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My books of 2015

I read 290 books this year, precisely one less than last year's 291. However 24 of these were dives into the first 50 pages of Clarke nominees that I knew were unlikely to win or be shortlisted. My total pagecount was 80,100, compared to last year's 97,100 (cf ~68,000 in 2013, ~77,800 in 2012, ~88,200 in 2011). However, those totals are for books only; since August I've been reading a lot of short sf which had not yet been collected into book form - nine months' worth of Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Asimov's and Strange Horizons - so I guess my "real" total won't be a lot less than last year's.

Diversity: 86 books out of 290 by women, just shy of 30%. That's the highest in both numerical and percentage terms since I started measuring. (81 [28%] in 2014, 71 [30%] in 2013, 65 [25%] in 2012, 22% in 2011, 23% in 2010, 20% in 2009, 12% in 2008.)
20 (7%) by PoC, a shade under last year's 11 (5%). (cf 12 [5%] in 2013, 5% in 2011, 9% in 2010, 5% in 2009, 2% in 2008.)

Most books by a single author: 6 by Justin Richards, who also topped my 2014 tally. (Previous winners: Agatha Christie i 2013, Jonathan Gash in 2012.)

Non-fiction

2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
47 48 46 53 69 66 88
16% 16% 19% 20% 23% 24% 26%


Best non-fiction read in 2015: The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, by Claire Tomalin - brilliant biography of fascinating woman.
Runner-up: Letters to Tiptree, eds Alissa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce - I hope we'll be seeing this on some shortlists next year.
The one you might not heard of: Martial Power and Elizabethan Political Culture, by Rory Rapple - looking at the politics of violence in Ireland, not only in the 16th century.

Non-sfnal fiction

2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
42 41 44 48 48 50 57
14% 14% 19% 19% 16% 18% 18%


Best non-sff fiction read in 2015: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Bildungsroman set in Nigeria, the USA and the UK, with hair.
Runner-up: Too Much Happiness, by Alice Munro - Brilliant short stories.
Welcome rereads: Ulysses and Les Misérables.
The one you might not heard of: The Twenty-two Letters, by Clive King - the origin of literacy in the Levant.

Non-Whovian sff

2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
130 124 65 62 78 73 78
45% 43% 27% 24% 26% 26% 23%


Best non-Who sff read in 2015: I'm going to cheat slightly, in that I read a couple of them first in 2014, but I'm collectively re-nominating the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist, in particular the winner, Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel. But I also really enjoyed The Affirmation, by Chris Priest.
The one you might not heard of: The Last Man (aka No Other Man) by Alfred Noyes - novel set after almost all of humanity has been wiped out by a super-weapon, published in 1940.

Doctor Who (and spinoff) fiction

2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
43 59 72 75 80 71 70
15% 20% 30% 29% 27% 26% 19%

Best Who book read in 2015: City of Death, by Douglas Adams and James Goss - true to the televised story with extra dollops of style.
Runner-up: Walking to Babylon, by Kate Orman - mild homage to Iain Banks as well.
The two that even dedicated Whovians may not have heard of: Doctor Who and the Vortex Crystal and Doctor Who and the Rebel's Gamble, both by William H. Keith, Jr - two US-published game books from 1986 that are way better than the British game books of the same year.

Comics

2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
18 19 30 21 27 18 28
6% 7% 13% 8% 9% 6% 8%

Best graphic stories read in 2015: I'm still making my mind up between The Sculptor, by Scott McCloud, and The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, by Sydney Padua - leaning a bit more towards the former, if I'm honest.
The one you might not have heard of: De Tweede Kus (originally published in three separate volumes, Ringo, Martha and Hanne), by Conz (Constantijn van Cauwenberge). If you don't read Dutch or French, you have a treat to come when some wise publisher translates it into English.

Poetry

I don't read a lot of poetry but I do try and get through at least one collection each year. This year that was amply rewarded with Colette Bryce's tremendous The Whole and Rain-domed Universe, reflecting on growing up in Northern Ireland.

Worst book of the year: It's a matter of public record that I bounced off several of the Hugo finalists. It's fairly close at the bottom, but the absolute worst was the infamous Wisdom from my Internet by Michael Z. Williamson.

Next year I shall probably ease off on new sf once the Hugo nominating season is over. (BSFA members! Get you nominations in tonight!) I would like to read a few more comics, and alsowork through some of the more obscure corners of Who literature,

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
bopeepsheep
Jan. 1st, 2016 12:58 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed re-reading The Twenty-Two Letters, so thank you for the prompt! I did get a copy with the nice illustrations. :)
(Deleted comment)
nwhyte
Jan. 3rd, 2016 08:24 am (UTC)
No worries! High reading speed, commute of over an hour each leg by public transport, frequent longer journeys by plane or Eurostar for work, also a fairly rigorous system for determining what to read next!
bibliofile
Jan. 8th, 2016 10:42 am (UTC)
best graphic works
I too have read both the McCloud and the Padua, and they are so different I'm loath to rate one over the other. In some ways they're opposites, the McCloud containing only one story and using images for all the storytelling, in addition to words. The Padua has so much text that the graphics cover only a fraction of the total page area -- more like illustrations -- and then there are all the alternate histories and explanations and branching off. And yet they're both quite brilliant.

So, not quite apples and oranges, but two very different places on the axes of graphic works. How will you decide? I suppose the order matters more in the voting than the nominating, but it's still a conundrum.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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