2016 Books

2016 Reading Wrap-Up

The end of the year is here, and I promised you one more blog post. Before Christmas, I shared my Top Ten Reads of 2016—check them out if you're looking to lose yourself in a wonderful book! This post's a little more nuts and bolts: I've tallied the final stats from my year-in-reading, and I've made pie charts! Yay, pie charts. 

First things first: my grand total for 2016 is... 93 books! I think that makes this my third most productive reading year ever, after last year (117 books, which will probably never happen again) and 2014 (94 books). Even better than the number: I enjoyed just about everything I read, which means all those hours were completely worth it. 

Here's the breakdown by age level: 

2016 books age breakdown.png

In last year's wrap-up post, I shared that I wanted to read more adult books in 2016. I beat last year's percentage by just a tiny bit, but I don't think I can really count that goal as met. So I'm setting it again for 2017! More adult books. Also, I plan to read a lot more middle-grade, as I dig into revising (and hopefully submitting) a middle-grade manuscript of my own. Expect the chart to be not quite so YA-heavy a year from now. 

Meanwhile, here's the genre breakdown from 2016: 

Last year, I lumped a lot of those smaller categories together, but this year it just didn't seem fair. Obviously, I still read a lot of straight contemporary, but look at what happens if you merge fantasy, historical fantasy, magical realism, and sci-fi! Probably close to a third of what I read this year was "genre" fiction. Maybe I can do even better next year. (That middle-grade manuscript I mentioned above is magical, so I'll need some inspiration...) 

Finally, in an effort to curb my book-buying habits, I returned to my shelves for a lot of rereads this year—16.1%, up from only 6% in 2015: 

Also tallied, but not with a chart: of the 93 books I completed this year, only seven had male authors. Sorry, dudes. It was the ladies' year. 

Do you keep a running list of what you read and how it adds up? Do you use it to help you set goals for the following year? Share in the comments! Meanwhile, I'll be back in January with an update on my blogging plans, and more. 

Happy New Year! 


Friday Five: Taking a Deep Breath

The absolute best thing about the past week has been the lull in my freelance work schedule. It was pretty hairy there for a month! (That's what happens when you say "yes" to just about every assignment you're offered...) So, the Friday Five has to start with: 

1) Having time to get everything done each day, without feeling freaked out or overwhelmed. Plus extra time for my current book-in-progress! I'm probably halfway through this first-draft/first-revision—it's a mix of new writing and revising—and I'm starting to sound like a broken record for how much I'm in love with this project. 

2) Next, a pat on the back: last Friday, I started the 30-Day Shred. After a cold, comfort-food-filled winter (and, frankly, a sedentary and junk-food-filled 2015), I wanted to see if I could reboot my body and rebuild my cardio endurance a bit. But here's the thing: I really don't like to exercise. I love taking dance classes and yoga classes, but the whole jogging/weights thing—not my favorite. So I am rather pumped that I've made it to Day 8 without missing a single workout, even when it was absolutely miserable. More on this next week... 

3) I've been writing on Thursday mornings with the charming and talented Lance Rubin, and yesterday, we both really enjoyed the cafe's 80s/90s classic rock Pandora station. Never mind that I was working on a very emotionally charged scene... each new tune made me smile. Phil Collins! Chicago! George Michael! Whoever it is that sings "Total Eclipse of the Heart!" It was a blast, even if the mood was all wrong for my WIP. 

4) Broadchurch season 2. Just as devastating as season 1, with the added perk of seeing the actor who plays Jarvis on Agent Carter in a *very* different context. 

5) Oh, books... I read two really lovely, inspiring books this week.

It was a pretty sure bet that I'd fall in love with Jennifer Longo's UP TO THIS POINTE. It's about a ballerina who runs away to Antarctica's McMurdo Station after realizing that her plan for her life (first up: a company contract with San Francisco Ballet) might not work out after all. The story jumps back and forth between the lead-up to Harper's fateful SFB audition and the present day at McMurdo, where she gets into Winter-Over shenanigans (there are penguins!) while also rebuilding her broken spirit. One thing I loved about this book was how unflinching it was in forcing Harper to face the facts about her future. Being passionate about something doesn't mean you're destined to find success at it—an issue I also tackle in HOW IT FEELS TO FLY—and yet having to change your life plan doesn't mean your life is over. UP TO THIS POINTE is filled with honesty and hope. 

Another sure bet: Natalie Lloyd's THE KEY TO EXTRAORDINARY. Natalie's an auto-buy for me. Her debut, A SNICKER OF MAGIC, was in my top 10 books of 2014. Her follow-up is heartfelt and heartwrenching, a winsome love song to a small mountain town and its occupants—especially protagonist Emma Pearl Casey. Every woman in Emma's family has had the Destiny Dream, and before Emma's mama passed away, she predicted that Emma would discover her destiny at a young age. The last thing Emma expects is for her dream to ask her to find buried treasure, but with the future of her Granny Blue's Boneyard Cafe on the line, she gathers her friends and goes treasure-hunting. This book has ghosts and magical flowers, laughter and music and love, and there were definitely a couple moments that made me tear up. I adored it.

What's got you smiling this week?


Friday Five: Coffee Shop Chats and Early Reviews

This wasn't the world's most upbeat week—especially with the loss of acting icon Alan Rickman, aka Severus Snape aka Colonel Brandon, yesterday—but that doesn't mean there aren't things to celebrate and be grateful for. Here are mine:  

1) HOW IT FEELS TO FLY galleys are out in the world! I spotted my ARC in various bloggers' and writers' book haul stacks from the American Library Association's midwinter conference last weekend, as well as on the shelf at the HarperCollins booth. Also, on Monday, the incredibly talented Stacey Lee said lovely things about the book on Instagram and Twitter, while yesterday book blogger Nori tweeted that she'd enjoyed it. I've been so nervous to find out what people think, and now that the ARCs are spreading, it's a relief to hear good things! 

2) On Monday evening, I got a reminder to live in the moment and enjoy the random interactions life throws at you sometimes. I stopped at a Starbucks to get some work done before meeting my husband and two friends for dinner... but their wi-fi was down. And then, this elderly man wouldn't stop talking to me. But rather than excuse myself and pack up my computer and head for another coffee shop, I decided to stay and chat with him. And I'm so glad I did! John is 78, a native of Scotland, and an almost lifelong Brooklyn resident. He's a screenwriter for the BBC and other networks; we talked a lot about the creative process. And we talked about Brooklyn in the 1950s, and his wife who was a dancer and is now a world-traveling Pilates instructor, and watching cooking shows on the Food Network... and more than an hour passed. Chatty strangers are normally not my favorite thing—not at all—but if I hadn't decided to let it happen, I would have missed out on a really fascinating conversation. 

3) I read my first 2016 ARC, Lauren Gibaldi's AUTOFOCUS! Lauren's a fellow Fearless Fifteener, and I'm so excited that our sophomore novels share a release date: June 14. Not only did I love this book—a contemporary YA about a girl who's determined to find out more information about her birth mother, who died giving birth to her—but I'm also hoping Lauren and I can do at least one joint event to celebrate and promote our books. Stay tuned! 

4) I'm almost done with my X-Files rewatch, and the new six-episode season premieres in just over a week, and if I talk about that any longer I'm going to hyperventilate, so...

5) I made the most delicious apple pecan bread this week. I really love baking, and when something turns out even better than I anticipated, it's such a treat. The apartment still smells like apple-cinnamon.  

What's got you in a good mood this week?