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?