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And another year has passed, one in which I started out with the best of intentions to read extensively and widely, but was thwarted by constant serious medical issues and a rather massive and on-going depression.

Most of my reading in the second half of the year was comfort reading, when I could summon the energy and will to read at all. And of course there was the obligatory Hugo reading.

My list of the best books I read this year:

Necessity, by Jo Walton
Elizabeth Bear, Karen Memory
Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: Overture
Naomi Novik, League of Dragons
Nnedi Okorafor, Binti
Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell (eds.), Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel Delany
Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce (eds.), Letters to Tiptree

On to the statistics:

In 2016, I read 108 books or novellas - 100 fiction and 8 non-fiction; 13 of these were re-reads. A total of 7 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 percent
Works written by men: 32 percent
(One work written by collaborators of different genders)

By author's nationality:
American: 78 percent
British: 7 percent
Canadian: 10 percent
Other: 6 percent

"Other" nationalities included: French, Chinese, Israeli, Moroccan and Swedish.

Works by writers of colour: 11 percent

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Another list of books one may or may jot have read, this time with an admirable theme: "100 MUST-READ SCI-FI FANTASY NOVELS BY FEMALE AUTHORS" by Nikki Steele. It's a good list, all in all - there's something for everyone here.

I've read about a third of these, have several more waiting on my ipad to be read, and have more still on my my "acquire when cash flow makes it possible" list. There are also some books I tried and didn't like enough to complete, and some that just did not call to me, or whose authors I don't seem to enjoy.

I've bolded the ones I've read, and put asterisks after the ones I want to read (i.e., have on my TBR or TBB (to be bought) lists.

1. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

2. The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

3. Among Others by Jo Walton

4. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

5. Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam *

6. The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich *

7. Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

8. Ash by Malinda Lo

9. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

10. The Pyramid Waltz by Barbara Wright

11. Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee

12. The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish *

13. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter *

14. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

15. Brown Girl in the Ringby Nalo Hopkinson

16. Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara

17. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh

18. Chorus of Mushrooms by Hiromi Goto *

19. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

20. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

21. The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce

22. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor *

23. Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

24. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

25. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

26. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente *

27. The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

28. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

29. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis *

30. Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara *

31. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

32. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir *

33. The Etched City by K.J. Bishop

34. The Female Man by Joanna Russ

35. Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg

36. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

37. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

38. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo *

39. Graceling by Kristin Cashore *

40. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

41. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

42. The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

43. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.

44. Hild by Nicola Griffith *

45. His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

46. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

47. The House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferré

48. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

49. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

50. Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias *

51. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

52. The Island of Eternal Love by Daína Chaviano

53. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

54. Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

55. The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin *

56. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

57. Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

58. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

59. The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley *

60. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

61. Moving the Mountain by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

62. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi *

63. My Christina & Other Stories by Mercè Rodoreda

64. My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

65. Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin

66. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

67. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

68. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

69. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

70. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

71. The Red by Linda Nagata *

72. Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

73. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

74. Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai *

75. The Second Mango by Shira Glassman *

76. Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

77. Shikasta by Doris Lessing

78. The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

79. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

80. So Far from God by Ana Castillo

81. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

82. Soulless by Gail Carriger *

83. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell *

84. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

85. Spirits of the Ordinary by Kathleen Alcala

86. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel *

87. A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar *

88. Sunshine by Robin McKinley

89. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

90. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

91. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

92. Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff

93. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

94. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson *

95. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

96. Wicked As They Come by Delilah S. Dawson

97. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

98. The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories by Vandana Singh

99. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

100. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

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And, somewhat belated, here is my 2015 year-end summary. This is the first year that my reading selections were influenced by the Hugo Awards, and the Sadly Rabid Puppies in particular, in that I read a number of works by people I would not ordinarily read, simply because they were nominated for the 2015 Hugos. The practical reflection of that is that i read more work from Americans, white people and men than I otherwise might have.

