Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Just the Stats, Ma'am

I am astonished that I read a total of 116 books last year. In reviewing my monthly notes I see that a large portion of the books I read last year were paperback originals from the 1950s and 1960s. These books tend to be about 150 pages or less and can be read sometimes in a single day. No wonder I manged to rip through so many books last year.

The average number of books in a month was 9.8. The maximum number was in February when I read 14 books and the least in December with only five. I seemed to slow down around August when I read eight and the totals never got much higher for the rest of the year. In September I must've reached book glut because I read only six books to completion. There is a note in parentheses saying I left many books unfinished in that month. Was I picking badly then? Or was I in a fog of confusion and distraction? December with so much going on in my personal life I only managed to read five books and only one has been reviewed so far.

There was a small list of books I never finished reading, too. The grand total of abandoned books was 17. Some of these I hope to return to this year. I developed an odd habit of reading two or three books at a time last year and this was probably why so many were left unfinished. But I do see that many of them were "just plain bad" as my notes tell me.  Avoid at all costs a book called Too Many Doors by Lee Crosby which I rated BAD (capital letters emphasized) with many exclamation marks after it. It's out of print and hard to find so you will most likely be spared even an accidental encounter with that one. I sadly paid far too much for a copy with a DJ. I'm hoping I'll be able to sell it to a local used book store.

I did not review every single book I read last year either. Of the grand total there were 34 books I did not review for this blog. Many of them were new books that I didn't think needed any more exposure on the book blogs, some of them I took notes on for posts that are still in progress (!), and a few of them were forgettable and not worth writing about at all. But that still leaves more than 75% of the books I read written up here at Pretty Sinister Books. I tend not to write scathing reviews anymore, but there were a few tongue-in-cheek pans of some of the lesser books I read. The truly awful books I don't bother bringing to anyone's attention. Some forgotten out of print books are best forgotten. A book has to have some merit in my opinion to be reviewed here. I don't understand rants and tirades about works of fiction. Seems a waste of energy to get angry over the work of someone's imagination.

Because I find it so difficult to make a real "Best of" list with the most favorite book at number one and all others following in descending order I am resorting to a kind of cheat list in which I list the best book for each month of last year with a few runner-ups worth your attention. Below in the order I read them and not in order of how good each one is you will find the titles and links to the reviews on this blog.

January - The Death of Laurence Vining by Alan Thomas
(runner-up The Moon Murders by Nigel Morland)

February - Exit Charlie by Alex Atkinson
(runner-ups: Jade in Aries by Donald E. Westlake, The Grindle Nightmare by Q. Patrick)

March - The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
(runner-up The Case of the Seven of Calvary by Anthony Boucher)

April - Murder on the Moor by Thomas Kindon
(runner-up An Afternoon to Kill by Shelley Smith)

May - Be Silent, Love by Fan Nichols
(runner-up The Three Corpse Trick by Miles Burton - not reviewed on my blog)

June - The Brotherhood of Velvet by David Karp
(runner-ups: Old Bones by Herman Peterson, The Body Vanishes by Jacquemard-Sénécal)

July - The Pass Beyond Kashmir by Berkley Mather
(runner-ups: The House Next Door by Lionel White, The Hatter's Phantoms by Georges Simenon)

August - The Lesser Antilles Case by Rufus King (not reviewed by me, but see Curt Evan's post)
(runner-up The Cross-Eyed Bear by Dorothy B Hughes

September - Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts
(runner-up Aunt Beardie by Joseph Shearing, aka Marjorie Bowen, aka Gabrielle Long)

October - The Deadly Truth by Helen McCloy
(runner-up For Fear of Little Men by John Blackburn)

November - The Chill by Ross Macdonald (not reviewed yet)
(runner-ups: Singular Case of the Multiple Dead by Mark McShane, Double Death of Frédéric Belot by Claude Aveline, Burglars in Bucks by the Coles)

December - Room to Swing and The Moment of Untruth by Ed Lacy
(Both to be reviewed very soon)

Writers discovered this year whose work I will be reading a lot of in the future:  Rufus King, Bart Spicer, Ed Lacy, Ross Macdonald (yes, I only started reading his novels this year!), Lionel White, Harriette Ashbrook, Shelley Smith, Russell Greenan, Herman Petersen, Berkley Mather, Richard Neely, Fan Nichols, and Dorothy B Hughes. Hughes is more of a re-discovery since the first book I read of hers was many years ago and I hadn't read any since.

1 comment:

  1. A very good year, indeed, John! Lots of books that I've either moved onto my TBR list (or highlighted if already there) based on your reviews. I'm particularly on the hunt for The Cross-Eyed Bear and The Deadly Truth.

    I still try to review--even if short--everything I read. But that's because the blog has wound up being the best place for me to keep track of my thoughts. I've tried keeping a written journal before and it doesn't work quite so well for me. And if I just write BAD (or YUCK!!!!! as I have in the past) on a list of books, I don't always remember exactly why that was. So far nobody's gotten too bent out of shape when I diss a book, so that's good. Of course, if they do, I'll just remind them that I started this blog for me to keep track of just such thoughts and nobody's forcing them to read it. :-)