Looking back at 2018 for Books and the Blog

As we kick off 2019, I wanted to take a glance back at 2018. 258 books read (plus comics, picture books, short stories, and the like that I don’t know how to count) — I exceeded my goal (nothing like exceeding an arbitrary number to boost the ol’ ego), 380 posts (short of my goal by a couple hundred, and worse — 15 fewer than 2017, which was down from 2016. This is a trend that I need to reverse). I had some strong gains in traffic — views and visitors — actually, strong gains doesn’t quite cut it. Consider my mind boggled. I’m also seeing good growth in followers here and on various social media fronts, which is encouraging as all get out — not just growth in numbers, but I’m actually interacting with people (and vice versa).

So here’s my breakdown of books by genre, like the one I did last year. Genre labeling is more difficult this year, I read a lot of hybrids, but I tend to go with the overarching genre (for example, Brassley’s The Drifting Lands books are fantasy novels in a SF setting, I went with Fantasy). Mystery/Suspense/Thriller is back to where it should be. Fantasy jumped up a bit, and Urban Fantasy took a dive. It’s been forever since I’ve read a Western, I guess (at least one that wasn’t a hybrid with Urban Fantasy or SF or something) — and I had to add a category for Poetry. Theological books went down in actual numbers, not just percent — but I read some big, technical stuff this year that take a lot of time/energy to read, so I’m not too bothered by that. Still, for someone who doesn’t plan too thoroughly, the percentages stay remarkably the same from year to year — tastes (and series I follow) apparently stay the same.

Genre 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
Children’s 11 (4%) 7 (3%) 5 (2%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
Fantasy 30 (11%) 7 (3%) 31 (13%) 17 (9%) 11 (7%) 15 (8%) 12 (6%)
General Fiction/ Literature 22 (8%) 29 (10%) 27 (11%) 17 (9%) 7 (4%) 30 (16%) 30 (14%)
Horror 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (.4%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
Humor 3 (1%) 1 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (1%) 3 (2%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
Mystery/ Suspense/ Thriller 107 (38%) 102 (37%) 61 (25%) 64 (34%) 62 (37%) 63 (33%) 73 (35%)
Non-Fiction 22 (8%) 10 (4%) 11 (5%) 8 (4%) 4 (2%) 2 (1%) 11 (5%)
Poetry 1 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
Science Fiction 25 (9%) 27 (10%) 37 (15%) 16 (8%) 17 (10%) 14 (7%) 11 (5%)
Steampunk 3 (1%) 1 (0%) 2 (1%) 7 (4%) 3 (2%) 3 (2%) 11 (5%)
Theology/ Christian Living 25 (9%) 30 (11%) 33 (14%) 42 (22%) 42 (25%) 37 (19%) 10 (5%)
Urban Fantasy 29 (10%) 45 (16%) 36 (15%) 19 (10%) 20 (12%) 26 (14%) 48 (23%)
Western 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0%)

Have a great 2019, hope you find plenty of good things to read!

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December 2018 Report

So, this is the end of December. The end of 2018. As I said earlier, I started a new job, so my numbers are a little lower — I think this is likely the new normal (at least for a while). Twenty-two books is nothing to sneeze at, really. I think I know I say this too frequently for anyone to take me seriously (including myself), but I really didn’t write as much as I wanted to this month. But I rested a lot. I did like a good amount of what I actually wrote, so there’s that. Anyhow, some of the highs from this year — and a couple of lows, in other words — December was pretty representative.

So, here’s what happened here in December.

