2017 End of Year Book Survey

2017 End of Year Book SurveyEvery year seems more crazy than the last, and I’m ready for this one to be over. I’m taking some time over the holidays to reflect on what I’ve done well and what’s brought me joy — including books.

Best Books in 2017

1. Best book you read In 2017?

2. What was a book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

Witches of America was disappointing. I didn’t really like the author, and couldn’t connect with her point of view.

3. What was the most surprising (in a good way!) book of the year?

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? was surprisingly deep and nuanced. It struck chords I wasn’t expecting.

4. What book did you read and recommended to people most?

I told multiple people about Unmentionable and The Devil in the White City.

5. What’s the best series you discovered?

Crocodile on the Sandbank was so much fun! I’ve already read the second in the series, and have 18 more go to.

6. Who’s your favorite new author you discovered?

Andy Weir. The Martian was amazing. My book club is reading his second novel, Artemis, in January.

7. What was the best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I got a little comfortable this year. Akata Witch and Love, InshAllah were my “stretch” reads, and I didn’t love either of them. Fortunately my book club is chugging along, and we’re planning to read some things that are different than my normal choices.

8. What was the most thrilling, unputdownable book of the year?

Gotta be The Devil in the White City. Oh, sweet Jesus, and Hex.

9. What book did you read this year that you are most likely to re-read next year?

Looking back over my list, there’s nothing I think I’ll re-read so soon. I read many good books this year, but there are so many more to discover.

10. What’s your favorite cover of a book you read?

An unpaved road surrounded by trees that disappear into the fog? Nothing good is happening here.

11. Who’s the most memorable character you met this year?

Miss Amelia Peabody from Crocodile on the Sandbank. I love me a sassy Victorian lady.

12. What’s the most beautifully written book you read?

Probably Hex. It’s absolutely horrifying.

13. What book had the greatest impact on you?

All of the professional development things I’ve been reading lately. It’s been a crazy few months at work, and I’m so ready for what’s coming up.

14. What book do you can’t believe you waited until this year to finally read?

Nothing jumps to mind. Most of what I read this year hadn’t been on my TBR for long.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read?

This passage from Unmentionable!

You are a prize to be won. He must work to capture your affections and approval. Only the stupid and slutty trout leap out of the water to gain the fisherman’s attention. The virtuous trout simply allows the sun to gleam briefly on her shining scales and then dives back to the shadowy depths. Only a skilled man with the finest of fake bugs can ream a metal hook through her mouth. You are that trout, and the metal hook you are about to be impaled on is holy matrimony.

16. Shortest & longest book you read?

17. What book had a scene in it that left you reeling and dying to talk to somebody?

My book club read Cloud Atlas and had a fabulous conversation about it. It’s a meaty read, one I was glad not to have attempted without having some people to talk with about it afterwards.

18. What’s your favorite relationship from a book you read this year (be it romantic, friendship, etc.)?

Amelia and Radcliffe from Crocodile on the Sandbank. I’m a sucker for a Beatrice-and-Benedick relationship.

19. What’s your favorite book you read this year from an author you’ve read previously?

As always, Clive Cussler. A friend introduced me to his books in high school, and I read a couple new ones every year.

20. What’s the best book you read based solely on a recommendation from someone else?

Everything we’ve read for book club this year:

While I’d never say I enjoyed all of these books, I did enjoy discussing them with my club. Looking forward to more interesting stuff in 2018!

21. What genre did you read the most from this year?

To no one’s surprise, it’s mystery/thriller.

22. Who’s your newest fictional crush from a book you read?

Mark Watney from The Martian. Smart and funny? Sign me up.

23. What’s the best 2017 debut you read?

I have no idea. I don’t pay attention to publication dates.

24. Which book you read this year had the most vivid world/imagery?

Tie between The Lies of Locke Lamora and Hex.

25. What book was the most fun to read?

All books are fun to read for different reasons. I enjoyed Pleating for Mercy for its lightness, Option B for its ideas about resilience, and The Best Place to Work for its sheer nerdiness.

26. What book made you cry or nearly cry in 2017?

Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse. My husband found me crying on the couch after I read the last couple pages.

27. What book did you read that you think got overlooked this year (or the year it came out)?

I think Laughing all the Way to the Mosque is flying under the radar. It was published in 2014, but I think it’s an important book to make visible.

