Just for Fun, Year In Review

2017 End of Year Book Survey

Welcome to my Big Book Survey for 2017!

Number Of Books You Read: 80 (goal of 75)
Number of Re-Reads: 12 
Genre You Read Most: Literary Fiction/Classics + LGBT Fiction

Best Book You Read In 2017?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue Mackenzi Lee

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman

 

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

American Gods by Niel Gaiman

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

American Studies by Mark Merlis

Origin by Dan Brown

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (re-read) / I was not as enamored this time. 

Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut / Far deeper and more complex than I expected.

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson / Fun, painful, insanely creative. 

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Re-read)

 

Best series you started? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Best series started: The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

Best sequel: A Wind in the Door (Time Quintet #2) by Madeleine L’Engle

Best series ender: The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials #3) by Philip Pullman

Favorite new author you discovered?

Shaun David Hutchinson

Lorraine Hansberry

James Hanley

 

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Politics)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain (Psychology/Self-Help)

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (Mystery)

 

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The Secret of Spellshadow Manor by Bella Forrest

 

Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Handmaid’s Tale by Marget Atwood

 

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

 

 

 

 

Most memorable character of 2017?

Henry Montague from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Charles Wallace Murry from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (re-read)

Jamie (and Peter) from Lost Boy: A True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry

Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (re-read)

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

 

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

American Philosophy: A Love Story by John Kaag

 

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

 

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.” -Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time)

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller (78 pages)

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (796 pages)

Everyone’s An Author, with Readings (1,050 pages — education text)

 

Book That Shocked You The Most

The Boy with the Red Hair by Chancery Stone

Boy by James Hanley

A Scarlet Pansy by Robert Scully

 

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Monty and Percy from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Meg and Calvin from A Wrinkle in Time (re-read)

Upsher and Doff from Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

 

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Matilda and Ms. Honey in Matilda by Roald Dahl

The Lisbon Sisters in The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

James Whale and Clayton Boone in Gods & Monsters by Christopher Bram (re-read)

 

Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

 

Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

 

 

 

 

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

Monty from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Percy from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Alyosha Karamazov and Nikolai Krasotkin from The Brothers Karamazov

Best 2017 debut you read?

Lost Boy by Christina Henry

One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

 

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (re-read)

 

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Welcome to Dead House by R.L. Stine

The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

 

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchison

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

 

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Poe: A Life Cut Short by Peter Ackroyd

Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

 

Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz

 

Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

 

 

 

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Angels in America by Tony Kushner (re-read)

Poe: A Life Cut Short by Peter Ackroyd

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

 

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017? 

Oops – none…. Haven’t had much time to explore! Any recommendations?

Favorite review that you wrote in 2017? 

5 Mini-Reviews

Recent Fiction Reads

Three Fan Favorites

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

What Do We Mean by ‘Literary’?

1 John 3:17-18

Roof Beam Renaissance

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Austen in August

Classic Book-a-Month

The Classics Club

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

Return of the Official TBR Pile Challenge 

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Announcing: The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Recommended Reading: Bending Boundaries

Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

It’s not exactly a new discovery, but I’m obsessed with Litographs

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I re-introduced the TBR Pile Challenge for 2018. I hosted a year-long monthly classic reading event called the “Classic Book-a-Month” club (which, sadly, will not be returning in 2018). I hosted Austen in August again this year, and it was another big success. Lots of good things!

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

 

 

 

 

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

 

 

 

 

2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Anything Andrew Smith puts out! 

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

I am hoping that J.K. Rowling releases the screenplay for The Crimes of Grindelwald, as she did for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

I want to read all 14 books on my TBR Pile Challenge list. I want to read at least a few books from my Classics Club challenge list. And I would like to post new content more regularly, not necessarily just book reviews. 

A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Hmmm…. Don’t think I’ve gotten any 2018 releases!

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Blog Post, Just for Fun, Year In Review

My Life in Books (2017 Edition)

So, here’s a little year-end fun, because why not? I first completed this back in 2010 and thought I would bring it back as a sort of review of this year’s completed reading. The rules? Pretty simple: answer the questions with books you read this year!

