After all the books I read in 2016, I'd planned on reading more non-fiction in 2017. As it turned out, we had a busy year here at Single-Sourcing Solutions and escapist reading was the order of the day.
2017 was the year of binge-reading and my grand total read was 329. That's nearly 1 per day (and nearly 100 more than last year).
Binge-Read Your Way to 300 Books
It all started with an Anthology. 9 books for $9. I like Anthologies because they generally contain a bunch of first books. The first book in a series. Each one by a different author. More often than not, it's the first time I've read most of the authors included in the anthology.
Now, sometimes you get books you like. Sometimes you don't. And sometimes you find something fun and engrossing. And when you've got that, not only do you have one book, but you've got the first book in a bigger series that is just waiting for you to read the whole thing. You don't have to go digging around looking for some other book that's similar. You've got a ready-made set of books with characters with whom you can spend hours and hours.
It's just like binge-watching, only with books. Binge-reading can be immensely satisfying. You spend hours with a writer and a set of characters. You can watch the author and characters grow and develop. You can be fairly certain that you're going to enjoy the rest, because that first book gave you a taste. So the next time you sit down to binge watch, binge read instead. Pretty soon, you too will have read over 300 books.
My Top 10 (Series) from 2017
This is the list of ten series that that I enjoyed and could not put down. Each one of these series made the list for a different reason. Even though my reading interests skewed feminist in 2017, the books on this list span genres, so there should be something for everyone. In fact, one of the series on this list was recommended to me by my father. In every case, the characters are easy to get involved with and the writing will keep you reading all night long.
Only those series that I read in 2017 were included in this list. There are other series that I love, but if I didn't read those books within the 2017 calendar year, they didn't make the list. Check out last year's list for books read in 2016.
In no particular order, here are the series I enjoyed the most in 2017:
Ghost Hunter Mysteries by Victoria Laurie. Paranormal Fantasy. Short, quick ghost mysteries, which is what I was looking for. Not high-art, but great summer reading. The series travels around a good bit and has a good time while it does. Funny, sarcastic writing. Start with What's a Ghoul to Do?.
Constable Evans series by Rhys Bowen. Mystery. Short books, quick reads, set in a small mountain town in Wales. When you get curious about what Snowdonia looks like (and you will), Google has your back. Part of the draw of these books is the odd cast or characters who live in the little town and who pop up throughout the series. Start with Evans Above.
The Gender Game series by Bella Forest. Science Fiction. If you liked Hunger Games or Divergent, this series and her other one, The Girl Who Dared to Think, fit solidly into that genre. (The two series do intersect, but only tangentially.) This series is approachable and promotes the idea that cooperation and diversity are important for survival and fulfilment. Start with The Gender Game.
Dying for a Living series by Kory Shrum. Supernatural Thriller. These were hard to put down and it was hard wait until 2018 to finish the series. It's now concluded so you can binge-read freely. While I was waiting for the last one, I went out to read everything else she's written. She doesn't have a large cannon--yet--but it's growing. You'll be up all night reading about Jesse; she dies so you don't have to. As an aside, you might be interested to learn that Shrum teaches technical writing in Michigan and her website has a button so you can report a typo. Start with Dying for a Living (box set books 1-3, currently free on Kindle Unlimited).
Huntress/FBI Thrillers series by Alexandra Sokoloff. Thriller/Suspense. She made my top 10 list in 2016, but this 5-book series barreled its way right into my 2017 reading. She's a must-read author whose writing is superb. This series is more like a loose confederation of stories bound by a theme. Her Haunted series is the same way. Each one is engrossing and will have you hungering for the next one. Start with Huntress Moon.
Cainsville series by Kelley Armstrong. Horror/Mystery. Armstrong has a lot of books to her name. Most are paranormal fantasy. This is more horror and suspense with some occult leanings. There's a strong mystery undercurrent that develops slowly and keeps you engaged. These are perhaps the best books of hers I've read, but I haven't read most of her work. If you're looking for a writer you can bond with, like a good story with a supernatural bent, and a whole lot of books to choose from from, Armstrong's a strong bet. Books 4 and 5 from this series have just been released. Start with Omens.
