Dear readers, we are one day away from a new year – a new chapter or page or book or something, pick your favorite metaphor. I’ve had a nice long few weekends decompressing from the task of finishing The Hero, and I’m looking forward to kicking some things into gear for 2018. For one thing, I have to decide what I’m going to read for my next blog series. (I was really hoping to have a thing on Funny Writing ready to go, but between The Hero and post-graduation stuff and some strenuous reading-challenge bingeing, I just didn’t get to the books I wanted to read for the Funny Series.) For that matter, I have to get Mythadapted up and running again. (Will anyone be upset if I start out the year with some Rick Riordan?)
And then I want to make a few other changes – move away from strictly mythological/legendary stuff and towards more of a writing-in-general blog. With, of course, an emphasis on the myths/legends stuff. (Speaking of which, podcast reviews! Gotta do that sometime.)
For the end of the year, I wanted to wrap up this year in a nice, tidy way, and what better way to do that than to steal someone else’s blog meme (because you’re an unorganized wreck on your own and need more knowledgable and creative people to guide you)?
I’m filling out The Perpetual Page-Turner’s End of Year Survey. This may or make it up on Saturday, my proper blog-posting day, or it may end up posted tomorrow. We’ll see, because I have a lot of books to sort through.
2017 Reading Stats
number of books read?
203, so far, but I’m hoping to get it to 205 by tomorrow! (One audiobook of The Art of Flavor to wrap up, the last 90 pages or so of Red: A History of the Redhead to finish.)
number of rereads?
I’m sorry that I don’t have the patience to cull that number from the 203 read books on my Goodreads account, but, like, I READ 203 BOOKS IN (VERY SLIGHTLY) LESS THAN ONE YEAR.
genre I read the most of?
if I had to guess, I’d say fantasy, with the asterisk note that “fantasy” is a very broad category and I read a good handful of various/lesser-known subgenres along with more popular stuff.
Best In Books
best book read in 2017
adult: A Conjuring Of Light by V.E. Schwab OR Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
nonfic: Zen In the Art Of Writing by Ray Bradbury
YA: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
MG: The Bone Snatcher by Charlotte Salter
graphic novel: The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
book I thought I’d love but didn’t
Labyrinth Lost, When Dimple Met Rishi, The Wanderers, Spaceman of Bohemia, Iron Cast, and The Bone Witch all let me down pretty badly. I think the ones that were advertised as being great for representation were the ones that disappointed me most, because I’m 100% on board for reading and plugging great books with underrepresented voices – I just want those books to be as good or better than the ones with overrepresentation that I’m getting bored with. And they weren’t better, or even good. The unedited, poorly plotted vibe of Labyrinth Lost and Iron Cast were especially disappointing both as stories and as opportunities.
most surprising (in a good or bad way) book
The Bone Snatcher by Charlotte Salter was surprising in that it was genuinely good. My experience with Hoopla audiobooks has been lackluster at best, and MG fic is not really the age bracket I’m fondest of. But this was such a good one! The narrator was ideal for this story, I LOVED the heroine, the conclusion of the book was satisfying, and there was a perfect balance of creepy-to-fun ratio for a successful, non-pandering MG offering.
book I pushed the most on other people
not to brag, but I think I got a good handful of people to read the aforementioned Shades Of Magic trilogy. Good on me.
best series I started in 2017? best sequel I read? best series ender?
- the best series I started might be Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns series, or maybe Becky Chambers’s Wayfarers series. Good, solid storytelling in both of those, and I’m excited to see where Three Dark Crowns, especially, takes me.
- the best sequel I read might have been Toothiana: Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies.
- the best series ender was, again, A Conjuring Of Light. I’m gonna be mentioning that one again, probably. Sorry, guys, you just gotta bear with my V.E. Schwab-loving self for a bit longer.
favorite new author I discovered in 2017
okay, this is, admittedly, pathetic for an English major, but this is the first year I’ve ever read anything by Shirley Jackson. We Have Always Lived In the Castle, “The Lottery,” The Haunting of Hill House – that was all this year. And I might be kind of hooked.
best book from a genre outside of my comfort zone
I’m looking through the books I read this year, and, really, none of them are something I wouldn’t read. The closest I can see might be Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s Poems, Protest, and a Dream, a collection of works by a Spanish nun in Mexico during the 1600s. It’s a more obscurely academic work than I usually go for, but I really did enjoy Sor Juana’s courage, intellect, and creativity.
most unputdownable book of 2017
look. You know what I’m going to say. A Conjuring of Light. I blame V.E. Schwab and Holland Vosjk for the number of times this book ends up on this survey.
book read this year I’ll most likely reread next year
The Shades Of Magic trilogy? Down Among the Sticks and Bones (in prep for Beneath the Sugar Sky)? The Tea Dragon Society, maybe?
favorite cover of a book read this year
there is something incredibly appealing about the cover of Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown. And though I was disappointed by it, Iron Cast had a great cover.
most memorable character
Holland Vosjk. Hands down.
most beautifully written book
look. I can’t tell a lie. Down Among the Sticks and Bones. Seanan McGuire’s writing is like the best kind of fruitcake, the kind made by old southern ladies who soak it in brandy for two months before serving it. It’s so good.
most thought-provoking book
either C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed or The Tea Dragon Society. Grief is a serious look at the Christian life in crisis. Society is about community, the dignity of slow, beautiful work, and cute lil dragons that grow tea leaves. I say this without a shadow of facetiousness: I cannot choose between them.
book I can’t believe I waited until 2017 to read
We Have Always Lived In the Castle and The Penderwicks In Spring. It’s scandalous that it took me so long to get around to one of the best unreliable-narrator stories I’ve ever read and the latest Penderwicks book (published in 2015! two years ago!).
favorite passage from a book I read this year
I don’t remember quotes very well, so I’m going to cheat and use one of the most impactful ones from A Grief Observed, which I finished last night.
Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.
And, more than once, that impression which I can’t describe except by saying that it’s like the sound of a chuckle in the darkness. The sense that some shattering and disarming simplicity is the real answer.
shortest and longest books I read in 2017
shortest: either Amiri and Odette by Walter Dean Myers, or Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy by Richard Michelson. Both were picture books.
longest: Winter by Marissa Meyer.
book that shocked me the most
hmm. Maybe the two volumes of Tomboy that I read, by Mia Goodwin. It’s a very shocking comic, for multiple reasons.
otp of the year
I don’t easily get into otps these days, but I have to admit, I love Cinder/Kai in the Lunar Chronicles. Maybe Laurie/Ralph from The Charioteer?
favorite non-romantic relationship of the year
Cinder/Thorne, also from the Lunar Chronicles. I’ve been reading Giant Days since late last year but I’m still really into the friend group of Susan, Esther, and Daisy – they’re so cute! and different! but always there for each other!
favorite book I read this year from an author I’ve read previously
Midnight At the Electric. Absolutely. Jodi Lynn Anderson is getting better with every year and I’m so excited to see what she does next.
best book I read in 2017 because of peer pressure
I don’t bend to peer pressure BYE
(really, though, I didn’t read any books because of peer pressure. I read some good books because my friends rec’d them – such as The Charioteer and I’ll Give You the Sun – but I’m not into a reading community right now, so I’m not really in a peer-pressurey environment.)
(plus I don’t bend to peer pressure BYE)
newest fictional crush from a book I read in 2017
Holland Vosjk. Every time. I got kind of a little one on Hearth from the first Magnus Chase book, but I think he’s taken. So, Holland. Always.
best 2017 debut I read
A List of Cages by Robin Roe! I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did, because I have dreadful luck with contemporary YA, but I blew through it in like, two days, max – on my Kindle. I never read ebooks that quickly.
best worldbuilding I read this year
I’m not sure if it was the best, but it was certainly the most thorough: Touchstone by Melanie Rawn. A super-dense fantasy setting with a hefty glossary of names and places, all going by in a whirlwind of a “pick it up quick or get lost” vibe. I was frustrated and charmed by turns, but always impressed.
the most fun book to read
of course, the several volumes of Giant Days I read! Natch. I love my British uni girls. Giant Days is one of the few stories that can get me to laugh out loud while reading.
book that made me cry
say it louder for the people in the back!
A CONJURING OF LIGHT BY V.E. SCHWAB
hidden gem of the year
can I say The Bone Snatcher again? Also, for a very, very hidden gem, Reflections On a Gift of Watermelon Pickle.
book that made me maddest
in a bad way: The Memoirs of Helen of Troy by Amanda Elyot or Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
in a good way: A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
most unique book I read in 2017
that would probably have to go to Tomboy Volumes 1 and 2, just because of the wild amalgamation of so many plot elements in such a slim story. There’s also The Vine That Ate the South by J.D. Wilkes, which was, in a word, rollicking. I also read The Young Visiters by Daisy Ashford, a story written by a 9-year-old in 1800s England. It was incredibly charming and definitely unique.
book that crushed my soul
A CONJURING OF LIGHT
Full disclosure: I switched around a few categories to end on a lighter note than… eugh, The Memoirs of Helen of Troy. And also because I wanted to end on a Conjuring of Light note.
That was my year! I think I actually got to plug my top favorites a few times, so that’s good. A few noteworthy happenings I didn’t get to cover:
- I read A Christmas Carol for the first time this year! During this month, of course.
- On December 9th, I sat down with a small stack of four graphic novels and comics, and read them all in one sitting. It was great. And I recommend all of them: Daybreak by Brian Ralph, The Damkeeper by Robert Kondo, The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag, and, of course, The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill.
- I listened to 8 full audiobooks this year, which will, presumably, become 9 by tomorrow sometime. That’s up 3 books from last year, and an increase of 3x from 2015! Which is amazing, because I also listened to so many podcasts this year. It was ridiculous. I got a lot of craftwork done because I finally had non-Adventures In Odyssey stories and books to listen to while I was doing it.
It’s been a good year for reading, dear readers. It’s had its wealth of disappointments and anger-induced fits of near-book throwing, but it’s also had some real highlights. (A Conjuring of Light, anyone?) I finished The Hero With a Thousand Faces after two years, and I read over 200 books in the year I graduated from college.
Let’s make 2018 just as good – or maybe even better. No pressure, am I right? But less duds would be nice. Less duds, more spuds. I don’t know what that means, except that potatoes are wonderful, “duds” and “spuds” rhyme, and so good books should be called “spuds.” Also, more potato consumption in 2018?
I’m getting off track. Anyway. Good night, good year, good books, & God bless.