Reflections on a decade of reading and our top read for each year!
The end of a decade.....Wow! It's really hard to think back to what I was reading a decade ago since I can barely remember what I read 6 months ago. Luckily I've kept a reading journal for a little over 10 years (and I'm a bit of a list nerd), so I have a reference to refresh my ailing memory.
As I look back over the last ten years, here are a few observations I can make about my reading life.
At the beginning of the decade, I read predominantly mystery/thrillers - over 50% of the books I read in a year fit that category. The last few years it's dropped to around 35% of my reads in a year as I've expanded by reading interests.
I've read almost twice as many YA books the last few years than I did at the beginning of the decade.
I'm reading more books a year: In 2010 I read a total of 62 books, 2019 I read 111.
2012 looks like it was a particularly good reading year: I gave the most A rated books and I read more nonfiction than usual.
On the other hand, in 2016 I only read one book I deemed worthy of an A, and had 5 DNF books. Not my best year.
In 2010 I read 7 books set in another country. I've discovered I enjoy the cultural exploration and learning about other countries and people through fiction and have made a point to find books set outside the US. In 2019 I read 18 set in other countries.
On reflection, even though I still love a good mystery/thriller, I feel like I've moved more to contemporary literature and fiction than ten years ago. I find I enjoy a good character study more than a reworked typical mystery plot. I began to find that the various detective series books I was reading were feeling very plot repetitive. Currently I'm making more of an effort to read nonfiction and novels outside my usual go-to fare. And I'm loving it! How has your reading life changed over the last 10 years or so?
We've read lots of excellent books in 10 years, but decided to limit ourselves to one absolute favorite book each year. Now that was a tough choice sometimes! You can see the full list of the 20 books (with descriptions) that made the cut in the "Our BEST Lists" in the top menu bar. Take a moment to check it out and see if you see some old familiars or maybe a nudge to read one that's been on your TBR for a long time.
I love to read and my guess is that you do too since you’re visiting Bookshelf Journeys. I always have a book with me - at home, at work, in my car. I don’t want to be caught without a book! I read at lunch and dinner and every evening. Often I’ll have more than one book going at a time. For years I have read well over 100 books a year, usually 110-120+.
My reading tastes have not changed drastically over the last 10 years. I still don’t care for romances, although romance or love within a story is fine if it isn’t mushy or saccharine. I try the occasional sci-fi book and rarely find one that I really like. Westerns don’t do much for me although I’m looking forward to reading Lonesome Dove next month along with my sister as part of a reading challenge we’re doing. Dove is my all-time favorite mini-series, so I am expecting a lot from the book.
I am exploring more genres than I used to, however. Like Terrie, I have always been a big fan of mysteries. I read fewer now than I used to, although still a lot. I also still read a lot of celebrity autobiographies/biographies, and feel-good stories about animals. It’s funny but I can’t read horror books (or watch movies) about unreal things like vampires or Frankenstein or werewolves, but I do read Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Go figure!
One genre I’ve discovered in the last few years that I enjoy very much is fantasy, so I seek those out now. I’ve added more general fiction and best sellers to my reading, along with some young adult novels. I’m reading more books set in other countries because I find those settings and lifestyles so opposite of what I know and what I’ve been exposed to.
When I discover a new author that I haven’t heard of before and read a book by them that I enjoy, I always seek out more of theirs. People like Linwood Barclay, who writes detective novels (I’ve read 14 of his books), Alex Kava (5), Ann Patchett (6), Anna Quindlen (5), and Thrity Umrigar (3) are just a few authors whom I’ve discovered in the last few years. It's rare that I like every book by any given author, and Patchett’s books, in particular, have been hit and miss for me. Love The Patron Saint of Liars, The Dutch House, Magician’s Assistant, and State of Wonder, but Bel Canto had too many implausibilities and Commonwealth was boring.
I look forward to many, many more years of enjoyment with a book in my hand.
There will be many lists extolling the virtues of "the best" books over the last decade based on a variety of criteria. Here are a few:
Bookbub attempts to pick one book a year that was THE book that resonated/defined that year.
Beyond the Bookends attempts to corral her fave books of the last 10 years. See any of your favorites?
For fellow Washingtonians, a Seattle Times editor shares her favorites of the decade by Washington authors.
I found a few book bloggers that shared their favorites of the decade and the lists are as varied as can be - different strokes for different folks. Do any of their picks match yours? Here are a few to visit.
top photo by Terrie Purkey, bottom photo via pexels.com