Interlude

Aug. 12th, 2017 11:39 am
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As readers of my other Dreamwidth journal may recall, I recently experienced a serious health crisis - which I am not yet recovered from - which cut short my writing about what I've read. I have a number if partially written pieces, sone of which are about Hugo reading, which I will finish and post as I am able to, even though the Hugo-related pieces are rather dated at this point.

I'm doing much more sleeping than reading or writing these days, so entries here may be sparse and sporadic for some time to come.
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Last year, I was a new voter. Despite the controversies surrounding certain works on the shortlist and how they got there, I dutifully read, watched, listened to or otherwise researched as many of the finalists as possible in every category. I posted my thoughts here on all the literary, literary-related and dramatic categories.

This year, I feel no such urge to be quite so obsessively even-handed. I have no intention of wasting my time on works whose presence on the shortlist is the consequence of a group of very sad people to disrupt a time-honoured event by slating material whose only purpose is to mock or disparage authors or other fans. This means, for instance, that I will be reading very little from the Related Works category which is filled with spiteful drek and other pointless entries.

Nor do I feel obligated to read, watch or listen all the way to the end anything that is not, in my opinion, work of a calibre that merits an award. I did enough of that last year, bailing out on only one thing that I found quite unreadable. Of course, if something interests me even if it's not work that deserves to be describes as one of the best pieces of work in its category released this year, I will read to the end. But I don't feel obligated to.

And now, back to reading.

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Here it is, late New Year's Eve (or, to be more accurate, very early in the morning on New Year's Day), and I have actually posted about every book I read in 2014, and have the year's end statistics calculated and ready to go. I think this is the first time I've done this, and it feels good. I credit this to the fact that I'm now on Goodreads as well as keeping up my book journal here. Goodreads kind of forces me to write at least a few notes as soon as I record a book as finished, and once I've done that.... Well, it's a simple matter to take those notes and expand on them here - or just copy them over if it turns out I have no more to say. We'll see if I can continue keeping up this journal in a tinely fashion this year.

And now, on to the main event, my favourite reads of 2014, and the 2014 statistics.

Best Works I Read in 2014

Carl Freedman (ed.), Conversations with Ursula K. Leguin
Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America
Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Adventures of a Part-Time Indian
Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon
Keri Hulme, The Bone People
Fabio Fernandes (ed.), We See a Different Frontier
Christie Yant (ed), Women Destroy Science Fiction - Lightspeed Magazine Issue 49
Margaret Atwood, The Maddaddam Trilogy (Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, Maddaddam)
Kate Bornstein, A Queer and Pleasant Danger



In 2014, I read 124 books or novellas - 102 fiction and 22 non-fiction; 10 of these were re-reads. A total of 12 of these were anthologies or edited non-fiction works, and so have been excluded from the demographic analysis of authorship.

By gender:
Works written by women: 68.i percent
Works written by men: 27.6 percent
Four works were written by multiple authors, male and female.

By author's nationality:
American: 59.8 percent
British: 10.7 percent
Canadian: 15.2 percent
Other: 12.5 percent

Works by writers of colour: 26.8 percent

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Well, this is probably the latest i've been in finishing up the prior year's reading. i'll try to catch up faster this year.

In any event, hhere are my favourite reads of 2013, and the 2013 statistics.

Best Works I Read in 2013

Elizabeth Bear, In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns
Marie Brennan, A Natural History of Dragons
N. K. Jemisin, The Broken Kingdoms
N. K. Jemisin, Kingdom of the Gods
Nnedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death
Jack Womack, Random Acts of Senseless Violence
Johanna Sinisalo, Birdbrain
Jo Baker, Longbourn
A. S. Byatt, Possession
Drew Hayden Taylor, Fearless Warriors
Alice Munro, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage



In 2013, I read 185 books or novellas 161 fiction and 14 non-fiction; 12 of these were re-reads. A total of eight of these were anthologies, and so have been excluded from the demographic analysis of authorship.

