Thursday, December 31, 2009

Obligatory End of Year Post

Well, it has certainly been an eventfully year for me on all fronts and reviewing was no exception. I most certainly didn't expect to be running my own book blog by august of this year. In a way I still wish it would have turned out differently. On the other hand it has been a liberating experience as well so I can't complain. I'm thinking about changing a few things next year but nothing definite yet.

So how did I do? Well, I read 93 books this year, which is more than I expected and certainly more than I expect to be able to manage next year. These 93 books resulted in a total of 79 reviews. Not a bad total but there is one thing thing I mean to improve on in 2010. A review for each book I read if I can manage. Of those 79 reviews 51 can be found on this blog. The remaining 27 are in the archives of BSCreview. I guess I speeded up a little in the second half of the year.

Best of 2009

Like last year, I am going to name the best books I have read during the year. Which is not the same as the best books of 2009. Out of the 93 books I read only 25 were actually published in 2009 so there is really no way I could even make a guess at what the best books of the year are. History will tell no doubt. To avoid any confusion I'll add the year the book was first published in this list. They are listed in no particular order.

  1. The Dosadi Experiment - Frank Herbert (1977)
    This book is my favourite Frank Herbert novel. Concise yet wonderfully complex it captures the best of what made his science fiction a great read.

  2. Santa Olivia - Jacqueline Carey (2009)
    This book surprised me. After a number of Kushiel books I didn't like all that much, Carey tries her hand at something completely different and the result is a joy to read.

  3. The Gathering Storm - Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (2009)
    Finishing someone else's work usually an unenviable task. The way Sanderson handles Jordan's creation makes him deserve every bit of praise this book got.

  4. River of Gods - Ian McDonald (2004)
    I read four books by McDonald this year, they could all have made this list. River of Gods is the most accessible. The authors imagination and prose make it into an unforgettable reading experience.

  5. Boneshaker - Cherie Priest (2009)
    My first foray into Steampunk. This is one cool novel!

  6. An Autumn War - Danial Abraham (2008)
    In my opinion the best book in Abraham's Long Price quartet, some of the best fantasy of recent years.

  7. The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi (2009)
    One of the most anticipated books in 2009 for me. Bacigalupi's fascinating and terrifying future lived up to my expectations.

  8. Tuf Voyaging - George R.R. Martin (1986)
    Tuf is probably one of Martin's best creations, this book collects all the Tuf stories. The change in his character over the course of the book is brilliantly done.

  9. Galileo's Dream - Kim Stanley Robinson (2009)
    Robinson's portrayal of the father of modern science is just outstanding.

  10. The Apex Book of World SF - Lavie Tidhar ed. (2009)
    This collection of science fiction in the widest possible interpretation of the term contains some great short stories from around the world.

Most Popular Reviews

Looking at traffic this blog is still tiny but each month the numbers inch up a bit. Almost 60 percent of my visitors are from the US and the Netherlands. The rest is mostly form various places in Europe, Canada and Brazil. About 50 percent are from English-speaking nations, a quarter from the Dutch-speaking corner of the world. I've reached the conclusion that a little networking wouldn't hurt in trying to improve the numbers but since I have no idea when to actually do this without skipping sleep entirely, I'm afraid the numbers will have to take care of themselves for now. The most popular reviews on Random Comments this year were:
  1. The Gathering Storm - Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
  2. Dust of Dreams - Steven Erikson
  3. The Apex Book of World SF - Lavie Tidhar ed.
  4. Boneshaker - Cherie Priest
  5. Time Out - Various authors
  6. Shadow's Edge - Brent Weeks
  7. The Way of Shadows - Brent Weeks
  8. Het bouwplan - F.H. van Dongen
  9. MagiĆ­ of Cyador - L.E. Modesitt Jr.
  10. Black Trilium - Marion Zimmer Bradley, Julian May, Andre Norton
The top book doesn't actually come as a surprise. It was one of the biggest releases of the year. There are some interesting things about this list however. Fantasy does better than SF. I guess given the sales figures of both genres that is not surprising. Something that may have influenced the list is that six out of these ten got a link on Fantasy Book News and Reviews in one of Jeff's Today in Fantasy posts. His blog directs a lot of traffic to Random Comments so I owe him a big thank you. Any way I can convince you to try science fiction Jeff?

Numbers five and eight are books only available in Dutch. Apparently the little networking I did do on a number of Dutch fantasy forums did work. As I mentioned above only about a quarter of the readers are from the Dutch-speaking part of the world so I am still a little surprised that any of the Dutch only books made the list. The Apex Book of World SF is also a surprise. I put this review up on December 27th and it got more hits in the first 24 hours than most reviews get in total. I guess I am going to have to keep paying attention to books from outside the English-speaking world.

Looking ahead to 2010

Which books am I looking froward to... Too many books to actually read next year I guess. I have two huge tomes by Dan Simmons on the to read stack, I mean to read at least one of them. Same goes for the three Edward Rutherfurd books still waiting to be read. I also intend to have a go at China Mieville's The Scar. As for 2010 publications, there's quite a few I have my eye on. I'm looking forward to Ian McDonald's Dervish House, the next Wheel of Time book Towers of Midnight, the final book in Steven Erikson's Malazan series The Crippled God. I'm curious to see what tales Cherie Priest has in store for us in her Clockwork Century and I can't wait to read the final part of Robin Hobb's Rain Wilds Chronicles. I also intend to read a few more classics of the genre. In other words plenty to do next year.

A happy new year to all of you! I hope to see you all around on Random Comments or elsewhere in the blogsphere. I promise to be a little more active commenting on the various blogs I visit.



  1. Incredible! You read 93 books! I'm jealous! I was more than happy to read 64 books and to review 14 of them.

    My book of the year 2009 is BONESHAKER by Cherie Priest which is also the only book from your Best of 2009 list.

    In 2010 I want to read more books, review more books and watch more movies.

    My goal is to read 6 books per month and to review 4 of them. Time will tell.

    Good luck for 2010

  2. Hehe, there are people who can easily double that. I think starting this blog has made me read more than I would otherwise do but I have no idea how long that effect will last. I'm not expecting to match that total in 2010 anyway ;)

  3. Just wanted to say that I've been reading your blog for a while and really enjoy it. I look forward to reading more of your reviews this year. From your list Daniel Abraham and Ian MacDonald are two authors I hope to explore this year!

  4. Thanks :D

    You certainly picked two good authors there. Both of them have books scheduled for 2010 and they are on the must read list for me.