Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

December 2013 books and 2013 books roundup

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging which will fall in 2023. Every six-ish days, I've been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I've found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

My travels that month were an awkward work trip to New York followed immediately by a sad trip to England for my aunt's funeral. (Straight off my transatlantic flight, I changed my shirt in the back of my taxi from Heathrow to the memorial ceremony in the Horniman Pavilion.) Little U got a special laptop for her birthday, I got a special Christmas present, and we were visited, as so often, by H who took one of the best family pictures we've had (though I've pasted U's head in from a different shot).

To get you in the Christmas mood, here's "Fairytale of New York" in Irish:

I read 22 books that month.

Non-Fiction 3 (2013 total 46)
Tardis Eruditorum vol 4: Tom Baker and the Hinchcliffe Years, by Philip Sandifer
Information is Beautiful, by David McCandless
Stuff I've Been Reading, by Nick Hornby

Fiction (non-sf) 5 (2013 total 44)
Eyeless in Gaza, by Aldous Huxley
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Popinjay, by Iona McGregor
The Truth Commissioner, by David Park
The Devils, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

SF (non-Who) 8 (2013 total 64)
The Just City, by Jo Walton (feedback on unpublished manuscript)
The Philosopher Kings, by Jo Walton (feedback on unpublished manuscript)
Patternmaster, by Octavia E. Butler
Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss
Looking for Jake and other stories, by China Miéville
The Father Christmas Letters, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Next Generation, vol. I, by John Francis Maguire (provisionally classified as sf)

Doctor Who 4 (2013 total 71, 83 councting non-fiction and comics)
Dancing The Code, by Paul Leonard
Death and Diplomacy, by Dave Stone
City of the Dead, by Lloyd Rose
The Men Who Sold The World, by Guy Adams

Comics 2 (2013 total 30)
Animate Europe! (responsible editor Hans H. Stein)
Le Chat du Rabbin tome 1, by Joann Sfarr

~6,800 pages (2013 total ~67,000)
5/22 (2013 total 71/257) by women (McGregor, Butler, Rose and two more)
1/22 (2013 total 11/257) by PoC

The best of these were all sf: Rendezvous with Rama, a re-read, which you can get here; the then-not-yet-published The Just City, which you can get here; and The Wise Man's Fear, which you can get here. To my surprise I bounced off Patternmaster, but you can get it here.

I failed to do a proper 2012 books roundup at the time, managing only a summary. So here is what I would have written using the methodology I use now.

Total books: 257 - tenth highest of the 17 years I have been keeping track, so a minor tick below average. (Somehow this turned out to be 237 in previous reports, but it was definitely 257.)

Total page count: ~67,000 - ninth highest of the last 17 years, so firmly in the middle.

71 (28%) by women - higher than any previous year, lower than most subsequent years, augmented by 10 Agatha Christie novels.
11 (4%) by PoC - more than any year before 2009, less than any other year since.

Most books by a single author: Agatha Christie (10), followed by Terrance Dicks (7), Jonathan Gash (6), Philip Sandifer (5), Cressida Cowell, Gary Russell, Ian Rankin and Neil Gaiman (4 each).

Doctor Who fiction

Novels, collections of shorter fiction, etc excluding comics

\2020/ \2019/ \2018/ \2017/ \2016/ \2015/ \2014/ \2013/ \2012/ \2011/ \2010/ \2009/ \2008/ \2007/ \2006/ \2005/ \2004/
18 32 32 51 39 43 59 71 75 80 71 71 179 27 28 5 1
7% 14% 12% 21% 18% 15% 20% 28% 29% 27% 26% 21% 48% 11% 14% 3% 1%

All Who books including comics and non-fiction

\2020/ \2019/ \2018/ \2017/ \2016/ \2015/ \2014/ \2013/ \2012/ \2011/ \2010/ \2009/ \2008/ \2007/ \2006/ \2005/ \2004/
25 43 42 55 42 54 68 83 76 87 78 81 180 49 32 5 1
9% 18% 16% 23% 20% 19% 23% 32% 29% 29% 28% 23% 49% 21% 15% 3% 1%

Fourth highest tally, third highest percentage. (Third and second, counting comics and non-fiction.)

Top Doctor Who books of the year:
The first four volumes of Elizabeth Sandifer's Tardis Eruditorum. (Vol 1: review; get it here. Vol 2: review; get it here. Vol 3: review; get it here. Vol 4: review; get it here.)

Honourable mentions:
Nothing O'Clock
, by Neil Gaiman (review; get it here)
Harvest of Time, by Alastair Reynolds (review; get it here)
The Doctor's Monsters, by Graham Sleight (review; get it here)

Enjoyed rereading:
Human Nature, by Paul Cornell (review; get it here)
Escape Velocity, by Colin Brake (review; get it here)

The one you haven't heard of:
Revenge of the Slitheen, a good Sarah Jane noveliastion by Rupert Laight, who I recently discovered died in 2018 (review; get it here)

The one to avoid:
A Big Hand for the Doctor, by Eoin Colfer (review; get it here)

Non-Whovian sff

\2020/ \2019/ \2018/ \2017/ \2016/ \2015/ \2014/ \2013/ \2012/ \2011/ \2010/ \2009/ \2008/ \2007/ \2006/ \2005/ \2004/
114 77 108 68 80 130 124 64 62 78 73 78 54 75 68 79 76
43% 33% 41% 29% 38% 45% 43% 25% 24% 26% 26% 23% 15% 32% 33% 55% 51%

Third lowest tally and fourth lowest percentage ever.

