2016: The Year in Books

2016, what a year. Both personally and globally, it’s been rough.

I decided to close to queries in November, hoping to open back up at the beginning of 2017. Then the election happened, and like many of you, my motivation flagged. My current clients kept me busy—I even managed to close a book deal right before Christmas!—and I lacked energy for the extra task of reading submissions, especially as I took on new responsibilities with activist groups. You’ll note that I also haven’t posted on this blog.

As 2016 ends, I feel better than I did on November 9. Though I wasn’t able to catch up on requested reading, I did start a bullet journal, begin meditating more frequently, start a new home cooking regime (highly recommend Green Chef), and try boxing as a form of exercise and stress relief. 

So I’m headed into 2017 feeling…not optimistic—it’s going to be a tough year—but more grounded and prepared. I hope to be able to catch up in January; I plan to reopen to queries at the end of the month. I’m sorry to any of you who were disappointed at my closing. 

But this year wasn’t all bad. On the agenting front, I signed six new clients. I closed three deals—two for debut authors. I got to hold advanced copies of my first two sales as an agent. 

AND I was able to read 77 books outside of manuscripts—it might actually be 78 by the end of the day; halfway through THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES, and it is so brutal in a good way. 2016 was the first year I decided to track my reading. I did so in part to ensure that I kept reading published books; I also wanted to balance the genres that I read. 

You can see my titles here. (Note that I only rate books that I really enjoyed, and I don’t review—but my choices alone may be illuminating.) My favorites—read if you haven’t yet!—were ALL THE SINGLE LADIES, THE HATING GAME, GIRLS ON FIRE, THE RAVEN KING, ELIGIBLE, MODERN ROMANCE, DIETLAND, and I TAKE YOU (in reverse chronological order).

To satiate my own curiosity, here’s the breakdown by genre: 

  • 10 nonfiction—5 narrative (3 sociology and 2 psychology) and 5 memoir/biography
  • 29 YA—6 speculative, 2 thriller, 1 historical, 20 contemporary
  • 20 women’s fiction
  • 7 mystery/thriller/suspense
  • 5 romance/romantic suspense—1 historical, 1 romantic suspense, 3 contemporary
  • 4 upmarket-literary fiction
  • 1 science fiction 
  • 1 middle grade
  • 1 play

Overall, I’m very happy with the number of books I read this year. In 2017, I’d like to read more nonfiction, more diverse works, and continue to strive for better genre balance. But I got into publishing because I love books. As the act of reading becomes increasingly tied to business, my ultimate goal is to keep reading books that inspire me, that bring me pleasure (even if they make me cry), that remind me why I wanted to work this challenging, low-paid job, why bringing more books into the world is so important. The joy I’ve felt for decades in browsing a bookstore, opening a new title, reading just one more chapter…that’s what I never want to lose. 2016 has taken many things from us, but I still have that.