#FridayReads: A 27 Year-End Book Post

And, hello from a thus far sickly 2018 for so many of us. This is, in fact, the first day since January 3rd that I’ve felt even remotely up to writing. (The first was a travel day, and the second a readjusting to work day). Ah who am I kidding, I’m still readjusting to work.

Anyhow, I thought I would give a summation of the kinds of books I’ve read in the previous year. I think Stefanie Michaels (AKA AdventureGirl) will post my entire list of books with a little about my chosen reads soon in a guest post. Exciting, as she has a huge following! So, I’ll just hit the highlights.

I concluded the year having consumed 52 titles, the most ever for a single year. I think, amazingly, that I only read more than one piece by the same author (two by Clive Cussler, because he makes good fluff reading and has a lot of travel involved.)

In yet another sign that grad school has permanently infected my brain, I did something akin to Grounded Theory and lumped my books into different categories until saturation occurred, or in lay terms, I could think of no more new categories. Am I gonna be like this forever? Probably. The groupings are, of course completely subjective, and books c an fit into multiple categories but I chose what I thought was the primary one.

Heck, even the category of an author’s gender is to some degree arbitrary, as I do not always know if a title was written by a man or woman, but that doesn’t matter a whole lot overall. I’m mostly just curious to see if I am diversifying my exposure. According to my count, I read 24 books written by men, and 28 by women. I think I usually achieve about that balance in most years. I also read 40 fiction books to 12 nonfiction ones. That number surprises me, actually. I’m definitely reading more nonfiction than I once had. This can be attributed to the proliferation of “most popular” lists, and to sites like Twitter.

As for the more granular breakdown, I will list each of the other categories and one of my favorites therein.

Dystopian: 2. Well, I always enjoy titles from this grouping, as they help imagine the world if things went, well wrong. Not that we will have to “imagine” much longer, but that’s beside the point. The one that stands out most is The Last Tribe, by Brad Manuel. In this book, the planet is struck by a random plague that wipes out all but a sliver of the population. A family has to bond together, collecting other “survivors” along the way, and make their way to an area where they can continue to live and thrive, rebuilding society. It’s a fascinating story, but not that well edited. Looks like it may have started life as a NaNoWriMo novel, but I like it because it gives me hope that I may one day be able to produce such a thing.

Family, 6. Ok, I’ll admit this is a sort of catch-all category for ones I could not as easily categorize. Probably my favorite though is The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. I’d bet most of you have read this already, but it’s about a young black man who is gunned down buy cops while his female friend watches, and the complex reactions and interactions set into motion for her and her family as a result of this killing. It was especially topical against the spate of shootings that occurred throughout the U.S., and can help explore how these encounters can eventually cause major issues in whole communities. An honorable mention is The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson. It looks at race in the American south in a more unusual way, through older and younger family members who discover complications through a family secret, and end up with a mixed child, respectively. One you should get in audio, because that woman, the author, is just a great reader of her own work.

History, 10. This includes historical fiction and nonfiction, and probably my favorite was Someone Knows My Name, by Lawrence Hill. I think I reviewed this title earlier, but it is about a slave who makes the hard journey from the African interior to the U.S. mainland, and becomes famous over time, even venturing to England to meet Queen Charlotte. I didn’t realize that this story was fiction until I concluded it, but I think it is still based on a collection of people’s stories. Great stuff.

Memoirs, 4. I’m really starting to enjoy this category, as many are choosing to read in their own voice. My favorites were A Carlin Home Companion, by Kelly Carlin, and Endurance: A Year In Space, A Life Time of Discovery, by Scott Kelly. In the former, the daughter of famous comedian George Carlin tells what it was like to grow up in his household, and the many challenges she did and still does face. She is fun to follow on Twitter as well. Scott Kelly is also a good social media presence, and his story talks about that as well as life aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and all the work and improbable ads he had to overcome to get there. The bio and space residency are interwoven to make for a rich experience.

Mystery, 5. In this grouping, I mostly placed books that centered around who committed a crime of some sort. Two of these, Passenger 23 by Sebastian Fitzek, and All By Myself Alone, by Mary Higgins Clark, took place aboard cruise ships. I had actually read four titles that were set amid this floating venue, since the plan had been for me to experience that with the coming marriage as I already detailed in the previous post. They were all still good, and I think paint cruising in an interesting, hopefully overly dangerous, light. I more like the whole social, connectivity aspect.

Psychological, 2. These are typically the more disturbing books. The Good Girl, by Mary Kubica, was such a story. I probably also talked about this one, but it has a before and after where a woman was, I think abducted, and her life changed as. result. We see all of the therapy invested in getting her back on the right track.

Romantic Suspense, 2. I confess I don’t entirely remember which two I listed here, but I’d guess Seeing Red by Sandra Brown was one of them. After having listened to her in our local bookshop, I had to check this title out. I think it was my favorite by her thumb far, because the characters were more nuanced than usual. Kera the news reporter is following up on a terrorist attack she was part of as a child, and in so doing, she unlocks secrets someone wants hidden. There is a lot of travel involved, and of course the requisite sex scenes. But this book really gets at the idea of media frenzy following these kinds of events, and how hero worship can cause unintended consequences.

Sci-fi/Fantasy, 10. Also one of my most read collections year in and year out, I would most recommend Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel. I don’t know if this author intended, but his titles work best in audio as they have amazing characters. You’ll want to read the first in this series, called Sleeping Giants, before proceeding. They follow files including letters, interviews, and other such entries that note the arrival and actions, many of which are devastating, by an alien race. You… just have to read it.

Self Help, 1. Well one could argue that I’m supposed to be reading another called Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, but I’ve not quite gotten around to that one. I and my partner did complete one called The Five Love Languages, by Garry Chapman . I guess it does provide some insight into how you like to be “loved” which can be helpful to you, your partner, and the relationship as a whole.

Social, 2. This group consisted of the two texts I read during my school studies in their entirety, Alone Together by Sherry Tyrkle, and New Tech New Ties, by Richard Ling. They both tend to paint relatively dim pictures of what all this “smart” stuff is ultimately doing to us and our social relationships.

Travel and Adventure, 8. Probably my favorite of these books was The Winter Over, by Matthew Iden. In this, which I got via the Amazon First Reads listings, a group of people are residing in Antarctica where they work to complete experience and fieldwork during the long, dark months known as the Winter Over. It explores psychological issues that can plague a crew so isolated from the sun and most of the rest of humanity. A rather interesting, though the author concedes definitely fictional, look into life down there.

And that is barely scratching the surface of my massive book pile. But this post is already pushing 1,500 words. I hope you find something there in that interests you. Let me know if you want more details on any mentioned and not. More soon.

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