Looking Ahead

1. What’s one book you didn’t get to in 2017 that will be your biggest priority in 2018?

I need to get my butt in gear for book club. We’re reading The Casual Vacancy and Artemis. I also want to dive into Build Your Dream Network, which just arrived on my doorstep.

2. What book you are most anticipating for 2018 (non-debut)?

I don’t plan my reading in advance much, other than book club, so pretty much anything.

3. What 2018 debut do you anticipate most?

This isn’t something I care about. If I hear about a book and it happens to be a debut, that’s neither here nor there.

4. Which series ending in 2018 do you anticipate most?

I haven’t read many series this year, and none of them are ending in 2018.

5. What’s one thing you hope to accomplish in your reading/blogging in 2018?

I’m not sure. I’m feeling a little rudderless when it comes to this blog. Part of me wants to close it down, but I enjoy using it to keep track of my reading and hone my writing skills. Maybe I’ll continue with The Write Stuff challenge. We’ll see.

What are your 2018 reading goals? Let’s talk!

2016 End of Year Book Survey

2016 End of Year Book SurveyHow can I be so tired of this year when it seems to have gone by so fast? Out with the old, hooray! But first, a quick, nerdy look back at this year’s reading.

Best Books in 2016

1. Best book you read In 2016?

2. What was a book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

Definitely Sorrow’s Knot. The world building was just so disappointing.

3. What was the most surprising (in a good way!) book of the year?

I didn’t expect to enjoy Croak as much as I did. A surprisingly original story.

4. What book did you read and recommended to people most?

The Wicked Boy. Have you read it yet? Why not? Stop reading this and go read that right now!

5. What’s the best series you discovered?

I didn’t do much serial reading this year. But I’m interested in seeing where the The Golem and the Jinni series goes. The next book comes out in 2018, though, so it’ll be a bit of a wait.

6. Who’s your favorite new author you discovered?

Torn between Kate Summerscale (The Wicked Boy, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher) and Andrzej Sapkowksi (the Witcher series). I love the level of detail both authors put into their books.

7. What was the best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I was nervous about Vermilion. I don’t reach much Steampunk, and the book ended up being more violent than I like. But it gave me all kinds of interesting feelings, so I enjoyed it.

8. What was the most thrilling, unputdownable book of the year?

The Winter People kept me up at night. As did Half the Sky, but for totally different reasons.

9. What book did you read this year that you are most likely to re-read next year?

Probably The Wicked Boy. I’m still trying to decide whether or not I agree with the author’s theory that his mother’s abuse is what led Robert Coombes to murder his mother.

10. What’s your favorite cover of a book you read?

2016 best book covers

11. Who’s the most memorable character you met this year?

Robert Coombes from The Wicked Boy. What led him to murder his own mother? And how can a person who commits such a crime go on to become a war hero?

12. What’s the most beautifully written book you read?

Meet the Austins was a lovely, quiet read. Madeleine L’Engle writes from childrens’ perspectives so well. The book reminded me of Wilder’s Little House series, which has always been a favorite.

13. What book had the greatest impact on you?

I really enjoyed Lincoln’s Battle with God. It gave me even more insight into and appreciated for a man I’ve respected for several years.

14. What book do you can’t believe you waited until this year to finally read?

I’ve always found Craig Ferguson hysterical, and couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of his book, American on Purpose, until this year. He’s done a lot of interesting — and stupid — things, and I like his views on life.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read?

I loved this quote from Studs Terkel’s Working:

The white-collar guy is scared he may be replaced by the computer. The schoolteacher is asked not to teach but to babysit. God help you if you teach. The minister is trapped by the congregation that’s out of touch with him. He spends his life violating the credo that led him into the ministry. The policeman has no relationship to the people he’s supposed to protect. So he oppresses. The fireman who wants to fight fires ends up fighting a war. People become afraid of each other. They’re convinced there’s not a damn thing they can do.

And I love Craig Ferguson’s maxim from American on Purpose:

Between safety and adventure, I choose adventure.

16. Shortest & longest book you read?

17. What book had a scene in it that left you reeling and dying to talk to somebody?

The Winter People was a total nail-biter!

