Tags: 2016, bookish year, Discussion Challenge
This post is part of the Discussion Challenge 2017 hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight
The year 2016 seems to have been one of the most hated years in the past decades, and while it’s mostly to blame on the scary political climate and many celebrity deaths last year, we also got the feeling that many people were complaining about their personal year 2016. While we actually had quite a great 2016 and don’t really want to join the bashing (Maraia is furious at 2016 and will continue bashing it), there’s still one aspect of 2016 that left us a bit disappointed and that was our bookish year 2016 – sorry, 2016.
When at the end of the year we looked back and tried to think of outstanding books we’ve read in 2016 we had to realize that somehow something was missing compared to the previous years and that’s why we wanted to take a closer look at the past bookish year to find out if it was indeed different and maybe even disappointing or if the general anger about 2016 just made it feel less exciting and successful than in the past.
A) Number of books we read
Maraia: My goal for 2016 was to read less and instead watch more TV shows and movies, and yet I still wish I had read more. Doesn’t everyone? Really, though, I can’t complain at all. Despite a month in which I only finished three measly books, I still somehow managed to read 218 books. That’s less than 2015, so I achieved my goal, but I know it’s way more books than most people have time to read. What can I say? I have my priorities. XD
Sebastian: I’ve read a total of 96 books in 2016 which is way less than in the previous years where I managed to read 141 books in 2015, 188 (!) books in 2014 and 126 books in 2013. So if you look at the bare figures then last year definitely was quite a low for me. I still reached an average of 8 books per month but regarding the fact that I’m listening to 2-3 hours of audiobooks every day and that they’re included in the statistics I can’t hide being quite disappointed by how few books I’ve actually read in 2016. Yes, there were months where I was super busy and could hardly find any time to read but even in my best months I „only“ read 10 or 11 books whereas in the past I often managed to read up to 15 books in a month.
B) Few exciting 2016 Releases?
Maraia: I read 57 new releases in 2016 – about a quarter of my total books. The good news is, only one was a 1-star read. The bad news is, 20 were 2- or 3-star reads and only four were a full 5 stars. That does mean that half of the new releases I read were 4 or 4.5 stars, but for comparison, I read 20 5-star new releases in 2015. TWENTY. Going from that amazing reading year to 2016 is pretty disappointing. (On the other hand, all of the 5-star books I read for the first time in 2016 were also published in 2016.) The problem wasn’t just that I read so few 5-star new releases, it was also that I had so many books I was anticipating last year, and out of all of them, only four truly lived up to my expectations. Between Nevernight, Sleeping Giants, Flamecaster, and The Last Star, I guess I had expected more from 2016.
I also didn’t do as well last year with reading all the new releases I originally wanted to. Part of the problem was that I became utterly disillusioned with young adult novels. The only YA novels I gave 5 stars to were This Savage Song and The Lost & Found. I’m so grateful to Victoria Schwab and Katrina Leno for saving YA for me, but I’m not sure I’ll ever love it as much as I once did. Most disappointing was probably Flamecaster, the first book in a sequel series to one of my all-time favorite YA fantasy series. I gave it 3 stars, but I don’t know if it deserved even that many. Despite all the amazing-sounding blurbs, YA in 2016 did not deliver. The silver lining from this is that I got even better at DNF’ing mediocre books. 😉
Sebastian: Looking back at 2016 I feel like I haven’t been as excited about new book releases as in the previous years and when I went through my book orders of 2015 and 2016 I saw that I hadn’t even pre-ordered 10 books for the whole year which is way less than in the past. Also all of my 2016 pre-orders were sequels like Pierce Brown’s „Morning Star“, Brandon Sanderson’s „Calamity“ or Rick Yancey’s „The Last Star“ which means that I apparently couldn’t get excited by new standalones or new series that were published last year.
In addition to that I have to admit that I still haven’t read some of the pre-ordered books which leads me to the assumption that I couldn’t have been that excited to actually read them. I really miss the times when I’ve been anticipating books for months and even got mad because pre-orders didn’t arrive in time so that I couldn’t read them right on the release date or was envied other readers who got to read them earlier than me. Let’s hope that this is only to blame on 2016 and that I didn’t lose my excitement for books in general…
C) Quality of books we read in 2016
Maraia: I spent much of 2016 wishing for better books, and when I think back on my reading year, I mostly feel disappointment. When I look at my spreadsheet, though, I can see that I did, in fact, read a lot of great books. Including rereads, I gave 4 or 5 stars to 80% of the books I read. Even without rereads, over 70% of the books I read were 4 or 5 stars. (DNF’ing definitely helped.) So why am I disappointed? I just can’t shake the feeling that I read a lot of mediocre books in 2016. Yes, I only read 42 books that were 3 stars or less, but that still seems like too many. There were too many books that I expected to be better. There were too few books I obsessed over. There were too few books that made it to my all-time favorites list. I wanted more.