My favourite books of this year were:

Katha Pollitt, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Yoon Ha Lee, Conservation of Shadows
Ann Leckie, The Imperial Radch Trilogy
Chesya Burke, Let's Play White
N. K. Jemisin, Fifth Season
Nnedi Okorafor, The Book of Phoenix
Zen Cho, Sorcerer to the Crown
Naomi Novik, Uprooted
Jo Walton, The Just City
Jo Walton, The Philosopher Kings
Jo Walton, My Real Children
Samuel Delany, The Motion of Light in Water
Usman Malik, The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn
Ken Liu, The Grace of Kings

On to the statistics:

In 2015, I read 164 books or novellas - 141 fiction and 23 non-fiction; 37 of these were re-reads (I had a miserable year health-wise and needed much comfort reading). A total of 15 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: 76.5 percent
Works written by men: 23.5 percent

By author's nationality:
American: 73.2 percent
British: 10.7 percent
Canadian: 8.1 percent
Other: 8.1 percent

"Other" nationalities included: Iranian, Palestinian, German, French, Malaysian, Chinese, Peruvian, Nigerian, Pakistani, Icelander, Barbadian.

Works by writers of colour: 21.5 percent

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I'm sure everyone who cares, knows by now what happened at the Hugos. I'm noodling over a thoughtful post in response to the stated arguments of the Sad Puppies, which will likely be posted later, but this is more about what I'm going to be doing in the face of this.

I have purchased a supporting membership. I will be making every attempt to read, watch, or attempt to evaluate the 2014 body of work of all nominees. I'm going to post here my thoughts about all the nominees I am able to do this for. And I'm going to vote only for nominees that I feel meet my criteria for Hugo-worthy work.

I hope other science fiction and fantasy fans out there who, like me, have not taken out Supporting memberships before, will consider doing so, and voting for the nominated works that they find Hugo-worthy.

And then I hope that we will all pay close attention to what we see and read this year, and use our 2015 supporting memberships to nominate the best of what we read and see for 2016.

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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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This post is inspired by a book I will not be reading, Christine Elaine Black's A Rose for Lancaster, set in the first year of the reign of Henry VII.

The reason I will not be reading this book is because it it is just too historically inaccurate to be endured. Now, readers may ask how I know it is too historically inaccurate to be endured if I haven't even cracked its cover. Easy, I answer. The sample provided on the author's website identifies the male protagonist as Giles Beaufort, heir to the recently deceased Baron of Somerset.

What's wrong with that, readers may ask. Well, the Beaufort family - the children of John of Gaunt and his mistress (later wife) Katherine Swynford and their descendants - played a crucial part in the wars between Lancaster and York, not the least because it was through the Beaufort line that Henry Tudor could trace his descent from the house of Plantagenet along with all the other Lancasters and York in the conflict.

The members of the house of Beaufort are very well known. There was no Giles Beaufort. Maybe the author's referring to another Beaufort family, readers may postulate. A minor house not very important, that wasn't chronicled. Maybe there was such a house. But if that's the author's intent, why make her hero heir to the title of Somerset, when the royal Beaufort line were in fact first Earls, then Dukes of Somerset (but never Barons)?

Not only was there no Giles Beaufort, but at the time of Henry VII's ascent in 1485, he himself was the senior surviving legitimately born male of the House of Beaufort. The third duke of Somerset had died in 1471 leaving an illegitimate son, Charles Somerset, who was later legitimised and made Earl of Worchester. So, no male Beauforts, no earls, dukes or barons of Somerset.

Now, I would like to be clear - I have no objection to historical novels that create new characters and use them to tell stories, as long as those invented characters aren't glaring. Invent a character who could have been, not a character who can be documented as never existing. Heaven knows there's enough holes in the documentation of most historical periods to drive a convoy of trucks through. Use those holes, don't mangle the parts of history that we do actually have plenty of information on.

That's all I ask of writers of historical fiction - that what they're writing could have happened.

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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%


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.

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In 2010, I read 63 books, 60 fiction and 3 non-fiction; 22 of these were re-reads (%). A total of five of these were anthologies, and so have been excluded from the demographic analysis of authorship.

By gender:
Books written by women: 46.7%
Books written by men: 48.3%
One book was co-written by a man and a woman

By nationality:
American: 78.3%
British: 6.6%
Canadian: 8.3%
Other: 1.6%

Book by writers of colour: 6.6%

Not a particularly characteristic year for me in terms of , probably because such a large proportion of this year's reading consisted of re-reads of science fiction by White American men.

