« Airplane Scam | Main | Rick Perry's Extremist Views »

Books, A Year in Review - 2011, Part I

Old Book Bindings, from Wikimedia CommonsWell, another 12 months has passed, so it's time once again for me to look at my yearly reading habits. I've been doing this for a while, now (see previous reviews for 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010). It all started with an article about an AP-Ipsos poll on people's reading habits. Among other things, it pointed out that around 1 in 4 adults in this country hadn't read any books at all in the previous year, and that among those that had, the average number of books read was 6. (Yes, this is the third time I've copied that sentence verbatim).

Like in the past three years, I'm breaking this up into two entries. In the first, I'll reflect on my reading habits (which means it probably won't interest many people), and in the second, I'll give a brief review of each book.

So, here are all the books I read in the last year, sorted by topic instead of by the order in which I read them.

Children's & Young Adult Fiction

  1. Balook
  2. Through the Looking Glass
  3. Dragon's Keep
  4. The Fire Within
  5. Ice Fire
  6. Killing Mr. Griffin

Adult Fiction

  1. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  2. A Christmas Carol
  3. Left Behind
  4. The Color of Magic
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  6. Frankenstein
  7. All My Friends Are Dead


  1. The End of Biblical Studies
  2. More Than a Carpenter
  3. Thousands, Not Billions
  4. Leaving Christianity


  1. What Do You Care What Other People Think
  2. Why Evolution Is True
  3. Two Years Before the Mast
  4. Soul Made Flesh
  5. Castle
  6. Bad Astronomy
  7. The Meaning of Tingo (Not completed)

So, that's 24 books altogether - similar to what I've read the past three years. Though two of those books were pretty short (one especially so), a third I never actually finished reading, and a fourth I wrote myself.

Four of the six kids' books I read this year were recommended to me by my daughter. I suppose that as she gets older, I'll read fewer kids' books, but I suspect that I'll never quit reading them entirely.

One of those adult fiction books was very short, All My Friends Are Dead. It only takes about 15 minutes to read cover to cover. But I've read it enough times myself, and passed it to enough friends, that it was definitely worth the price.

Technically, I read four books on religion, but one of those I wrote myself (Leaving Christianity). Two of them were actually pro-Christianity. Though I must say, I didn't find either of those very convincing. Last year, I lumped religious and non-fiction books together. But with as fanciful as More Than a Carpenter and Thousands, Not Billions were, I didn't think they deserved the distinction of non-fiction.

I only read one book on evolution this year, but it's one I've been wanting to read for a while, Why Evolution Is True. I'm glad I did, as it's one of my favorite books I've read on evolution, yet. There's still one more book on evolution that I've been mentioning on my wishlist for years now, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom). Maybe next year.

I couldn't go a year without reading something by Carl Zimmer. This year it was Soul Made Flesh. In fact, it was an autographed copy.

I knocked out one more book from this list (Frankenstein), which only leaves 88 left to go.

I suppose this makes a good place to mention that my wife bought me a Kindle for Christmas last year, so quite a few of those books were read off of electrons instead of dead trees. I've gotta say, I really like the Kindle in many ways. The form factor is great. It can hold an entire library. I can get all the classics for completely free. The battery lasts forever. I can buy new books from practically anywhere. Actually, there are only a few reasons I still buy paper books (though not insignificant reasons). Used paper books are often cheaper than their Kindle counterparts (and sometimes even brand new books). Picture laden books, especially color graphics, still look better on the printed page. And if it's a book I know I'm likely to loan somebody, it's still a whole lot easier to just hand it to them than go through all the rigamarole associated with Kindle book sharing. So, I foresee a mix of paper and electronic books for me for many years into the future, but I'm glad I have the Kindle.

All in all, I think my reading was pretty balanced again this year, but I could probably still add a little more history and philosophy in there.

Stay tuned for Part II, where I'll post my reviews for each book.

Update 2011-11-21 - Part II is now online.

Post a comment


TrackBack URL for this entry:


Selling Out