In some ways, however, 2016 did live up to expectations. A Gathering of Shadows is one of the best second books in a series I’ve ever read. Morning Star and Den of Wolves weren’t perfect, but they were almost as good as I could have hoped for series enders. This Savage Song blew my expectations out of the water, and The Lost & Found led me to a new favorite author. I was hoping to read more diverse books last year, and I definitely did. Bland books where all the characters are white and straight and perfectly normal are, well, bland, and it’s encouraging to see more, if never enough, diverse books being published. (My goal for 2017 will be to not only read more diverse books, but also to read more diverse fantasy and science fiction.) The most successful part of my 2016 reading year, though, is the fact that I branched out more than ever before and read a much wider range of genres. Fantasy was still my most-read genre, but only if rereads are included. Without them, mysteries and thrillers are actually my most read genres! I also read more science fiction, adult novels, comics, German (audio)books, and even a few horror novels. All things considered, 2016 had plenty of disappointments, but it certainly wasn’t all bad.
Sebastian: When I think about outstanding books I’ve read in 2016 I find it really hard to name books that completely blew me away and when I put together my end-of-the-year lists of my bookish 2016 highlights I had to realize that I only read ten 5-star books that weren’t re-reads last year and that feels very disappointing, especially because I had tidied out my TBR in 2015 so that I only read books in 2016 that I actually wanted to read. I know I might be a bit hypercritical and only give 5 stars if books really have me hooked from the first to the last page but it still makes me sad that for the first time in my blogging career I didn’t read a book that got 10 out of 10 points on my blog.
Yes, I didn’t read quite as many books as in the previous years so that it was almost impossible to reach a similar number of 5-star books in 2016 again but since I’m quite picky about which books I read I had still hoped that my bookish 2016 would have been better. Did 2016 feel less exciting because my expectations were just too accurate so that no books couldn’t completely surprise me anymore in a positive way or am I maybe stuck in my reading habits so that I need to look for more books outside my „comfort zone“ to be overwhelmed by books again?
This post is so negative, I get kinda depressed when reading it XD
The only thing I can complain about is the amount I read but 2016 does feel like it was less exciting. But I know that’s because all the amazing books happened in the first half of 2016 and the second half was filled with slumps and a less exciting books. Overall it was the same as always though.
Considering a recent rating of one of my favorites, and you both not LOVING Sleeping Giants and Nevernight makes me think something is wrong with you, not 2016 XP
This comment is so negative, I get kinda depressed when reading it XD
Hmm, I didn’t get the impression that you were overly excited about your bookish year 2016, especially with your loooong reading slump ;P
On the other hand you had so many rereads of books you already knew you would love (again), so maybe that helped a little bit 😀
„Sleeping Giants“ and „Nevernight“ had SO MANY flaws, they weren’t even close to becoming 2016 highlights AT ANY TIME. And I absolutely stand by my opinion re: TAatA 😛
I hear you both!! I think 2016 was a bit of a loss for books, particularly YA seemed to not be doing anything terribly exciting or unique?? Although I think I had around 30 five-star reads?!? So I can’t really complain. ? Although I think it was around 150 books rated 3 stars and lower, which I consider pretty depressing. *weeps for self* I think I’ve put a lot of pressure on 2017 to be amazing for book releases, it’s early but hooopefully it works out.?
I’m hoping you both get some AMAZING reads to flail over this year!
You really had a rough year, lol. I think reading 150 mediocre (or worse) books would kill me. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way you could stop reading a book you don’t like…? 😉
There are SO many 2017 releases with tons of potential, but last year has definitely made me wary.
Thanks for commenting! I hope you have an amazing reading year, too.
I’m a bit jealous of your 30 five-star reads but on the other hand I’m really glad I didn’t have to read 150 mediocre books, that sounds indeed really depressing 😀
I can’t really speak for the YA genre but I had the feeling that the (bookish) year was lacking something exciting in general but I also think I need to open up more for other genres and maybe let myself get surprised by new ideas this way…
I’m not sure if 2017 will be that much better though, I don’t really have a lot of must-reads on my radar yet…^^
I wasn’t terribly disappointed with my 2016 reading—I found my ratings were about on par with what they’ve been in the past. But I can certainly see how you might be disappointed if you went back and looked at your overall ratings and were underwhelmed!
I’m glad 2016 wasn’t disappointing for you! I love using spreadsheets, but sometimes it’s better not to know how many mediocre books you read in a year. xD
Thanks for commenting!
I’m quite okay with the average quality of the books I’ve read in 2016 because I think the average should be close to 4 stars but I really missed the extraordinary books last year that completely blew me away or hit me in the feels.
I really hope I will be able to find a few more gems this year 😀
Actually, yeah, I was a little disappointed by my 2016 reading year. But I think it’s mostly because I had such an amazing 2015 reading year. I found so many amazing series in 2015 that became my favorites, whereas, in 2016, I did find some amazing books, but not nearly as many of the memorable kind that truly became favorites.