By gender:
Books written by women: 86.9%
Books written by men: 14.1%
One book was written by multiple authors, male and female.

By nationality:
American: 52.2%
British: 31.8%
Canadian: 10.2%
Other: 5.1%

Books by writers of colour: 12.9%

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So, a new year demands New Year's resolutions, and I've made a few about what I want to read this year.

1. The paper TBR pile. As you may know, I have multiple chemical sensitivities (also known as environmental illness). It's been a long time since I could read a paper book without baking it thoroughly to drive out the toxins, and even then I had to put a lot of books inside plastic bags to read them because they didn't detox completely. The sensitivities have been getting more and more severe, and virtually allmy reading is done electronically.

But before things got this bad, I had amassed a very large pile of paper books I wanted to read. I've managed to detox some of them enough that I can read them a few pages at a time, and I've obtained ebooks for a number of them, and I've been chipping away at the pile. But there's still about 175 paper books left in that pile, and my first goal this year is to significantly reduce that number.

2. There are a fair number of series by authors I enjoy that I've kind of let slide. I want to catch up with at least a few of those series. The ones that come to my mind are:

Naomi Novik's Temeraire series
Laurie King's Mary Russell series
Conn Iggulden's Ghengis Khan series
Michelle Sagara West's House Wars series
Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monnette's Iskrayne series
Patricia Morrison's Rennie Stride series
C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner series
Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series

3. Maintain diversity in my reading. Particularly with respect to books written by people from cultures and countries outside the mainstream English-speaking world of Canada, Great Britain and the US.

That should be more than enough.

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So it's my traditional end of year wrap-up. For 2012. Written in June of 2013. Yeah, I'm late.

Best reads of the year:

Terry Bisson, Fire on the Mountain
Maureen McHugh, Nekropolis
Thomas King, Medicine River
Nicola Griffith, Ammonite
Jo Walton, Lifelode
Nalo Hopkinson, The New Moon's Arms
Ken Macleod, The Intrusion 
Kameron Hurley, Brutal Women
Nnedi Okorafor, African Sunrise
N. K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
J. M. Frey, Tryptych

Special Mentions: 
Glenda Larke's Stormlord trilogy and the first volume of her Mirage  Maker's trilogy
Nicola Griffith's Aud Torvington novels


And the annual stats:

In 2012, I read 167 books, 156 fiction and 11 non-fiction; 13 of these were re-reads (8%). A total of four of these were anthologies, and so have been excluded from the demographic analysis of authorship.

By gender:
Books written by women: 83%
Books written by men: 17%
Two books were co-written by a man and a woman

By nationality:
American: 66%
British: 16%
Canadian: 16%
Other: 3%

Book by writers of colour: 18%

Goals:

Pretty much same as last year. The stats suggest that I have done a bit better in terms of reading more diversely (i.e., more books by writers who are not white Americans) last year, and I hope to continue the trend this year.

I didn't do all that well with clearing the to-be-read pile, but I'm working on that again, too.
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And at last, I am up to date. It's early January 2012 and I have at least mentioned all the books I read during my hiatus. So, here are my favourite reads of 2011, and the 2011 statistics, and then we are off to a new start (I hope) for 2012.

Best Books I Read in 2011

Jo Walton, Among Others
Ursula LeGuin, The Wild Girls
Eleanor Arnason, Mammoths of the Great Plains
Lyda Morehouse, Resurrection Code
Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club
Margaret Atwood, Good Bones
Lee Maracle, I Am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism
Sarah Schulman, The Child


In 2011, I read 79 books, 70 fiction and nine non-fiction; 15 of these were re-reads (20%). A total of three of these were anthologies, and so have been excluded from the demographic analysis of authorship.

