People say this all the time but: Where the hell did half of a year go?
It’s quite astonishing how fast certain months pass and how much I get done in others. This year, I have been keeping count pretty well of my books and stats. Because pie charts! As many other bloggers (at least the ones I read regularly) I tried to keep the balance between male and female authors, read more diversely and try out new things in general. Let’s see how I did, shall we?
But first, here are my favorite books of the year so far:
- Katherine Addison – The Goblin Emperor
- Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch – Rat Queens: Sass and Sorcery
- Will McIntosh – Love Minus Eighty
- Elizabeth Bear – Range of Ghosts
- Charles Stross – Equoid
- Alethea Kontis – Enchanted
- Max Gladstone – Three Parts Dead
- Linda Medley – Castle Waiting Volume 1
- Brian K. Vaughan &Fiona Staples – Saga Volume 3
- Bill Willingham – Fables (Volumes 1-3)
Reviews for three of these are still missing, but worry not. They will appear as soon as I have the time. I have an entire list of reviews-to-write. Now let’s get to the statistics.
Books read: 43
- Books by male authors: 22
- Books by female authors: 21
That’s pretty balanced reading, if you ask me. I have noticed, though, that it takes a conscious effort on my part to make sure I don’t just grab whatever book is lying closest to me or buying whatever certain recommendation engines recommend (which is usually something written by a man). Selecting my books more carefullly has not only helped me to achieve this almost-half-and-half but it’s also let me discover and support so many new writers. Win win!
I also wanted to read more books in languages other than English. The results of this resolution don’t even merit a pie chart because I’ve read a whopping one book in French, the rest was all in English.
But how did I do with author diversity? I took notes of authors of color as well as books with protagonists who aren’t white. I tracked LGBTQ authors and characters as well, but I definitely have to work on reading more books featuring them. The results are pretty slim. I read only five books by writers who aren’t white, one book by a gay (white) author, and one book by a gay author of color. At the very least I can say that I found some writers whose other books I want to read so hopefully, this chart will look less bleak at the end of the year.
Book characters didn’t fare much better with me, I’m sorry to say. On the other hand, I was rather strict when collecting my data. For example, I didn’t count a POC character if they only showed up for one scene and had no real influence on the plot or protagonist. POC protagonists were counted, as well as POC characters who are vital to the plot. The same goes for LGBTQ characters and characters with disabilities. The latter are sooooo difficult to find in books, it makes me want to cry. I suspect (that’s really all it is, a suspicion) that there are more books outside the SFF genre that feature characters with disabilities (Contemporary YA? “Issue” books? Hell, I don’t know.) but I’d still like to see and read more fantasy and science fiction books with a diverse cast.
- Books featuring characters of color: 10
- Books featuring LGBTQ characters: 3
- Books featuring characters with disabilities: 2
Percentage-wise, it doesn’t even look that bad. However, there were a few books that featured POC characters as well as LGBTQ characters, and one notable book that covered all sorts of characters, some with disabilities (mental and physical), some who were gay, many who were non-white. The book in question is Jacqueline Koyanagi’s Ascension. So no wonder that my overall feeling tells me I didn’t read that many books with diverse characters. Most of them were crammed into the same handful of books. I have probably never read as many books featuring diverse characters as I have this year, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Looking at my books per month, I am more than surprised. The beginning of the year was rather difficult for me. Work basically exploded and I didn’t have much time for anything, let alone cozying up with a book. Considering that, my books are spread out almost evenly across the first half of 2014.
Books read per month:
- January: 8
- Febraury: 5
- March: 6
- April: 8
- May: 7
- June: 9
Lastly, I still have that personal Read Around the World challenge going, although with my reading slanted heavily towards SFF, it’s slow going. Here are a few places (real or with a hint of the fantastic) that I’ve visited in 2014 through my reading:
- Central Asia: Elizabeth Bear – Range of Ghosts
- Nigeria: Nnedi Okorafor – Lagoon
- Paris, France: Amélie Nothomb – Barbe Bleue
And that’s it for my statistics. My resolutions for the second half of 2014 are pretty clear. Continue balancing books by male and female authors, reading more non-white authors, and books featuring more diverse characters. With a stack of Octavia Butler books, one unread N.K. Jemisin novel, and a few Malinda Lo stories, I think I’m set up quite well. And if I ever run out of material, the internet is usually there to help.
So how did you do during the first half of 2014? Did you track your reading progress at all? Take into account author gender and diversity? I love mid-year or end-of-the-year posts, so if you have one, leave a link in the comments and I’ll come visit.