  • In high school I was: One of the Boys (Daniel Magariel)
  • People might be surprised (by): The Inexplicable Logic of My Life (Benjamin Alire Saenz)
  • I will never be: Slapstick, or Lonesome No More! (Kurt Vonnegut)
  • My fantasy job is: American Studies (Mark Merlis)
  • At the end of a long day I need: Letters to a Young Writer (Colum McCann)
  • I hate it when: Death Comes for the Archbishop (Willa Cather)
  • Wish I had: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Mackenzi Lee)
  • My family reunions are: The Art of Being Normal (Lisa Williamson)
  • At a party you’d find me with: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (J.K. Rowling)
  • I’ve never been to: The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton)
  • A happy day includes: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl)
  • Motto I live by: Love is Love (Marc Andreyko)
  • On my bucket list is: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Neil deGrasse Tyson)
  • In my next life, I want to have: The Story of My Life (Helen Keller)

That’s it!  My Life in Books! Want to play along? Share yours (or your link!) in the comments. 🙂

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Blog Post, Year In Review

2016 End of Year Book Survey

inde3xWelcome to my Big Book Survey for 2016!

Number Of Books You Read: 91 (goal of 80)
Number of Re-Reads: 11 
Genre You Read Most: LGBT/Criticism

Best Book You Read In 2016?

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf, and The Nix by Nathan Hill. 

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? 

Deep Lane: Poems by Mark Doty. I don’t read poetry very often, but this collection was fantastic. I enjoyed it more than Milk and Honey, which I also read this year (and liked)

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. 

Best series you started? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

I think the best series started this year is the Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin (A Wizard of Earthsea is the first book, and the only one I’ve read so far). Half Lost (The Half Bad Trilogy #3) was the best series-ender — one of the best YA books I’ve read in a long time, actually. I think the best sequels* have been from the Saga series, but I also read the entire March trilogy by John Lewis, which was incredible. 

Favorite new author you discovered?

Frederik Backman and Adam Silvera.  

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Speakers of the Dead by Aaron J. Sanders was a fantastic mystery novel whose hero/protagonist is Walt Whitman. Such a cool book & concept, and well-written! I think it’s going to be a series – if so, I look forward to the next one. 

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Long Walk by Stephen King (not really action-packed, but definitely thrilling). 

Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

 I don’t plan on re-reading any of my 2016 books next year. 

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

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Most memorable character of 2016?

Ove from A Man Called Ove

Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller or Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (re-read)

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Between the World and Me, or The Fire This Time, or Just Mercy

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

It by Stephen King.

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

“In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.” ― Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Three Early Stories by J.D. Salinger (74 pages)

It by Stephen King (1,156 pages)

Book That Shocked You The Most

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OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Achilles and Patroclus from Song of Achilles. 🙂 

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Ta-Nehisi Coates and his son, Between the World and Me (non-fiction)

Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf

Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

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Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Probably Baz from Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On. 

Best 2016 debut you read?

Speakers of the Dead by J. Aaron Sanders

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Game of Thrones universe by George R.R. Martin 

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

25901554

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Grace Without God by Katherine Ozment

Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou; Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates; March by John Lewis. 

Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

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Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Probably John Lewis’s March, which is about the birth of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Not because I didn’t like it (it’s an excellent graphic novel trilogy), but because I’m 1) ashamed at that part of history (like many others) and 2) incredibly angry that we’re still fighting such battles today. 

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016? 

Oops – none…. Haven’t had much time to explore! Any recommendations?

Favorite review that you wrote in 2016? 

I didn’t get many reviews written this year, but I did do a set of mini-reviews on books re: the craft of writing: Writing On Writing.

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

On Angels and Demons and the Rest of Us

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

The Literary Others

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Hold(en) Me Closer: A Reader’s Journey

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

cbam2017

 

 

 

 

 

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Dementors in America

Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

It’s not exactly a new discovery, but I’m obsessed with Litographs

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Let’s see, I had to update my Goodreads challenge goal three times, because I kept “winning” that one. I also hosted/participated in The Literary Others reading event again this year, and managed to read everything I had planned (5 books). I failed at the Classics Club reading list again, though. 