By gender:
Books written by women: 68.4%
Books written by men: 30.3%
One book was co-written by a man and a woman

By nationality:
American: 78.3%
British: 5.3%
Canadian: 11.8%
Other: 3.9%

Book by writers of colour: 5.3%

I have two goals for the coming year:

1. Eliminate a significant proportion of my TBR file, while, including e-books, stands at over 300 books

2. Focus more on diversity in reading, something that had quite gone by the wayside in the past two years, as I was reading a lot of comfort books, including re-reads - which, the older they are, the more likely they are to be written by white American men.

Surfacing

Jul. 15th, 2011 05:06 pm
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No, not the famous book by Atwood. I've been gone a while (more details can be found at in my personal journal - check my profile), but I'm coming back. I hope.

I haven't been reading as much as usual the past couple of years, but there is still a rather large back-up and I very much doubt my ability to actually catch up. But I do intend to at least list the books I've read, maybe say a few words about the ones that cry out for something to be said and I will be glad to enter into discussions with anyone who wants to post a comment about a particular book on I've read.

So be prepared for a lot of lists, after which I may actually resume writing about books as I read them,

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Well, here it is, more than a week into 2009, and I’ve still got a longish list of books (17, to be more exact) that I read in 2008 but haven’t had time to write anything about. So, even though some of these were really good books that made me think a lot, I’m just going to post some very short comments on each of the remaining books from 2008, so I can have a chance at keeping up with blogging about my reading for 2009.

Part of what is unfortunate about this is that some of the books still uncommented on are books that I thought were simply amazing or deeply intriguing and wanted to write something significant about, but kept putting it off because I didn’t have the time to do the books justice. But that’s life.

So, over then next couple of days I hope to post some very short comments about the last of the 2008 books, and then do my end of year posts and start 2009 with the best intentions of not falling behind so badly in the coming year.

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I've had the most horrible case of writer's block with respect to this journal for a couple of months now. It's not that I have not been reading books. In fact, I have about 70 books that I've read this year that I still haven't written anything about in this journal. And there's a lot that I wanted to say about many of them, and at least something I could say about each and every one of them.

It took me a while to identify what the problem was, but I've finally figured it out.

I'm worried that there is a discontinuity between what I think is the purpose of this journal, and what I have begun to fear other people who read it might think is the purpose.

This is not a book review blog. I don't want to write reviews. That's too much work, frankly, because if I were writing a review, I would have to be careful to consider all aspects of the book, and write not only about my own personal sense of the book, but also about what other people might find interesting or valuable or entertaining about the book. I would have to be fair and comprehensive. I would have to consider whether I would recommend the book or not. And while I might do that sometimes, I don't want to feel that I have to do that.

Because in my mind, this journal was intended to be a place where I could write down my very idiosyncratic thoughts about the books I read - and if all I feel like writing about is one theme. or one character, or one scene, because that's what caught my attention, or if I want to blather on about what the book made me think of, rather than talking about the book itself, then I'd like to feel free to do just that. But somehow, I'd fallen into the feeling that people might be expecting actual, well-considered reviews from me, and that had pretty much paralysed me.

So, those of you who read this journal from time to time, I apologise if you are expecting reviews and from now on find, instead, something more personal and less informative. I hope that at least you may find something entertaining.

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No, I didn't read all the books I've just posted comments about in the past few days. The comments were written over the past several weeks, about books I've read at various times over the past several months. I'd posted them to LJ as I wrote them, but due to some incorrect settings, they did not appear on anyone's friends' list. So I've deleted and reposted them.

Since I don't quite recall when the first of the unseen posts was made, you might be seeing one or more of these twice. Alternatively, I might not have gone back far enough, so if you're really interested, you could look at earlier posts in my journal to see if you missed anything.
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I have been working very busily for the last several months - not so busily that I've had to stop reading, of course, but too busily to feel as though I wanted to spend my few hours of downtime commenting on the books I'd read.

However, work has become more accommodating, and I'll be playing catch-up over the next few weeks as I record my thoughts on the books I've read in the past few months.

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