18. What’s your favorite relationship from a book you read this year (be it romantic, friendship, etc.)?

I really enjoyed the relationship between Geralt and his ward Ciri in Blood of Elves. It’s a cross between a father-daughter and mentor-mentee relationship. Both characters are smart, stubborn, and powerful. And they enjoy needling each other.

19. What’s your favorite book you read this year from an author you’ve read previously?

I’ve loved Clive Cussler for a long time, and that love affair continued this year with The Kingdom. Fun book, and narrator Scott Brick is one of my favorites.

20. What’s the best book you read based solely on a recommendation from someone else?

Definitely Half the Sky. I didn’t do a full review, reading it was one of the things that changed my life this year.

21. What genre did you read the most from this year?

Tie between Mystery/Thriller and History.

22. Who’s your newest fictional crush from a book you read?

Geralt from Blood of Elves! He’d make a terrible boyfriend/husband, so it’s probably best that he’s not real.

23. What’s the best 2016 debut you read?

The Wicked Boy, for sure! Author Kate Summerscale has other great books too.

24. Which book you read this year had the most vivid world/imagery?

Blood of Elves. Fantasy authors are the best at world building, period.

25. What book was the most fun to read?

Heroes Are My Weakness. Modern gothic romance!

26. What book made you cry or nearly cry in 2016?

Half the Sky. It made me cry, and it made me so angry.

27. What book did you read that you think got overlooked this year (or the year it came out)?

Why are there people in the universe who haven’t read The Wicked Boy?!

Looking Ahead

1. What’s one book you didn’t get to in 2016 that will be your biggest priority in 2017?

My lovely family usually gives me lots of books for Christmas, so I imagine I’ll have a look through those and see what strikes my fancy in the moment. I don’t have any priorities right now.

2. What book you are most anticipating for 2017 (non-debut)?

At this exact moment? Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners (Therese Oneill) and Witches of America (Alex Mar).

3. What 2017 debut do you anticipate most?

I don’t pay much attention to debut dates.

4. Which series ending in 2016 do you anticipate most?

I don’t pay much attention to this either. I am hoping to finish out Rachel Aaron’s The Legend of Eli Monpress series.

5. What’s one thing you hope to accomplish in your reading/blogging in 2017?

Same as always: to read interesting things by interesting people, and talk about them with other readers.

How did your 2016 reading shake out? What are your reading goals for next year? Let’s talk!

2015 End of Year Book Survey

2015 End of Year Book SurveyEarly every December I realize I’m officially sick of whatever year we’re currently in, and start dreaming obsessively about how much better the next year will be. This is doubly the case with 2015 — some awful stuff happened, and lately I’ve spent a lot of time worried about…well, everything.

Fortunately we’re on the cusp of the New Year, a time to look back, keep what you find good and valuable, and dropkick the detritus out into the snow. I try do this in all areas of my life, and here on the blog I get the chance to focus on my reading.

Best Books in 2015

1. Best book you read in 2015?

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, by Caitlin Doughty. It was a good book and I’m a big fan, but it didn’t focus on the information I thought it would.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2015?

The Castaway Lounge, by Jon Boilard. My first review at Insatiable Booksluts, and not something I thought I’d end up enjoying as much as I did.

4. Book you read and recommended to people most in 2015?

Lincoln’s Melancholy, by Joshua Wolf Shenk. I’ve loved reading about Lincoln for about a year now, and Shank’s book has some amazing insights into our 16th president’s mental challenges. As someone who struggles with similar feelings, it was inspiring to read about how Lincoln dealt with his depression and anxiety.

5. Best series you discovered in 2015?

Karen White’s Tradd Street series. The House on Tradd Street was a great way to recapture a little bit of that Charlestonian feel I had when visiting South Carolina with my mom in 2014.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

Deborah Blum! The Poisoner’s Handbook was one of my favorite reads of the year. She’s a meticulous researcher and excellent writer.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

The Castaway Lounge focused on seedier topics than I normally read about, but ended up being a great read.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2015?

Thanks to a ridiculous commute to and from work, I’ve been listening to a ton of audiobooks. My library has a lot of options, and in the last few months I’ve rediscovered my love of Clive Cussler novels. Dirk Pitt will always be my favorite, but the Kurt Austin and Sam/Remi Fargo series are also excellent. They’re action-packed and so much fun!

