A new year means it’s time to look back at how the reading has gone for the past year! Challenge results were posted yesterday, but today let’s look at the best and the worst, and a few more random categories besides. As usual, links go to my reviews.
1) Best Book – It’s a good year when I have a hard time choosing a Best Book! I read a lot of books by favorite authors and finished a lot of wonderful series, giving me a LOT of choices here. I’ve had to separate this out into several sub-listings…
1a) Favorite Character – This one goes to Samwise Gamgee of The Lord of the Rings, most particularly in The Two Towers. He’s not exactly a new character, since I’d seen the movies years ago, but the books were new reads. And as wonderful as Sam is in the movies (and I do think Peter Jackson and Sean Astin have as much to do with my love for this character as J. R. R. Tolkien does) my very favorite Sam moment isn’t in the movies. It’s right near the end of The Two Towers, when he thinks Frodo is dead and even though he desperately doesn’t want to do it, he decides to take the Ring to Mordor himself. It’s beautiful.
1b) Best Romance/Romantic Couple – Easily taken by Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier. There’s a dark hero with a good heart and a heroine who has to find her hidden strength. Two of my favorite archetypes, and their romance is just lovely.
1c) Most Anticipated Reread – My most anticipated read of 2013 was The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente. I liked it a lot, but I felt that I couldn’t take it in fully on one read–so now I’m very much looking forward to reading it again.
1d) Hardest to Put Down – Marillier makes the list twice by also bringing in this one with Well of Shades. She has a tendency towards un-put-down-able final hundred pages, but this one outdid any of the others. The heroine gets into dire straits and meanwhile characters are futzing about and doing other things and I was desperate for a rescue scene and…well. It was one of the more intense reading experiences of the year.
1e) Most Intriguing – Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card was hard to put down in a different way, not so much the frantic emotional page-turner but rather a book that made me deeply curious, and also offered perhaps the most interestingly alien aliens I’ve encountered.
1f) Loveliest Writing Style – This is kind of an odd category, but it really is what I loved about these particular books: The House on Durrow Street and The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett. It’s like the best of Austen and Bronte (Charlotte), plus fascinating magic!
1g) Best Nonfiction – I don’t usually read much nonfiction, but I did read The Gift of Wings by Mary Rubio, a biography of L. M. Montgomery. It was my third attempt to find a good LMM biography, and was all that I might have hoped for. Truly wonderful and fascinating.
2) Worst Book – I am happily drawing a blank here. I read some books that were only so-so and plenty that were good-but-not-great, but nothing really dreadful enough to qualify for Worst…a happy situation!
3) Most Disappointing Book – This one pains me because I so (SO) love Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland series…but I think that may be exactly why I was disappointed by Six-Gun Snow White. It’s a great title, right? And it is what it sounds like, a Western version of “Snow White.” Only it was far darker and a far more experimental writing style than I was expecting. Someone else with different preferences would probably like it just fine, and even I didn’t dislike it exactly…but it wasn’t what I hoped for.
4) Most Unlikely Read – None of my books this year really seem all that unlikely to me, because I know the story behind them…but you might find it more surprising that I read Walden by Henry David Thoreau, as well as Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Armin. That second one is an autobiographical and mostly plot-less account of a woman’s planning and enjoyment of her garden, originally published in 1880 or thereabouts. This might be less surprising if I mention that it comes up frequently in L. M. Montgomery’s journals as a favorite book…
5) Most Satisfying Read -There’s an easy and probably obvious tie for this one, as it is highly satisfying to have finally read The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, as well as Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Collectively, they were the four most-intimidating-but-still-want-to-read books on my mental list of someday-reads for many years!
6) Can’t Believe I Waited Until 2013 to Read It – Lord of the Rings would be a possibility here, except that I don’t actually find it all that strange that I waited a long time to tackle those! So instead I’m putting Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, because I really DON’T know why I waited so long to read something by Pratchett and Gaiman together, especially when I’d heard it recommended many times (and it was brilliant!)
7) Most Hilarious Read – I’ve accepted that this category is simply owned by Terry Pratchett, who has been my most hilarious read for the past three years. So this one could go to Good Omens, only that was already #6, or it could go to The Last Hero…but I think even funnier was Wintersmith, mostly because of Horace the Cheese!
8) Most Looking Forward To in 2014 – There are four series I’m caught up on and waiting for new books in, plus I expect Tamora Pierce to put out a new Tortall book next year…but it’s not really that hard to choose. I’m most looking forward to Valente’s Fairyland 4, especially after the cliffhanger at the end of the third one!
What were your best or worst of 2013? Or feel free to answer any of the other questions!