Friday, January 5, 2024

My Favorite Reads of 2023

Another year gone by, another post to reflect on my favorite books for the year. Some were new. Some were rereads. A lot of rereads. Considering I'm also starting 2024 with a reread (one of the ones below!) seems like I'm starting the year off right.

Top New (to me) Reads


The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman
Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman
Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley
How To Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question by Michael Shur

Top Rereads


Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
World War Z by Max Brooks
My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

2023 Year End Stats

I may not get many real blog posts done, but you can always count on me for some stats posts. (Somehow this will end up being my last stats post because I've said this. Oh the universe, how it likes its jokes.)

2023 was a busy year for me. We moved the end of 2022 after deciding we needed more space, particularly outdoor space, than our townhouse offered. We figured we'd rent a place for a year (not even a year) and then buy something else. HAHAHA said the housing market. We weren't able to stay in our other rental for another year and with the little one starting kindy, we didn't want a move to mean he'd have to change schools mid-year. So instead we moved over the summer to another rental, right down the street from our old townhouse. We're still in boxes and we're going into another year with most of my books packed away. Books, how I miss you.

I also had lots of work stuff happen, some of which I alluded to even in the last year end wrap up. But basically the business I work on was being sold off which meant once the sale happened I wouldn't have a job. There were a lot of questions of what to do, what's the next move, a lot of very difficult decisions but I started a new job in November and so far all is going well there. It's nice to not have this unknown sitting over me as it had been for the past year and a half but it's been a lot.

And then there's the reading. 2023 started out really strong. Will 2024 be the same? Who knows! I certainly don't!

I still don't have a fancy infographic for the stats. I could make some graphs but honestly, it would be a lot of work and things wouldn't format the way I wanted them to (like they would in a fancy infographic) in here and I'm already getting tired thinking of doing that. So it'll be a list. But I will do some comparisons to my historic averages (2013-2022). And BTW I've now officially tracked my reading for 10 years and that is making me feel old. I mean, that and a bouncer looking at my friends and I and waving off any need to see ID. 

Total books read
This is the most I've read in the last 10 years. I dunno why. Can I do it again? 
Also Goodreads says it's only 60 and I dunno what book is missing and I don't feel like cross checking. I will say I trust my sheet better mostly cos I'm better at keeping up with that.
Historic average: 52.8
Year with the most books: 2023 (I just said that) / Year with the fewest books: 2016 & 2018 (48 books)

Total pages read
This may have been the most books, but 2013 still wins for the most pages. (Thanks Under the Dome, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and A Clash of Kings.)
Historic average: 17,620
Year with the most pages: 2013 (21,681) / Year with the fewest pages: 2018 (13,525)

Month with the most / fewest books read
March (8 books) /July (3 books)
Historic average: every month averages either 4 or 5 books EXCEPT for July which now averages 3. I dunno what it is about the summer. but apparently it's vacation time from everything, including reading

Month with most / fewest pages read
March (2,435) / July (889)
Historic average: September (1,692) / May (1,279)

Historic average: 59.8%

BIPOC authors
Historic average: 18.2%

Female authors
Historic average: 57.5%

Author's nationality
US: 61% (Historic average: 68.2%)
UK: 25% (Historic average: 19.9%)
Australia: 5% (Historic average: 1.7%)
Ireland: 3% (Historic average: 0.4%)
Singapore: 3% (Historic average: 1.5%)
China: 2% (Historic average: new country - apparently it's been over 10 years since I last read a book by a Chinese author)
Japan: 2% (Historic average: 1.5%)

Historic average: 4%

Historic average: 19% 

Book format
audiobook: 85% (Historic average: 40.4%)
ebook: 10% (Historic average: 29.4%)
paperback: 3% (Historic average: 26.2%)
hardback: 2% (Historic average: 4.2%)

Where'd I get the book
Library: 69% (Historic average: 24.6%)
Kindle/Audible: 18% (Historic average: 36.0%)
Gift: 11% (Historic average: 8.7%)
Indie: 2% (Historic average: 17.2%)

Decade published
1890s: 2% (Historic average: new decade!)
2000s: 5% (Historic average: 16.1%)
2010s: 34% (Historic average: 58.1%)
2020s: 59% (Historic average: 10.2%)

Top Genres
Mystery: 25% (Historic average: 10.2%)
Literary Fiction: 16% (Historic average: 9.8%)
History: 11% (Historic average: 4.4%)
Rom com: 8% (Historic average: 3.8%)
Memoir: 7% (Historic average: 6.8%)

Resolution books
Historic average: 48%

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

December+ Reading Wrap Up

Last wrap up of the year. Crazy right? I started with very optimistic intentions for this blog this year but that didn't quite pan out. Though perhaps I'll save that for the year end round up.

