05 January 2017

Most memorable books I read in 2016

I have just tallied the books I read in 2016, and they come to 234 (oops, forgot some that were on my Kindle, so  make that 246), only including those I finished after a full reading. I also skimmed several more, maybe 20 or so, but they don't count. When you read this many books in one year they tend to blur together into a muddle of indistinguishable plots, characters, pages and covers, even some of the good ones. However, I keep a scoring system for the books I read, and so I can go over them and use the list to jog my memory. 

Books were judged memorable by the simple expedient of taking the top-ranking books from my list of read books, removing all rereads and then weeding out the others until I had narrowed the choice down to the 16 books I remember the best from the year's reading. If there had been any memorably terrible reads I would have included them, but I generally stop reading such books as soon as i realise how terrible they are.

Note that memorable does not necessarily mean the book was particularly good or that I placed it on a keeper shelf, only that I found it memorable enough that the whole story more or less flashed before my eyes as I read the title from the list. This, in itself, is a certain measure of quality, but by no means the only one, or even the best one. If truth be told, I read only a scant handful of books last year that I would be willing to reread, another measure of quality.

It's funny, but I don't think I have ever had so few books on my end-of-year list that had a title beginning with the definite article: only two.

Half the books were non-fiction. Broken down by genre there were:
2 travelogues and 2 books about humans and their relationships with each other and with nature;
one historical biography; one book about the food industry; one history book; and one you might call a documentary, as it's combination of travelogues, history and profiles of Volkswagen Transit campervan owners and their vehicles.

The fiction books partially parallel the non-fiction. There are:
3 historical novels, of which one is biographical; 2 detective novels, of which one is historical; two fantasies, of which one is an animal story (of sorts); and one novel (which is also a prison break story of sorts).

I finished all of these books in the second half of the year, and 14 of them after I began book blogging again.

I may do a statistical analysis of all the books I read, but don't hold your breath waiting.

The books were, in alphabetical order of author (foreign authors by last name, the Icelandic author by first name, because that's how we do in in Iceland):

  • Ben Aaronovitch : Rivers of London. Urban fantasy detective story. Lots of Good Book Noise over this one.
  • James Anderson : The Affair of the Mutilated Mink. Historical murder mystery. Lots of chuckles and a couple of outright laughs.
  • Tim Butcher : Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart. Travelogue, reportage.
  • Annie Caulfield : Show Me the Magic: Travels Round Benin by Taxi. Travelogue.
  • Agatha Christie : Five Little Pigs. Murder mystery.
  • Rob Cowen : Common Ground. Humans and nature. Evocative and lovely, but ultimately lacking.
  • Emma Donoghue : Room. Novel. By turns sweet and harrowing, and a very emotional read.
  • David & Cee Eccles : Campervan Crazy: Travels With My Bus. Coffee table book.
  • Gretel Ehrlich : The Solace of Open Spaces. Essays about humans and nature. More Good Book Noise.
  • Einar Kárason : Ofsi (Rage) and Óvinafagnaður (A Gathering of Foes). Historical novels, based on the Icelandic Saga of the Sturlungs.These are the first two books in a trilogy, but unfortunately the last book, Skáld (Skald) didn't live up to the expectations awakened by the first two.
  • Christina Henry : Alice. Urban fantasy thriller. Dark and imaginative pastiche.
  • Daniel Kehlmann : Measuring the World. Historical and biographical novel. Funny and made me want to read more about the characters and the time period.
  • Ian Kelly : Casanova. Biography. More Good Book Noise. Not only a portrait of a man, but also of the times he lived in.
  • Felicity Lawrence : Not On the Label: What really goes into the food on your plate. Reportage. Scary and sometimes revolting. I still don't have much of an appetite for chicken.
  • E.S. Turner : What the Butler Saw: Two Hundred and Fifty Years of the Servant Problem. History.Very informative social history of an often neglected underclass.

3 comments:

Shoshanah Lee Marohn said...

Interesting choices. I really hated "Room." I had a five year old child at the time I read it, and I guess it was a little too close to home. Timing is important when reading.

Shoshanah Lee Marohn said...

Although, actually, Room was very "memorable." I still remember it clearly, four years later.

Bibliophile said...

Shoshanah, I agree, timing is important. I will also remember Room for a very long time.