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Books, A Year in Review - 2013, Part I

Old Book Bindings, from Wikimedia CommonsAs has become my yearly tradition, every October I take some time to examine the books I've read over the past year (see previous reviews for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, 2012). 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 fifth time I've copied that sentence verbatim). A more recent poll by YouGov and Huffington Post seems to be pretty consistent, so it doesn't seem that Americans' reading habits have changed much in the past few years (here's another one from Pew).

As usual, this review will come in two parts. This first part will take a look at my personal reading habits (meaning it probably won't interest too many people), while the second part will provide short reviews of each book that I've read.

Here are all the books I read in the last year, sorted by topic (not the order in which I read them).

Children's & Young Adult Fiction

  1. Wild Jack
  2. The Cabinet of Wonders (The Kronos Chronicles, Book I)
  3. The Celestial Globe (The Kronos Chronicles, Book II)
  4. The Jewel of the Kalderash (The Kronos Chronicles, Book III)
  5. Stardust
  6. The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again
  7. Uglies (The Uglies, Book I)
  8. Pretties (The Uglies, Book II)
  9. Specials (The Uglies, Book III)
  10. Extras (The Uglies, Book IV)

Adult Fiction

  1. Tribulation Force (Left Behind, Book II)


  1. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version (partial)

Light Non-Fiction

  1. Around Pottstown (Postcard History Series)
  2. Wichita Falls (Images of America)
  3. Feynman
  4. Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas


  1. Night
  2. Self-Made Man: One Woman's Year Disguised as a Man
  3. Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature
  4. The Darwin Experience: The Story of the Man and His Theory of Evolution
  5. Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy

That's 21 books altogether, but with 4 of those being comic or picture books (the light non-fiction), that's a bit less than I normally read in a year (since I've been keeping track, my yearly totals have been 13, 25, 19, 21, 23, & 22 - mostly 'real' books). I think this is in large part due to my project of trying to read and blog about the entire Bible. I wrote about this in the entry, Friday Bible Blogging - 1 Chronicles 1 to 1 Chronicles 10:

A somewhat surprising aspect is the way this has cut into my other reading. It's not that I devote a tremendous amount of time each week to reading the Bible and don't have any time left for other books. Rather, when I have a bit of spare time, instead of picking up a good book that I'd enjoy reading and get sucked into, I feel obligated to catch up on my Bible reading. So, I'll either procrastinate and watch TV instead, or read just enough to get caught up and then feel burnt out on reading. In effect, I devote less time overall to reading now than I did when I wasn't reading the Bible, and my yearly book "consumption" has suffered noticeably.

I think I might have found a rhythm, though, getting my Bible reading done weekend mornings, leaving me the rest of the week to read good books. Hopefully I'll be back to a normal pace next year.

As usual, I tend to read quite a bit of young adult fiction. And as usual, this is due to receiving book recommendations from my teenage daughter.

My Carl Zimmer drought has now extended into its second year, but I still read his blog, The Loom, and his other online articles on a regular basis, so I'm not going through withdraws.

I only read one book from this list, and it was one I'd already read (The Hobbit), so I don't get to check off any more of those. There are a few of those on my nightstand, though, so maybe I'll get a few more done this coming year.

I put that 'partial' note after the New Oxford Annotated Bible because I'm only partway through. As part of my Friday Bible Blogging series, I've read right around a quarter of the Bible. At this rate, it'll take me a few more years to finish.

Like I almost always say in these entries, I definitely need to expand my reading habits. My non-fiction reading tends to be very science heavy. I did read a couple history books this year, but they were picture books, so even though they were interesting, I could still do better (technically, The Darwin Experience was also mostly history, but with a strong connection to the history of biology). And all of my fiction reading this year fell into sci-fi/fantasy (yes, I'm counting Tribulation Force as fantasy). But, I'm already doing better on that this coming year - I just started on To Kill a Mockingbird.

Part II, where I'll post my reviews for each book, is still a few weeks out, so stay tuned.

Updated 2013-11-19: I completely forgot about one of the books I'd read, Self-Made Man, so I've added it and fixed the totals to account for it. It's not that it was a forgettable book, but just my general absent-mindedness and not keeping my list of books I've read up to date. Speaking of, I better go update the list with the last book I read and the one I'm reading right now, To Kill a Mockingbird and Medieval Britain: A Very Short Introduction.

Update 2013-12-06: Part II is finally here.

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