Books/Novels/Novellas Read/Listened to:

Not Famous Mr. Pizza Deep Dirty Truth
4 Stars 3.5 Stars 4 Stars
Past Tense Grounded in Heaven Murder in the Dark
3.5 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars
Dog Songs The World Savers The United Smiths of America
3 Stars 3.5 Stars 1 Star
Blackwater The Everlasting Story of Nory P Is for Pterodactyl
4 Stars 3.5 Stars 4 Stars
Godlefe’s Cuckoo Cold Days (Audiobook) The Crescent and the Cross
3 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars
Hardcore Twenty-Four The Impossible Dead Ross Poldark
2 1/2 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Audiobook) Geerhardus Vos: Reformed Biblical Theologian, Confessional Presbyterian John Owen vol 4
5 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars
Doctor Who: Rose            
3.5 Stars            

Still Reading:

The Power of the Dog            

Reviews Posted:

Book Challenge Progress:

Angel's Guilty Pleasures Past Tense by Lee Child
The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling, Jim Dale

Mr. Pizza by J. F. Pandolfi
Murder in the Dark by Betsy Reavley
The United Smiths of America by Jon Voss
P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever by Raj Haldar, Chris Carpenter, Maria Beddia
The Crescent and the Cross by Kurt Scheffler
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
Dog Songs by Mary Oliver, John Burgoyne
Geerhardus Vos: Reformed Biblical Theologian, Confessional Presbyterian by Danny E. Olinger
Doctor Who: Rose by Russell T. Davies

Mr. Pizza by J. F. Pandolfi
Murder in the Dark by Betsy Reavley
The World Savers by Matt Cowper
The United Smiths of America by Jon Voss
P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever by Raj Haldar, Chris Carpenter, Maria Beddia
The Crescent and the Cross by Kurt Scheffler

✔ Read a book that takes place in one day: The United Smiths of America by Jon Voss
✔ Read a collection of poetry: Dog Songs by Mary Oliver, John Burgoyne
✔ Read a book you received as a gift: The Crescent and the Cross by Kurt Scheffler
✔ Read a book recommended by one of your parents (in-laws count): Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
✔ Read a book with your favorite food in the title.: Mr. Pizza by J. F. Pandolfi

How was your month?

2019 Reading Goals/Plans/Expectations

All this needs to be taken with a grain of salt, obviously. Maybe a salt lick. Remembering all too well the poet’s lines:

           But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
          Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
          For promis’d joy!

So, I’ve got 6 Reading Challenges in the hopper — I looked at a number of others, but these are the ones that clicked with me. Last year was the first that I really got into Reading Challenges, and appreciated the way they made me think about what I was reading (and outside of maybe 3 or 4 books, they didn’t direct my reading).

Additionally, I’m going to focus on bringing down the number of books in my Physical and Electronic TBR Pile/Mound/Heap (33 and 21, respectively, not counting review copies). Those numbers aren’t as big as some people’s, I realize. But that’s 2 months and change of reading if I read nothing else. This is a personal challenge, that I’m dubbing The Reader Who Went up a Mountain but Came down a Hill. We’ll see how well that works.

I’m also going to finish off my Rebus-catch up, I’m going to try to read the rest of the DC Fiona Griffiths (although I’ve been saying that for 2 years now), and I want to read every Fredrik Backman novel I can get my hands on. Actually accomplishing these three would only chip away two books from the above mountain…

But mostly, I’m going to focus on “Serendipity and Whim” like Alan Jacobs talks about. By all means feel free to throw suggestions at me.

2018 While I Was Reading Challenge

I finished this challenge last night (the other reading challenges I participated in this year were just “how many of X can you read?, so there’s no real end point). When I signed up for this last year, I thought it’d be no trouble whatsoever (except the poetry thing), and I’d just finish this by reading what I’d normally read. I was almost right. But not really.

I had to go hunt down about half the titles here — and even that didn’t go right. I tracked down one book (that I ended up enjoying) for “Read a book with a child narrator” that turned out to have a child protagonist and a third-person narrator. Thankfully, I had read a book that qualified about 5 months earlier, and didn’t think of using it for the list. Similarly, I re-read/listened to Robin Sloane’s Sourdough because I couldn’t think of anything else to work for “favorite food in the title,” and sourdough’s close enough to a favorite that I could live with it. Then a month later than I got a book tour review request for Mr. Pizza (which was incredibly accurate). So with patience, I might have been able to handle it all without much effort (except the poetry).

