2016: My Year in Reading

All of the data that follows was collected by me throughout the year using a combination of Google Sheets and Google Calendar. All seasonal and monthly calculations are based on the date each title was completed. Average days to read titles are based on the number of days actually spent reading each title, and not necessarily the full span from begun date to completed date.

A complete list of all the books I read in 2016 is at the bottom of this post.

I read 70 books in 2016. This year I overwhelmingly read fiction:

  • 49 fiction
  • 21 nonfiction

I averaged 5.83 books per month. I read 45 books in the first six months of the year but only 25 in the last six months. My average books per month for the first six months of the year was 7.5, whereas my average per month for the last six months was 4.17—fully three and a third fewer per month in the bottom half of the year.

I read half as many nonfiction titles in the second half of the year as I did in the first half (14 to 7). My fiction reading also dropped significantly in the last half of the year (31 to 18). In general, I read a whole lot less of anything from August through December than I did from January through July.

In total, I spent 251 days reading and only 115 not reading this year. I averaged 4.92 days of reading at a stretch, and only 2.26 days on average not reading.

My longest uninterrupted stretch of reading was 21 days from May 27-June 16. I read some amount every day during this period.

My longest stretch without reading was 13 days from September 5-17.

My seasonal reading started very strong but tapered off as the year progressed:

  • 22 books in winter (January-February-December)
  • 19 books in spring (March-April-May)
  • 18 books in summer (June-July-August)
  • 11 books in fall (September-October-November)

I read 10 books in January, the most of any month. February and March saw 9 and 8 books, respectively. November was far below par, with a paltry 2 books read. October wasn’t much better, with only 3. (December also totaled only 3 but I spent a lot more time reading in December than I did in October. See my note at the end of this post re: Alan Moore’s Jerusalem.) These were the only months of the year where I didn’t manage at least one book per week. There were 2 months when I averaged exactly one book per week: April and August.

On average, it took me 3.64 days to read a book:

  • 4.08 days for fiction
  • 2.62 days for nonfiction

Only one book this year took me more than a week to complete: The Passage by Justin Cronin, at 11 days. I read 7 books in a single day each. 3 books took me seven days on the nose.

I should note that Jerusalem by Alan Moore is taking me much longer than a week to read—17 days and counting, as of December 31—but I don’t include it here as I haven’t actually finished it yet.

I need to call out Dark Matter by Blake Crouch as my favorite book of the year.

My second favorite book this year was nonfiction: Into the Woods: A Five-Act Journey into Story by John Yorke. It’s a fantastic work of synthesis and a must-read for anyone who’s fascinated by the human need to tell stories.

I got into a few series this year: I read all of “The Expanse” novels by James S. A. Corey and I think it’s one of the best space opera series written since scifi’s Golden Age—certainly the best since Alastair Reynold’s “Revelation Space,” and a heck of lot more fun. I was happy to discover the work of N. K. Jemisin and Richard Kadrey this year, and now consider myself a diehard fan of both authors. The first two books in Cixin Liu’s “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” series delightfully twisted my brain into a pretzel—reading the third book in this series is a priority for next year.

There were several one-off novels that had an impact on me this year: Among Others by Jo Walton and Everfair by Nisi Shawl deserve a call-out—both brilliant and powerful works. The Dark Side by Anthony O’Neill was one of the most fun reads of my year.

I even rediscovered a fond memory from my childhood.

I read my first works by Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie this year. The fact that I had never read anything by these two authors before is a shameful mark on my reading history. Unfortunately, the books I read by them this year weren’t their best. I’ll need to try their more laudable novels at some point.

You can see a list of my favorite books I read in 2016 here >

I’ve stated before that my reading tends to go in cycles: I’ll have a few weeks where I read voraciously and then I’ll spend a few weeks without picking up a book. Typically, my non-reading days are spent watching television instead (so still consuming stories, albeit in a different medium). This year, I didn’t watch much TV and spent many more evenings reading than is typical for me.

There were a couple of major things that happened this year which profoundly affected my reading habits:

My wife and I adopted a puppy in February. She’s wonderful, and sweet, and smart, and funny, and adorable, and all good things you expect a puppy to be. She’s also challenging, and frustrating, and she utterly disrupted our lives—disrupted it in the best way possible but still a massive disruption.

I had a hard time dealing with the stress. I found that I needed breaks from her. Shutting the bedroom door and curling up with a book while she took a nap or got alone time with her mom, provided a far more reliable escape than trying to watch TV in the living room.