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

1934

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

Probably Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I guess which ever Rick Riordan book is coming out? There’s also a new Cleo Coyle book coming out in January — I have only read the first in her long series of  “Coffeehouse Mystery” novels, but every time a new one releases, it makes me want to go back and read more of them. Maybe this will be the year. 

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Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

Whoops. See above. 🙂

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

I hope to be able to find time to actually blog/review again.

A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Hmmm…. Don’t think I’ve gotten any 2017 releases!

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Blog Post, Giveaway, Giveaway Hop, Giveaways, Monthly Review, Year In Review

2014 End of the Year Book Survey

inde3xWelcome to my Big Book Survey for 2014!

Number Of Books You Read: 82 (goal of 60)
Number of Re-Reads: 2 (The Giver & The Canterbury Tales)
Genre You Read Most: LGBT/Criticism/History

Best Book You Read In 2014?

Better Angel by Forman Brown; Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf; Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak….. so many.

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

Life Studies by Robert Lowell – Incredible collection of poetry. I’m not a poetry person, but this was stunning.

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

Ulysses by James Joyce (because I hosted a read-along for it).

Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry, The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan, and The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Andre Aciman, David Leavitt, and A.S. King

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (original Middle English)

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

 The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

 Better Angel by Forman Brown

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

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Most memorable character of 2014?

Beloved from Beloved by Toni Morrison or Leopold Bloom from Ulysses by James Joyce.

Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

 The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

This is Water by David Foster Wallace

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

The Stand by Stephen King

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” –David Foster Wallace (This is Water)

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest: He Cried: Poems and Stories by Dennis Cooper (32 pages)

Longest: The Stand by Stephen King (1,153 pages)

Book That Shocked You The Most

Totempole by Sanford Friedman. It’s a gay coming-of-age story published (barely) in 1965. Incredible depth, roundedness, and honesty for such a “subversive” work in such an uptight time.

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Kurt and David from Better Angel. Beautiful.

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Finn and Cade in 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram or Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Or The Stand by Stephen King (lots of repeat authors, clearly!)

Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (and it was good!)

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Maybe Billy Sive from The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren?

Best 2014 debut you read?

I don’t think I read any 2014 debuts…

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Stand by Stephen King or Beloved by Toni Morrison. Also, Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote and The Dog Star by Donald Windham

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? By Kurt Vonnegut

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Life Studies by Robert Lowell and Better Angel by Forman Brown

Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer.

Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee or Ulysses by James Joyce

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Philosophy by Roger Scruton – This book was no guide. It was biased, bigoted, ideological, and patronizing. Such a waste of time.

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 

Oops – none…. Haven’t had much time to explore! Any recommendations?

Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? 

On Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

J.K. Rowling Can Say What She Wants

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

 Austen in August!

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

5 Year Blog Anniversary & Ulysses Read-along

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Announcing the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge!

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

 Review: 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

The Easton Press Leather Bound Editions – can’t afford ‘em, but definitely want!

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I blew my Goodreads goal of 60 books out of the water, but I failed miserably at my 2014 TBR Pile Challenge.

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

Studies in Classic American Literature by D.H. Lawrence

2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith (March – I think!)

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

Well, this series isn’t ending (that I know of) but I’m looking forward to reading the second book in Cleo Coyle’s Coffee House Mystery series, Through the Grinder. I’m WAY behind in this series.

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

I hope to be able to find time to actually blog/review again.

A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Hmmm…. Don’t think I’ve gotten any 2015 releases!

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Roof Beam Reader’s Best of 2013

Hello, Readers!

Since I surpassed my 2013 goal of 60 books read (I’m up around 64, right now, with 2 books in progress and likely at least 1 more to go) before year’s end, I thought I would take a cue from some of my favorite bloggers who are posting a “Best of 2013” list.