Beat reads of 2010:

Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, Zahrah the Windseeker
Jo Walton, Half a Crown
Helen S. Wright, A Matter of Oaths
Sarah Zettel, Fools’ War
John Scalzi, Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony
Molly Hite, Class Porn
Vandana Shiva, Stolen Harvest

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In 2009, I read 104 books, 93 fiction and 11 non-fiction; 12 of these were re-reads (11.5%). A total of seven of these were anthologies, and so have been excluded from the demographic analysis of authorship.

By gender:
Books written by women: 64.9%
Books written by men: 34.0%

By nationality:
American: 70.1%
British: 3.1%
Canadian: 17.5%
Other: 9.3%

Book by writers of colour: 26.8%

I am pleased to see that the percentage of books written by writers of colour and the percentage of books written by writers from countries other than the U.S./Britain & Ireland/Canada/Australia and New Zealand increased from 2008.

And now, for my list of the best books I read in 2009:

Green Grass, Running Water, Thomas King
The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill
Anil’s Ghost, Michael Ondaatje
Unquenchable Fire, Rachel Pollack
De Secretis Mulierum, L. Timmel Duchamp
Distances, Vandana Singh
Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
The Gameplayers of Zan, M. A. Foster
How to Rent a Negro, damali ayo
The Terror Dream: Myth and Misogyny in an Unsecure America, Susan Faludi

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I get worse at this every year. I put off writing up my little summaries, and then of course, I feel that I can't start commenting on new books until I do post my summaries, so I get further and further behind, and so it goes.

This year, I read 198 books, 180 fiction and 18 non-fiction; 25 of these were re-reads (13.8%). A total of 17 of these were anthologies or collections of essays, and so have been excluded from the demographic analysis of authorship. In addition to gender and nationality, I'm now also noting how many books I'm reading by writers of colour.

By gender:
Books written by women: 69.7%
Books written by men: 19.7%
Excluded: books written by persons who do not identify as gendered, and books written by collaborators of different genders

By nationality:
American: 58.3%
British: 18.2%
Canadian: 11.4%
Other: 3.5%

Writers of colour: 15.5%
Note: this includes anthologies or collections by multiple writers, all of whom are people of colour, and collaborations where at least one of the writers is of colour.

I have not been doing very well in terms of reading more books by writers who are not American, Canadian or British. Perhaps I should set myself some goals. I really should be able to hit 10 percent, despite being addicted to SFF, which is rarely translated from other languages.

Partway through last year, I decided that I also wanted to make my reading more diverse by reading more works by people of colour. I have managed to improve a little on that demographic: I calculating the percentages of books by POC I read in 2006 (6.7%) and 2007 (8.3%) and see that I have improved somewhat in this area. But I want to do much better.

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In which the writer rambles on at length about her method of selecting books for purchase, and invites similar ruminations from her gentle readers, should they be so inclined.

I used to just drop into bookstores whenever I had some money that I didn’t need for rent or food, and buy all the books I saw that looked interesting. But for the past five or six years now, my disabilities have prevented me from actually going out to stores and buying books in such a spontaneous fashion. Now I buy mostly online. Sometimes, in-store special coupons arrive, or our local independent science fiction bookstore is having a sale because they’re overstocked on used books, or whatever, and my partner goes and looks for books for me, but about 80 percent of my current bookbuying is done on line.

Because of this change in the manner of my bookbuying, there have slowly evolved some changes in the manner in which I select the books I buy. Because it’s not a spontaneous act anymore, I first started keeping a list of books I wanted to read, so I’d remember what I wanted when it came time to sit down and place a book order. The list started to grow, and I began to realise that this list could be more than a simple reminder of things I wanted to order. It could actually be a way of shaping my reading. I could go in search of books that catered to my interests rather than just reading books I’d heard about somewhere or books by my favourite authors.

Over time, then, I have assigned myself a number of “projects” with respect to reading – they’re not quite so closely held as to be goals, nor are they, precisely, guidelines, but they are things I want to take into account when I decide what books to buy in any given book order.

