Saturday, January 6, 2018

2017 in Review

Last year I built upon Goodreads’ review of our reading in a blog post. Here are this year’s numbers, with comparisons to 2016:

How much did we read?

As in 2016, the group met 9 times and read 19 titles. Altogether we read 6,334 pages, which is a huge drop from the amazing 7,247 that we managed last year, with the average dropping from an impressive 381 pages per book to a more sedate 333. Our shortest read was The Uncommon Reader, which is actually classed as a novella, at 120 pages. However, this was balanced by All the Light We Cannot See that filled a much more Pulitzer-worthy 531.

Who did we read?

This year the male authors outnumbered the females by 10 to 9, although both Terry Pratchett and Brandon Sanderson are authors that I love and will continue to suggest to the group. All the other authors, whether male or female, were new to the group, although I suspect that some of them will make repeat appearances in the future.

How old were they?

The oldest book we read this year was The Haunting of Hill House, which was published in 1959, a whole 6 years earlier than The Left Hand of Darkness, our oldie last year. Again, the newest titles were from the preceding year, with both Behind Closed Doors and My Name is Lucy Barton published in 2016. Also again, the others showed a definite skew towards newer reads, with 14 titles published after 2000. I keep looking for older titles, and I do suggest them at meetings, but the ladies seem to prefer something newer and unfamiliar.

What genre were they?

We read a wide range of genres this year, falling into 16 categories other than ‘Fiction’, up 1 from last year. Last year we read a lot of Fantasy (11 titles), but this year the most popular categories were Mystery (8 titles) and Historical (5 titles). I am not sure if this is due to me being more varied in my suggestions or just the luck of our selection procedure. Of course, it helps that so many of my favorite Fantasy / Sci-Fi titles are monstrous tomes that I can never suggest, even over the summer hiatus – I am looking at YOU George R. R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson!  

Did we like them?

Yes, although we were more ambivalent this year, with an average rating of 3.4, down from 4.2 last year.

We had one title that we all absolutely hated: Behind Closed Doors. Goodreads does not allow a 0 rating, but that is really what we wanted to give it. I personally could not complete it once a puppy arrived to be tortured and / or killed by the dastardly villain. Also it was badly written with poor characterization and a ludicrous plot. Many in the group were seriously under-impressed by The Woods by Harlan Coben and also Louise Penny’s Still Life, which both received 2 star ratings. All the other titles earned 3 or 4 stars, and whilst some of us would have given some of them a full 5 stars, no one title was unanimously declared outstanding, although A Man Called Ove and All The Light We Cannot See came closest.

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