In the minus column, there's the reason why we have new kittens - the death of both our old cats, Mina and Hobbes, within the space of two months early in the year. That almost broke me. My work load this year was extremely heavy, and the kids were extra difficult, absolutely exhausting me. Then, in the last third of the year, the world did its very best to literally break me - first I slipped on wet leaves and concussed myself badly (the after effects of which I'm still not entirely free of) and on the first really icy day of the year, I slipped on wet ice and fell spectacularly, landing with all my considerable weight on my left wrist. Which wouldn't heal right. So I had to have surgery. After which I discovered that regular morphine apparently gives me no painkilling effect, causing me to have a very bad night once the local anaesthetic in my arm wore off. When the concussion was at its worst, I couldn't read at all, so it was audio books all the way. When I was recovering from my broken wrist, the painkillers made it difficult to concentrate, so I didn't get as much reading done as I would have liked. I still did pretty well.
When moving, I gave away a lot of books to friends who wanted them, or donated huge boxes full to local flee markets. 234 books were culled from my shelves, but looking at the tally of how many books I acquired in 2015, it's probably good that I cleared some space. I got 269 new books, 50 of which were gifts and 8 that were free. 73% of the total were e-books, 15% were actual physical books and 12% were audio books.
It was quite the year for reading challenges. As always I participated in the Cannonball Read and once again actually managed to complete a triple run. I'd read and reviewed 52 books by the 2nd of May, 104 by the 29th of September and completed my 156th book and review in the nick of time on New Year's Eve. In addition, I did 24 other Reading Challenges throughout the year, to the point where a lot of my reading was so tied up in completing different goals that it took a lot of the fun out of reading. I'm only doing the ones that I really enjoyed, and that easily fit in with my general reading plans in the coming year.
In total, I read 172 books and 56991 pages.
New never before read books: 156
9 of those were novellas
19 were audio books
15 of those were comics/graphic novels
The genre break-down looks like this
Romance - 36.1 % (22.7 % historical and 13.4 % contemporary)
Paranormal/urban fantasy - 19.2 %
Fantasy - 11.6 %
Mystery/suspense - 8.7 %
Contemporary fiction - 8.1 %
Science fiction - 6.4 %
Historical fiction - 5.2 %
Non-fiction - 4.7 % (Nearly all of it celebrity autobiographies)
I'm getting better at picking books that I'm pretty sure I'll like. Obviously the many reading challenges forced me out of my comfort zone a bit, and forced me to make choices I might not have done otherwise. According to Goodreads, my average rating for books this year is 3.8. I had eighteen five-star reads, but quite a few of those were comfort re-reads.
My best of 2015 list is as follows - I even managed to RANK it this year:
- Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - a book I was anticipating so much that I pre-ordered it on both Amazon and Kobo (yes, I need to be better about checking that in future) and loved so much that even having paid for it twice, I still got it in e-book as well, so I could comfort-listen to it while concussed.
- Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (the Bloggess) - her second book, with stories about her struggles with depression and a whole host of other ailments, as well as crazy anecdotes from her life and experiences. In turns sad, moving, important and hysterically funny.
- The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Anne Long - finishing a beloved series is always going to lead to expectations. Ms. Long teased readers with the epic romance of Olivia Eversea and Lyon Redmond for ten books and finally getting to read about them didn't disappoint. Possibly my favourite romance cover of all time and such a fun book. Skip the epilogue.
- The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah Maclean - I might feel differently in a few weeks, when the joy of finishing such a fun romp fades, but I hope not. While the hero is pretty consistently an idiot throughout the book and treats the heroine appallingly on occasion, the heroine is so awesome that she more than balances the scale - and I'm a sucker for a good road trip romance.
- Saga, vol 5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - the best comic being written at the moment. Action, adventure, romance, grand space opera - the latest volume made me laugh and cry. The writing just keeps getting better and the art is absolutely amazing.
- The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan - I discovered the New Adult books by Ms. Callihan this year, and though many of my romance reading friends will disagree with me, I still love the second book in the trilogy the most. There's just something about the banter and the way the romance developed that worked for me and bypassed all my criticisms.
- Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho - the first book in a series of books combining Regency romance and fantasy, this book has an amazing heroine, an adorably befuddled hero, wonderful diversity considering the time period in which its set and shapeshifting dragons!
- Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren - Another new discovery of the year were the New Adult books of two best friends writing romance together. While I liked the first two in the series, the third one, with the female comic book creator and the nerdy and hot comic book store owner who go from friends to lovers was my favourite of the three.
- You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day - as a long time fan of Ms. Day, I was never not going to get her autobiography. I hadn't realised how much I would enjoy her talking about her life, her anxieties, her incredible work ethic and what it's like to be one of the premier nerds on the internet.
- Uprooted by Naomi Novik - while there were bits I would have like to have more developed and I thought some sections dragged while others were confusingly hurried, this fantasy novel with a strong female friendship at the centre made a lasting impression on me this year.
- Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel - I thought this dystopian sci-fi book wasn't for me. I was very very wrong and I'm so glad I took a chance and read it.
- The Martian by Andy Weir - the sci-fi book that absolutely everyone has raved about for more than a year, and which was also adapted into one of the most entertaining films of the year. I was so worried I'd dislike it, because it's about a dude stuck on Mars, but nope, I loved it too.
- Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn - a romantic adventure spanning the globe that reminded me of some of my favourite Agatha Christie novels. My only complaint is that there weren't really enough love scenes.
- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - another book I was convinced, despite so many favourable reviews, that I wouldn't like. I eventually gave in, and devoured the book in less than two days. Don't read any plot summaries - just trust that it's an extremely engrossing book.
- Saga, vol 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - what I said about volume 5 applies here to. If you're not reading this comic, you're missing out. Volume 4 is probably the most depressing one so far, but it's still an amazing read.
- American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson - not knowing much about him before I listened to this audio book autobiography of his, I wasn't really expecting to be as entertained as I was. Covers a lot more ground than a lot of celebrity autobiographies and is funny and poignant.
- Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan - this book about two teenage boys in the Chicago area who are both named Will Grayson and meet up by chance, having their lives intertwine in strange ways is an utter delight. Also it has one of the best supporting characters of all time - Tiny Cooper!