A year in books, 2018

Last year I was proud of reducing my books owned but not read yet to 23. This year, I had to get a new bookshelf, and I still can’t fit all the to-reads onto a single shelf. Oops. It’s been a bountiful year.

Picks of the year

I am bad at picking a single favorite, so I instead break it up by format, as in past years. I am delighted that I had strong picks in every category.

Novel, seriesShades of Magic, Lady Astronaut. Honorable mention: Lock In, already awarded best novel back before it was a series

Novel, standalone: Ghost Talkers. Runners up: I, Iago; Hag-Seed (interestingly, both Shakespeare themed), Among Others.

Novella: Murderbot Diaries. Runners up: Binti, Wayward Children.

Play: Raisin in the Sun.Runner up: Silent Sky.

Short stories: Guys and Dolls. Runner up: Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination.

Nonfiction and essays: Poisoner’s Handbook. Runner up: Boys in the Boat.

Graphica: Henchgirl. Runner up: Women in Science.

And for the best of everything else…

Best scientists, real: Women in Science
Best scientists, not real: Murderbot Diaries, Dr Mensah and co., The Calculating Stars, literally everyone
Best protagonists who are also ghosts: Ghost Talkers, Hag-Seed
Best specters: Binti trilogy
Best dogs: To Say Nothing of the Dog, Vicious
Best revenge: Hag-Seed for actual revenge, Crazy Rich Asians for the revenge of living well
Worst revenge: I, Iago (it’s cruel, it doesn’t involve living well by anyone involved, and it’s not even effective)
Best heist: Henchgirl
Best reverse heist (put that thing back where it came from!): A Conjuring of Light from Shades of Magic
Best books within a book: Mor’s midcentury scifi collection, Among Others
Best tournament: A Gathering of Shadows, Boys in the Boat

By the numbers, 2018 (for comparison, 2017)

Books: 66
Pages: 17655
Estimated words, at average of ~250 words per page: 4,413,750 (approximately 7.3 of War and Peace)
Estimated time spent reading, at ~70 pages per hour: 252 hours, which comes out to about 4 hours and 45 minutes a week, or 40 minutes a day

Authors: 44
Female authors: 27 (61%)
Authors of color: 12 (27%)

Mean book length: 267.5 pages
Standard deviation: 153.1 pages (meaning there was a lot of variation!)
Shortest book: (tie) ‘Art’ and Silent Sky, 63 pages
Longest book: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, 846 pages

Oldest book: Guys and Dolls, 1932
Newest book: Another One Bites the Crust, Tempests and Slaughter, Natural Thorn Killer, Till Death Do Us Tart, Pint of No Return, Violet Tendencies, all started on the day of release
Mean publication date: 2010.1

Most common genre, traditional labeling (aka setting): science fiction by a nose, but only because I split fantasy and magical realism into two categories
Most common genre, story element labeling: character study and mystery

Novels: 24
Novellas: 15
Nonfiction: 6
Plays: 9
Short stories: 4
Graphica: 6
Essays: 1

The numbers aren’t really what matters – it’s the promise of a never-ending pool of stories always waiting for me to dip into. It’s the hope behind tsundoku, having more books than I can ever possibly read and constantly falling farther behind, and just taking pleasure in knowing how wide the world is. It’s the delight of finding a promising new piece in the bookstore, and then finding it all over again on the to-read shelf. And it’s the satisfaction of having a large enough sample size for statistically robust analysis!

In 2019, I resolve to watch more TV, and I will still read all these books, and I will enjoy every minute of both.

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