A year in books, 2017

I had quite a year in books, and quite a year overall. Reading accomplishment that I’m most proud of: a net decrease in the number of books that I already own but haven’t read yet to 23. Only half of an average year’s worth of reads…

By the numbers

Books: 55

Total pages: 15922 (so close to 16k! Shoulda counted some appendices in the page totals.)

Average pages per book: 289.5

Shortest book: Angel Catbird Vol 2, 82 pages

Longest book: The Long Mars, 547 pages

Earliest publication date: 1818 (Frankenstein)

Books released in 2017: Fudge and Jury and A Crime of Passion Fruit, Ellie Alexander; Lumberjanes Vol 6, multiple authors and artists; Death on Tap and In Cave Danger, Kate Dyer-Seeley; The Book of Dust, Philip Pullman; The Backstagers Vol 1, multiple authors and artists

Average publication date: 2006

Most common genres, traditional labeling: fantasy/weird/magical realism (which are all distinct, but overlapping)

Most common genres, plot element labeling: mystery (partly because of reading a bunch of mysteries, partly because a lot of stuff that isn’t primarily a mystery is also a mystery)

Number of novels: 30 (54%)

Number of nonfiction: 7 (13%)

Number of graphica: 8 (15%)

Everything else (novellas, plays, short story collections, epic poems, and essay collections, which are really just nonfiction short stories): 10 (18%)

Average rating: 2.65/3 (and no 1s this year! I have done a very good job of vetting books before I read them. I wish I had time to expand my horizons and read some potential stinkers but I just do not have time for that.)

Most common reason I picked a book up: series continuations, followed by recommendations and reading more of authors I previously enjoyed. Also featuring – impulse buys, gifts, and can’t remember but I owned it/had it on a wishlist.

The big awards

This was much easier than last year – and not because the quality of the books went down. Quite the opposite! I would say the average quality stayed about the same, but there were some real standouts this year that truly stood head and shoulders above the rest, for innovative, thoughtful storytelling, compelling characters (or real-life subjects), and outstanding writing. Any book I gave a rating of 3 to this year is a book I recommend without reservation (to readers of appropriate age), but here are my favorites:

Best novel (that was not part of a series): Lock-In (March). Runners up: Still Star-Crossed (March), Fuzzy Nation (October). Special mention: American Gods (April), which was even better on re-reading.

Best series: The Broken Earth (December, January 2018). Runner up: Sorcery and Cecilia (February, September, November, which totally would have won if Broken Earth hadn’t swept in on the last days of the year). Special mention: The Book of Dust (November), which I’m struggling to award as a series since only one is out so far, but didn’t want to place with standalone novels.

Best graphica: Persepolis (December). Runner up: The Backstagers (December), with more forthcoming.

Best nonfiction: Hidden Figures (February). Runners up: Pox (October).

And as for everything else…

Best airship: Etiquette Espionage

Best scientists, real: Hidden Figures

Best scientists, not real: Fuzzy Nation

Worst scientists (as in objectively the worst people, but unfortunately competent): Frankenstein

Best Americana-weird: American Gods, Welcome to Night Vale

Best creatures of horrifying origin that I saw parts of their origin coming and was horrified anyway: The Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance), The Broken Earth trilogy (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky)

Most awful murderer: Jack, Fuzzy Nation

Most awful not-a-murderer: Wickham, Death Comes to Pemberley

Best child protagonists: The Book of Dust

Best dogs: The Mislaid Magician

Most infuriating nonfiction: Has Feminism Changed Science? (not enough!), The Sixth Extinction (we’re dooming innocent species!), Hidden Figures (imagine all the brilliant minds who never got a chance!)

Most useful read: Thinking Like a Director

Best pig-like creatures: Finn Family MoomintrollThe Southern Reach trilogy

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