January 12th, 2017

mini me short hair

Annual Reading Report: 2016

The second week in January is almost over, and I haven't posted my annual reading report yet! To remedy that, here it is... following the exciting news for 2017. This year, I'll have a short story featured Sisterhood of the Blade, a Dumas-inspired collection of stories about three women who defy gender norms to become the personal musketeers for Queen Anne of France. It successfully funded on Kickstarter in January, and the publishers are looking at an August release, so stay tuned!

On to the reading report! Like last year, I tracked a number of different statistics. I looked at gender and ethnicity of authors, the genre, and the format (digital or print) of all my non-review titles. I only counted picture books that I read if they were for review, so there's a whole slew of picture books not on my list. Many of them went on Fish's "1000 Books before Kindergarten" spreadsheet, though, if I ever need to remember the titles! It's also worth noting that my record-keeping this year was not my best, so there may be some error in the numbers, but I present them here in good faith.

So for 2016, I came in at 173 books total, 6 fewer than last year. Of those, 93 were review titles, which is an increase, so that means I actually read almost 30 fewer books that I chose this year. (But I also invoiced out more for my review work, which is a nice accomplishment.)

  • The digital vs. print divide: I read more in digital at 54.75 books, with only 29.25 in print. Several books I read partially in print and partially on my phone through my library's Overdrive, hence the decimal points.

  • SFF novels hit an all-time low for me at only 36.

  • But that's because Romance bounced very high this year at 39.

  • I didn't track YA or review books in with the kids books this year, which brought those down to 14. I may track YA separately this year, because I think it's a more dominant category than I'd realized.

  • I only read 6 graphic novels, but those included two in the New EU for Star Wars and I enjoyed them very much, as well as two volumes of Amulet, which is excellent and I need to finish it this year.

  • Nonfiction hit 1, a fabulous book of poetry, Milk & Honey, by Rupi Kaur.

  • Suprisingly I only had 4 rereads this year.

  • My TBR goal was far out of reach: I always try for 15, but I only hit 3 (same as last year).

  • I successfully read 1 out of 2 non-genre books from my goal; the success was Whitehall, a Serial Box serial that is historical fiction.

  • Actually, I had three Serial Box full seasons on my list this year; although each episode is novelette length, I've only counted the season when it's complete.

  • I worked with Daniel José Older on the autobio project and read his Shadowshaper, which I highly recommend, fulfilling my goal to read 1 book by an autobio author.

I tried something new this year and tracked how many unique authors I read, because I went on binges reading a bunch of books by Kate Noble (also an autobio author, but I had read her before) and Vicki Lewis Thompson. I thought that since I had several authors appearing multiple times on the list, that meant I was accurately tracking the number of books I read by authors of various genders and ethnicities, but it meant that if I looked at all the authors I read this year, I wouldn't see what percentage of my authors were female or people of color. But that got complicated as well, because I read a couple of anthologies where I had a huge number of unique authors, even though they were only contributors. For example, Valor, a graphic novel anthology, had 24 unique authors and artists for my list, but it's only a single book.

So over the course of the year, from as best as I could identify:

  • I read works by 82 unique authors.

  • Of the books I read, 105 white authors were represented, with only 18 authors of color.

  • Of the books I read, 99 female authors were represented versus 26 male.

I'm thinking this year I may only track the author stats for each unique occurence, but I'm not sure whether that accomplishes what I want. I think ultimately what I'd like to see is that my book list features more diversity (105 vs. 18 is not very diverse, nor is 99 vs. 26; at least my genre breakdown was closer this year!). So perhaps tracking unique authors isn't as valuable as I thought.

Some of my favorite books this year, that I haven't already mentioned above, included:

  • Bookburners,by Max Gladstone, Margaret  Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, Brian Francis Slattery, Andrea Phillips, and Amal El-Mohtar; season 1 is coming out in print later this month!

  • Magic Binds and One Fell Sweep, both by llona Andrews.

  • Devon Monk's Hell Bent and Stone Cold, which are spun off of her Allie Beckstrom series. That world never stopped being awesome.

  • Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang (also an autobio author I've read before); this was a reread, but I loved how powerful this set is just as much this time as when I first read them.

  • Ursula Vernon's Hamster Princess 1: Harriet the Invincible, which I read aloud with Bug. I think when you find an author the whole family loves, you know you've found someone special.

  • Frogs and Kisses, a return to Shanna Swendson's Enchanted Inc. series. It was such fun to return to those characters!

What are the best books you read in 2016? What are your reading goals for 2017?