You see, I buy on a budget. Digression: I didn’t always do this. For a very large part of my life, I was poor (by choice, to some extent – I was very resistant about going into the corporate world where the money is) and bought books whenever I had extra money. Then I did find a corporate job I could cope with, and started having more disposable income as a result, and found myself buying a lot of books. Now not so poor, I slowly began to realise that if I continued spending all of my extra money on books, I would never have any money for other things I had also realised I wanted or needed. And then I went and bought this money-eating black hole known as a house. Hence, the budget, because otherwise, I could spend every cent I have to spare on books, which would seriously interfere with my ability to, say, pay for the new air conditioner or insulation in the basement or all the other things the house demands. End of digression.

So. I allow myself a certain amount of money to spend each month on books for my own reading pleasure. (Twice a year, I sort of get to cheat, because that’s when I buy birthday and Christmas presents for my partner, and our tastes are similar enough that at least half of the books I buy for him are also books I’d like to read. I am so evil. ) I allow myself some leeway to exceed my budget on special occasions – for instance, when a small press with a backlist full of books I want has a clearance sale, or something similar – because it’s always a good thing to have more books.

But for my regular monthly book shopping – which I do in one shot, usually, from my online bookseller of choice – here’s how I go about it. First. I look to see which of my several dozen “favourite writers ever” have something new out that month; that normally takes up about half of my monthly budget. Then I order one or two recently published books by authors new to me that have been highly recommended, or well-reviewed or otherwise generated enough of a buzz that I’ve heard about them and want to read them (recent Tiptree, Brandon or Lambda award winners, for example). Sometimes I’ll add a book or two that I’ve just run into somewhere that sounds interesting, often because it’s been mentioned on a blog I read or it’s a new release from one of the small presses that I often order from (and hence check up on their websites for new releases every once in a while) or pick a couple of books at random from my 34-page (in 9 point type with quarter-inch margins top and bottom) list of books I’d like to read some day.

With whatever money is left in my budget, I pick a couple of books based on the various projects I’ve adopted. These projects are:

* To read more books by writers from countries other than Canada, the U.S. and Great Britain
* To read more books by writers of colour
* To read more books by queer writers (that is to say, writers who are gay, bisexual, transgendered, two-spirited, or who otherwise identify as a member of a gender or sexual minority)
* To collect and re-read many of my favourite books from the past that have wandered away from my libraries over the years
* To finally read all the books that people have been recommending to me over the years but somehow I never got around to, or could find a copy (it’s so much easier to find out-of-print books now that there are so many places to order from online)
* To fill in some notable gaps in my “special interest” collections, such as Arthurian and Arthurian-inspired literature, utopic and dystopic fiction, the complete works of certain adored authors such as Ursula K. LeGuin, and the like.

Following this method certainly insures that I have a wide variety of new books to read each month, something to suit almost every mood. Which is a good thing, because unlike many readers, I can't just suddenly decide to go buy a book if I look around and don't happen to see anything I want to just just now already on my shelves somewhere.

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I've already posted my "best reads of 2007" list, and now that I've finally posted my last reviews from the books read that year, it's time to sum up.

I have read 235 books in 2007, 27 non-fiction and 208 fiction. Of these, 28 were re-reads. Among the fiction writers, 37 authors were new to me. I was really into reading series this year - 41 authors are represented by more than one book on my list of books read in 2007.

Among these 235, 11 percent were written by men, 11 percent were collections or collaborations with authors of both genders (or books written by persons whose gender identification is neither male nor female), with the balance - 78 percent - of female authorship.

In terms of nationality, 60 percent were written by American authors, 11 percent by authors from the British Isles, 14 percent by Canadian authors and a woeful 6 percent by authors from other countries. Nine percent were collections or collaborations involving authors of more than one nationality.

Some interesting changes from last year - I read a great deal more, most of it fiction, and more of it by women and Americans than the year before. I still suck at reading books from cultures not my own (if we take the whole spectrum of English writing to represent one big uber-culture. I appear to be rather strongly biased in terms of the gender of the authors I prefer, but this doesn't bother me so much because women's voices have traditionally been under-represented in English-language culture, it only seems fair.

On to 2008.

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Yes, this is very late. In fact, I haven't even finished writing comments for all the books I read in 2007 - life has this horrible habit of getting in the way of my blogging.

I'm not going to limit myself to 10, and I'm going to count series as one entry on my list. And I'm not going to count re-reads, because this year I re-read some of my favourite books of all time, such as The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin, The Maerlande Chronicles by Elisabeth Vonarburg, King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett, and Woman on the Edge of time by Marge Piercy, so that would just make the list very long indeed.

So here's my selection of the best books and series I read in 2007, in alphabetical order by author or editor:

Carnival, Elizabeth Bear

The Jenny Casey trilogy: Hammered, Scardown, Worldwired, Elizabeth Bear

The Marq'ssan Cycle: Alanya to Alanya, Renegade, Tsunami, L. Timmel Duchamp

Drag King Dreams, Leslie Feinberg

Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire that Never Was, Angélica Gorodischer, trans. Ursula K. LeGuin

So Long Been Dreaming: Post Colonial Science Fiction and Fantasy, (eds.) Nalo Hopkinson, Uppinder Mehan

The Isles of Glory trilogy: The Aware, Gilfeather, The Tainted, Glenda Larke

Warchild, Burndive, Cagebird, Karin Lowachee

1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, Charles Mann

Glorifying Terrorism, (ed.) Farah Mendlesohn

His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Naomi Novik

James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, Julie Phillips

The Wess'har Wars series: Crossing the Line, City of Pearl, The World Before, Matriarch, Ally, Karen Traviss

The Orphan’s Tales: In The Night Garden, Catherynne M. Valente

Farthing, Jo Walton

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The Carl Brandon Society has released a short list of recommended science fiction and fantasy books for Black History month.

The announcement of the list and some further details about The Carl Brandon Society can be found here.

The list itself:

So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due
The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust
Mindscape by Andrea Hairston
Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell
Futureland by Walter Mosley
47 by Walter Mosley
The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
Stormwitch by Susan Vaught

47 by Walter Mosley is the winner of the 2006 Parallax Award, given to works of speculative fiction created by a person of colour.

Stormwitch by Susan Vaught is the winner of the 2006 Kindred Award, given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity regardless of the race or ethnicity of the author.

While visiting the Society's website, I also collected a list of novels and short story collections that were considered for the 2006 Parallax Awards.

Prince of Ayodhya, by Ashok Banker
Fledgling, Octavia E. Butler
Mella and the N'anga: An African Tale, by Gail Nyoka
Phoenix Tales: Stories of Death and Life, by Gregory Bernard Banks
Atomik Aztek by Sesshu Foster
Kynship: The Way of Thorn and Thunder by Daniel Heath Justice
Zephyr Unfolding by Nicole Givens Kurtz
The Crown: Ascension by Hannibal Tabu

Also listed on the website are a number of short stories and other works considered for the 2006 Parallax Award, plus all the works considered for the 2006 Kindred Award.

I've read a handful of these books myself, and can certainly recommend all of them:

So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Mindscape by Andrea Hairston
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
Fledgling, Octavia E. Butler

And several others recommended by the Society have been on my "want to read" list, and this seems like a perfect excuse to order them. There's always time to explore a new author, and to look for a different perspective.

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I've seen this meme in a couple of different versions, in the journals of [personal profile] oursin, [personal profile] yhlee and [personal profile] frightened.

The books listed below are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing's users (as of whenever this meme started circulating, I presume).

The instructions that came with the meme said: As usual, bold what you have read, italicise what you started but couldn't finish, and strike through what you couldn't stand. The version from [personal profile] frightened adds: Add an asterisk to those you've read more than once. Underline those on your to-read list.

I’ve bolded the ones I’ve read, underlined the ones on my to-read list, and added an asterisk to those I’ve read more than once (in whole or in part). I rarely stop reading a book, and none of the ones I’ve read here were among the few that I’ve been unable to finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion *
Life of Pi: A Novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Ulysses *
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey *
Pride and Prejudice *
Jane Eyre *
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov *
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Iliad *
Emma *
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir in Books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales *
The Historian : A Novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World *
The Fountainhead
Foucault's Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King *
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : A Novel
1984 *
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility *
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park *
One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Gulliver's Travels
Les misérables [Some parts in French, the whole in English.]
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Dune *
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela's Ashes : A Memoir
The God of Small Things
A People's History of the United States : 1492-Present [actually, I’m reading this now, but I will finish it, so…]
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
The Mists of Avalon *
Oryx and Crake : A Novel
Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Persuasion *
Northanger Abbey *
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : An Inquiry into Values *
The Aeneid *
Watership Down
Gravity's Rainbow
The Hobbit *
In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

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Like most people who like to read books, I have a "book list" of books that I want to read. And a pile of "books waiting to be read" somewhere in my house.

