14 January 2015

Out with 2014, in with 2015! (With Pie Charts!)

2014 is fading into the background so that means its time for little old me to look back at my year of reading.  I had a few reading-related (and other) resolutions for 2014:

1. Be mindful in my reading and bookish purchases - I did really good on this in the second half of the year and really made good use of my library cards (I finally got signed up at ICPL and NL) and my Oyster subscription.
2. Be timely on reviews - I think this was kind of a fail.
3. Drink more water - also kind of a fail.
4. Move more (the Fitbit is helping, but I need to be better at going to the gym) - I was diagnosed with a probable tear in the cartilage in one hip and the gym going was really limited.
5. Cook for myself - I really limited my fast food consumption this year and started remembering to make my own coffee in the morning which helped with the mocha/latte consumption.
6. Be brave - I visited Rebecca of Book Riot when I went to Virginia for the AXS biennial Conclave (and met Amanda, too), I started a YouTube channel, and I also made sure to make use of the new FilmScene art-house movie theatre.
7. Take a vacation - I visited Washington DC with my parents and, of course, stopped by Politics & Prose in Georgetown.
8. Relax - maybe?

So, overall, I think I did pretty good with my resolutions this year.  Now, what about those pie charts I promised.... It's taken me a few weeks to wrangle my book database but I did!  And I have stats!

This year I used the .csv file generated from Goodreads to build the backbone of my book database in Access (I have an analytics background and am teaching myself SQL so this was several hours of merrily wallowing in code and Google searches and spreadsheets back in February/March).  I've been tracking genre, format, gender, nationality, and race this year and I have a little historical data, too.

To start, I smashed my Goodreads goal of 130 books by reading 195 books.  BOOM.  (Yes, I counted comic books as "books" - who cares?)  Some of my favorite books this year were Jenny Offill's Dept of Speculation, Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being, Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation, Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You, Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams, Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist, Sarah MacLean's Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, G. Willow Wilson's/Adrian Alphona's Ms. Marvel, Brian K. Vaughan's/Fiona Staples's Saga, and Eloisa James's Three Weeks with Lady X.  And those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head!

I read a pretty wide range of genres:

And a pretty wide range of formats (I'm about 50/50 or so on paper/digital and that suits me just fine):

My gender breakdown is 60/40 ladies to gents, which makes sense given that a good chunk of my genre reading comes from romance:

The 60/40 split has been pretty steady for a number of years, with the exception of 2012 because romance novels were almost the only thing I could handle reading when my mom was being treated for cancer (a guaranteed happy ending can go a long way...).

Most authors I read come from the US (followed by the UK, Australia, and Canada so it's really Anglophone up in here):

(and I'm super-sorry about spelling Malaysia wrong - it's corrected in the database now so should be correct next time I do this).

And what about race/POC?  The issue of reading diversely was huge this year in the book community, particularly on the bookternet.

Yeah, not so good.  I read more POC authors overall, but since I read more books in general the percentage of POC authors I read didn't go up.

(I deliberately didn't make the denominator discrete "authors" but counted each book individually in these stats - if I read 7 books by the same author, and that author happens to be white, that should be counted the same as if I read 7 books from 7 different white authors).

So the takeaway here is that I get an A+ in reading but a D- in diversity.

Diversity is one of my big, huge goals for 2015.  I am going to be more mindful about reading authors of color (i.e. not-white) and authors in translation which (in theory) might help with reading more POC authors.  I was really struck by Ann Morgan's blog A Year of Reading the World - she spent 2012 reading one book from each country on Earth (about 196 books total) - and now has a book coming out where she expands on themes and issues she encountered while trying to locate and read more books by non-UK/Commonwealth writers.  Reading the World will be published in the UK on February 5 and in the US as The World Between Two Covers in May.  I have a galley and am so excited and honored to have received one.  I'm also participating in the Goodreads Seasonal Reading Challenge group and the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge - a number of these tasks require reading non-white, non-US/Anglophone literature - so that will also help me keep my reading goal.

Other 2015 resolutions, which look suspiciously similar to 2014's resolutions:

1. Be mindful in my reading and bookish purchases - keeping this up will help so much with financial responsibility and the general amount of excess stuff in my house that I will never get around to reading/liking/re-reading.
2. Be timely on reviews - such a big deal, especially for books that I have requested as a reviewer (I know that there has been a lot of discussion in the book blogging community about what is "owed" to a publisher but, in my opinion, if a publicist, etc. has taken the time to send me an ARC or DRC then I should return the gesture by reading and reviewing the book in a timely manner).
3. Drink more water - do I need to drink as much Dt. Pepsi as I do? No.  Although, #deathbeforedecaf is still a mantra (you cannot separate me from my coffee).
4. Move more - the hip (and knees and back) and I have come to an agreement on ways of moving so I should be able to at least get on the elliptical and basic weights at the gym.
5. Cook for myself - I got a Dutch oven and new pots and pans for Christmas so this year the goal is to wean myself off of frozen dinners for 2/3 of my meals (they are handy, but my MSG-sensitivity is much less of an issue if I cook food for myself).
6. Be brave - I still hate having my picture taken or meeting new people but I need to keep putting myself out there.  Nothing gets accomplished by holing up in my house with the cats and books and not interacting with actual people in a social setting.
7. Take a vacation - I hope (HOPE HOPE) to have the finances sorted out enough to visit my friend Kate and see Rhinebeck (aka New York Sheep and Wool) this year.  ALSO, Book Riot announced their first live event in early November in NYC and I really, really, really want to go to that, too. (And see my friend Beth! And maybe Karen!)
8. Relax - cf. resolution #7.

And that's it!  Bring it, 2015!

You can see me holding my iPad up to the camera (and get a serious close-up of my face) in my BookTube video for my 2014 wrap-up - same thing as here, just more visual.


  1. Those pie charts are amazing!

    1. Excel has some nice chart tools, much better than they used to be :)

  2. you did a great job- you had a terrific year in reading. and those charts are impressive. even if reading more translated authors doesn't mean reading more POC it will mean that you'll encounter a lot more points of view and issues. and it's a lot of fun!