Closing the books on 2016 Books of the Year

Closing the Books on 2016: The Year in (Book) Review

My recap of 2016 reading follows a survey format similar to several others I’ve seen but was mostly lifted from Marie at Boston Bibliophile.

Closing the Books: Bookish Habits in 2016

2016 was not my most productive reading year ever. In part, this is because I took six months off from freelance reviewing for Shelf Awareness and returned with a lower monthly review quota. Another reason is that, especially during the late summer and fall, I got caught up in reading a lot of election-related news, analysis and opinion and had less time and attention to give to books.

That said, I had no official reading goals for the year. I’m still aiming to read a book a week, on average, in any format. I fell short of that in 2016 but I’m not bothered about it. I stopped using book ratings on the blog and have no regrets about that either. I’m still using star ratings on LibraryThing but am no longer regularly cross-posting my reviews there.

2016 was also the year I migrated The 3 R’s Blog from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress. One major draw to WP was the availability of the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin for WordPress [affiliate link]. UBB’s ability to generate review indexes was very helpful in compiling this year’s recap, but they don’t capture everything. LT isn’t doing that for me either, though.

Actually, tracking my reading has become a little more complicated since adding library books into the mix. Because I use LibraryThing only for “owned” books and ARCs, the count there does not include books borrowed from the public library and reviewed on the blog. This book-blogging accountant may finally have to take the plunge into spreadsheets (shudder).

Closing the Books: 2016 By The Numbers
  • How many books read in 2016? 43…give or take. The number is inexact due to conflicting data sources, as mentioned above:

The blog’s Review Index reflects 38 reviews posted in 2016, but two or three of those posts were about books read during December 2015. It does not include 5 books read in December with reviews scheduled to post in January 2017.

LibraryThing counts 36 books tagged “read in 2016,”  including the 5 books not yet reviewed, but not including any library books.

  • Fiction/nonfiction count?
    18 nonfiction:
    7 memoir/biography;
    3 historical biography;
    4 entertainment;
    4 current events/issues.
    25 fiction, all novels
  • Formats?
    ARC: 16
    Audiobook: 22
    Ebook: 3
    Trade paper: 1
    Hardcover: 1
  • Male/Female author ratio? The breakdown is roughly 25% male/75% female. I read 11 books by male writers (including one book with two male authors). I’m the oddball who has had to make a deliberate effort to expand my reading to include more books by men.

I also made a more deliberate effort to diversify my reading in 2016: 10 books (just under 25%) were by POC authors. I will continue to resist absolute number goals in demographics as with other reading-related matters, but I think this is a positive trend that I will continue into 2017.

  • How many books from the library? 13, all audiobooks
  • Any translated books? I read five books that were originally written in Italian. I’m not usually motivated to read in translation, but I’ve been preparing for a trip to Italy in Spring 2017.
  • Any re-reads? Not this year.
Closing the Books: Biased Opinions And Other Random Measures
Best Reads of 2016

 

Any reads you regretted? Stranger, Father, Beloved by Taylor Larsen. This was going to be my first review for Shelf Awareness after my break, but I just couldn’t do it. (That’s the main reason I actually finished it, though.)

Any books you simply couldn’t finish, and why not? I had just one official DNF, Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra. I brought this galley back from Book Expo 2016. It wasn’t making a strong early impression on me, and when I some more interesting options (for paid review consideration) came along, I bailed.

Book(s) you meant to read but didn’t get to?
Evicted by Matthew Desmond (borrowed from the library as an ebook, but didn’t finish before the loan expired)
Americanah by Chimamande Ngozi Adiochie (still in TBR Purgatory)

Book you wouldn’t have read without someone’s specific recommendation?I’m slotting Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton here. Reading the book that inspired Hamilton: An American Musical was an indirect result of taking the word of everyone who convinced me to listen to (and become obsessed with) the original Broadway cast recording.

Oldest book read? I didn’t read any books more than ten years old, but I did rescue several that had been sitting in the TBR stacks for a few years: You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, and When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (review to post in January).

Newest? This Is Not Over by Holly Brown, a January 2017 release I’ll be reviewing for Shelf Awareness.

Longest and shortest book titles? Note: I counted subtitles, but I do not count “A Novel” as a subtitle.
Longest: Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created, reviewed for Shelf Awareness.
Shortest: Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst

Longest and shortest books? Note: These are based on audiobook length, but that should correlate with page count.
Longest: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Shortest: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading? I read six books set in Italy, including Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet. I also read books that took place partly in France, Russia, China, and Cameroon. In addition, I read one novel and one work of narrative nonfiction that explored parts of Los Angeles that I haven’t gotten to know in the nearly fifteen years I’ve lived here.

Most read author of the year, and how many books by that author? Elena Ferrante, four books. The Neapolitan Quartet was my unofficial Summer Reading Project.

Tell me about something that really stood out in your 2016 reading!

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  • I think you read some high quality books. I really loved Rankine’s book and Woodson’s new book is on my list for 2017. Can’t wait to see what you read in 2017.

    • I actually don’t mind the lower numbers if they include *better* books, and qualitatively it was a pretty satisfying reading year!

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    I’m struggling with Between the World and Me right now. My book club will discuss it next week and I’m hoping that will help me understand/appreciate it more. Happy New Year!

    • That was definitely a book I “appreciated” more than liked. It was not comfortable reading-it’s not written for us–and I considered bailing on it a couple of times, but I’m really glad I didn’t. It’s one of several books I read during the first half of 2016 that changes how I looked at things for the rest of year.

  • Kailana

    You read some great looking books. I am technically on the computer to finally do my 2016 in review post, but haven’t even started it yet. I am doing pretty much everything else but instead. lol I bought Hidden Figures with Christmas gift cards, so hopefully will get to it soon!

    • I’m hoping that book gets a lot more attention with the movie opening soon, because there’s a lot more to that story!

  • How do you not use spreadsheets to track your reading? Now that I have been using one for many years now, I could never NOT track my reading that way. Plus, it gives me all my stats right there without having to dig for them in LT or anywhere else online. I think 2017 should be the year you explore this fantastic avenue of tracking! 😉

    • I used to keep my review index in a Google spreadsheet when I was on Blogger (the pre-WordPress/UBB era), and I did try a tracking spreadsheet a couple of years ago, but it didn’t stick. You probably get this more than some people would, but…for me, it literally feels too much like work :-). That said, I think it may be time to give it another go!

      • I get that it may feel like work, but I guess I look at it as one spreadsheet I LOVE to open. I just know that I like to look at the list and see how many were review copies, how many are new authors, etc.

        • I get that, and I’m pretty sure you’ve swayed me (which is why I did a whole post about reading spreadsheets on Sunday).

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