My Best Reads of 2013

Yesterday, on the last day of 2013, I posted my uncle’s best reads of last year.  Today, on New Year’s Day 2014, I’m looking back at my reading for the past twelve months.

2013ReadingStatsAfter Amazon acquired GoodReads in the Spring of 2013, I resolved to not rate or review books on that site going forward.  I spent many hours relocating my existing reviews (and ratings) to this blog, where I can maintain my voice, my thoughts and my opinions as I see fit, without fear of censorship, tampering or deletions.

So my stats snapshot (above graphic) is a bit skewed.  Not just because I’m no longer rating the books I read, but because I read more ebooks and audiobooks than ever before.  In light of this, the page count statistic is completely irrelevant and inaccurate.  Most of the metadata for those two formats is either non-existent or incorrect or not applicable.  Therefore, the only reliable stat is my total books read (which includes novels, novellas, novelettes and a smattering of short stories).  I managed to reach the one hundred books read mark (plus one for good measure).  I surprised myself, actually, as I didn’t think I’d reach that goal with work pressure ever-increasing and family health issues continuing to loom.

Of the five five-star ratings I left ‘rated’ at GoodReads, one of them is a re-read (The Silmarillion), two are duplicates (but not really … I really did read the hardcover of A Memory of Light in January and then re-read it as an audiobook/ebook in May) and one isn’t actually a book, but an episode of The Human Division (which was serialized by John Scalzi for thirteen weeks in 2013).

So, if I stopped rating and reviewing on GoodReads, how was I going to track that metadata?  I couldn’t find a satisfactory alternative website (LibraryThing failed to import my book catalog; BookLikes did a better job on the import, but it is still not what I need).  So, I made some new virtual bookshelves (also known as tags) at GoodReads: loved-it (for 4-5 star reads); liked-it (for 3-4 star reads); meh (for 2-3 star reads); disliked-it (for 0-2 star reads) and I already had an exclusive abandoned shelf for any DNFs (did not finish).  I also started putting my ratings in my private notes field, as a direct result of GoodReads/Amazon deleting nearly 90 of my reviews in August.

As a rule, I export my GoodReads metadata once a month, just to be on the safe side.  From that resulting spreadsheet, I can filter down to my ‘loved-it’ shelf and produce the table below (sorted by author, not chronologically or by title or by best to worst).

From my loved-it book shelf*:

Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky, #1) Elizabeth Bear
Transformation (Rai-Kirah, #1) Carol Berg
Shall We Gather Alex Bledsoe
Red Moon and Black Mountain Joy Chant
A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, #14; A Memory of Light, #3) Robert Jordan
River of Stars Guy Gavriel Kay
Ancillary Justice Ann Leckie
The Screwtape Letters  CD: The Screwtape Letters CD C.S. Lewis
True Grit Charles Portis
Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow, #1) Anthony  Ryan
The Human Division (Old Man’s War, #5) John Scalzi
The Crown Tower (The Riyria Chronicles #1) Michael J. Sullivan
The Rose and the Thorn (The Riyria Chronicles, #2) Michael J. Sullivan
The Silmarillion (Boxed Set) J.R.R. Tolkien

* Red = 4.5-5.0 stars; Purple = 4.0-4.5 stars; Blue = solid 4 stars

My hands-down absolute favorites for the year were Carol Berg’s Transformation, the nearly forgotten lost treasure of Jo Chant’s Red Moon and Black Mountain and Portis’ outstanding True Grit.

But, wait, there’s more! I read a half-dozen more books which were very, very good. They almost blew my socks off. And they definitely deserve your attention.  The best fantasies include Bear’s Range of Ghosts and Ryan’s Blood Song, followed closely by more antics from Royce and Hadrian in The Crown Tower.

Off in a corner of the universe I fondly refer to GGKdom I found Guy Gavriel Kay’s latest exploration of Asia, River of Stars, to be satisfying and rewarding.

The best science fiction (subgenre space opera) I read this year, even exceeding my love for Scalzi’s The Human Division, came from the debut novel of Ann Leckie entitled Ancillary Justice.

I listened to (rather than re-reading) The Screwtape Letters and loved the diabolically demonic voice characterization of Joss Ackland.

Of one hundred and one books read, around ten percent floated to the top.  So am I wasting the other ninety percent of my reading time?  Perhaps.  But even if I don’t always find the best of the best, I do enjoy my adventures in far off places, in galaxies far far away, and in times long past or yet to come.

May you always find an escape or a serendipitous blessing in your novel adventures this year and always.

Happy New Year!

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