Books read, December 2011; also some statistics

We’ll do the December part first, because it’s going to be quite quick.

The Gathering Storm, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. I haven’t gotten around to doing the analysis post for this one yet, but I’ll try to do that soon. In the meantime, suffice to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this, although it did still have its flaws.

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy, L.A. Meyer. First book of a YA-ish (MG? not sure what age range this is published for) series about a girl on the streets of Regency London who pretends to be a boy in order to get a berth and regular meals on board a naval warship. The early section was a bit of a chore to read, because it’s first-person narration and Meyer presents a pretty accurate cockney dialect and grammar, but later on Mary/Jacky cleans up her language and becomes easier to read. I found the book as a whole enjoyable; it hits the usual “girl disguised as boy” notes, but does so in relatively practical fashion. And certain episodes (like the bit with the kite) entertained me quite a lot. I may well keep reading in the series.

Mystery on the Isle of Skye, Phyllis A. Whitney. An old favorite of my mother’s childhood, which my brother picked up because he and his wife were going on vacation to Scotland, including the Isle of Skye. Sadly, I don’t have their first-hand experience of the locations mentioned here, but the book was still pleasant reading. The two things that particularly struck me were the contemporary notes (like the extensive description of plane travel, which back in 1955 would not have been familiar to most readers), and my own knee-jerk expectations of genre. The title made me expect an actual mystery, of the Nancy Drew sort, and the inclusion of Scottish fairy beliefs made me expect actual fairies. Okay, not so much on the latter — more that my fantasy-reader brain kept hoping for it — but I did anticipate more mystery, and that really isn’t what this book is about.

Cart and Cwidder, Diana Wynne Jones. Discussed elsewhere.

Drowned Ammet, Diana Wynne Jones. Discussed elsewhere.

The Spellcoats, Diana Wynne Jones. Discussed elsewhere.

The Crown of Dalemark, Diana Wynne Jones. Discussed elsewhere.

. . . and also a crap-ton of fic from Yuletide. 🙂

To this I might add A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains, by Isabella Bird, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Judaism. Neither of them belongs to this month, nor did I finish either one, but I made it through enough that I think they belong in this year’s list of books. (They were both for research. The former is one of several books written by a nineteenth-century traveler, and the latter was to give me a basic, 101-level resource about Judaism.)

I said at the beginning of 2011 that I hadn’t been reading much fiction (owing to the burdens of research), and that I was determined to change that. So, how did I do?

Well, my log lists a total of 125 books read (and 14 abandoned), of which only eleven are nonfiction. So I have successfully raised both the total number, and the proportion. 🙂 We might further break it down:

  • Four were novellas, independently published.
  • Sixteen were manga, graphic novels, or very short illustrated books.
  • Four were my own books, read for editing purposes. (I only counted straight read-throughs.)
  • Forty or so were YA or children’s books, depending on where you choose to draw that particular line.
  • Thirty-four were written by Diana Wynne Jones — more than a quarter of the total. I’m not sure what the effect of that has been on the overall list. On the one hand, her books are generally short, so that may be inflating the number above what it will be in a year when I’m not spending so much time on a complete reading. On the other hand, the obligation to make progress on that undertaking sometimes means I don’t pick up other books when my eye falls on them, because I feel like I ought to be reading the next thing on my to-do list. So we’ll see what happens when I’m done with the project.

Any way you slice it, I’m pleased with the list. I really hadn’t been reading as much as I wanted to these last few years; it’s very satisfying to get back to it.

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