Books Read 2009 – Summary

Shamelessly copying Jessamyn, I’ve compiled stats for my 2009 reading:

number of books read 2009: 74
average read per month:  6
average read per week:  1.4
number read in worst month: 2 (January)
number read in best month:  11 (May)
percentage by male authors:  41%
percentage by female authors: 58%
(one was a compilation written by men and women)
fiction as percentage of total: 96%
crime fiction as percentage of fiction: 83%
non-fiction as percentage of total:  4%
percentage of total liked:  70%
percentage of total ambivalent:  20%
percentage of total disliked:  10%


Non-fiction: I read more non-fiction than is reflected here:

(1) Instead of finishing most of the non-fiction titles, I read several chapters from each and will eventually return to finish some of the books. The months with low reading totals are probably months when I was selectively reading non-fiction titles.

(2) I read most of my non-fiction online, as essays and articles.

Crime Fiction: Most of my fiction reading this year has been crime fiction and the fiction that  wasn’t crime fiction was generally bookgroup reading.

2009 was a tough year — crime fiction is comfort reading for me, for a number of reasons:

(1) I read almost all series titles, so the main characters become familiar and sometimes beloved. Often they are depicted as having less-than-perfect lives and relationships, a healthy (or sometimes unhealthy) degree of self-doubt, and complex motivations. I like these people.

(2) There is an element of order and puzzle-solving in crime fiction that appeals to my desire to understand the workings of the human mind. Many of the novels I read this year include the killer’s pov, and from the killer’s pov, the murder is always rational and done for a reason. That awareness — that even seemingly irrational and insupportable actions stem from someone’s meaning-making apparatus and appear logical to that person — gives me insight, I think, into real people.

(3) Crime fiction is generally — though not always — predictable in its progression (build-up to murder, body found, investigation begun, witnesses interviewed, body #2 found, etc.), particularly in the series I like, which are police procedurals and forensic novels. Within that predictable formula, though, anything can happen, and I like both the predictability of the format and the unpredictability of the story.

(4) The dead in crime novels (those I tend to read, anyway) are often accorded high status and dignity and are given almost loving attention. That comforts me and reflects my own sensibility.

(5) Crime novels reflect the violence that lives in each of us, and that usually lies just under the surface of most communities. They feel real to me and bring me solace in a world that often seems fraudulently focused on the positive and in denial of what’s not.

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