Healers of Meligna series by K.J. Colt. Science Fiction/Fantasy. The anthology where I got the first book in this series turned out to have a lot of really good first books. This book reminds me of the Handmaid's Tale but is much more modern and readable and doesn't stop cold. this 5-book series, with a 3-book spinoff, has a solid plot you can get into and long story arc. Start with The Healers of Meligna (box set with books 1-3 for $2/book).
Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Paranormal Fantasy/Romance. Written by a husband and wife team, this series has a strong female lead, includes lots of different mythologies including Norse and Eastern European, and proposes an interesting origin myth for vampires. Oh, and don't forget the many fight scenes. There's romance too, but not enough to put it solidly in the Romance genre. Start with Magic Bites.
Rosato & DiNunzio series by Lisa Scottoline. Mystery/Legal Thriller. Perhaps the most expensive books in the list. Scottoline also made my top 10 list last year. She's continuing this series, and I read the whole set over when the most recent one came out. If you like mystery writers like Tess Gerritson or Lisa Gardner, Scottoline has the same flavor and quality of story. Plus, it's very Philly. Start with Accused.
Dragonlands series by Megg Jensen. Epic/Fantasy. Want to read a good, long series about dragons and magic? Jensen has you covered. Start with a scene that feels like you're in Stephen King's Mist and then realize that, no, you're really in a Dragon-populated Truman show world and nothing is what it seems. You'll be 5 books in before you know it and wishing there was a next one already. Start with Hidden (box set with books 1-3, free on Kindle Unlimited)
Dimmingwood series by C. Greenwood. Epic/Fantasy. Elves, mystery, danger, magic, and swords. If that's what you're looking for, you'll find it in this 6-book series that has tight writing and engaging characters. Start with Magic of Thieves.
And last, but not least...
Queen Betsy series by MaryJanice Davidson. Paranormal Fantasy. Davidson is not primarily known for this series. While this is the only series of hers that interests me, it surprised me and that doesn't happen very often. The premise is an absurd situation that makes for fun reading. If you get far enough, though, a not-so-subtle message becomes clear. I can only compare it to American Psych (a weird comparison, I know), where the only character you can identify with is the main character, and it's unsettling when you realize that's the case. In a weird sense, something similar happens here. I don't want to spoil it, but what starts out ridiculous grows into a series with a message that speaks to current events and the people who populate our world. It's great fun, so give it a chance. Start with Undead and Unwed.
My Non Fiction Favorite from 2017
This year's non-fiction favorite was a book about diagramming sentences. As a kid, I always looked forward to the diagramming module in school. I thought it was fun to visualize thoughts that way. Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog gave me that same good feeling even as it looked at the history of diagramming in education and learning. It turns out I'm not alone in enjoying the practice, but there was no evidence to show that it helped or hindered kids learning grammar. That's ok. I still had fun reading it.
And a Resource for Indie Publishers
We published two books in 2016, under our own imprint. In 2017, I gave several presentations about the experience and what I learned at conferences and in webinars. (I even published a cheat sheet.) Ever since, I've been reading and researching information for indie publishers.
Turns out that Patty Jansen, one of authors who made my 2016 Top 10 list, started writing about indie publishing issues in her Goodreads blog. If you're thinking about self-publishing, you might be interested in what she has to say about trends in self-publishing (2018 post). You might also be interested in getting her books which pull together everything she's learned making a living as a self-publisher: Self-publishing Unboxed (The Three-year, No-bestseller Plan For Making a Sustainable Living From Your Fiction Book 1).
What's the Plan for 2018?
I know we're half way through 2018 and I'm just getting this post written. I admit, it was tough filtering through all 329 books and choosing who got on this list and then refreshing my memory so I could write this post.
When January came around and I looked at just how many books I read last year and decided that 329 was too many. I know reading is good for you, but 329 is quite a lot.
In addition, I was disappointed in myself because I'd abandoned my plan last year to read more non-fiction. So I decided to alternate my reading. Odd months, I'd read non-fiction. Even months, I could read with abandon any book that caught my fancy. We're half-way through the 2018 right now and I'm glad that I've kept to my plan so far.
I almost can't wait to write next year's post!