I’m doing this challenge again next year, because I did it, but I’m planning it better — I have things in mind for about half of the items already, and am pretty sure I can fill the rest of it out with little effort. But I’m not waiting until the Fall before I get serious about it.

✔ Read a book that takes place in one day: The United Smiths of America by Jon Voss
✔ Read a memoir or biography of a musician you like: So Let It Be Written by Mark Eglinton
✔ Read a collection of poetry: Dog Songs by Mary Oliver, John Burgoyne
✔ Read an audio book with multiple narrators: Ways to die in Glasgow by Heather Wilds, Napoleon Ryan
✔ Read a self published book: Profane Fire at the Altar of the Lord by Dennis Malley
✔ Read a book you received as a gift: The Crescent and the Cross by Kurt Scheffler
✔ Read a book about a historical event you’re interested in (fiction or non): The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865 by Janet Elizabeth Croon, ed.
✔ Read a book written by an author from the state where you grew up: Arsenal by Jeffery H. Haskelll/Twisted Magics by J. C. Jackson
✔ Read a book recommended by one of your parents (in-laws count): Ross Poldark by Winston Graham (link forthcoming)
✔ Read a book with your favorite food in the title: Mr. Pizza by J. F. Pandolfi
✔ Read a book with a child narrator: Picket Town by Chris von Halle
✔ Read a book you chose based on the cover: Know Me from Smoke by Matt Phillips

Saturday Miscellany – 12/29/18

Sure, local/state governments had problems, small businesses were hurt, 911 centers weren’t able to operate, but the real victim of the CenturyLink outage was my blogging plans for the week. Well, okay, maybe not. But it sure seemed terribly inconvenient at the time. While it was a slow posting week, I did get a lot of reading done — I should wrap up work on my last reading challenge for 2018 today (knocked off another one yesterday), and nailed down a lot of plans for the next few weeks (I somehow have found myself committed to 8 books in January. Which isn’t that many, really, but it seems daunting). Hope your [insert preferred holiday name] week was good in whatever way you spent it.

Here’s the smattering of odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to february87 and Ontheminds for following the blog this week.

Saturday Miscellany – 12/22/18

Odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    This Week’s only had One New Release that Caught my eye:

  • The Disasters by M. K. England — “The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of the Galaxy” ’nuff said.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Russell Deasley for following the blog this week.

GUEST POST – The Open Road Awaits: Your Guide to Literary Road Trips

I’m very happy to have this guest post today — and not just because I need some time to finish a couple of things you won’t see for a few weeks. I love a nicely designed (and informative) infographic and this one hit the sweet spot for me. When I was asked if I’d be interested in posting this, I jumped on it. Give this a read and check this out. Then maybe plan a trip?

Literary Road Trips Across AmericaScott Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac and Tom Wolfe…

These are a handful of renowned authors responsible for writing some of the most iconic books we know and love. The sources for their inspiration came from their life experiences, including some at the heart of American culture—road trips. From adventures lasting ten to over one hundred hours, these famous works of literature account for the national parks, cities and cultural events each author explored.

For example, On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, follows the story of Sal Paradise and his friends. The crew of young, broke hippies in love with life travel from New York to San Francisco. Through his young characters’ adventures, Kerouac’s work captures the spirit of freedom and the American dream. The narrative draws from Kerouac’s personal experiences traveling across the country.

The experiences of many authors are brought to life through the words crafted in their stories, making it incredibly difficult to put these books down. And each year, thousands of Americans, inspired by wanderlust and words, set out on their own adventures. The freedom of a cross-country road trip, whether on your own or with a group of close friends, never fails to enchant. There’s something intensely clarifying about hitting the open road. You’re suddenly able to disconnect from the routines of everyday life. You become what’s happening in that moment. You are living outside time.

Inspired by the need for adventure and the words of iconic authors, CarRentals created a guide to literary road trips across America. Instead of simply living them through the pages of your favorite novel, you can set off on routes that follow the narrative arc of six iconic books. Create new stories of your own by exploring the paths of these famous American authors. The road awaits!