You guys I have been trying to write this post for weeks. WEEKS! Normally I LOVE writing about books, talking about books, sharing about books… this post feels like pulling teeth. What gives?
Safe to say that 2016 was a REALLY WEIRD year. For me, that weirdness extended to my reading. I read some AMAZING books at the start of the year… and then my track record went downhill. Fast. There were a lot of not-so-great reads, a lot of tried-to-reads. When I look over my books from the past year, one word escapes my lips: “Huh.”
That said… it’s not like it was a waste of a reading year. It’s NEVER a waste when you’re reading. All in all, I read 46 books (53 including all the “tried to read” books). Not quite as good as last year, but I’m not complaining.
I still made it a point to read diversely. Looking over how I did…
- 31 books by woman – 67% of my total. (In 2013, it was 30%. Last year, exactly 50%.)
- 11 books by people of color – so 23.9%. (In 2013, that number was 4.3%. Last year it was 19.5%.)
That second number seems embarrassingly low… even though it’s an increase over the past years. The sad thing? That’s my number when I’m paying attention. When I’m actively trying to read books by people who don’t look like me. Think how low it would be if I didn’t pay attention.
As far as picking favorites… well, the three books featured in my Winter Reading Recap are all up there: Station Eleven, The Fifth Season and Where’d You Go, Bernadette. That’s like, the motto of 2016: started out promising, ended with a dud.
BUT. There were some other gold stars amidst the “whomp, whomps.” They deserve highlighting.
Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
At magical Hedgebrook, there is a magical library, filled exclusively with books written by alumnae. I spied Orleans on the shelves one night before dinner and brought it back to my cottage. I think it took me all of three days to devour it.
This story is set in New Orleans – but not as we’d recognize it. Ravaged by hurricanes, decimated by an illness known as Delta Fever, the city has been cut off from the rest of the country – literally, by a huge, guarded wall. Those who live within the walls are mostly divided into tribes based on blood type (a safety measure against spreading Delta Fever). ISN’T THIS ALREADY FASCINATING?? Smith does an AMAZING job creating a world that seems at once totally foreign and totally plausible. And if the setting weren’t enough – well, there’s the can’t-put-it-down plot as well.
The Gunslinger by Stephen King
I had actually read this book years and years ago, back in high school… but weirdly, I remembered nothing about it. With the upcoming movie, I figured it was time for a re-read.
How did I not remember this book?? It is so crisp, so evocative, creepy in the best way possible. The man in black and the gunslinger are like two archetypes out of myth, yet they’re still their own well-rounded characters. This is a quick read, since it’s on the shorter side, but I’m looking forward to getting into the full series now.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
I’m not normally a romance fan, but Book Riot is always trying to get folks to read different genres, and they’d recommended this one. Well, Book Riot, you were right. This book is pure unadulterated fun.
A modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, the book focuses on the Bennet family of Cincinnati. Our modern Mr. Bingley is a doctor and a reluctant contestant on a Bachelor-like reality TV show (of course), and Mr. Darcy is his neurosurgeon friend. Will Jane and Mr. Bingley find happiness? Will Jane and Mr. Darcy get over themselves and fall in love??
Well, of course. You know how this story ends. That’s part of the fun of it, though – knowing the outcome, and seeing how Sittenfeld reaches it.
I’m ending 2016 by re-reading an old favorite, To Capture the Castle. I figure if any year deserves a gentle ending, it’s this one.
What were your favorite books of the year? Any duds?
Oh, and if’n you’re interested in reading diversely in 2017, might I recommend the 2017 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge?