Monthly Archives: January 2017

Top Ten Books of 2016

Watch the video above to hear me talk about my favourite books of the year, find out about my upcoming book-related podcast, and throw your name in for a chance to win one of my favourite books of 2016. There’s a little more analysis in the post below:

It’s list-making time again! In 2016 I read (give or take a few I may have forgotten to record, and not including some re-reads of old favourites) 69 books. For a little breakdown into further categories, those 70 books included:

Fiction: 50
Non-fiction: 20

Books by women: 41
Books by men: 29

So my innate prejudices are still holding, but I am making some effort to redress the balance (not nearly enough non-fiction this year, though).

70 is a low-number reading year for me — I usually read over 80 — but, in addition to the fact that I spent some time re-reading an old favourite series, my new reading was slowed a few times this year by books or series I got bogged down in and read very slowly. Sometimes this was because, while the subject matter was interesting and well-written, the style of the book was just a long, slow read (Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton took me much of the summer to get through). In one case it was a six-book series that was fascinating and wonderful but so richly layered and densely written that I couldn’t race through it (Dorothy  Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles). In only one case it was due to books that I just couldn’t get into but persisted with anyway (the first two of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. I gave the first book of the series a kind of “OK, I guess” review here, slogged through the second, but finally gave up on the third, realizing I didn’t actually care that much how things turned out for the characters).

The video above gives a little more detail about each of my Top Ten choices, which are:

10. Hamilton: The Revolution, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
9. The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson
8. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
7. The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell
6. Children of Earth and Sky, by Guy Gavriel Kay
5. Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
4. Hungry Heart, by Jennifer Weiner
3. Checkmate (and the rest of the series!), by Dorothy Dunnet
2. The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue
1. The Opposite of Everyone, by Joshilyn Jackson

Interesting point (true of several past years): my reading list shows a definite bias towards books by women, but my best-of list is often, as this year, evenly balanced between male and female writers. I think this is because “novels by women” are so much my default reading, that I tend to pick them up without being too critical — I’ll read novels by women based on a single recommendation or just an attractive cover. With male writers I’m far less willing to take chances, so a man’s book has to either be very highly recommended, or by an author I already know and trust well — thus the fewer books by male authors I read, have a higher probability of being books I’ll really like (Brandon Sanderson very much the exception here as it turns out). Of course, I don’t analyze all this consciously while I’m buying and reading; I do it unconsciously and analyze it after the fact. That’s what the blog is for.

 

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