The books I read in 2016

20160807_142706There are still a couple of days left in 2016, but before we leap into 2017, I want to reflect on some of the reading I’ve done this year.

Stand-out books

The longest book I read

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (816 pages)

The shortest book I read

Coventry by Helen Humphreys (177 pages)

The book I expected to hate but didn’t

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I’d avoided reading Murakami because I didn’t think his books would be for me (I’m not really into magic realism or fantastical elements). But I went to the library with a friend one day who convinced me to try Kafka on the Shore. While it’s not one of my favourite books ever, I did enjoy it more than I expected to, and I plan to read more of Murakami.

The book I expected to love but didn’t

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I might have approached this one unfairly, expecting too much from it. That’s because I kept hearing so many people say how amazing it was. You can read more details about my feelings in my review, but it just wasn’t the type of book I was looking forward to.

The book that had been on my TBR list for too long

The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley. I can’t remember where I heard about this book, but I’d been meaning to read it for years, hearing that it was a great coming-of-age story. I did like it, but, again, the years of waiting may have built it up too much for me.

The book that surprised me the most

Wild Dogs by Helen Humphreys. I picked this up from the library one day, just because it was the only Humphreys title on the shelf I hadn’t read. Even though I like dogs (who doesn’t?), I didn’t expect this would be a book I’d love as much as I did. That’s partly because it was about much more than dogs and is written with exquisite prose. You can read more details in my review.

The book that kicked off our book club

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. A friend and I didn’t just talk about doing it; we actually started a book club this year. This book was a good choice for a first pick, as it’s multiple perspectives provided for an interesting discussion.

The book with the most interesting structure

The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux. This is a beautiful novel of interconnected stories about siblings and includes several unexpected turns.

The debut novel I loved the most

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. I read a lot of debut novels this year, but I absolutely loved this captivating tale of four brothers growing up in Nigeria, and it deserves a special mention.

The books I couldn’t put down

By the numbers

Books I bought: 41% (bought new: 33%, bought used: 8%)

Books borrowed from the library: 39%

Books received as gifts: 14%

Books won as prizes: 4%

Books borrowed from friends: 2%

Books written by Canadian writers: 35%

Books written by women: 67%

Books written by men: 33%

Books published in 2016: 37%

Fiction: 94%

Non-fiction: 6%

Lessons learned

I really don’t read much non-fiction.

Because of this, I’d like to read more non-fiction in 2017 (even though I suspect I’ll always love fiction more than non-fiction, and I still expect the ratio will be unbalanced).

It can be good to try an author you’ve been avoiding.

It seems silly now that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy Murakami. It’s possible that Kafka on the Shore was a one-off, but I certainly plan to read another of his books.

Books provide awesome therapy.

I knew this before, but it was reinforced this year. 2016 was a roller coaster, and I’m convinced the lows would have been much lower if I didn’t have books and that the highs wouldn’t have been as good either.

It doesn’t matter how many (or how few) books you read.

I’ve always felt this way, but this year I found myself paying more attention to the number of books I read than I’ve done in previous years. It was fun at times, keeping track of books this way. But I also found that, because I was paying attention to it, I’d sometimes feel bad if it took me longer to read something than I felt it should. But some books are supposed to slow you down. Sometimes you can get more out of a book if you read it slowly, and I want to remember that.

Now to start thinking about what books to read in 2017…

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