The list below includes a small selection of categories from which I’ve read this year, with one “favorite” spotlighted for each category.  These are books I’ve read in 2013, not necessarily books that were published in 2013.  I hope you enjoy!

Best Academic Text

15793484From Queer Theory and Feminism, to Linguistics, Rhetoric, and Film Studies, this was a year of heavily theory-based, academic reading, for me.  I read some incredibly interesting texts on the history of sexuality, the French Revolution, bibliographical and textual studies, and the creative writing process.  Of all of these academic texts, though, I think my vote goes to a short little book called Responding to Student Writers, written by Harvard Professor Nancy Sommers, whom I had the honor to meet and work with this summer.  As an English instructor (and, more specifically, a teacher of first year college composition), I found the suggestions, tips, tools, and resources in this booklet to be helpful, as was the CD of student interviews that came with it.  Nancy Sommers is a well-respected expert in the field, and for good reason.  If you are a teacher who often assigns essays/research papers, analyses, etc., then Sommers’ work shouldn’t be missed.

Best Book on Writing / Literary Theory

340793I read a number of books this year which would fall into the category of literary theory and/or “on writing.”  I thought it prudent, then, to mention some of these and to pick a “favorite” amongst a group of rather good texts.  These include, for instance. E.M. Forster’s groundbreaking Aspects of the Novel, Terry Eagleton’s How to Read a Novel, Jim Powell’s graphic guide Postmodernism for Beginners, Judith Mayne’s brilliant collection of essays on feminist film studies, The Woman at the Keyhole, and Anne Lamott’s wonderful Bird by Bird.  Of all the books that fit this category, though, my favorite overall has to be Virginia Woolf’s lecture series, A Room of One’s Own.  Anyone interested in writing, and particularly the historical connection of women and/or socioeconomic status to the process, should definitely check this one out.

Best Contemporary Fiction

13596166I did not read all that much contemporary fiction this year, which is not unusual (I tend to lean towards classics and/or academic texts).  Still, there were enough to be considered and I believe this is a popular category for many of my readers, so I thought I should name a few standouts. First is a wonderful collection of short stories by E.J. Runyon called Claiming One.  Another was the highly controversial but interesting Tampa by Alissa Nutting.   My favorite, though, had to be Stephen King’s Joyland.  Normally, King would probably be the stand-out in the horror/mystery/paranormal genre, and he certainly nailed it with Doctor Sleep, his sequel to The Shining, but Joyland was much more akin to some of his earlier stories, such as “The Body.”  There was some suspense, some magical realism, and a bit of crime-thriller to it, but mostly it was a book about summertime, coming-of-age, and living life. I absolutely loved it.

Best Genre Fiction Book

15819028I read much more genre fiction this year than I did general fiction (other than classics, which will be addressed below), so I am excluding a general fiction category and simply focusing on those books which might be considered fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc.  Of these, I have read a number of works, including The Gunslinger and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, both of which I highly recommend.  Also,  Inferno by Dan Brown, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Although Shirley Jackson’s book came close to taking the title, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by The Golem and the Jinni.  I finished it recently and have not had time, yet, to write & post a review, but it was a stunning piece of work.  There’s something of the old-fashioned Romantic wonder and awe of nature in this one – it is bits and pieces of Mary Shelley and Robert Louis Stevenson fused with contemporary narrative style. Loved it.

Best LGBT Book

17237214This is an important category for me.  As most of you know, I’m currently in my second year of Ph.D. studies in English, but I’m also about to finish my graduate certificate in LGBT studies.  That said, I have not limited this category to works “of literary merit.”  In this category, I considered books on theory, books which would be called “classics,” and also contemporary fiction, young adult, and whatever else. This made it a bit tough, as I had to choose from a range which included Gods and Monsters by Christopher Bram (fantastic), Sexuality in Europe by Dagmar Herzog (fascinating), and Shine by Lauren Myracle (touching).  Others that deserve mention include Sodom on the Thames by Morris Kaplan, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.  It was such a great pleasure to read so many awesome LGBT works of fiction and nonfiction this year.  The ultimate prize, though, has to go to the incredible Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan. This book touched my soul – it is a book that I felt had been missing from the conversation for far too long, and Levithan delivered it to us beautifully.

