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 If I subtract the 49 from the first part of the year, that seems low, but I actually also read about five unpublished manuscripts as contract work, and I don’t put them on the spreadsheet since that doesn’t seem fair, as they’re not final copies.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

how i plan to resist during my self care downtime

I am an introvert with social anxiety, and as I ranted about on Twitter the other day, even receiving phone calls makes me shake. But frankly, it’s a time when even those of us with mental illness have to buck up and feel like crap in service of the greater good. So I have to start calling. I need to go to the next rally or march or community meeting. I hate those things, but nobody in the United States deserves to feel comfortable right now.

But we do absolutely need self care, and in most cases, we also have to make rent, eat, and do homework. I have three jobs, volunteer work, freelance work, and school, not to mention I like seeing my family and friends at least occasionally. But I’m going to try and shift at least some of my self care practices so that they involve intellectual tools that will serve me when I perform more active resistance at other times.

Language
I minored in Spanish in college and am theoretically “fluent,” but I never use it and, given the aforementioned social anxiety, I feel really uncomfortable speaking it most of the time, and I’ve let a lot of it atrophy. A few months ago I started using Duolingo to get more Portuguese in my head (have heard it my whole life and took one semester in college, Portuguese for Spanish Speakers) for planned work later on in my PhD and for personal enjoyment. At the moment I’m only doing about five minutes a day, and that works for my schedule and the fact that it’s not a brand new language for me, though I may also start listening to Pimsleur while exercising. And now I’m adding Spanish to the mix and working on that again as well. I also subscribed to the podcast Slow News in Spanish (it’s also available in other languages), which means that once a week while I walk the mile from where I park to campus (walking=physical self care!), I’ll be keeping abreast of current events while practicing my language skills.

Knowing a second language (or three or four) not only staves off Alzheimer’s and stuff, but it also helps combat the fake news epidemic when you can read/listen from more sources, and knowing Spanish, Arabic, or Mandarin particularly in these times can make you a better citizen, whether it’s simply helping a refugee feel more welcome or assisting in providing materials in other languages or whatever else. Bonus self care moment: listening to music in other languages may not make you competent in having a fluent conversation, but it’s a great way to get sounds of other languages in your head, as well as learn a few idioms and colloquialisms. Ditto television and movies. Continue reading