Reading Round-Up for 2017

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Here’s my Goodreads year with covers and links to my “reviews” (I have become worse at reviewing books every year, and occasionally it’s just something like, “excellent read”, useless for both anyone looking at the reviews, and me looking back in future years with no memory of that particular novel).

My goal was to read 60 books, and I read 75 – this increase is due to my return to work after maternity leave. The plus-side to my long trip to work is having time to read on the bus, and listen to audiobooks while driving.

Wonderfully interesting statistics!

  1. My reading this year was 40% fantasy and science-fiction – a fairly steady percentage maintained in recent years, I think.
  2. Romance as a genre was 16% of my reading, which has dropped since 2015, because I didn’t have a co-worker making me read a terrible and long series of erotic novels.
  3. I read one entire series of 7 books this year – the Expanse series by James SA Corey. I read the first, Leviathan Wakes, in January, and the most recent, Persepolis Rising, in December, the month it was released. It’s a completely addictive, high-stakes sci-fi series, and my enjoyment of it was only enhanced by also watching the first two seasons of the TV show. I had a very Expanse-centric year.
  4. My average rating was 3.3 stars out of 5. Unacceptably low! I need more 5 star reads next year.

Best childhood flashback

I loved Susan Cooper’s classic Dark is Rising sequence when I was younger – it’s a series of fantasy novels inspired heavily by British mythology, beautifully written and with the most wonderful solemn portentous feeling. The Dark is Rising is the second in the series, but is a fine place to start, and takes place over the Christmas period – so is an excellent seasonal read (although more appropriate if one is in the Northern Hemisphere, I imagine).

Best Chalet School book

Since 2008 I have been making sporadic attempts to read the entire Chalet School book series – the books of the series that I read as a child were some of my favourites, but the entire series is immense, spanning some 60-odd books. In 2017, I read another 6 of them, making my way up to around book 55. I’m going to stop there – the quality is certainly declining, as you would expect, and the quirks and repetitions of Brent-Dyer’s authorial style become wearying rather than charming. The best of the lot I read in 2017 was Jane of the Chalet School, which was unexpectedly fresh and enjoyable. This is a rather pointless recommendation because obviously you shouldn’t read Jane of the Chalet School unless you’ve read at least some of the earlier and far superior books in the series.

Best historical romance

You know when you feel in the mood for a book that’s going to make you feel uplifted and merry and filled with a wonderful and probably entirely unjustified warmth towards your fellow human beings? The book you want is one of Rose Lerner’s historical romances, which are all so sweet and cheerful (without being shallow or saccharine). My favourite of hers is Listen to the Moon.

Best fairytale adaption

T Kingfisher’s (aka Ursula Vernon’s) The Seventh Bride has the most delightful narrator’s voice – sensible and good-humoured and charming. If you find yourself in an adaption of a Bluebeard-style story, I imagine that being good-humoured and sensible probably give you a better chance of survival.

Best novel about communal living

I am always down for novels about all sorts of communal living – kibbutzes, communes, terrible Amish romances (did you know that was a thing? It’s a thing), dystopian novels where everyone lives in a compound, that sort of thing. Kevin Wilson’s A Perfect Little World is a lovely book about a scientific experiment in which ten couples raise their children communally, and the various ramifications of that experiment. One of the things I particularly liked was the main character, Izzy, who is a very young mother, and how we see her grow into motherhood. It’s a very moving, thoughtful novel.

Best novel about animation (yes, these categories are very arbitrary) 

Kayla Rae Whitaker’s The Animators was an amazing rollercoaster of a novel, about two animators working together on very personal projects. There was so much in this book about friendship and the creative process, and it is both immensely funny and heart-breaking – a brilliant piece of work.

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