The Reading Year In Review

I’ve been wanting to do a post like this for a while, and since it will be another day or two before I finish Haunted, I figure that today is a great day to do this post.  While it’s never a good thing to live in the past, it’s always a great thing to go back and look at your past, so that’s what we’re going to do for this post.  It’s time to take a look at the books I’ve read this year and have some fun going through the list and talk about some of my favorites from the past year.

(First things first, I have to say that this isn’t actually going to be from the full year, it’s going to be since I started my blog in March.  I think I read 10 or 12 books before I started my blog, the most notable among them being The Odyssey by Homer and Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.)

Before I go into the actual books, I’m going to do a quick breakdown of my ratings for the books I read this year.  My last review was my 100th book review, and I read a lot of really good books this past year, so the numbers overall are pretty high.

  • 10/10 – 17 books
  • 9/10 – 9 books
  • 8/10 – 19 books
  • 7/10 – 22 books
  • 6/10 – 11 books
  • 5/10 – 10 books
  • 4/10 – 2 books
  • 3/10 – 6 books
  • 2/10 – 3 books
  • Those of you keeping score at home realize that those numbers only add up to 99.  So where is the remaining book?  The last book was The Black Swan, which I gave two ratings; 8/10 for the first two sections of the book, and 5/10 for the first edition of the book (which was the total first edition of the book including the first three sections).  I’ll try to avoid doing this in the future, but this book really warranted two separate scores based upon my thoughts of the book.

Ok, now that that’s done with, lets have some fun.  The first category is:

Favorite New Author

I read a lot of books this year by authors I hadn’t read before, and a lot of them were very good.  Even coming up with the shortlist for this category was kind of tough.  With any new author, it’s pretty easy for them to be a 1-hit wonder, so I stuck with authors that I read multiple books from.  The nominees for this category are Larry Correia, Scott Westerfeld, Markus Zusak, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  And the winner is (drumroll please)…..

Markus Zusak.  I read two books by Zusak this year, and both were absolutely brilliant.  The Book Thief was an amazing book with a really interesting take on WW2 that I’ve never seen before.  There are hundreds if not thousands of books written about WW2 and the Holocaust, but I don’t think there is any other book about that time that focus on a 10-12 year old girl.  The fact that Death was the narrator also made this book stand out.  I Am The Messenger is the other Zusak book that I read this year.  I Am The Messenger is probably one of the top 5 books that I’ve ever read, and it’s a book that will make me smile every time I read it or even think about it.  I should probably go buy about 20 copies of the book and give it to everyone I know who reads, or just everyone I know period.  It’s an amazing book that everyone should read.

Favorite New Series

I’ve said dozens of times in my blog that I read a lot of Fantasy novels, and I’ve also said that those novels tend to run in packs of at least 3 if not more (5 for The Belgariad, 7 for Harry Potter, 14 for The Wheel of Time).  I read a lot of good series this year as well, starting with the nominees from the last category we have Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy as well as Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series (which I think is slated for 7 books, the first 3 are out).  The other two nominees for this category are David Eddings Belgariad and Peter V Brett’s Demon Cycle (that one goes way back to the first two books I reviewed in my blog).  (Even though I read the series this past summer, I had read the first 4 Harry Potter books several years ago, so it doesn’t qualify for this award, sorry HP fans.)  And the winner is…..

The Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.  I absolutely loved these books, the worldbuilding was fun, the characters were interesting, and the ending was great.  This is not to take away from the other books that I read, but ultimately a large part of the reason that this series won is because of the ending.  Brett’s series is still being written, as is Correia’s series.  The Belgariad did a lot of interesting things, but the ending flopped for me a little bit.  I’m also not saying that the Leviathan trilogy is winning by default.  The books are wonderful and I suggest them to everyone.  Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath received an 8, 8, and 10 (respectively) on my rating system which is a very respectable score for any set of books.

Favorite Book

I read a lot of books this year that I really liked.  I gave 17 books a perfect 10/10 rating, and my nominees for this category are essentially all of the books that received a 10 (I’m not going to list them all here).  So without any further ado (drumroll again please)…..

I Don’t Want to Kill You by Dan Wells.  As much as I heaped praise upon I Am The Messenger in the Favorite New Author category, the third book in the John Cleaver trilogy is my favorite book of the year.  This book gets high praise for being the third book in the trilogy and bringing it to a brilliant close.  Everything that the first two books of this series did very well, this book perfected.  John is an amazing character who had a fantastic growth arc in this book.  I closed my review for this book by saying that I loved it and that everyone should go buy it, now.  I close this category with the same advice, go buy it, now.