Yeah, I think that’s similar to my 2016 experience. I actually read quite a lot of good books and only a few terrible or really disappointing ones, but I just missed some outstanding books last year.
I hope 2017 will be more exciting for both of us! 😉
Exactly! 2016 wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t spectacular. But now that our expectations are lower, 2017 should be even better in comparison!
2016 was weird for me, because I had a kid in the middle of the year, and that killed the reading mojo. And before that I was a bit of an airhead and couldn’t focus, so didn’t do much reading. That said, I only remember a couple of releases that I was really excited about throughout the year, and normally I’m waiting with baited breath for a handful of books at a time, so I kinda know what you mean 🙂 I’m anticipating 2017 will shape up to be a lot better!
I would say that having a baby is quite a good excuse for a reading slump, congratulations! 😉
Let’s hope 2017 will bring more exciting reads again! 🙂
Haha, yeah, having a baby is definitely a good excuse not to read! (Although I’ve heard that e-readers are great for nursing?) There are a lot of new releases with potential this year, so I hope you find the time to read some good books!
How in the WORLD did you two read so many books? I feel like such a failure.
But yeah, 2016 wasn’t the best. I didn’t read too many new releases though as I was completely out of the loop from May onwards, so I don’t know if that factored into it at all. I guess I was just in a massive slump. I didn’t realise so many other people were disappointed, though!
Haha, I feel like such a failure when I see how many books Maraia read, my 96 books don’t really feel very impressive compared to that 😀
I don’t know if so many people were actually disappointed but I had definitely gotten the impression that there was somehow less bookish excitement last year for example in my Twitter timeline, that’s one of the reasons we wanted to start this discussion 🙂
Hey, guys, I just have my priorities straight. xD I know that some people do legitimately have less time than other people, and I guess I’m lucky in that sense, but I also read before bed instead of watching TV, I read instead of socializing, I read instead of having a life, etc. ;P
I hope 2017 is a better year for you, Amber! I was happy to see that you’re blogging again, by the way. 🙂
Aww I’m sorry your year wasn’t so good!
I guess compared to 2015 my 2016 wasn’t amazing, but I count myself lucky because I really liked quite a few! But not that much that were actually released in 2016.
I really should read „The Lost & Found“!!
Here’s hoping 2017 will be better for the both of you! Excited for the new Stormlight Archive book by Sanderson and the new Robin hobb <3
Thanks for commenting, Lucille!
I’m glad you still found great books to read, even if they weren’t released in 2016. Sometimes it’s nice to wait until the hype around books has died down, anyway.
YES, definitely give The Lost & Found a try! Now that I know how you met your boyfriend, I think you’ll find it relatable. 😉
Oooh, are you a Robin Hobb fan, too? I just read Fool’s Assassin last month and I’ll read Fool’s Quest this month, and then I’ll finally be caught up! The title of Fool’s Fate terrifies me, though.
Ha yes I often wait for the hype to die out before reading a book (and when I don’t… you know what happened with Caraval hahaha)
Ohhh nice, can’t wait to give it a try!! Plus I saw on her IG that Crini loved it too, two people that I trust loved it = can’t wait to read 😀
I’ve discovered Robin Hobb only 5 or 6 years ago and fell in love with her writing, her characters and her Realm of the Elderlings *o*
Did you mean Assassin’s Fate? I cannot wait for it, and am super scared at the same time, like you, haha!
LOL, I’m not sure that one would have improved with age. xD
Hahaha, yes, I keep messing up the titles. /o\ Are you planning to read Assassin’s Fate as soon as it comes out?
Most of my reading last year consisted of children’s books, mostly because of one class I took last Fall. But it renewed a love in children’s books for me. For that, I did pretty well with finding quality and quantity. I don’t think I have ever read so many books in one year!
I too have felt some disillusionment with YA. The major interest I have in it anymore is contemporary, and I used to detest most contemporary YA. I wonder if the dissatisfaction I am finding with YA is because of my age. I am having trouble relating to the characters, or I find them annoying. This has forced me to read other books, which isn’t a bad thing, but I’m sad to see YA leave my shelves.
That’s great! I think children’s books can be a lot of fun, and I read them occasionally, too. My favorites are Hedgehugs and Rory the Dinosaur, if you’re looking for more to read. ?
Same! I’ve almost entirely given up on YA fantasy, but there are still some great diverse YA contemporaries being published. The Hate U Give, for example. I also find it harder to relate to the characters now. Often it’s not that they’re bad books necessarily, it’s just that I have no interest in reading about teenagers, who really are annoying. And I don’t think authors should pretend that they aren’t, but I’ve reached my limit, haha. I’m a bit sad to leave YA behind, too, but there are so many other great books to read! What have you been reading instead?
I’ve never read a lot of contemporaries but was always interested in the typical science fiction series like Hunger Games or The 5th Wave but nowadays I barely read YA anymore. I often feel that the stories are very similar these days and that the genre could need some fresh ideas, also I really can’t stand those cliché romances anymore 😀