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Pioneer Girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s annotated biography. It’s packed full of so many details that I’m sure I missed lots. And once I read that again, I’ll probably cycle back through the Little House series for the nine millionth time.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

I’m going to cheat a little on this one — it’s an entire book of book covers. Jane Austen: Cover to Cover is a beautifully designed book on its own, and it includes some amazing examples of her novel’s covers.

Jane AustenCover to Cover, Margaret Sullivan

11. Most memorable character in 2015?

Theodore Roosevelt (not a character, but definitely a character). The guy was a machine, comprised of teeth, glasses, and adventure. I’ve read a couple biographies on TR in the last couple years, and just finished watching Ken Burns’ documentary The Roosevelts.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

The Unpublished David Ogilvy, by David Ogilvy. God damn, the guy could write.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2015?

Again, Lincoln’s Melancholy. It felt so good to see that I and a man I admire had some of the same mental challenges. Lincoln’s method for dealing with his issues has had a great impact on me, and I like to think I’m better for having read the book.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited until 2015 to finally read?

None in particular. I feel like I got just the right kind of reading at just the right times this year.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2015?

First up is a quote from Kathy Reichs’ Déjà Dead:

When summer arrives in Montreal it flounces in like a rumba dancer: all ruffles and bright cotton, with flashing thighs and sweat-slicked skin. It is a ribald celebration that begins in June and continues until September.

And then from The Unpublished David Ogilvy:

Develop your eccentricities while you are young. That way, when you get old, people won’t think you’re going gaga.

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2015?

  • Shortest – The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill (176 pages)
  • Longest – Colonel Roosevelt, by Edmund Morris (784  pages, audiobook)

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody?

It didn’t make me reel, but I found Shopping, Seduction, and Mr. Selfridge endlessly interesting. It made me want to pal around with marketing folks and “talk shop.”

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2015 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)?

I loved the relationships between the main characters in The Legend of Eli Monpress. The team of outlaws (Eli, Joseph, and Nico) obviously care for each other a great deal, and do some amazing and stupidly dangerous things to save each other.

19. Favorite book you read in 2015 from an author you’ve read previously?

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pioneer Girl. It’s annotated, but the original words are Wilder’s, and I’ve loved her stories since I learned how to read chapter books.

20. Best book in 2015 you read based solely on a recommendation from someone else?

The only book recommended to me this year by someone I know personally was The Legend of Eli Monpress, and it was a total success.

21. Genre you read the most from in 2015?

This year it’s back to mystery/thriller (26 books), with history in a far second (17 books).

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

I’ve got a little bit of a thing for Garrett from Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink. He’s a know-it-all nerd, but he’s also sweet and good.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

I don’t know if I read anything that came out this year.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2015?

The Legend of Eli Monpress, for sure. A beautiful, harsh, fully-realized world that I’d love to spend time in.

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2015?

Any of the Clive Cussler audiobooks I listened to. They’re brain candy for smart people.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2015?

The Butler: A Witness to History (audiobook) got me a little choked up. Eugene Allen was a butler to eight US presidents, and lived long enough to see President Obama’s inauguration.

27. Book you read in 2015 that you think got overlooked this year (or the year it came out)?

I don’t pay too much attention to what other people say about the books I read. Generally only when I’m feeling conflicted about a book will I purposefully search out others’ reviews.

Looking Ahead

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2015 but will be your biggest priority in 2016?

My mom’s been on me for years to read Allan Gurganus’ The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2016 (non-debut)?

None in particular. My reading plans have been pretty organic this year, something that will continue in 2016.

3. 2016 debut you are most anticipating?

I don’t think much about debut dates, but see below.

4. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2016?

Currently the only series I’m reading through is the Tradd Street series, and the next one doesn’t come out until 2017 (boo!).

5. One thing you hope to accomplish in your reading/blogging in 2016?

To enjoy books and reading as they happen, and talk about them with other bookish people.

What are your 2016 reading goals? Let’s talk!

 

2014 End of Year Book Survey

2014 end of year book survey2014 has been quite a year, and not necessarily a good one. I’m so excited that it’s finally the holiday season, and that I have some time to look back over my reading for the year. I’ve read fewer books, but more of them have been excellent than ever before.