The factor which impacted my reading habits the most this year was our house. In the summer and through the fall, my wife and I tackled several major home improvement projects. These projects occupied a significant amount of our time outside of work—on top of raising a new puppy—and this, more than anything else, accounts for the drop off in my reading pace in the last months of year. There were months during this period when I was too busy to read anything beyond the books assigned to me by Booklist.

These factors also explain why I wrote so few book reviews this year. Being exhausted by the puppy and house projects, what little time and energy I had left for analysis and writing had to go to my work for Booklist. This blog was sorely neglected in consequence.

Most of the nonfiction I read this year was assigned to me by Booklist. Were it not for those titles, and the fact that I read a handful of puppy books when my wife and I adopted our dog in February, I would have read half as many nonfiction books as I did.

The four puppy books I read in February ever-so-slightly throw off some of my stats for the year. Without them, the total number of nonfiction books I read in the first half of the year would be closer to equal the number I read in the second half, rather than double. These puppy books also account for almost half of the titles which only took me one day to read.

And then there’s Alan Moore’s Jerusalem

This novel is my current white whale. I started it in mid-August, when I read the first forty pages or so. Then I set it down and didn’t come back to it until late November. As of this writing, I’m still not done. I set it aside every time Booklist sent me new titles or when holds came in at my library, so I didn’t devote much uninterrupted time to it until the past few weeks. But I also had difficulty getting through it when I did sit down with it. It’s going very slowly and taking far more time to read than I anticipated.

I could have read at least 4 more regular novels in the same amount of time. I’m going to have a lot to say about this book once I’m finished.

Despite the amount of time I’ve spent reading Jerusalem over the past couple of months, and despite the significant quantity of pages I’ve read in it these past few weeks, I haven’t included it in most of the statistics for this year because I didn’t get it finished: it’s not part of my totals, nor my calculation of average days to complete titles. The only thing I count in this year’s analysis are the days I spent reading it in my total days spent reading and not reading. I’ll include the book in next year’s totals and averages (despite having read most of it this year) so it’ll all equal out in the end.

Next year, I embark upon my plan to read several titles in genres that I normally don’t read. I’ll finish Jerusalem. There are a couple of SF series my mom keeps encouraging me to read and I’d like to get started on those. I’ll read the final title in Cixin Liu’s series and, of course, the next “Expanse” installment as soon as it hits shelves. Plus whatever Booklist sends me.

I also plan to go back to watching more TV, so I don’t expect to get through as many books as I did this year.

And I promise I’ll write more book reviews.

Books Read in 2016

I’ve linked titles which I’ve reviewed on this blog. Asterisks (*) indicate titles I reviewed for Booklist.

