The year in review, resolution-wise, really comes down to this. First, the resolutions: to increase the number of steps on my pedometer and hit 10K regularly; to read more books than in 2011 with two side challenges through bookcrossing.com of the SIY (set-it-yourself) and pages-read.
First, overall, despite the fact, that I managed to lose two pedometers in 2012, I put more steps on my pedometer(s) in 2012 as compared to 2011. A quick scan of my two Excel charts also indicate that 2012 was an improvement over 2011 in two other areas: aerobic steps (walking for more than ten minutes straight) and days with 10,000 or more steps in a day. However, this pedometer geek isn't satisfied, and again, resolves to increase the number of steps daily with more days of aerobic steps until 10,000 steps is the norm.
The other resolutions are a bit more complicated. First, I read more books in 2012 than I read in 2011. I read over thirty books more than the previous year; however, in my SIY challenges, I only completed one of the four quarters. Each time I ended up reading other books, too, and didn't complete my own challenges. As for the pages-read challenge, I exceeded first one goal, and then after increasing it, exceeded it, too.
So. looking back over the books that I read last year, I find some interesting (at least to me) statistics. For the most part, I prefer to read fiction. Frankly, I read to escape and travel to new places via various settings and live vicariously through fictional characters so it is no surprise that most of my reads were novels (~90%). However, twelve of the books I read are classified as nonfiction. Most were memoirs of various types, but some were topical and informative, and one was a book of poetry (if it has a Dewey Decimal number, it must be nonfiction, right?). Of these, several stood out for different reasons. They are as follows: Brain Rules by John Medina, A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard, and Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand.
On the fiction side of the equation, I read different genres. First, I read fourteen YA (young adult) novels including several series (The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer (by the way, I found them as insipid as I always heard, but I digress), the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan, and (am working on) the Heroes of Olympus series also by Riordan). Of the YA novels, all of the authors were new to me except Rick Riordan. I had previously read his Percy Jackson series as well as many of the Tres Navarre mysteries. In 2012, I finished Tres Navarre series, too.
I also read several novels of science fiction, quite a few mysteries and suspense/thrillers and romances (contemporary, historical, and erotic), several classics and/or 1001-BYMRBYD*, and some general fiction novels (not particularly defined by any one genre). There were some real lightweight reads and probably some trashy reads, too. About half of the books I read were written by authors that I had not previously read.
Despite my initial skepticism about reading e-books on my Nook (and also now my Kindle Fire), I read nearly half of my books on my e-readers. I knew that when Rob and I went to Kenya that all of my reading material would be from my Nook Simple Touch. There was no way to take enough books in my suitcase for the seventeen hours of flight time over, the interval in Eldoret, Kenya, and then the flights back. However, once home, I still continued to find that the e-book format useful and continued to read plenty of books downloaded from my local library with my Nook. In many way, I still prefer physical books...the feel of the page under my fingers, for example, but the ability to look up unfamiliar words without running for the dictionary is one of the better things I have enjoyed with my e-readers. In fact, I have found that many books are available sooner, and some are only available in e-book format, which contributes to many of the new authors I read.
I will admit that borrowing an e-book from the library has certain limitations. Like any library book, it has to be returned within a certain time-frame; unlike other library books, they cannot be renewed. They must be read within the allotted time, and if not, they are returned automatically to the library (and access to the book denied). I will further admit that I found some ways around this, but sometimes I would have to get the physical book to finish the few pages of a book nearly completed. It was either that, or go back on the wait list for the uncompleted book.
I read nine books that were bookcrossing.com book ring books (books that go from bookcrosser to bookcrosser until returned to the originator). Most of these are books that I may never have found out about without the community that is bookcrossing.com. Bookcrossers generously share books with the wider world, but I digress.
The greatest percentage of novels read were either romance or mystery/suspense/thrillers and a few of these were a cross between the two. The general fiction category was more heavily weighted toward historical fiction although plenty of contemporary fiction was read. Ironically, just as we arrived in Kenya, I read Anita Shreve's A Change in Altitiude which is set in modern day Kenya. As we were exploring our new surroundings, I was also learning about Kenya via this book.
Although there were quite a few great reads in the list, my favorite books included the following:
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, which is set during World War II
Room by Emma Donoghue, which is told from the point of view of a five-year-old boy
A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard, especially in conjunction with Room
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, which is about Mamah and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Of course, I also enjoyed reading E.L. James' trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed and a few other erotic romances. I also read one of the parodies, too (Fifty Shames of Earl Grey: a parody), which was hilarious.
Overall, it was a very diverse year of reading material. From The Grapes of Wrath to The Case of the Elevator Duck** to Ellen Takes Troy** to Eat, Pray, Love, I read them all. The good, the not-so-good, and the outrageous.
As for this year's resolutions, besides continuing my resolution to put more steps into my day (and on my pedometer), I further resolve to read a few more classics and a few more nonfiction titles, but will mostly read what I want when I want because I have a large needlepoint canvas that I have had for over thirty years that I resolve to finish this year. I will continue my SIY and pages-read challenges, hopefully completing them.
* 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
** inadvertent downloaded e-books, basically mistakes caused by user error, but read nonetheless
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Doctors without Borders
American Diabetes Association