A Rather More Circumspect Summary

Apologies for the delay in posting this update. I’m working a lot of extra hours at the moment, and on top of that we’re in the middle of moving flat, so I don’t have much access to the internet. Posts are going to be a little patchy for the rest of the month, but hopefully things should even out by the middle of November.

So a couple of weeks ago, I posted my statistical analysis of the past year’s worth of books, and promised that the more traditional “Which books did I like and hate?” post would come later on in the week. I think you can see where this is going…

I briefly entertained the idea ranking the books from one to a hundred, but frankly that’s a) more hassle than it’s worth, and more importantly, b) impossible! So what I’m going to do instead is talk about the few books that I really didn’t like, and then give a brief overview of my top five or so books.

But first, more statistics! What I didn’t talk about in Monday’s post was the breakdown of my ratings. Throughout the year I gave each book a rating out of five (except for The Female Man, because I still have no idea what was going on in that book), with a breakdown handily represented in this excerpt from my incredibly cluttered spreadsheet:


This averages at a rating of 3.64 per book, in contrast to the Goodreads aggregated review score, which averages at 3.8. However, I rated 51 of my 99 rated books at a higher rate than Goodreads. The disparity makes sense though, as an aggregated score, it makes sense that there would be less of a range of numbers. In fact, a vast majority of the review scores from Goodreads round either up or down to 4. That said, I should probably learn to be less liberal with my 5/5 reviews.

Now that’s out of the way, I’ll move onto the three lowest rated books. To be honest, I don’t have that much more to say about them than I did in the actual reviews. The Valley Under the Cross was a typical 1940s British novel that I doubt the author ever expected to be read in 2013, and so my displeasure is perhaps unfounded. The Teleportation Accident is probably better than I give it credit for, but throughout the year I’ve been using my ratings as a gauge of my enjoyment, not necessarily of quality (hence why books like 44 Scotland Street have fairly low ratings), and I just did not like the book in spite of the wonderful writing. And Demi-Monde: Summer was just plain bad. That said, I do have Fall reserved from the library, because as much as I hate it, I feel compelled to find out how the story ends.

So, what of the books at the other end of the scale?

I can fairly easily name the top five books, one of which I said at the time of reviewing that it would likely be my favourite for the year. In order of reading (because to rank them would be impossible), they are The Chosen, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, HHhH, Americanah, and interestingly book #100, The Lowland. They’re all quite different books, so I can’t really say that they’re representative of any particular genre or story that I particularly identify as my favourite. It’s worth noting though tat back at the very start of the year, one of my reasons for doing it was that I wanted to read less science fiction, and though I read nine sci-fi (or related genres) books, there’s only one in my top four.

There’s not much point me rehashing the points I made in the books’ respective reviews to explain why I liked them (although HHhH’s review is woefully lax, since it was published in retrospect after a several month-long gap in posting. I might rectify this at a later point), but I’d say of the hundred books I read last year, those four are the ones I’d recommend with the least reserve. Of course they won’t be right for everyone, and there are plenty of other great books on the list, but these are the ones I can definitely see myself reading again, something that is actually quite rare for me now.

As I said, I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to post next, so bear with me, but thanks again for reading, it means the world to me!

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