That Was The Year That Was (In Books)

Regular readers of this blog―i.e., my parents―may have noticed that there was no post here last week. That’s because on Thursday, December 7, we got out of town as the Lilac Fire advanced on our house. At the time we left, the fire had charred a path nine miles long in a single afternoon. Officials were saying there was a good chance the fire would go all the way to the ocean. And what was directly between the fire and the ocean?


Fortunately the winds shifted on Friday, pushing the fire back on itself and allowing emergency crews to get the upper hand with their lines. Ultimately, the evacuation zone stopped about a mile from our location, and the fire itself stopped about six miles away. For an example of what could have happened if the winds hadn’t shifted, one need only look at this year’s Thomas Fire, burning now up in Santa Barbara, or San Diego’s own two big recent blazes, 2007’s Witch Creek Fire (which was responsible for one of the largest peactime evacuations in US history) and 2003’s Cedar Fire. We kept a wary eye on both of those other San Diego fires, but stayed put for them. The Lilac Fire felt different.

By the time we returned, on Sunday, the fire was largely contained, although not after causing quite a bit of local destruction and, sadly, killing dozens of horses at a training facility in Bonsall. When we got back, I put up a post on Dennis’s blog to let his nice reederz know he was okay (they worry), but when it came to doing a post here, well, I didn’t have the energy. Or as Buffy the Vampire Slayer might say:

While packing up the car on Thursday afternoon in preparation for leaving if the fire kept coming (which it did), I made sure to pack cat food, dog food, kitty litter, pet food bowls, etc., but somehow didn’t grab things like shirts (I ended up borrowing them from the friends we were staying with), my wife’s toothbrush, soap, etc. etc. etc. But I did pack my fully-loaded eReader, even though I didn’t actually read anything over the weekend. Because you can’t go anywhere without your books, right? Coincidentally, not long after we came back, my annual Goodreads “year in review” email arrived.

(click image for full list)


So compared to last year, this year, I read 13 fewer books and about 4,000 fewer pages. Maybe because this wasn’t a leap year. Or maybe because of getting caught up on Game of Thrones. On the other hand, my average rating this year is 1/10th of a point higher than it was last year, so perhaps I didn’t miss much with those lost 4,000 pages.

My “most popular” book this year (that is, the one read by the largest number of other people), Ready Player One (soon to be a major motion picture!), was nearly twice as popular as my “most popular” book from last year, The Girl with All the Gifts (already a major motion picture! Or at least, a motion picture), while my “least popular” book this year, The Hole Behind Midnight, was slightly more popular than last year’s “least popular” book, While The Black Stars Burn. (FWIW, The Girl with All the Gifts is a much better book than Ready Player One. We’ll see how the movie versions stack up once the RPO film is released.)

Other than the usual assortment of ebooks, this year continues to include my ratings for the Nero Wolfe dead tree books that I’ve been re-reading. These continue to drag up the overall rating for the year. Nice work, Rex Stout. (We’ll just pretend the Goldsborough novels extending the franchise after Stout’s death don’t exist.)

So how was your year in books?

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