I read 118 books in 2007. That’s more than usual (in 2005 my total was 109, and in 2006 an even 100). I’m not surprised though, given what a busy and stressful year it’s been. That may sound counterintuitive, but when I’m crazily busy and stressed out, I’m much more likely to spend my non-work hours reading than, for example, out socializing. Under such circumstances, I relish, indeed require, the time I spend inside of books that much more.
101 of those books were fiction, and 17 non-fiction, continuing a trend away from non-fiction that I first noted last year. Perhaps in 2008 it will begin to tilt back? The fiction breaks down into 97 novels and 4 short story collections. This is many fewer short story collections than usual and I’m not sure how to account for that. If I added in all the individual stories that I read in anthologies, literary magazines and collected or selected works, the balance wouldn’t be quite so far off. Still. I think now is a good time for The Short Story Reading Challenge! The genre breakdown of the fiction is as follows: 28 literary or general fiction, 29 mystery, 25 children’s or YA, and, the surprising development, 19 fantasy. How did a genre that was scarcely a blip on my radar in previous years come to figure so prominently in this year’s reading? It’s all down to my newfound infatuation with Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels—so funny and smart and politically astute. The non-fiction titles covered a range of subjects including biography, memoir, essays, travel, history, and health.
My year’s reading took on a decisively contemporary slant with 83 books from the 21st century (a full 27 of those first published in 2007), 35 from the 20th and a paltry single volume from the 19th. As is the case nearly every year, the sole 19th century author that I read was Robert Louis Stevenson. I think in 2008 I’m going to have to resolve to stretch further back in time more frequently.
My reading continues to be dominated by authors from England (42) and the U.S. (40), but with a respectable number of books by Canadians (14, a lot fewer than normal) and Scots (8) appearing in the final tally. But thanks to The Reading Across Borders Challenge, I did much better this year in reading works in translation: 11 works in translation read, rather than the usual token one or two. These eleven works were translated from Icelandic, French, Spanish, Polish, and Czech.
I usually read more books by women than men, but not this year: 64 by men, and 54 by women. Finally (and I note this here because it might explain how the male authors rocketed into the lead this year), there were a number of authors by whom I read multiple books but two in particular that dominated: Terry Pratchett (19!) and Paul Auster (8).
All in all, it was a very satisfying year’s reading.
Stay tuned for my list of ten favourites which I will post later this week.