Best Books in 2014

1. Best book you read In 2014?

Like I could pick just one.

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

The Book of Madness and Cures and Lady Molly of Scotland Yard were kind of “blah,” and Heads in Beds and The Copper Sign should have been tossed out a window.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2014?

Even though I love Doris Kearns Goodwin, I was worried that The Bully Pulpit was going to be a little dull. I didn’t know much about Roosevelt and Taft, and wasn’t sure it would be interested. As usual, though, I underestimated Goodwin.

4. Book you read and recommended to people most in 2014?

It’s a toss-up between J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s S and Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England. Both are incredibly fascinating and I would love to talk with someone about them!

5. Best series you discovered in 2014?

Pegasus Books sent me a copy of The Mangle Street Murders, which features a seemingly heartless bastard of a “private detective” and his stubborn niece. I’ll be getting an advanced copy of the second in the series soon, and I’m so excited!

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Terry Goodkind’s books have been around for decades, but Best Friend gave me a copy of Wizard’s First Rule and now I’m a little obsessed with the entire series.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2014?

The Seeker kept me up until 2am (and then I was too scared to sleep), and I read S twice in the period of a week.

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I may not re-read it all the way through, but I’ll probably skim through The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England again. It’s an easy book to pick up and start reading anywhere.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

Look at these!

2014 end of year book survey

11. Most memorable character in 2014?

Kahlan Amnell from Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule. She’s strong and brave, and has an interesting backstory in a fascinating world.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion was both hysterical and heartbreaking.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2014?

I read a lot of great books this year, but the one that stuck with me the most was actually The Copper Sign, the most eye-rollingly stupid novel I read all year.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited until 2014 to finally read?

I tend to cycle through my TBR list fairly quickly, so there isn’t one particular book I found myself thinking, “Why did I wait so long to read this?”

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2014?

Listening to This I Believe gave me a bunch of great quotes to love, but this one is my favorite:

I believe in the absolute and unlimited liberty of reading. I believe in wandering through the stacks and picking out the first thing that strikes me. I believe in choosing books based on the dust jacket. I believe in reading books because others dislike them or find them dangerous. I believe in choosing the hardest book imaginable. I believe in reading up on what others have to say about this difficult book, and then making up my own mind.

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2014?

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody?

Definitely S — the entire novel. Read this so we can talk about it!

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2014 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)?

The Mangle Street Murders features Sidney Grice — snobby “private detective” — and his niece March Middleton. Their relationship starts off a little rocky, and I think it’s going to be fun to see what happens.

19. Favorite book you read in 2014 from an author you’ve read previously?

No Ordinary Time, Doris Kearns Goodwin

20. Best book in 2014 you read based solely on a recommendation from someone else?

I got a free copy of The Seeker from Pegasus Books, and trusted their recommendation. Boy, were they right!

21. Genre you read the most from in 2014?

Somewhat surprisingly, history. I’ve always loved it, but in the last couple of years have been reading more fantasy type stuff. It’s been a nice change.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Richard Cypher from Wizard’s First Rule. And kind of on Kahlan as well. And to be honest, on Denna as well.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

The Seeker, definitely.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2014?

Wizard’s First Rule has some amazing world building, from Confessors to Mord-Sith and magic and Sword of Truth and a million other things. It’s intimidating that there’s more than a dozen books in the series, but I really want to continue reading.

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2014?

Reading The Seeker scared the shit out of me, and it was awesome.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014?

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, for sure.

27. Book you read in 2014 that you think got overlooked this year (or the year it came out)?

I don’t pay too much attention to what other people say about the books I read.

Looking Ahead

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2014 but will be your biggest priority in 2015?

I got a copy of J.A. Kazimer’s Froggy Style from PaperBack Swap, and just haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2015 (non-debut)?

Even several months after my visit to South and North Carolina, I’m still obsessed with reading books set in the area. The House on Tradd Street promises a great Charleston feel with a nice mix of romance and mystery.

3. 2015 debut you are most anticipating?

I don’t think much about debut dates.

4. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2015?

I’m not sure if any of the series I’m reading are ending in 2015. Another thing I don’t pay much attention to.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish in your reading/blogging in 2015?

To enjoy books and reading as they happen, and not freak out about my blogging schedule.

What are your 2015 reading goals? Let’s talk!