Goodbye 2014: My year in review

I thought it would good to offer up a post that covers the past year, including life updates and my year in books.

Life

This year brought some crazy changes. I began the year being a part-time graduate student pursuing a Masters in Library Science while working two part-time jobs (58 hours a week!) to make ends meet. Since then, I’ve graduated with a 4.0 and gotten my first full-time library job. I’ve gained experience in collection development through purchasing for my nonfiction sections and teaching information literacy to local high school students. From these experiences I’ve refocused some of what I want to do as a librarian, which involves a mix of outreach, reference and teaching library information skills to those who need it. Where I go from here is so up in the air that I mainly want to focus on being the best I can be in this current job. I’ve got some goals laid out, but they are between my employer and me. If I get permission for them, I’ll share more here.

My year in books

This survey was found on A Little Blog Of Books.

Superlatives

1. Best book you read in 2014? (You can break it down by genre if you want)
The best fiction book I read was a tie between The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell and A Sudden Light by Garth Stein. The best nonfiction book I read was As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes.
2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
I am still so embarrassed to say it was American Gods by Neil Gaiman, followed closely by the nonfiction dud The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2014?
A tie between The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon Ruiz and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. I picked these booksz up on a whim and I was so surprised that I loved them as much as I did.  4. Book you recommended to people most in 2014?
A tie between Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull, which I recommended to my entire grad school cohort, and A Sudden Light, which I recommended to a few friends and family.
5. Best series you discovered in 2014?
The Flavia de Luce mystery series
6. Favourite new authors you discovered in 2014?
Graeme Simsion (The Rosie Project), Claire North (The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August), and Charlie Lovett (The Bookman’s Tale).
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Before this year, I didn’t read a lot of nonfiction that focused on psychology, but I thoroughly enjoyed Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. That book encouraged me to try Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It by Ian Leslie, which I also enjoyed.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2014?
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. I read it and then, less than a week later, reread it again.
9. Book you read in 2014 that you are most likely to reread next year:
The Bone Clocks. Mitchell’s books always need a reread to truly appreciate them.
10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2014?
This is a hard one because I tend to choose books that have awesome covers, just because that’s what initially draws me in. This year I loved The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, The Bone Clocks, A Sudden Light, and The Wonder of All Things. And I just realized they are all blue and the majority feature silhouettes and celestial bodies (stars):

bluebooks
11. Most memorable character in 2014?
Flavia de Luce has stuck with me the most, though, I have read 6 books about her.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
A Sudden Light had me wishing I was climbing a towering Redwood in the Pacific Northwest. This was probably also the most beautifully developed plot, with Stein feeding you just what you needed to stay engaged while leaving the ending a mystery until it was revealed.
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2014?
The Terrible, Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, a graphic novel by The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman, has inspired me to return to my sidelined goal of running a 5k. This is the year, guys, I feel it!
14. Book you can’t believe you waited until 2014 to finally read?
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
15. Favourite passage/quote from a book you read In 2014?
“Perhaps that’s what life is about – the search for such a connection. The search for magic. The search for the inexplicable. Not in order to explain it, or contain it. Simply in order to feel it. Because in that recognition of the sublime, we see for a moment the entire universe in the palm of our hand.” (A Sudden Light, p. 146)
16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2014?
Shortest – The Terrible, Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances
Longest – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it?
A Sudden Light was full of these. I usually talk to my husband when this happens, because I know I’m not spoiling it because he won’t read the book anyway.
18. Favourite relationship from a book you read in 2014 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
You’re all going to think I’m crazy but I loved how Doescher portrayed C-3PO and R2-R2 in his William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series (I read The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return this year). R2-R2 is finally given a voice and his asides reveal the true depth of his friendship and loyalty to C-3PO, even when he’s scoffing at his comments.
19. Favourite book you read in 2014 from an author you read previously
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, who I discovered in 2005 via Cloud Atlas.
20. Best book you read that you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else:
Yes, Chef, the memoir of Marcus Samuelsson, which I read on a suggestion from the Diversiverse challenge.

Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2014

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2014?
Sophisticated Dorkiness, written by Kim Ukura, is good.
2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2014?
When I write reviews, sometimes I find it difficult to be totally honest if I don’t completely love a book. I guess I just like to look on the bright side of life (Any Monty Python fans out there?). When I reviewed The Heaven’s Rise by Christopher Rice, I tried really hard to be honest with my experience, which wasn’t entirely positive.
3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
My blog is not yet a place for a lot of back and forth discussion. I did commiserate with a fellow librarian about how difficult it was to get advice and professional training in library school on adult library programming, but it wasn’t what I would call a debate.
4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
For me it was Aaron at Walking Paper’s post about focusing on people not tools, which inspired me to post my most viewed post this year.
5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I love the Fellowship of the Worms book club that is run by Words for Worm. I’ve reviewed a few books using her prompts, and they have always made my reviews easier to write. I also like that I can pick and choose the books I want to read without feeling guilty when I choose not to participate.
6. Best moment of book blogging in 2014?
I guess these past few months have been the highlight of this blog. I’ve received the most follows, the most likes and a number of comments from other bloggers that I respect. A blog that started out for me and was originally only read by my family and closest friends has spread, which is shocking to me.
7. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
The most viewed post was Conversations in the Library, which talked about how just talking to a patron can be the most important thing we do as librarians.
The post that has received the most comments was Library Links: Instruction Resources, which received three comments (pretty poor, I suppose).
8. Post you wished got a little more love?
One of my favorite books this year was The Shadow of the Wind, my review of which only received one view. I just wish it had gotten more reach because I think everyone should read this book.
9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
As a librarian, CommonSenseMedia.org, has been invaluable in helping patrons better understand whether a book is appropriate for their child, both because I haven’t read all the books ever written and because my opinion of appropriate is different from another’s. It also helped me search for a book for my niece, since you are able to search recommendations by age and genre. If you have or are shopping for kids, this might be a great site for you.
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I didn’t set anything at the beginning of the year, but I had the vague notion that I should read more nonfiction books. I had no real goal, but in 2013 I read 3 nonfiction books that weren’t textbooks/journal articles. In 2014, I read 14, so that’s a pretty excellent increase.

Looking Ahead…

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2014 but will be your number 1 priority in 2015?
On the nonfiction front, Neil Patrick Harris’ Choose Your Own Autobiography tops my list. For fiction, I’ve been wanting to read Anthony Horowitz’s reboot of Sherlock Holmes since I heard about it. I am definitely ready to dive into The House of Silk.
2. Book you are most anticipating for 2015?
The cataloging department is currently processing my library’s copy of The Rosie Effect, which is the sequel to The Rosie Project. It’s all I can do not to steal it from their desk and get started.
3. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2015?
I really want to work on my Reader’s Advisory skills. I tried it after my review of Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce, but never did it again. Book reviewing is really more a chance for me to develop these skills, so I really need to get on that!

Statistics

Finally, I made some shiny graphs of my year in books, just for you!

Fiction vs. Nonfiction

I read 62 books this year. 14 were nonfiction and 48 were fiction.

I read 62 books this year. 14 were nonfiction and 48 were fiction.

 Fiction Breakdown

My reading tastes are quite eclectic, but it is safe to say that I prefer science fiction/fantasy and literary books to most other genres.

Nonfiction Breakdown

There are fewer nonfiction genres, but I focused mainly on informational and biographies/graphic biographies.

There are fewer nonfiction genres, but I focused mainly on informational and biographies/graphic biographies.

My ratings

I very rarely read books that I don't think I'll like, at least a little, so this chart is pretty skewed. I also find that hindsight for me is often rose-colored, since I tend to feel better about a book overall once I've fought through the less-than-thrilling parts.

I very rarely read books that I don’t think I’ll like, at least a little, so this chart is pretty skewed. I also find that hindsight for me is often rose-colored, since I tend to feel better about a book overall once I’ve fought through the less-than-thrilling parts.

Ownership

Now that I work in libraries, I get the most books I read from these facilities. Next is those that I own and finally NetGalley previews, which are all ebooks that I lose access to within 52 days of downloading them.

Now that I work in libraries, I get the most books I read from these facilities. Next is those that I own and finally NetGalley previews, which are all ebooks that I lose access to within 52 days of downloading them.

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2 thoughts on “Goodbye 2014: My year in review

  1. I love the graphics! And this is such a good, thoughtful survey. So many people are raving about The Bone Clocks, I can’t wait to read it. Mitchell can do no wrong. Happy 2015!

  2. Pingback: The end of genre: Readers’ Advisory in the age of genre blending | Beta Librarian

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