Normally, the way that I add books to my book list is rather haphazard. Someone I trust recommends a book, or I'm wandering around the Internetz and I run across an interesting book review, or I read one in one of the very few magazines I actually subscribe to, or I read an anthology and find a new writer whose work intrigues me, or I discover through any one of many ways that an author I'm already familiar with has put out a new book. I even check footnotes and bibliographies of books I read to find info about other books in the same or a related field that might be of interest.

This would be how I've managed to create a book list that is currently 26 pages long, in Courier 9 point, with half-inch top and bottom margins. We don't really want to contemplate how many book are on that list, but it's probably over 1,000.

Which is why it's probably a very foolish thing for me to consider embarking on a new reading project... but I'm going to, anyway. I've been making up lists of the winners and short-listed nominees of the Tiptree, Gaylactic Spectrum, Carl Brandon Society and Lambda Science Fiction and Fantasy awards, with an eye to reading the ones that I have not already read that seem interesting to me. I'm not going to be obsessive about this and try to read every single winner or short-listed entry for each award, but I do think I should read more of the books that have been identified as significant works according to the selection criteria of the four organisations involved.

Obviously, I've already read at least some of the books that have been honoured, but I want to read more.

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Over the past few months, I’ve read a number of short story anthologies. I seem to go through phases with respect to reading anthologies. Last year, I read only two multi-author short story collections and two single-author collections.

Black Swan, White Raven, (eds.) Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Crossroads, (ed.) Mercedes Lackey

Consider Her Ways and Others, John Wyndham
Dressing for the Carnival, Carol Shields

So far this year, I’ve read nine multi-author short story collections (two of which – the James Tiptree Award anthologies – I have written about already) and six single-author collections (most of which I’ve discussed earlier in this journal).

Sex, the Future and Chocolate Chip Cookies: the James Tiptree Award Anthology Vol I, (eds.) Fowler, Murphy, Nothin, Smith
The James Tiptree Award Anthology Vol II, (eds.) Fowler, Murphy, Nothin, Smith
Women of War, (eds.) Tanya Huff and Alexander Potter
Aegri Somnia, (eds.) Jason Sizemore and Gill Ainsworth
The Doom of Camelot, (ed.) James Lowder)
Glorifying Terrorism, (ed.) Farah Mendlesohn
So Long Been Dreaming: Post Colonial Science Fiction and Fantasy, (eds.) Nalo Hopkinson, Uppinder Mehan
Tales from the Black Dog: A Wyrdsmiths Chapbook, (ed.) William G. Henry
The New Wyrd: A Wyrdsmiths Anthology, (ed.) William G. Henry

Stealing Magic, Tanya Huff
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, James Tiptree Jr.
Meet Me at Infinity, James Tiptree Jr
Boy in the Middle, Patrick Califia
Ordinary People, Eleanor Arnason
Bloodchild, Octavia Butler

I’m not going to discuss any particular anthologies at length here, because many of these I’ve already written about elsewhere, and the remainder I will write up sooner or later. I just wanted to talk about the short story anthology in general and my relationship to it.

I tend, overall, to prefer novels to short stories. I think part of it may be that I read very quickly – short stories, no matter how wonderful, are, well, short. I mostly read fiction to be deeply engaged, swept away, taken under the waters of creative vision and held there until I can’t endure the richness of the thoughts and images in my blood and have to come up and breathe the thinner air of reality. Novels do that better than short stories.

But short stories are often the faerie lights along the road that lure you toward the heady realms that are deeper in, further up. They intrigue, seduce, lure the reader toward the vast realms that await, often at the same time that they shine, perfect creations in their own right, short but intense experiences that leave haunting afterimages in the mind.

Anthologies serve a number of excellent purposes. They can introduce the reader to a new author – and many of the anthologies I’ve read this year have done just that. Best-of collections, anthologies set in a shared world, collections assembled – as in the two Wyrdsmiths collections on my list – by a group of writers creating a showcase for their work, are all great ways for me of finding new and interesting voices. I confess that I’m more likely to buy one of these if there’s at least one story by someone I know and enjoy – but the one known quality, so to speak, is usually enough for me to jump in and see what other, hitherto undiscovered treasures may be found.

