Essay: Nathan’s Review of 2013

One last end of the year post, well into January.  Pauline’s stats are something to behold, so mine will not be near as impressive, but I may as well get them down here now, along with a couple of goals I had and a tiny bit of looking forward to next year.  Warning, the driest read in history is coming up.  Sorry, but I wanted to get it onto page for myself to look at later.

I read 107 books last year and wrote 107 reviews.  Seems right, but one of the reviews was actually for a book I didn’t finish and one of the reviews was for the first two in a series that I shotgunned over a weekend.  So that evened out just fine.  I was planning on counting out my ratings by star, but it proved to be too much damn work.  But just by quick glance I saw only six five stars, a whole lot of fours, slightly less threes, and about ten two star books.  Of course the DNF got one star.  Next year I will try to get a better count.

This was the first year I received review copies, all of which are tagged within the review for disclosure.  Of the 108 books read or attempted to read 41 came to me from someone in the industry.  The other 67 were either bought, gifted, borrowed, or were free deals open to all.  Of those 23 were obtained through NetGalley, 8 were physical copies, and 5 were provided to me by the author.  It would be a lie to say that this hasn’t changed my reading in some ways; while I still look for what I want, read what I want, and control my own content there were times the choice was made easier by what was in front of me.  My ratings on the other hand speak for themselves; I believe I stayed consistent no matter how I obtained the book.

I had made a goal last year for the first time, and continued it this year, to read a 50/50 split of male and female authored books.  As part of this I also joined the WWE challenge to read 12 new to me female authors this year.  The latter was laughably easy; I probably read twelve debuts that fit the criteria.  The first goal though I fell a bit short on.  52 of my reads were written by a female author, 54 by a male, and two were identity unknown (So I guess there is a chance I actually hit my goal).  If I was to count up actual authors the total would sway the other direction, as my Pratchett reread accounted for many of those on the male column.

It is interesting to note a few things here as I know blogger representation of female authors has been a hot topic for a few years.  While I believe I requested ARC’s with a pretty even split (though I have no numbers to back this), I received ARCs heavily favoring male authors.  In fact all the physical copies I received fell into this group.  I was more often denied books by female authors than otherwise.  This doesn’t speak to specific publishers; usually if a specific publisher works with me once they have no problem doing it again and at that point what I request matters, but it was something I found interesting and look forward to seeing how the trend continues.

I also read 8 self-published works; with Lindsay Buroker making up four of those.  As Pauline has noted they can have the same quality or problems as traditionally published books; many that I read were very good indeed.  I am not as adventurous when it comes to them though, tending to stick to those I have seen reviewed somewhere or recommended elsewhere.

So what are my goals for 2014?  Well to start with I hope to read 85 books.  I would be shocked if I clear a hundred again; strange working circumstances allowed me to inflate my total last year during the spring and fall.  I will continue to try to read an even distribution of authors by gender.  I hope to up the diversity of my reads as well; so will gladly take suggestions of speculative fiction written by PoC.  I have a list on my computer growing, but suggestions = good times.  And most of all, I hope I get as much pleasure reading and talking about my reads as I did last year.

Thanks for sticking with me all, it has been a blast so far.  Happy 2014.

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