Best Nonfiction Book

18238043This is probably the largest category that I had to consider this year, with texts ranging from biography and autobiography to cultural studies, gender and sexuality, literary theory and criticism, and so much more.  It almost had to become separate categories, almost. Some of my favorites of the year included How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas Foster, Queer Theory by Annamarie Jagose, Vive la Revolution by Mark Steel, and Colonialism and Homosexuality by Robert Aldrich.  One of the books that I found most helpful, interesting, and readable was Feminism: A Very Short Introduction by Margaret Walters.  When all is said and done, though, my absolute favorite nonfiction read this year was Salinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno.  If you settled for watching the documentary, then you are missing out on so much.  This biography, unlike others on Salinger, was in-depth, unbiased, well-researched, and revelatory in many ways.  Anyone interested in the life and works of J.D. Salinger should put this at the top of their list.

Best Work of Classic Literature

46133This was my second largest category to consider, and this final call was so difficult!  I love classic literature, so picking one book from such an incredible list of authors, periods, and subjects is almost impossible.  Some of the best of the year include O Pioneers! by Willa Cather, which shouldn’t be missed, Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, which was a difficult but rewarding read, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams which was stunning, The Adventures of Don Quixote which was hilarious and which I enjoyed far more than I had anticipated. My favorite, though, goes to one of the first books I read this year and one which has stuck with me throughout 2013 – Orlando by Virginia Woolf.  It is poetic justice for Woolf, perhaps, that she has landed on this “best of” list twice, considering I used to vehemently refuse to read her books (I had one bad experience with her many years ago, and swore never to return!).  But Orlando is a stunning, daring epic.  She was disappointed with it (or, more accurately, with the supposed lack of focused attention she paid to it), but it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Best Young Adult Book

11861815Winger by Andrew Smith.  Not only was this the best Young Adult book that I read in 2013, but it was one of the best books I read this year, period.  The competition for this category was stiff, with books by Veronica Roth, Rick Riordan, David Levithan, Benjamin Saenz, Rick Yancey, Cassandra Clare, and Michael Scott to be considered. All of these books were enjoyable and some of them were downright incredible, but Smith’s Winger is a force to be reckoned with.  If you haven’t yet read this book, I would encourage you to read my review and see if it’s for you. Odds are, it is. I also highly recommend his other works, especially Stick, and I look forward to his next publication, Grasshopper Jungle, which is due out early in 2014.

Other Favorite Things

My favorite post of the year: On Horrors and Heroes

My favorite event of the year: Austen In August

My favorite review of the year: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

One blogger I couldn’t get enough of this year:  O of Behold the Stars

So, those were my favorites of 2013.  I am currently reading Ulysses by James Joyce and On What Grounds (Coffeehouse Mysteries #1) by Cleo Coyle, both of which I’m enjoying, for different reasons.  I plan to read one more this year – so that’s a possible three books I could add to this list of “favorites,” but let’s just leave them here as honorable year-end mentions, shall we?

What were YOUR favorite books this year?

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Giveaway, Giveaway Hop, Giveaways, Monthly Review, Personal, Year In Review

2012: Year in Review

2012-

The Numbers:

Roof Beam Reader was viewed about 68,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2012, there were 142 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 521 posts. There were 222 pictures uploaded. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was August 1st with 694 views. The most popular post that day was Summer Giveaway Hop! (Aug 1-7).

Milestones in 2012:

Roof Beam Reader exceeded 4,500 subscribers.

Roof Beam Reader celebrated its third anniversary.

Roof Beam Reader exceeded 100,000 original page views.

Attractions in 2012:

Most Viewed Posts

Biggest Events:

Magical March

Austen in August

The Literary Others

Most Comments Received:

Book Blogging, A Breakdown

Three Years, Thirty: A Reflection

What Book Blogging Means to Me

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