December was a slower month for me, reading-wise. There was a lot going on and in general I feel like i had less time for reading and even with (or perhaps because) that time was more limited I listened to podcasts or Xmas music instead of books because those are easier to dip in and out of for extended periods or to not have to worry about giving full attention. 

I also had a brief worry where my library switched systems and thus I had to resign into my Libby account. But that took some time AND when I got signed out I lost all of my library holds. SIIIIIIGH back to the end of the line.

But the good news is the new library set up means many more books are available and they finally got a copy of Homicide and Halo Halo, which is the second cozy mystery book in the series starting with Arsenic and Adobo (they've had the third book for ages which is not especially helpful) and I was able to pick it up exactly 1 year after I finished the first book. So that was fun.

Anyway, here's what December looked like

Total books read
The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz
Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein
Homicide and Halo Halo by Mia P. Manasala

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
I just wanted a simple, engaging murder mystery and there was a lot that my library didn't have when I stumbled on this book. I had read one Horowitz before (Magpie Murders) which was fine. Not my fav but. I figured I'd give something else a try. This is the first in a series with a gruff former-detective-turned-consulting-detective (Hawthorne) and the guy he partners with to write a book about his case (in a meta turn, Horowitz himself). Hawthorne is all of the tropes from a Sherlock character you'd expect: brilliant, blunt, kind of an oddball. He's brought into a case where a woman planned her funeral that morning and was murdered that evening. That'll draw you in. Horowitz is the reluctant writer who finds himself intrigued by the case and endlessly frustrated by Hawthorne. But he agrees to stay on, following the detective around as they detect and try to figure out who is responsible. The plot is ultimately a bit silly but what murder mystery plot isn't? And this was fun enough that I started in on the second book in the series immediately, and not only because it was available.
Rating: 4 stars

The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz
Hawthorne and his ghost writer Horowitz at it again to solve another murder the regular police force can't seem to figure out. This time the victim is a well-known divorce lawyer who was bashed in the head with an expensive bottle of wine. Wine that the guy didn't drink. His last heard words were "You shouldn't be here. It's too late..." There's a message scrawled on the wall. From the killer? From the victim? Who knows? More kind-of-silly-but-that's-fine murder plot stuff, more frustrations for Horowitz from Hawthorne and the lead detective on the case who doesn't approve of a PI being brought in. I'm sure I'll read more in the series (is there more)? 
Rating: 3.75 stars

Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein
Quite the title, right? Klein dives into the sexual shame she and many women that she grew up with felt. She talks to these women about the ways purity culture affected them as young girls and what it meant for them as they were growing up. Why did she feel the need to take multiple pregnancy tests despite the fact that she was a virgin? What did the guilt and shame do to these women as they got older? Why is it the woman's job to make sure that the man doesn't "stray" by seeing a rogue knee? The book was strongest when Klein was focused on herself and what she was going through. Not to say the interviews shouldn't have been there, but it felt like Klein inserted herself too much in those interviews (sharing her reaction to the things the women shared, setting the scene with what food they were eating, what the seating was like) that weakened these pieces. It's an important topic but could have used some more editing.
Rating: 3.25 stars
Homicide and Halo Halo by Mia P. Manasala
Like I said in the intro, it had been a year since I'd been back to the Tita Rosie's Kitchen series and I did have to read some summaries of what happened in Arsenic and Adobo to remind me where I had left off. This book doesn't spend too much time rehashing events of previous book, which I appreciated (it feels so forced whenever the second book in a series does this) even if that reminder would have been helpful. But no matter. It's a few months after those events and Lila is working with her friends to get their cafe set up while also stepping in as a judge for a Miss Teen beauty pageant (of which she is a former winner). But when one of the judges from a prominent family is murdered, suspicions turn to Lila's cousin Bernadette, who she's always had a bit of a rocky relationship with. Can Lila help solve this murder and clear her cousin? And in between try out many delicious recipes to make sure her cafe gets off the ground? Oh and also, maybe deal with some of that PTSD she's dealing with after the first book? Perfect story for this time of year when I want something to draw me in without making me work too hard. And all of the food sounded so good
Rating: 4 stars

Pages read


Female authors

BIPOC authors

US authors

Book format
audiobook - 100%

Where'd I get the book?
Library - 100%

Decade published
2010s: 75%
2020s: 25%

Resolution books
Both of the Hawthorne and Horowitz books are by a UK author
Homicide and Halo Halo is by a Filipino-American author