I can’t believe we made it through this year!
Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, everyone. Be safe and protect each other. I hope you can celebrate with the people closest to you but even if you can’t, know that you are not alone.
Now, let’s take a look back at the dumpster fire that was 2020 and see if I can’t find all the little positive things that have happened in between global catastrophes.
I’m proud to say that I kept blogging throughout the year more or less consistently. Sure, at some times, reviews came more frequently and at others, I didn’t post anything at all for a couple of weeks, but overall, I’ve been reading and blogging all year.
I also introduced a new regular feature here – something I’ve never done before – and I quite like it. The State of SFF is my monthly catch-all post where I talk about new publications and all the little topics that float around in my head which have to do with the SFF community, awards, podcasts, best of lists, movie adaptations, and so on.
I’ve also started a new personal reading challenge mid-year, prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement. I wanted to read 10 new-to-me Black authors and not only succeeded but discovered some new favorites! I will continue this challenge, in slightly altered form, in 2021. The gist of it is more books but not all authors have to be new to me.
Almost completely by coincidence, this was also my year of finishing series. As most readers, I have a ton of book series that I’ve started and never continued. 2020 was the year where I caught up on some of them, finished others, and of course started a whole lot of new ones. 🙂
I have read the most books and the most pages ever in 2020. The biggest boost came through the Hugo Award finalists, most of which were fantastic. The fact that the Hugo Voter’s Packet included the entirety of the nominated graphic novel series also helped and let me binge 10 comics in a day. Thanks to the publishers and creators who were so generous during Hugo voting season. You’re not throwing out free books, you’re acutally giving us voters a chance to see a story in its entirety and, for me at least, that made a huge difference.
As for specific books that I’m particularly proud of having read, there are a few that I’ve been putting off for years. Okay, fine, decades! I read Dracula! And Beowulf! I thought I’d never see the day and now I wonder why I was so intimidated. Sure, Beowulf sort of rhymes and there are old-timey words in it, but it was fine. Dracula was overly long but had really good parts that completely sucked me in. I also caught up on some SFF classics that blew my mind. The Sparrow and Doomsday Book were absolute gems, both of which made me ugly cry. Neuromancer was a bit cringey but I’m still glad I read it because it’s such a (sub)genre-defining book that inspired many others. For my favorite books of the year, go here.
I love stats. Do you also love stats? Of course you do.
Well, I’ve been tracking my reading in spreadsheets for a few years now but this year, in order to check in on my goals, I tweaked things a bit and I managed to make charts. I wanted to know not only the gender ratio of the authors I’ve read but especially the ratio of white authors and Authors of Color in general, and Black authors in particular.
But let’s start at the beginning and then get into all the shiny graphs. 🙂
I have read a total of 137 books which amount to a total of 40,137 pages.
My strongest month by far was July because that’s when I read most of the Hugo nominated graphic novels. Nine volumes of The Wicked + The Divine, four volumes of Monstress and four volumes of Paper Girls make it look like I’ve read a lot (and I’m not denying I read quite a bit) but novel-wise, I didn’t read that much more than in other months.
What’s rather unusual for me is the two re-reads. I rarely make time to re-read a book and this year, it wasn’t even two favorites that I picked up but rather books I wanted to give another chance. And both times were a great success with me finishing the series right afterwards (Earthsea and Daughter of Smoke and Bone, in case you’re wondering 🙂 ).
What’s making me even happier is how many POC authors I’ve read this year. Granted, there is still a lot of room for improvement but it’s definitely the most Authors of Color I’ve ever read in a year so far.
- 42 of my books were written by People of Color (31%)
- 26 out of those were written by Black authors (19%)
That’s really awesome! I’ve said for years and years that I want to read more Authors of Color and while I always do read some, I don’t think I’ve ever managed to make more than 20% of my yearly reading by Authors of Color. Plus, my challenge this year was to specifically discover new Black authors instead of just reading the newest Jemisin or Okorafor book. Not that I didn’t also read those (because how could I not) but you know. Favorites can only be discovered if you try something new.
- 82 books by female authors
- 48 books by male authors
- 7 books by nonbinary authors
I’m also quite pleased with the gender ratio. My reading has skewed towards more female-authored works for years now (simply because many of my favorites are female and of course I’ll read whatever new books they publish), but this was the first year where I also read some nonbinary authors. To be transparent, I’ve only read 4 nonbinary authors but I’ve read more than one book by some of them (Rivers Solomon and Sarah Gailey are both new favorites!). Next year, I’ll definitely read more by Akwaeke Emezi and Kacen Callender as well.
It’s no surprise that I listened to a lot of audiobooks this year. I usually read one or two e-books (or physical ones) at the same time plus I have an audiobook going on. It helps me keep the books separate in my mind and it’s also really great for listening while doing other stuff. This year especially, I found myself with more time on my hands, stuck at home without the daily commute. So I simply got thorugh my audiobooks faster than usual.
I have no particular goals with in comes to reading format. Sure, there are some audiobook narrators I really like but usually, I just go with whatever format is easiest or cheapest to get.
I’m just glad we made it through 2020. My goals for next year are modest. I do want to read 100 books again, I hope to keep up a regular posting schedule (1-2 posts per week would be nice) and I have picked a reading challenge for 2021. I’ll probably participate in the occasional readathon, I’ll do some tags if they appeal to me, and I’ll definitely continue catching up on all my book series. But there is no pressure at all. If, sometime during the year, I think of a new challenge to do or get into a reading slump, I’ll just read whatever I feel like.
I will do my best to read all the Hugo finalists again and I suspect 2021 will be one of the toughest years for voting yet. Let’s hope next year will be just as great for SFF publishing and much better in all other respects than 2020.