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My Year In Books 2011

Yes, it’s time once again for the Year in Books, where YHB writes an absurd paragraph or two of quantitative analysis, throwing numbers and percentages around as if they were meaningful, and then tops it off with a list of Ten or Eleven Books Your Humble Blogger Enjoyed Reading for the First Time in 2011. This year, since I didn’t blog as I went, I plan on writing an individual note for each of the Ten or Eleven when I get a chance. I’ll take a moment and ask whether Gentle Readers missed the frequent book notes. I can’t say I missed writing them, but I aims to please, and if there is demand, I can meet it.

Anyway. During 2011 I read 71 books for the first time, and I reread 28 books for a total of 99. I finished the ninety-nineth book at 11:55pm on the last day of December, and then immediately shut off the light without waiting for midnight, so that tells you what kind of person Your Humble Blogger has become. That list does not include, by the way, six books that I started and chose not to finish, as well as another book that I have been reading on and off, and expect to finish during 2012, in which list it will belong.

The breakdown is more-or-less usual: 29 new YA/SF books, six SpecFic books that are not, I believe, primarily marketed to Young Adults, and one Young Adult novel that has nothing particularly speculative about it at all. That makes a bit more than half. There were three Graphic Novels, three Mysteries, three Non-Fiction Books, three Victorian Novels and eight works of fiction that did not fall into any of my usual categories. The remaining fifteen new items were plays. Among the rereads, it was mostly mysteries (three Dashiell Hammett books and three Dick Francis books) and non-YA specfic (six Lois McMaster Bujold books), plus YA/SF (including Anne McCaffrey’s three Menolly books), three Victorian novels and a couple of non-genre books (I can’t somehow include Cold Comfort Farm as specfic, even though it very clearly and explicitly is). I seem to be doing less rereading (the trendline on the graph is definitely down; I haven’t re-read more than forty books in any of the last four years, while I topped 40 three of the four years before that) which is not a bad thing. I still have my comfort books, and I reread them when I so desire, so I don’t feel that I am being deprived of the opportunity for that. Nor, of course, am I having difficulty getting hold of something I wish to reread when I wish to reread it. I suppose I might well be choosing, when I take books home from libraries, to give preference to stuff I haven’t read before, which may lose the odd opportunity to gain the particular enjoyment of returning to a text, but of course there are other compensations. On the other hand, it’s possible that what is really going on is that the re-reads just never get entered into my list; one book a month that I take from the upstairs shelf to the bed and/or bathtub and then put back on the upstairs shelf, never remembering to type the title whilst downstairs, would flatten out that trendline quite a bit.

I don’t think that I missed very many new books (using new in the sense of new to me, of course) this year, nor is the trendline obviously down for those. This year’s 71 is a trifle over the eight-year average of 70, and is up from the previous two years (both 64). One can argue that it’s padded with, which read faster than novels (even YA novels), but the point isn’t to maximize words or pages but things read, essentially stories read, with all that encompasses. And to maximize good stories, I suppose. Which leads me to the annual list:

  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson
  • The Frumkiss Family Business, by Michael Wex
  • The Pursuit of Love, by Nancy Mitford
  • A Resounding Tinkle, by N.F. Simpson
  • Orson’s Shadow, by Austin Pendleton
  • The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • The Hidden Hand, by E.D.E.N. Southworth
  • Goliath, by Scott Westerfeld
  • Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
  • The Beasts of Clawstone Castle, by Eva Ibbotson

Two plays, three YASFs (tho’ one is more a middle-grade book), a Victorian novel, the Hugo winner, and three non-genre novels. The really odd thing is the presence of two recently written books that are set in the present day (more or less) and have no speculative elements whatsoever. I rarely pick up such books, but this year most of the books of that ilk that I did pick up, I enjoyed. I could well have added Whores of Lost Atlantis to the list as well, perfectly happily, but books must be left off lists, or what are lists for?

Speaking of lists, then, I will add below the complete list of 71 books for those who like that sort of thing. If any of y’all have any questions about any of them, let me know, as I would be happy to talk. I’m that way.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

  1. The Beasts of Clawstone Castle, by Eva Ibbotson
  2. Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld
  3. The Bishop’s Wife, by Robert Nathan
  4. Bow Street Mystery, by Israel Zangwill
  5. Box Man, by Harry King
  6. Calamity Jack, by Shannon Hale
  7. The Cardinal’s Blades, by Pierre Pevel
  8. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, by Tennessee Williams
  9. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
  10. The Clockwork Three, by Matthew J. Kirby
  11. A Conspiracy of Kings, by Margaret Whalen Turner
  12. Done to Death, by Fred Carmichael
  13. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
  14. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly
  15. Flowers for the Judge, by Margery Allingham
  16. The Frumkiss Family Business, by Michael Wex
  17. The Giant Baby, by Allan Ahlberg
  18. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making , by Catherynne M. Valente
  19. Goliath, by Scott Westerfeld
  20. The Grey Wig, by Israel Zangwill
  21. Hadrian’s Memoirs, by Marguerite Yourcenar
  22. Half upon a time, by James Riley
  23. Hereville, by Barry Deutsch
  24. The Hidden Hand, by Eden Southworth
  25. The Hole, by N.F. Simpson
  26. I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett
  27. The Idiot Box, by Michael Elyanow
  28. Keys to the City, by Joel Kostman
  29. The King of Attolia, by Margaret Whalen Turner
  30. Kingdom of Death, by Margery Allingham
  31. Life as we Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  32. Lord Sunday, by Garth Nix
  33. Magic Flutes, by Eva Ibbotson
  34. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson
  35. Mary Barton, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  36. The Midnight Folk, by John Masefield
  37. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
  38. The Mostly True Story of Jack, by Kelly Barnhill
  39. Moving to Higher Ground, by Wynton Marsalis
  40. The Mystery of Irma Vep, by Charles Ludlum
  41. New Jerusalem, by David Ives
  42. Orson’s Shadow, by Austin Pendleton
  43. Over Sea, Under Stone, by Susan Cooper
  44. Pathfinder, by Orson Scott Card
  45. Piece of my Heart, by Shirley Lauro
  46. The Pirates’ Mixed-Up Voyage, by Margaret Mahy
  47. Puck of Pook’s Hill, by Rudyard Kipling
  48. Punch in, Susie!, by Nell Giles
  49. The Pursuit of Love, by Nancy Mitford
  50. The Queen of Attolia, by Margaret Whalen Turner?
  51. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
  52. Reckless, by Cornelia Funke
  53. A Resounding Tinkle, by N.F. Simpson
  54. Restoring Harmony, by Joelle Anthony
  55. Rhinoceros, by Eugene Ionesco
  56. The Ruins of Gorlan, by John Flanagan
  57. The Seafarer, by Conor McPherson
  58. The Search for WondLa, by Tony DiTerlizzi
  59. The Secret of Platform 13, by Eva Ibbotson
  60. A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams
  61. Superior Donuts, by Tracy Letts
  62. A Tale of Two Castles, by Gail Carson Levine
  63. To Anchor a Cloud, by Dilip Hiro
  64. The Vicar of Dibley, by Richard Curtis, et al
  65. What a Carve Up!, by Jonathan Coe
  66. Whores of Lost Atlantis, by Charles Busch
  67. The Wide-Awake Princess, by E.D. Baker
  68. Wildwood, by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis
  69. The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
  70. Wonderland, by Tommy Kovac & Sonny Liew
  71. Zorgamazoo, by Robert Paul Weston