Sunday, January 20, 2008

year in reading: 2007

I know we're a little bit far on into 2008 for a year-end recap from 2007, but I try to crunch the numbers on the reading log every year, and I don't want to skip 2007 just because I was so busy for the first few weeks of the New Year.

So. Total number of books I read last year: 58! That's up a comfortable 16 from last year, and only two shy of my high-water mark (60 books in 2004).

Novels / novellas: 16 (up seven from last year). Highlights: Honestly? Probably fantasy stuff like the Harry Potter series, which I read all in a row, and Philip Pullman's Amber Spyglass. Of the science fiction I read this year, Charles Stross' Accelerando was the standout, beating out SF-esque books with greater literary aspirations like Cormac McCarthy's The Road or William Gibson's Pattern Recognition. Both of those were fine books, but Accelerando was ultimately more impressive.

Books on film / film criticism: 11 (+11). Highlight: Martha Nochimson's offbeat feminist read on Lynch, The Passion of David Lynch

Graphic novels / comics anthologies / books of cartoons: 7 (+2). Highlights: Roz Chast's Theories of Everything, and Matthew Diffee's great anthology of rejected New Yorker cartoons

Collections of poetry: 5 (-1). Highlights: K. Silem Mohammad's flarf masterpiece, Deer Head Nation; derek beaulieu's fun book of visual poetry, fractal economies

Essays / memoirs: 5 (+2) Highlight: the first three volumes of the Grand Piano collective autobiography project, written by an all-star team of Language poets. I claim them as a highlight, although by the time I got to the third volume they were depressing me deeply: hearing people reflect back upon about the formation of their intellectual / creative community really fostered an indelible awareness of certain absences in my own life

Books of literary criticism: 3 (same as last year). Highlights: the N+1 pamphlet on the "practical avant-garde;" Samuel Delany's Starboard Wine

Books on video games or game studies: 4 (+4; counting Henry Jenkins' Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers, which is only marginally about video games). Highlight: I was deeply engaged by all four of these books, but the one of them that was most important for my own thinking on games and narrative was Jesper Juul's lucid and insightful Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds, the best book I read all year

Assorted nonfiction and polemics: 7 Highlight: Deborah Tannen's You Just Don't Understand!: Women and Men in Conversation

Authors I read in 2007 who have written at least one book I read prior to 2007: 8 (Philip K. Dick, Paul Pope, Rick Veitch, Ursula K. LeGuin, Philip Pullman, Edward Tufte, William Gibson, Samuel Delany. Aside from Edward Tufte and maybe Rick Veitch, every one of them writes primarily in the field of science fiction or fantasy. Interesting.)

Trends: big leaps in reading about film and video games, two categories not even really on the radar in years past. Novels and poetry remained an important part of my reading, although I didn't read a single short story collection this year. Hmm.

What did you read last year that you enjoyed?