It’s time now for a couple of shorter categories, I’m just going to list a category and then the book without ranting like I did for the first three categories.  This is also going to be the reader participation section.  If you think of any other ways to classify the books that I read this year leave a comment and I’ll either edit the post to include your topic or just answer it with a reply to your comment.  (Please note, I will not answer negative questions, so do not ask for my least favorite book, least favorite author, etc.  Although I have no problem with giving poor scores if that’s what I believe the book warrants, I would like to keep this post upbeat in its tone.)

  • Longest Book – The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss – 994 pages
  • Shortest Book – Daphnis & Chloe by Longus – 121 pages
  • Funniest Book – Monster Hunter Vendetta by Larry Correia
  • Best Non-Fiction Book – Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

So there we are.  The end of the year awards.  I’ll probably finish 2 or 3 more books before the year technically ends, but we’ll throw those into the discussion for next year.

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  1. hannahrose42

     /  December 23, 2011

    I’m always afraid that the more books I read, the less I will be affected by them. With that in mind, were there any that challenged or changed something about you (your views… or anything of that nature)?

    • There were a couple of books like that actually. I Am The Messenger was a brilliant book that really had an impact on me when I read it. The book really showed how easy it is to make someone’s day (if not change their life). It’s a wonderful book everyone should read.

      The other book that I would put into this category is one of the non-fiction books I read; Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Whenever someone is successful at something, people generally attribute it to the nebulous idea of ‘talent.’ This book shows that talent doesn’t exist. For every person who is successful, there is a very good reason for their success, usually in the form of lots and lots of practice. This is where the idea of the 10 year overnight success comes from. If you’re willing to bust your ass for 10 years to practice and work on something, then when your opportunity arises, you’re able to jump on it. To anyone who hasn’t been with you the whole time it seems like you’re an instant success, but it never happens that way.

      Also simply when it comes to books, the novel Daphnis & Chloe really stood out. It’s a Greek novel that’s a couple thousand years old at this point. Especially after growing up reading and watching movies and TV, there is absolutely nothing in that novel that is surprising, but it’s well written (and well translated, at least in my edition) and it just works.

      That’s a really long and rambling answer to a really good question. And now for something completely different. I assume that you had a book in mind when you asked that question, so I’m going to ask you what book that you read recently that changed your thinking in some way?

      Otherwise, thanks for reading and thanks for commenting.

      • hannahrose42

         /  December 25, 2011

        It’s actually been a while… I remember reading The Fountainhead really affected me, though. It took a long time to read, but it was just brilliant.

        The last really good books that I felt affected me were The Hunger Games trilogy, but it didn’t really change anything, I just loved reading them.

  2. Thanks for the summary, Adam. I’m kind of combing memory as well, recalling favorite books, movies, and music of the year, and I’m having trouble remembering them. I can’t think of any book that would make it into my lifetime top 10, so I made a note of, “I am the Messenger,” which I plan to get as soon as I finish the two I’m reading in parallel (a bad habit).

    I’ve read some very good books this year, but very good does not automatically mean, lifetime favorite. “The Hunger Games,” for instance, is a “breakout novel” in every sense of the word, yet I doubt that I’ll ever read it again.

    I loved “The Odyssey” when I first read it in college, and I still dip back in to reread certain episodes. I’ll watch almost any movie version Homeric stories, just as I will Arthurian tales.

    Thanks for all the great reviews this year!

    • The Hunger Games trilogy is short enough to where re-reading it wouldn’t take me very long, especially as fast as I went through it the first time. But I do have other series that I would re-read before that one (I know I’ll be re-reading The Wheel of Time next year in anticipation of the final book coming out, I’ll go through the Mistborn trilogy again before I would go through Hunger Games again).

      My edition of The Odyssey had a great translation, I’m going to have to get the same translators version of The Iliad in the near future.

      One of the things I really did this year more than I have at any other time in the past was really expand my reading. Even though the largest portion of my books I read this year were Fantasy novels, I read a lot of other types of books this year, many that I probably wouldn’t have even considered reading a few years ago.

      Thanks for commenting throughout the year, it’s been fun and I’ll keep up with my blogging and the (hopefully great) reviews throughout next year.

  3. I read The Book Thief this year too and thought it was excellent. One of my students also recommended I Am The Messenger to me, so I’ll have to procure that one too.

    • It’s a wonderful book, Zusak is a great writer and I look forward to more books from him in the future.


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