Single author collections, especially from a favourite writer, can be a delightful change of pace, a smorgasbord of varied tastes and tones from someone you already know and appreciate. I’ve read a fair number of these this year, all from writers on my (admittedly large) list of favourite authors.

The kind of anthology I tend to like the most, however, is the one built around a theme, and there are a few of those in this year’s reading so far. It is fascinating to see how different authors approach a basic concept, to be required by the multiplicity of images and voices and paths and conclusions presented to examine that concept in greater detail, and broader scope. Which is one of the reasons that I think that Glorifying Terrorism – an anthology created in response to a recently enacted British anti-terrorism law that makes it a crime to “glorify terrorism,” whatever that means – may be one of the most important anthologies of the year. But more on that in a post devoted to that particular book.

Sometimes, in the midst of reading those all-encompassing novels I enjoy so much, I forget that less can be more, at the right place and time. It’s been a pleasure remembering that this year.

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As Gentle Reader may recall, in the course of my quest for a copy of Naomi Mitchison's incomparable Arthurian novel To the Chapel Perilous, I discovered that my former medieval studies professor, Arthurian scholar Raymond H. Thompson, had served as consulting editor for a series of reprints of lost classics (and some new pearls) of Arthurian-based fiction.

I managed to acquire several of the books last year, including, of course, the afore-mentioned jewel by Mitchison.

I am now totally delirious with the joy of being able to report that my beloved partner [personal profile] glaurung_quena has actually acquired all but two of the books published as part of this series, and as soon as I can render them readable*, I will no doubt disappear into some vague and mystical place not far from Glastonbury Tor and devour them.

For those with any interest in the field, my latest acquisitions are:

Percival and the Presence of God, by Jim Hunter. (6201, Chaosium, 1997); reprint of the 1978 Faber and Faber edition.

Arthur, the Bear of Britain, by Edward Frankland. (6202, Chaosium/Green Knight Publishing co-publication, 1998); reprint of the 1944 McDonald & Co. edition.

Kinsmen of the Grail, by Dorothy James Roberts. (6204, Green Knight Publishing, 2000); reprint of the 1963 Little, Brown and Company edition.

The Life of Sir Aglovale, by Clemence Housman. (6205, Green Knight Publishing, 2000); reprint of the 1905 Methuen & Co. Ltd. edition.

The Doom of Camelot, edited by James Lowder. (6206, Green Knight Publishing, 2000); original anthology.

Exiled From Camelot, by Cherith Baldry. (6207, Green Knight Publishing, 2001); original novel.

The Pagan King, by Edison Marshall. (6208, Green Knight Publishing, 2001); reprint of the 1959 Doubleday & Co. edition.

Legends of the Pendragon, edited by James Lowder. (6211, Green Knight Publishing, 2002); original anthology.

The Follies of Sir Harald, by Phyllis Ann Karr. (6212, Green Knight Publishing, 2001); original novel.

The two books remaining to be collected from the series are:

The Merriest Knight: The Collected Arthurian Tales of Theodore Goodridge Roberts, edited by Mike Ashley. (6210, Green Knight Publishing, 2001); original collection of Roberts' stories, including previously unpublished material.

Pendragon, by Wilfred Barnard Faraday. 96213, Green Knight Publishing, 2002); reprint of the 1930 Methuen & Co. Ltd. edition.

Colour me happy.

*As Gentle Reader may know, I suffer from profound environmental illness, which makes book reading a bit of a challenge, as many kinds of papers and inks emit volatile gases at levels too low for the average person to detect, but which can make me profoundly ill. Added to that, I am also severely affected by many of the artificial components of things like perfume and scented personal care and air-freshening products, which many of these books, being used copies, have absorbed from, say, being read by someone wearing hand lotion or being read in a room where a scented candle or one of those hideously poisonous air freshening products was present. (And yes, I can smell your hand lotion or your air freshener on a book you may have read five years ago.) Many books I acquire must be heated gently over a long period of time to drive out as many volatiles as possible before I can read them. Sigh. It's sheer torture knowing that you actually have a book you've been waiting impatiently to read, but knowing that it will be at least another couple of months before it's safe to go ahead and read it.


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