EOY: Reading

2013 was a year of mysteries, it looks like. It also looks like a bit of a comedown in quantity. I was down to 42 titles from 2012's 56.


Here are the three best I read this year:
  • River of Stars (Guy Gavriel Kay) This follow-up to the fantastic Under Heaven is not quite as good, but Kay's writing is so completely immersive that it's hard not to ride along for the joy of just being there. This is not a direct sequel, but rather takes place centuries later. Start with Under Heaven, but go on to this one.
  • Have Mercy on us All (Fred Vargas) I devoured the Fred Vargas mysteries this year, for sure, but my favorite of the lot was the first I read. (Be aware that it's not the first of the series, but that didn't affect my reading of it.) These books are a bit bloody, though not (IMHO) as bad as The Girl Who... books. What I liked about this one was the different characters, especially the one who we follow at first and who takes up an interesting re-invented job.
  • The Good Lord Bird (James McBride) By far, this was the best book I read all year. It's the story of John Brown's raids told from the point of view of a young slave who is masquerading as a girl. I don't think we get enough of John Brown in school, or at least I didn't. A lot of the lead up to the Civil War is covered as the political maneuvering. I think it'd be much more interesting to cover what was going on on the ground among the radicals pushing for change, as well as those resisting it, and (in Kansas) both putting their blood on the line for it.

Here are some other stats:

Genre (by my guess)

  • Mystery: 12
  • Speculative: 16 (includes 2 YA)
  • Historical: 6
  • Other Fiction: 4 (Life of Pi, One Good Hustle, The Litigators, The Wasp Factory)
  • Non-Fiction: 4


  • Physical: 24
  • Electronic: 18

Books by Women Writers

  • Men: 22
  • Women: 20

Lots of repeated authors this year. For 42 books, there were 31 authors. The authors were overwhelmingly American. Fully a third of the US authors were born in New York.

Birth Country

  • US: 21
  • England: 4
  • Canada: 3
  • France: 1
  • Turkey: 1
  • Scotland: 1

Birth Decade

  • 1880s: X
  • 1890s:
  • 1900s:
  • 1910s: XXX
  • 1920s: XX
  • 1930s: X
  • 1940s: XXXX
  • 1950s: XXXXXXXXXXX
  • 1960s: XXXXXX
  • 1970s: X
  • unkwn: XX

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