Thursday, January 6, 2011

2010 Final Book Report

Here's where I break down the 104 books I read last year (104!), and look at totals and trends.

In 2010 I read:

104 books total (exactly 2 per week)
80 books for the first time
59 books for children or young adults
19 fantasies
14 science fiction
12 Austen related
10 were nonfiction/memoir (5 for work)
4 classics for first time

These are good numbers compared to 2009; not only did I read 12 more books over the year, more of them were books I was reading for the first time. While last year 71% of my reading was new books, this year I reached 77%. A majority this year were for young audiences, and it was great to see the quality of writing in the genre. Not that there was ever any doubt in my mind about that, but now if anyone ever pooh-poohs YA books to me, I can say, "Yeah? Have you read X? or Y? Z? or the whole alphabet, for that matter?"

I'm not sure I'll be able to get to 100 books in 2011, although I'd like to. I'm going to be working on writing a reference book, and that means I'll be doing a lot of reading for research. So you're going to see a lot of nonfiction on my lists ... hopefully the fun stuff won't get squeezed out. In any case, here's my summary of 2010:

Favorite book of the 1st quarter: Empire of Ivory, by Naomi Novik, a dragon fantasy set during the Napoleonic Wars that does a great job of world-building and thinking of alternate cultures. 

Favorite book of the 2nd quarter: Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson, a compelling portrait of a teenage girl battling anorexia.

Favorite book of the 3rd quarter: Freewill, by Chris Lynch, an amazing experiment in second-person narration that makes the plot's central mystery even more compelling.

Favorite book of the 4th quarter:
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, by M. T. Anderson, a fresh historical approach to the American Revolution.

Favorite book of 2010: Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly, a seamless weaving of contemporary teen trauma and fascinating historical fiction, set in modern-day New York/Paris and Revolution-era France.

Again, the majority of my best books were written for young adults. You're only young once, but you can read YAs forever—and with more people using e-readers (making it easy to hide what you're reading on the bus), I predict a continuing rise in popularity for the genre.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 Book Report: Fourth Quarter

So did I manage 100 books in 2010, or did my extremely busy fall defeat my best intentions? Check out my reading list from the last quarter.

Key: C: Children's; F: Fantasy; H: Historical; Hr: Horror; M: Mystery; MG: Middle Grade (ages 8-12); NF: Nonfiction; P: Poetry; SF: Science Fiction; SS: Short Stories; V: Verse novel; YA: Young Adult (age 13+); *not in the last ten years at least; ^for work; #e-book.

10/05/10: Gary Schmidt, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (YA, H, 1)
10/14/10: Kenneth Oppel, Airborn (YA, F, 1)
10/18/10: Meg Rosoff, How I Live Now (YA, 2)
10/24/10: Lois McMaster Bujold, Cryoburn (SF, 1)
10/26/10: Margo Lanagan, Black Juice (YA, F, SS, 1)
10/31/10: Marilyn Nelson, A Wreath for Emmett Till (P, 1)
11/05/10: Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger (YA, 1)
11/10/10: Elizabeth Partridge,  John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth (YA, NF, 1)
11/18/10: Sonya Hartnett, Surrender (YA, 1)
11/26/10: Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese (YA, graphic novel, 1)
12/05/10: M.T. Anderson, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Vol. 1 (YA, H, 1)
12/11/10: Anderson, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Vol. 2 (YA, H, 1)
12/13/10: Justine Larbalestier, Liar (YA, 1)
12/16/10: A.M. Jenkins, Repossessed (YA, F, 1)
12/18/10: Judith Clarke, One Whole and Perfect Day (YA, 1)
12/22/10: Max Brooks, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (SF, 3)
12/24/10: Stephanie Hemphill, You Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath (YA, V, 1)
12/26/10: Geraldine McCaughrean, The White Darkness (YA, 1)
12/28/10: Emma Donoghue, Room (1)
12/29/10: David Weber, On Basilisk Station (SF, 4 or 5#)
12/31/10: Weber, The Honor of the Queen (SF, 4 or 5#)

Total for the quarter: 21 books, giving me a grand total for 2010 of 104 books! I feel very pleased to have made my 100-book goal, despite a very busy fall. Again, most of these books were young adult books I read for my Printz Award project, which means not only did I read a lot of quality books, I got a lot of market research done.

So what was my favorite book of the quarter? I think it would have to be M. T. Anderson's two-part historical novel, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing. Not only is the historical aspect really interesting—it's set in Boston during the American Revolution and told from the point of view of a slave—but so is the form, which is full of re-created "journals," letters, and articles. I love a good historical, especially one that can bring a fresh perspective to a familiar era.

Check back in a couple of days for my final accounting of my year in books, as I break down what kinds of books I read and look forward to 2011.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Photo of the Week--1/3/11

We found this interesting site on a weekend excursion to Jersey, in the Channel Islands. La Hougue Bie has cool buildings from different eras in one place. Atop the "hougue" (mound, in Norman) is a medieval chapel. At the bottom of the picture, where Boy is standing, we have a Neolithic ritual site that is about 5500 years old. Although this type of site is called a "passage grave," its primary function was ceremonial, not for burials. When they excavated and restored the entrance to this site, they discovered that on the equinox, the sun's rays would shine all the way into the back of the chamber at sunrise. Proving once again that an interest in astronomy isn't geeky, it's historical.