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January 1st, 2014

Reading Goals for 2014

What a year in books! As always, my book list is dominated by science fiction and fantasy (in part because of the long nominations list every year in the Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, which I love being on the jury for) with a healthy smattering of romance and comics. I'm facing a couple of big changes in 2014, the biggest of which is that I'm no longer reviewing SFF or comics for Publishers Weekly. My editors and I were all sad about the circumstances that led to this change, and I'm glad for things like Facebook and Twitter that will enable me to keep in touch when I'm not getting regular book shipments from them! Instead, I'm reading more titles for Kirkus, all self-published and many of them picture and chapter books, which suits my reading time with Bug (who is an excellent second opinion when reviewing such titles).

A portion of my still-ridiculous TBR pile
A small portion of my still ridiculous TBR pile

I read twelve fewer books in 2013 than in 2012 (in part because I count the picture book reviews in batches rather than individually), but my total was still 129 books for the year, an average of almost 2 1/2 books per week. A friend asked about the best book I read in 2013, and I said I'd have to consult my spreadsheet -- I forget in what year I've read what books! But here are some of my favorite picks for 2013:

  • Wrecked by Shiloh Walker, a very fun contemporary romance

  • Merrie Haskell's The Princess Curse

  • The manuscript for Max Gladstone's Full Fathom Five, which will be out this coming July; even in manuscript form, this is -- so far -- my favorite of the Craft sequence

  • A Man Above Reproach, a delightfully silly regency romance by Evelyn Price, which was so fun that I didn't even care if there were anachronisms

  • Digger by Ursula Vernon, which won the MFA in the adult category this year, and which I reviewed at Black Gate back in October

  • RASL by Jeff Smith, which I didn't love as much as Bone, but was good in a very different way

  • Vessel (the MFA winner for the children's category) and Conjured, both by Sarah Beth Durst, and both very different books, but equally good

  • Graveminder by Melissa Marr, which I think appealed to me particularly because my father is a funeral director

  • Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Barry Deutsch, which I'd been meaning to read for ages and finally picked up

  • Sidekicked by John David Anderson, which I already reviewed here

  • If I Fall by Kate Noble, which may be the best romance novel I've read

  • Sleepless Knights by Mark Williams, a comedic Arthurian novel that's my favorite Arthuriana in awhile

I also caught up on some series reading that I enjoyed:

  • Allison Pang's "Heart of the Dreaming" series

  • Devon Monk's first three "Age of Steam" books (and I can't wait for more of those!)

  • I always compulsively buy whatever novel in Nalini Singh's "Psy/Changeling" or Ilona Andrews's "Kate Daniels" series comes out, so I'm happily caught up there

  • After falling behind on Jennifer Estep's "Mythos Academy" books, I read three in a row, and I'm excited for the (soon to be out) final book in the series

  • I read the final books in Karen Mahoney's "Iron Witch" trilogy, Ally Carter's "Gallagher Girls" series, and Nicole Peeler's "Jane True" series, all of which were fitting conclusions

  • I'm still catching up on the Sartorias-Deles books by Sherwood Smith (because they're such a vast span), but I did read and enjoy her 2012 YA The Spy Princess.

  • I am finally almost caught up with "Safehold" by David Weber, but I find sometimes I need to take a break in the middle of them to get away from religious warfare; Weber writes it very well, but it can be so heart-wrenching in the middle that I put the book down and come back to it later.

There are several more titles I could mention -- I read a lot of good books this year, and several that earned a "great" or "great!" or "holy crap awesome!" ratings in my spreadsheet. As for my goals... I didn't quite make them. Let's check in:

  • 1 new to me nonfiction book Yeah, this one didn't happen. This goal is staying on my list for 2014, though; I think reading nonfiction, beyond articles at Cracked is important, and I should do more of it, even though I'm dreadfully slow.

  • 2 novels not SFF, romance, or YA Didn't even touch this one. Again, reading outside my genres is important, and I don't do enough of it. Keeping this goal the same for 2014.

  • 1 novel by an autobio author who I haven't read before Technically, this one's a no-go, too, but I did read some people this year and, because I enjoyed their work, subsequently invite them to the project. So I'll give this one a C for effort. Same goal next year.

  • 3 rereads I made 2 rereads, but I have this vague recollection of binging on the "Kate Daniels" books by Ilona Andrews right after reading the newest one. No record of it, so I can't count it. I'm pretty sure I can hit the 3 count next year.

  • 1 new graphic novel not a review book I aced this one -- I read 12. So, um, this goal is coming off the list. I don't need incentive to read comics apparently. I'm also buying some books in single issues (Saga!) from Comixology, which I count like webcomics (which is to day, I don't write them down).

  • 15 TBR books Another abject failure. I only read 3. I realized though that from March until June I didn't read a single book that wasn't for a review or for the MFA list, so it makes a little sense that I fell behind in pleasure reading. Especially as we move onto the next one...

  • 4 kids books not for the MFAs A bunch of pleasure reading apparently happened here instead. I read 16 kids books last year. Again, this goal is coming down -- no incentive needed here.

  • And though this one's not a goal, my reviews totalled out to 74 books. According to my January recap of reading last year, I read 80 review books in 2012. So that number looks to be holding just about steady.

What books did you read last year that you'd recommend? What reading goals have you set?

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