reading audit: second quarter 2017

Half the year done, and I read 89 books during that time. If I subtract the 49 from the first part of the year, that seems low, but I actually also read about five unpublished manuscripts as contract work, and I don’t put them on the spreadsheet since that doesn’t seem fair, as they’re not final copies. But if we’re talking pages read and hours spent and content, there is a bit here going unsaid.

I didn’t know what to expect with this one, but I found it a really touching, non-saccharine novel about sisterhood.

My spreadsheet does not calculate things by quarter, and I’m too lazy to figure out how to make it do so, so instead, I’m just updating my stats from the first quarter of the year to see how I’ve done overall in six months.

My ratio of male-female authors/illustrators is 29-65, which makes me very happy, except that I haven’t had to think about adding a category for nonbinary authors, so there’s room for improvement. On that note, 13 books have queer main characters, and I’ve listed nine for queer creators, but I have a feeling my creator number is low, because I just don’t know people’s identities. Still, it’s a lower number than it should be by this time in the year, and I know I have some books on my shelf I could easily use to up that number–I’ve been wanting to read The Paying Guests and Symptoms of Being Human, for example. I also have a small pile of ARCs that I believe include quite a few queer titles, and an extra point of inspiration for reading them is that I can’t bear to give them up without giving them a try, but an LGBTQ+ youth center is opening downtown any day now, and I very much want to gift them a pile of queer YA books–it’s silly, because I know any good book would be welcome, but I especially want them to start with a strong collection of queer lit.

This series for babies is my new favorite thing. I gave my nephews two of them for their first birthdays. Obsessed.

Fifty-three books have people of color as protagonists or co-protagonists, which feels shamefully low, as it means about 40% of books I’ve read are about white people. That’s sad. I can do better. While I find people’s essays about a year of reading only women or only black authors really interesting, that’s not feasible with my life as a reviewer and scholar, but maybe I should make some sort of rule for myself when it comes to my personal reading so that I can amp that up a bit.

I’ve done four audiobooks, and I’m okay with that number. I only do audiobooks in the car. If I take the bus to school or park far away, I get walking time in, but I’ve been using a lot of that for podcasts, and I think I’d ultimately like to prioritize those. Eleven books this year have been read via Kindle, which is to say that I’ve been on the elliptical, stationary bike, or treadmill for enough hours as it takes to read eleven digital books and one or two print books. I thought that 11 seemed low for someone who owns a Kindle, but when I look at it that way, it seems respectable.

It’s been years since I read the original, but regardless, this adaptation is really impressive and extra meaningful in today’s political climate.

77% of the books I’ve read were fiction; the rest were some kind of nonfiction, including poetry. That seems on par with every year of my adult life.

The only area of stats where I can really feel proud, I think, is when it comes to books I already owned versus books I borrowed from the library. Forty were previously owned, 49 were borrowed. And, amazingly, this afternoon I returned four (unread) books to the library, and now I have absolutely ZERO checked out! I don’t remember the last time this was true, except when I’ve been in the process of moving to a different state. This is a huge accomplishment. I don’t even have much on reserve, which means I will continue to read books I already own and either find them a permanent spot on my shelves and stamp them with my personalized ex libris stamp, or I will take them to a good home wherever that might be.

This comes out in September, and it’s definitely a YA microtrend right now, but having read three of those books, I can say this one is the best.

Again I’m mostly disappointed in myself. I hope I can make the next part of the year a lot better. I don’t want to say I get why people say it’s hard to read diversely, but even though I think content-wise I diversified, it’s obvious that there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Anyway, some favorites scattered throughout this post, which serve as my recommendations for you. Off I go back to blog hiatus.


reading audit: first quarter 2017

This one, because it’s about STEM and it stars a black girl and nothing is ever said about it at all.

The year is a quarter over, and I’ve not really lived up to my #resist reading, but I have certainly read a lot, and in not a bad spread. Thanks to Book Riot, stats are coming as I read books, so I don’t have to do a bunch of math at one time.

A really impressive story that gets in the head of an “accidental racist” and an accurate picture of being the outsider at a private school.

I have read a total of 49 books thus far in 2017–12 adult, 16 YA, 10 middle grade, and 11 picturebooks. Thirty-five are by female-identifying authors/illustrators, which is a great ratio, because who really cares about men anyway. I’m trying to keep count of authors/illustrators who are queer and authors/illustrators who are PoC, in addition to protagonists, but I’m sure I’m lower than accurate on my count for creators because I can only presume so much. So while my creator numbers are basically irrelevant, 28 books have PoC main characters, and six have queer main characters, so obviously I have a ton of work to do on the latter. Continue reading

what i still need to work on

I’m going to be teaching a Continuing Ed class in April through Simmons called Diversity 102: Moving Beyond and Forward. If you have spent more than five seconds here, you know that I am passionate about diversity in books but rather fed up with this 101 approach everyone keeps taking – if we don’t move past calling for diversity and wanting diversity, we’re not actually going to get anywhere. It’s all well and good to care but quite another to actively stop buying books that don’t support a more diverse canon or to read books that move beyond stereotypes and tropes into fully realized diverse characters. Etc etc.

Anyway. I am really excited to teach this class and would love it if you wanted to take it. But really, what I’m realizing as I build the course is that I still have some work to do myself (duh – we all do). Without fully auditing my last year’s reading (thanks, error on GoodReads), I can say just from general reflection – and having been asked by a teacher colleague at work if I can recommend books by Asian writers – that I do not read many Asian writers, and most that I do read are South Asian in descent or origin, not East Asian. So I need to work on that. I hear Ruth Ozeki is great and now I really want to try her novels, and I have books by Ellen Oh, Maureen Goo and Grace Lin on my bookshelf, but I will gladly take suggestions for authors if you can name a specific book that you think I would particularly like. With, of course, the caveat that comes from all of my accepting of book recommendations – my to-read list is incredibly long and entirely aspirational, so if I don’t read your suggestion, that doesn’t actually mean I don’t want to, just that I haven’t been able to quit my day job(s) yet. If something really and truly interests me, it goes on that list and stays on it. And I read it when I can. And given that this is a huge gap in my reading, I intend to do some rearranging of my current piles of books and try to get to it sooner. Continue reading