favorite books of the year is in a genre I hardly ever read: dystopian (well, sort of, it's got a near-future setting but it isn't a utopia gone bad. But still!).  

Anyway, enough talk! Here's my stats for 2013:

Total Books Attempted: 100 (yay for clean numbers!)
Total Books Read: 54
DNFs (Did Not Finish): 46
Some of my reasons for DNFs: "Bored, not scared, didn't care," "Read 1/2, slow plot, never engaged," "No bite," "Bored, no good characters," "No driving plot," "So cliche!" "Poor writing and long!" "Almost halfway, nice writing, but nothing happening."
Middle Grade: 38 (attempted)
Young Adult: 41 (attempted)
Adult: 18 (attempted)
Person of Color: 24 (attempted)

That's the most PoC books I've EVER read in a year! I'm just shy of 25%! I feel like I discovered a lot of good ones this year, too. See my diversity tag for all the PoC books I blogged about. Being back in the US, where there's more diversity in publishing, helped as well.

I also read a lot more Middle Grade books this year. Probably thanks in part to working on two middle grade novels this year, as well as working in a middle school. I'm also pleased with that number for adult books. Could I finally be growing up? Nah!

You can check out my previous stats here: 2010, 2011, 2012.  And next week I'll be sharing my eight favorite reads of 2013.