Top SF books of the year:
The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss (Vol 1: review; get it here; Vol 2: review; get it here)

Honourable mentions:
The Just City, by Jo Walton (review; get it here)
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold (review; get it here)

Enjoyed rereading:
Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke (review; get it here)
The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula Le Guin (review; get it here)
The Moment of Eclipse, by Brian Aldiss (review; get it here)

The ones you haven't heard of:
Two short story collections by the much-missed Eugie Foster, Returning My Sister's Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice (review; get it here) and Mortal Clay, Stone Heart and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White (review; get it here).

The one to avoid:
Toward the End of Time, by John Updike (review; get it here)


\2020/ \2019/ \2018/ \2017/ \2016/ \2015/ \2014/ \2013/ \2012/ \2011/ \2010/ \2009/ \2008/ \2007/ \2006/ \2005/ \2004/
50 49 50 57 37 47 48 46 53 69 66 94 70 78 70 42 42
19% 21% 19% 24% 17% 16% 16% 18% 20% 23% 24% 27% 19% 33% 34% 29% 28%

Fourteenth highest tally and percentage of 17 years, below average.

Top non-fiction book of the year:
A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf (review; get it here.)

Honourable mentions to:
A History of the World in 100 Objects, by Neil MacGregor (review; get it here.)
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson (review; get it here.)
The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857, by William Dalrymple (review; get it here.)
Tell My Horse, by Zora Neale Hurston (review; get it here.)
The one you haven't heard of:
The Crocodile by the Door, by Selina Guinness (review; get it here.)

The one to avoid:
“I have an Idea for a Book ...” : The Bibliography of Martin H. Greenberg (review; get it here.)

Non-sfnal fiction
\2020/ \2019/ \2018/ \2017/ \2016/ \2015/ \2014/ \2013/ \2012/ \2011/ \2010/ \2009/ \2008/ \2007/ \2006/ \2005/ \2004/
40 45 36 26 28 42 41 44 48 48 50 59 24 33 35 9 19
15% 19% 14% 11% 13% 14% 14% 17% 19% 16% 18% 17% 6% 14% 17% 6% 13%

Sixth highest tally and fourth highest percentage ever.

Top non-genre fiction of the year:
The Complete Stories of Zora Neale Hurston, though in fact it turns out that there are other stories which had not then been published (review; get it here.)

Honourable mentions:
Housekeeping, by Mailynne Robinson (review; get it here.)
Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel (review; get it here.)

Enjoyed rereading:
The Name of the Rose
, by Umberto Eco (review; get it here.)
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie (review; get it here.)

The one you haven't heard of:
The Popinjay, by Iona McGregor (review; get it here.)
The one to avoid:
The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (review; get it here.)


\2020/ \2019/ \2018/ \2017/ \2016/ \2015/ \2014/ \2013/ \2012/ \2011/ \2010/ \2009/ \2008/ \2007/ \2006/ \2005/ \2004/
45 31 28 29 27 18 19 30 21 27 18 28 6 20 6 8 8
17% 13% 11% 12% 13% 6% 7% 12% 8% 9% 6% 8% 2% 8% 3% 6% 5%

Third highest tally and fourth highest percentage.

Top comic of the year:
The Blue Lotus, by Hergé (review; get it here)

Honourable mentions:
The Adventures Of Luther Arkwright, by Bryan Talbot (review; get it here)
The Hive, by Charles Burns (review; get it here)

The ones you haven't heard of:
Misschien/Nooit/Ooit, by Marc Legendre and Kristof Spaey (review; get them here, here and here)

The one to avoid:
Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, by Hergé (review; get it here)

Making up the numbers: Observatory by Daragh Carville (review; get it here); Meeting the British, by Paul Muldoon (review; get it here).

My Book of the Year

A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf:  a tremendous, passionate, witty and forensic analysis of the barriers faced women who try to get anywhere in literature, or indeed in almost any other way of life. One of the great feminist texts, and at 112 pages mercifully succinct. I wished I had read it twenty-five years earlier. Get it here.

Other Books of the Year:

2003 (2 months): The Separation, by Christopher Priest.
2004: The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread).
- Best new read: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self, by Claire Tomalin
2005: The Island at the Centre of the World, by Russell Shorto
2006: Lost Lives: The stories of the men, women and children who died as a result of the Northern Ireland troubles, by David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton and David McVea
2007: Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
2008: The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, by Anne Frank (reread)
- Best new read: Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero, by William Makepeace Thackeray
2009: Hamlet, by William Shakespeare (had seen it on stage previously)
- Best new read: Persepolis 2: the Story of a Return, by Marjane Satrapi (first volume just pipped by Samuel Pepys in 2004)
2010: The Bloody Sunday Report, by Lord Savile et al.
2011: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon (started in 2009!)
2012: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë
2013: See above
2014: Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell
2015: collectively, the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist, in particular the winner, Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel. However I did not actually blog about these, being one of the judges at the time.
- Best book I actually blogged about: The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, by Claire Tomalin
2016: Alice in Sunderland, by Bryan Talbot
2017: Common People: The History of an English Family, by Alison Light
2018: Factfulness, by Hans Rosling
2019: Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernardine Evaristo
2020: From A Clear Blue Sky: Surviving the Mountbatten Bomb, by Timothy Knatchbull
Tags: bookblog 2013, bookblog nostalgia

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