My books of 2017, including a poll

I read 238 books this year, more than last year and about the same as in 2013 and 2007, otherwise lower than usual (full numbers: 212 in 2016, 290 in 2015, 291 in 2014, 237 in 2013, 259 in 2012, 301 in 2011, 278 in 2010, 342 in 2009, 374 in 2008, 235 in 2007, 207 in 2006, 137 in 2005). Running the Hugos has that kind of effect. March, when nominations closed, was a particularly slow month with only 5. I did manage 29 in May, and 27 in January, June and July. (I've also padded the total a bit by expanding three trilogies, each of which I read in a single volume but have counted here as three books.)

Page count for the year: 60,500 – slightly surprised to see another historic low (62,300 in 2016; 80,100 in 2015; 97,100 in 2014; 67,000 in 2013; 77,800 in 2012; 88,200 in 2011)
Books by women in 2017: 64/238, 27% – slight decrease from high of last two years (65 [31%] in 2016, 86 [30%] in 2015, 81 [28%] in 2014, 71 [30%] in 2013, 65 [25%] in 2012, 22% in 2011, 23% in 2010, 20% in 2009, 12% in 2008)
Books by PoC in 2017: 17/238, 7% – same percentage as last two years (14 [7%] in 2016, 20 [7%] in 2015, 11 [5%] in 2014, 12 [5%] in 2013, 5% in 2011, 9% in 2010, 5% in 2009, 2% in 2008)

Most books by a single author: Colin Brake and Leo, both with 5 (previous winners: Christopher Marlowe in 2016, Justin Richards in 2015 and 2014, Agatha Christie in 2013, Jonathan Gash in 2012, Arthur Conan Doyle in 2011, Ian Rankin in 2010, William Shakespeare in 2009 and 2008, Terrance Dicks in 2007, Ian Marter in 2006, Charles Stross in 2005).


 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
57 37 47 48 46 53 69 66 88
24% 17% 16% 16% 19% 20% 23% 24% 26%

This is my highest non-fiction total since 2011, and my highest percentage for non-fiction since I started tallying categories separately in 2009. I think this was partly birthday presents, which were biased towards non-fiction; partly that non-fiction books have been moving to the top of my various piles; and partly a genuine shift ion my own reading tastes.

Best non-fiction read in 2017: Common People: The History of an English Family, by Alison Light (review) – lovely micro-history of four lines of ancestry in the recent history of England.

Runner-up: Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman (review)- great insight into how we think the way we do, and why we are wrong in what we think about it.

The one you might not heard of, if you're not in the Dublin or Brussels bubbles: Brexit and Ireland: The Dangers, the Opportunities, and the Inside Story of the Irish Response, by Tony Connelly (review) – essential reading on both the behind the scenes diplomacy and the stakes for the country most affected by Brexit.

Welcome reread: In Xanadu (review)

The one to skip: 1434: The Year a Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance, by Gavin Menzies (review) – such a bad rewriting of history that I wondered what its purpose really was.

Non-sfnal fiction

 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
26 28 42 41 44 48 48 50 57
11% 13% 14% 14% 19% 19% 16% 18% 18%

The opposite here with a historic low for non-sf fiction reading, mainly I think because I have read almost all all the well-known books of that kind on my shelves, which are still heaving with unread sf and non-fiction.

Best non-sff fiction read in 2016: A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth (review) – brilliant huge story of India just after independence.

Runner-up: Children are Civilians Too, by Heinrich Böll (review) – gripping short stories from Germany of about the same period.

The one you might not heard of: Five Go On A Strategy Away Day, by Bruno Vincent (review) – quite a funny parody of the grownup Famous Five in competition with the Secret Seven.

Welcome reread: Robinson Crusoe (review).

The one to skip: The Angel Maker, by Stefan Brijs (review) – really horrible story set on the Belgian frontier with Germany.

Non-Whovian sff

 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
68 80 130 124 65 62 78 73 78
29% 38% 45% 43% 27% 24% 26% 26% 23%

Back to the levels of pre-2014. (I was a Clarke Award judge in 2014-15, and then deliberately cast my sf reading net wider in 2016 as part of the anti-Puppy campaign.)

Best non-Who sff read in 2016: All The Birds In The Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders (review with other Hugo novels) – by a long way my top choice for the Hugos, a magical contemporary Bildungsroman.

Runner-up: The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead (review with other non-Hugo novels)) – fascinating steampunk alternate history of slavery in America.

The one you might not heard of: The Deepest Sea, by Charles Barnitz (review) – much better than usual Celtic fantasy, marred however by a dodgy map.

Welcome rereads: The Illustrated Man (review), The Colour of Magic (review), Dune (review).

The one to skip: The Red Leaguers, by Shan F. Bullock (review) – Irish war of independence in 1904 goes wrong, flawed and unpleasant protagonist.

Doctor Who (and spinoff) fiction

 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
51 39 43 59 72 75 80 71 70
21% 18% 15% 20% 30% 29% 27% 26% 19%

Picking up a bit from the dip of the last couple of years. Problem is, I've now read almost all of the main series of Doctor Who books, and what remains is dribs and drabs.

Best Who book read in 2016: The Pirate Planet, by Douglas Adams and James Goss (review) – Goss has ironed off the corners and made this a much smoother story, as usual a delight to read, and also includes bonus material on how Adams developed the plot.

Runner-up: Rip Tide, by Louise Cooper (review) – one of the good Telos novellas, taking the Eighth Doctor to a seaside resort to investigate mysterious goings on.

Worth flagging up for Whovians: Based On The Popular TV Serial, by Paul Smith (review) – a guide to the Target novelisations.

The ones you won't have heard of: The three novels based on short-lived spin-off Class (review), by Guy Adams, A.K. Benedict and especially (again) James Goss.


 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
29 27 18 19 30 21 27 18 28
12% 13% 6% 7% 13% 8% 9% 6% 8%

Much the same as last year, or indeed 2013.

Best graphic story read in 2016: Antarès, by Leo – excellent futuristic yarn. I read it in the original French but it has been translated into English (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Runner-up: The Vision vol 1: Little Worse Than A Man, by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta (review)- I (somewhat reluctantly) really liked this story of an inhuman family trying to fit in.

Welcome reread: Watchmen (review).

The one you won't have heard of: Re-#AnimateEurope: International Comics Competition 2017, ed. Hans H.Stein, by Jordana Globerman, Stefan "Schlorian" Haller, Štepánka Jislová, Noëlle Kröger, Magdalena Kaszuba, Davide Pascutti and Paul Rietzl (review) – nicely applying the medium of the graphic novel to the problems of Europe today.


There were only five of these. The only one I'd really really like to see on the stage, having seen the film that was based on it, is Cavalcade, by Noël Coward (review including also the Oscar-winning film).


Just two. Catullus is better than Roald Dahl.

I wondered whether to put the Argonautica here, but on reflection, Valerius Flaccus here is telling an sf story more than trying to fit ideas into a particular verse form; so both translations are tallied separately under SF above (review).

Now your turn. How much has your reading overlapped with mine this year? People with Facebook, Twitter, Dreamwidth and maybe even Google accounts should also be able to participate. The books are listed in order of LibraryThing popularity, apart from the last category.

(NB that I'm not doing an end-of-year poll of my unread books this year. The increasing desolation of Livejournal just makes it much less fun, and my current reading list system is delivering me plenty of quirky reading choices, which was the original goal.)

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