Standing out

So, I thought I’d do my year-end book round-up early this year (mostly because I can’t think of another blog topic at the moment). Last year (2006), I read 74 books…this year (2007), I’ve read 73 as of today, and figure I’ll probably get at least three more read before the end of the year. I find it really interesting that I’m so close to last year’s count without even trying.

I feel like I can analyze my books now, before finishing out the year, since I know what the next few books are that I am going to read, and they don’t fit in any particular niche for me, other than finishing up a series I’ve really enjoyed. Catching up will be nice!

Last year my goal was to read more YA and more new-to-me authors. You can read that round-up here, and see that I did exactly that. This year my goal was much less defined. Thankfully. Since nothing really stood out as a goal or an accomplishment. I just read for the joy of it!

I only read 7 YA books this year, which I have to say really surprised me. Last year, I read 24. I supposed if I counted the Harry Potter books, I actually read 10 YA’s, but I really can’t put them in that category (and neither would Jo Rowling).

Last year, my new-to-me authors added up to 42 out of 74, a resounding success in meeting that goal. This year, I read only 23 new authors. Why? Not really sure. Several of the new authors I read this year, I ended up reading several other books they had written later in the year…which I guess is a good thing, right? Means that I was picking up on new-to-me authors who will be repeats for me. These include authors like Nalini SinghStephanie Rowe, and JR Ward. I just glanced over last year’s book list and I notice that, while I read a lot of new authors, not so many of them were (or will be) authors I choose to read again or add to my auto-buy list of authors. Does that mean my choices were better this year? Not sure.

There were definitely a lot of stand-outs this year, though! Looking for fun books? You can’t go wrong with Jackie KesslerStephanie RoweJanet Evanovich, Serena Robar, and Jennifer Crusie/Bob Mayer. Looking for more dramatic/romantic/serious books? My favorites were by Nalini SinghJane PorterJoshilyn JacksonLani Diane RichSusan Elizabeth PhillipsSarah Addison AllenKristin Hannah, and Diane Setterfield.

What about the authors that just provided a damn good book? Who do I go back to time and again…not necessarily because they deliver a book that punches me in the gut (like Kristin Hannah or Jane Porter), but because I know what I’m getting with them every single time? Suzanne BrockmannJR WardSusan Elizabeth Phillips.

I’m really happy with what I read this year. An interesting stand-out was the book I just finished. The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. This one was purchased because it was really popular and sounded good. But it was very different than my norm. NOT a romance at all, it had a decidedly gothic flavor to it. Took me back to my day of reading Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney (as well as others I probably can’t remember). I read The Thirteenth Tale very quickly, but throughout the entire reading, I couldn’t have told you that I loved it, or what it was about it that kept my interest. The mystery of it? The mood? The way Setterfield sucked you into the story and you couldn’t stop reading until the entire truth was revealed? Whatever it was, it was a great change from my typical.

Another standout would be my reading of the JR Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood series…again totally atypical for me (dark paranormal), but these truly grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let me go. I read the first 4 books in the series in just 10 days, which was phenomenally fast for me. Her world-building is fabulous!

And just because I didn’t mention every book here, doesn’t mean I didn’t love them. In fact there are only a couple on the list that I’d have called mediocre (and NO, I’m not going to say which ones). In fact, this was a big year for not finishing books for me. If I didn’t get hooked pretty quickly, I didn’t waste my time. I never used to be able to do that…and no I don’t feel guilty about it. My time is precious.

So, for 2008, my plan is to read a some new authors, more YA, and to clean out as many of the books I have purchased in the last couple of years as I can. No more lounging on my shelves waiting to be read! In fact, one day, while locked away in my daughter’s room, in her comfy chair, “working on my nonfiction articles”, I got sucked into browsing our library. I opened a document and started listing the books I really, really want to read…mixing it up with YA, new authors, contemporaries, suspense, non-romance novels, historicals, etc. I ended up with a list of 46 books! That’s a half year’s worth of reading if I read at the speed I’ve read the past two years…and that doesn’t even count any newly published books I want.

I think this next year will be full of good reading!