Title Author Started Finished
1 Arkwright * Allen Steele 1/1/2016 1/2/2016
2 The Three-Body Problem Cixin Liu 1/3/2016 1/6/2016
3 Fool Christopher Moore 1/7/2016 1/9/2016
4 Metal Swarm Kevin J. Anderson 1/9/2016 1/12/2016
5 The Ashes of Worlds Kevin J. Anderson 1/13/2016 1/16/2016
6 Alice Christina Henry 1/16/2016 1/17/2016
7 InterWorld Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves 1/18/2016 1/18/2016
8 The Silver Dream Michael Reaves & Mallory Reaves 1/19/2016 1/20/2016
9 Eternity’s Wheel Michael Reaves & Mallory Reaves 1/21/2016 1/22/2016
10 The Dark Forest Cixin Liu 1/23/2016 1/30/2016
11 Snakewood * Adrian Selby 1/31/2016 2/8/2016
12 Among Others Jo Walton 2/8/2016 2/10/2016
13 The Science of Growth: How Facebook Beat Friendster – and How Nine Other Startups Left the Rest in the Dust * Sean Ammirati 2/13/2016 2/13/2016
14 The Everything Box * Richard Kadrey 2/13/2016 2/15/2016
15 LEGO: A Love Story Jonathan Bender 2/15/2016 2/18/2016
16 Puppies: Keeping and Caring for Your Pet Brigitte Harries 2/23/2016 2/23/2016
17 Awesome Puppy: Activities & Training to Make Your Pup an Awesome Dog Ray & Emma Lincoln 2/24/2016 2/28/2016
18 Guide to Owning a Labrador Retriever Richard T. Burrows 2/25/2016 2/25/2016
19 The Everything Puppy Book: Choosing, Raising, and Training Your Littlest Best Friend Carlo DeVito & Amy Ammen 2/27/2016 2/27/2016
20 NOS4A2 Joe Hill 3/2/2016 3/5/2016
21 The Thicket Joe R. Lansdale 3/5/2016 3/6/2016
22 The Heart Goes Last Margaret Atwood 3/8/2016 3/10/2016
23 The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America Ann Newmann 3/11/2016 3/12/2016
24 Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights Salman Rushdie 3/13/2016 3/17/2016
25 Modern Monopolies: How Online Platforms Rule the World by Controlling the Means of Connection * Alex Moazed & Nicholas L. Johnson 3/20/2016 3/22/2016
26 The Dark Side * Anthony O’Neill 3/24/2016 3/26/2016
27 Heart-Shaped Box Joe Hill 3/27/2016 3/30/2016
28 The Long Cosmos Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter 4/2/2016 4/5/2016
29 Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi Amy-Jill Levine 4/9/2016 4/12/2016
30 Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void Mary Roach 4/14/2016 4/15/2016
31 Gone Girl Gillian Flynn 4/21/2016 4/27/2016
32 The Perdition Score * Richard Kadrey 4/27/2016 5/1/2016
33 Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension * Samuel Arbesman 5/4/2016 5/6/2016
34 Leviathan Wakes James S. A. Corey 5/6/2016 5/7/2016
35 The Hike * Drew Magary 5/7/2016 5/8/2016
36 The Swarm * Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston 5/9/2016 5/14/2016
37 Caliban’s War James S. A. Corey 5/16/2016 5/23/2016
38 Abaddon’s Gate James S. A. Corey 5/23/2016 5/29/2016
39 Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal about the Meaning of Life Steven Hyden 5/30/2016 6/1/2016
40 Cibola Burn James S. A. Corey 6/2/2016 6/7/2016
41 Nemesis Games James S. A. Corey 6/8/2016 6/12/2016
42 Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War Mary Roach 6/12/2016 6/16/2016
43 Everfair * Nisi Shawl 6/18/2016 6/24/2016
44 On Bullshit Harry G. Frankfurt 6/24/2016 6/24/2016
45 City of Weird: 30 Otherworldly Portland Tales * Gigi Little 6/24/2016 6/28/2016
46 Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife Mary Roach 6/28/2016 7/1/2016
47 The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms N. K. Jemisin 7/2/2016 7/3/2016
48 Kansas City: A Food Biography Andrea Broomfield 7/6/2016 7/12/2016
49 The Forgetting Moon * Brian Lee Durfee 7/13/2016 7/18/2016
50 Saga, Volume Six Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples 7/19/2016 7/19/2016
51 The Broken Kingdoms N. K. Jemisin 7/21/2016 7/25/2016
52 The Trigan Empire Mike Butterworth & Don Lawrence 7/26/2016 7/27/2016
53 Time Salvager Wesley Chu 7/28/2016 8/7/2016
54 Remnants of Trust * Elizabeth Bonesteel 8/7/2016 8/14/2016
55 Jerusalem Alan Moore 8/14/2016 In Progress
56 The Kingdom of Gods N. K. Jemisin 8/16/2016 8/21/2016
57 Into the Guns * William C. Dietz 8/22/2016 8/27/2016
58 The Social Organism: A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life * Oliver Luckett & Michael J. Casey 8/28/2016 9/18/2016
59 Time Siege Wesley Chu 9/19/2016 9/24/2016
60 Dark Matter Blake Crouch 9/24/2016 9/25/2016
61 Half a King Joe Abercrombie 9/26/2016 10/1/2016
62 Dead Set Richard Kadrey 10/1/2016 10/5/2016
63 Cyberbullying and the Wild, Wild Web: What Everyone Needs to Know * J. A. Hitchcock 10/6/2016 10/8/2016
64 Into the Woods: A Five-Act Journey into Story John Yorke 10/8/2016 10/11/2016
65 Last Year * Robert Charles Wilson 10/12/2016 10/16/2016
66 The Wrong Dead Guy * Richard Kadrey 10/19/2016 10/24/2016
67 The Passage Justin Cronin 10/27/2016 11/20/2016
68 Power Play: How Video Games Can Save the World * Asi Burak & Laura Parker 11/5/2016 11/11/2016
69 Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy * Jonathan Taplin 12/3/2016 12/4/2016
70 Avengers of the Moon * Allen Steele 12/6/2016 12/9/2016
71 Babylon’s Ashes James S. A. Corey 12/10/2016 12/13/2016

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