What I’ve Been Reading in 2011: Some Statistics

Just because I can:

I’ve read 158 books last year, among those 74 were by female authors, 76 by male authors and 8 were collective works by authors of both sexes (and I admit to being rather pleased with myself for having achieved gender parity there without even trying).

Split into genres (as some books belong to two or more genres, the sum here is greater than 158): 37 Science Fiction, 60 Fantasy, 22 Romance, 17  Crime Fiction, 10 Historical Fiction, 11 General Fiction, 4 Comics, 3 Erotic Fiction and 5 Magazines. Obviously it was a very Fantasy-heavy year (I’m including what is mostly labelled as Urban Fantasy and what I, liking to be contrary, prefer to call Paranormal Fantasy under that tag). I was inclined to make New Year’s resolutions, I’d say I that I would like to read more General Fiction next year. And maybe more Erotic Fiction, too. Or just generally read more. I definitely need to read in more languages than just English though – there was just a single German language book among all the ones I read, and not a single French one, I urgently need to do something about that.

And finally, since everyone is doing them –

My Favourite Reads 2011

(Note that it says “favourite” and not “best” – in keeping with the general tone and purpose of this blog, this is all about stuff I liked, and not making any claims beyond that.)

In order of reading:

Laura Kinsale: Flowers from the Storm
I’m still comparatively new to reading Romance (if you disregard, as I’m rather inclined to do) the stuff I read as a teenager), and mostly see it as fun, entertaining fluff, something you curl up with to forget everything around you for a couple of hours. But (as I suppose is the case in every genre) from time to time, you encounter something that just grips you in unexpected ways, that’s maybe not as much of a comfort read as what you’re used to, but engages you on a deeper level. Flowers from the Storm was one such book, and has become my favourite Romance novel ever.

Anne Peile: Repeat it Today with Tears

First novel about a father-daughter incest. Wonderfully written and truly heart-wrenching as few novels are. This really deserves more attention; my post here.

Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

In spite of what I said earlier, I think it is safe to say that this is best book I’ve read all year, seeing how it’s commonly acknowledged to be one of the major works of 20th century literature. And rightly so – it is a sheer marvel how Nabokov manages to wring that much beauty from such a tawdry story told by one of the most unlikeable characters in all fiction. You can get quite literally drunk on Nabokov’s use of language, and structurally is it pure brilliance, both intricate and imaginative, something to turn over and turn over, admiring it from every possible angle and always detecting new delights.

Jo Walton: Among Others

I liked this marginally less than her utterly breathtaking Lifelode, but it still is a classic of Fantasy literature, showing just how wonderful this genre can be if you don’t let yourself get bogged down in the quagmire of established conventions. Witty and warmhearted, funny and tragic, a paean to literature and imagination.

Karen Mae Moning: Fever Series

Just two words: Jericho Barron

Samuel R. Delany: Nova

This is the fourth or fifth time I have read this novel, and every time I have gotten the same rush of excitement from it, been infected by the sheer thrill of its exuberance, blown away by the multitude and splendor of its ideas, intoxicated by the vibrancy and vividness of its images and words… well, you get the idea.

Denis Johnson: Train Dreams

A very powerful and moving novella, epic even in its brevity; my post here.

Barbara Samuel: A Bed of Spices

Another Historical Romance, and another instant favourite – where her characterisation might not go quite as deep as Laura Kinsale’s, Barbara Samuel makes more then up for it with the beauty of her language; my post here.

Ali Smith: There but for the

Last but not least, my favourite new release in 2011 (not that I’ve read a lot of those), Ali Smith re-imagines Cubism as a literary form; my post here.

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