My New Year’s resolution for 2014 was to read at least one book per week. I counted as a “book” any bound volume of a complete work, or digital version of the same. So books included things like novels, omnibuses of several novels, novellas published as slim volumes, graphic novels, anthologies, ebooks, or audiobooks. Things that didn’t count were single comic book issues, or individual short stories or articles. My in-progress roundups are here: 1, 2, 3, 4.

For much of the year I was on pace to double my resolved amount, but then I moved from Iowa City to Austin, and my reading rate never really recovered. Looking through my journal I see averaged over 9 books per months before my move, and only a little over 4 per month after. Moving, unpacking, buying furniture, dating, breaking up, traveling; these all replaced the predictability of my Iowa routine after I reached Texas. Here are the stats:

  • 73 total books read
  • 50 prose books
  • 22 graphic novels
  • 1 audiobook
  • 60 male authors (writers & artists)
  • 22 female authors (writers & artists)
  • Best month: March (14 books – 6 GNs, 8 prose)
  • Worst month: October (1 book – prose)

Looking back over my list, there are 12 books (not counting rereads) that stand out as my favorites. Here they are, ranked in order of how much they’ve stayed with me over the last 12 months. That isn’t quite the same thing as how much I liked them, but it’s close.

  1. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  2. Blame by Michelle Huneven
  3. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  4. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis
  5. Veronica by Mary Gaitskill
  6. The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne
  7. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke1
  8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  9. The Genocides by Thomas Disch
  10. Camp Concentration by Thomas Disch
  11. Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck
  12. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Some things I notice about this is that, while my list for the year doesn’t have gender parity, my list of favorites does: five men (one twice), six women. Also notable is that the top five most-thought-about books are all works of realist fiction, almost certainly the first year of my life when that has been true. I don’t think this is indicative of a shift in my taste so much as an expansion of it. While at Iowa, reading and critiquing the work of my peers, I developed an appreciation for realism that I didn’t have before. My enjoyment of speculative fiction hasn’t lessened, but the appeal of realism is something new and exciting. I think that’s why the top five novels have been so much in my thoughts; I have thorough understanding of how SF works, but I’m still learning the nuances of mimetic realism.

For next year I hope to improve on my 2014 performance. I’d like to hit 100 books read in 2015, and to have at least 50% of them authored by women. I’d also like to read more classic or public domain fiction. At the time of this writing, I’m on my 6th book of the year, and have maintained gender parity thus far.

  1. Technically a reread, but since the first time was when I was under ten years old, I’m counting it.