Tag Archives: reading

2018 Reading Statistics

I’ve given my total reading numbers for 2018 and my favorite fiction and non-fiction books, now it’s time to look at some stats.

I’ve been tracking my reading stats for a while. It’s a good way to actually gauge my progress and encourage diversity in the books I read.

Counting these numbers can be hard, but here’s how I do it: I base gender on the author, counting a book if any contributor is a woman. For race I count a book if a contributor or main character is a person of color.

Here are my numbers for 2018:

  • 55% POC books.
  • 70% female authors.

Here’s how that compares to previous years:

Graph of 2018 female authors and POC books.

It’s also helpful to compare it to my total reading:

Chart of total reading, female authors, and POC books for 2018.

It’s encouraging to see these numbers stay high. POC books slipped a bit from last year, but having it over 50% is good. The percentage of female authors hit a new high. That might not seem like a number worth paying attention to in the 21st century, but I’ve had years when J.K. Rowling was the only female author I read. Continue reading 2018 Reading Statistics

Top 7 Non-Fiction of 2018

I read 101 books in 2018 and about a quarter were non-fiction. I often say I don’t like non-fiction as much, but I still manage to read a fair amount.

Here are some of the year’s best:

  1. Run for Something: A Real-Talk Guide to Fixing the System Yourself by Amanda Litman – It’s quite fitting to have this guide for running for political office in the top spot in the year of the 2018 midterm elections when I became more politically engaged than I’ve ever been (and no, I’m not running for office).
  2. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown – Straight talk on race.
  3. The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever by Jamie Wright – A funny memoir on being a missionary.
  4. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison – Some engaging vignettes and illustrations.
  5. For Every One by Jason Reynolds – Inspiration from a prolific writer.
  6. Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story by Martin Luther King Jr. – Reading about the nuts and bolts of an incredible civil rights campaign is pretty amazing.
  7. Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World by the Women’s March Organizers and Conde Nast – And reading more nuts and bolts about an incredible protest is also pretty amazing.

More Reading

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

And how about previous top 10 non-fiction lists: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.

Top 10 Fiction of 2018

I may have read 101 books in 2018, but I’ve been in an ongoing reading slump. Makes it harder to choose a top 10.

I think I made the same complaint last year. These are good books, but I’m not sure they’re books I’d run up and down the street with. Those are becoming harder and harder to find.

I’m also not sure how well these lists hold up over time. After all, I did put Octavia Butler’s Kindred at #6 in my 2013 list. It’s probably one of my favorite books.

But aside from all that, I think it is a fun collection of books.

  1. Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray – A robot falls in love would be the cliche way to pitch this book, but it was a much more fun and engaging adventure than that trite description would have you believe.
  2. A Live Coal in the Sea by Madeleine L’Engle – I love the way L’Engle weaves this whole complicated story together.
  3. All Systems Red by Martha Wells – The opening chapter of the Murderbot diaries is gripping, fast-paced and fun.
  4. The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan – This was a lovely little book. It also has cliche potential, but it was just a wonderful tale.
  5. A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain – I almost wrote this one off early, but it really shines.
  6. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland – Zombies in the Civil War. Need I say more?
  7. Front Lines by Michael Grant – If women were drafted in World War II. It’s an interesting thought experiment and artfully executed.
  8. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid – A beautifully written bit of speculative fiction (this is the kind of book that helps you understand the difference between sci-fi and speculative fiction).
  9. Sunny by Jason Reynolds – My favorite installment of the Track series, this one just has a delightful quality.
  10. The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata – A fast-paced futuristic military thriller.

And let’s give an honorable mention to What Alice Forgot by Alice Moriarty. I had a rocky time reading it (listened to part of the audio book, slept through some of it, then read the rest), but I really liked the way it explored the overdone amnesia ground in a fresh way.

More Reading

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

And how about previous top 10 fiction lists: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.

2017 Reading Statistics

In addition to tracking my reading, for 2017 I started grabbing some more stats.

The biggest numbers I’ve been tracking are for diversity, and I’ve been keeping an eye on those for a few years now. Being more intentional makes a difference (Just compare my favorites from now with a few years ago—if you have very few diverse reads among your favorites, you’re doing it wrong). If you ignore the numbers and hope it all works out, it’s eye-opening how it doesn’t.

Of course counting these numbers is tough: I base gender simply on the author, counting a book if any contributor is a woman. For race I count a book if a contributor or main character is a person of color.

This year’s numbers:

  • 64% POC books.
  • 55% female authors.

Here’s how that stacks up historically:

Books read by people of color and female authors

Here’s what that looks like compared to my total reading:

All time total books read, people of color authors, female authors.

I’m pretty thrilled to see those diversity numbers getting higher. If you think that’s silly or ridiculous, well, talk to my kids. It matters to them, and it matters to me.

Quick Trends

I also tracked some other details this year, which revealed some interesting trends:

  • New is always better: 75% of the books I read were published in the last five years. I only read 10 books that were more than 20 years old. (The oldest? A Wrinkle in Time, 1962.)
  • Nerds forever: As much as I love sci-fi, I don’t always read that much of it. This year I did. It was the top genre with 37% (last year it was 10%). Next came non-fiction with 18% (last year 6%). Then comes graphic novels and YA at 10% each, followed by fiction at 9%.
  • That’s how we’ve always done it: 82% of my reading was print books. Audio snagged 11% (mostly car rides) and digital 7% (thanks to the library not having Octavia Butler’s full collection in print; last year digital was only 0.6%).
  • Spring slump: For the months of March, April, and July I only managed to finish four books each month. For August I rebounded with 15. (Not sure that means much, and it’s easy to game, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I read the most during the month I took a vacation.)

If you want help reading more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

Top 5 Non-Fiction of 2017

I read 95 books in 2017 and have some favorites to share. I already shared my fiction favs, now here’s a look at the best non-fiction.

  1. Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson – The best book on race I’ve read yet.
  2. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson – The best history on race in the 20th century I’ve read yet.
  3. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson – This book really pissed me off. The way we approach criminal justice needs to change.
  4. One: Unity in a Divided World by Deidra Riggs – A great, balanced book on division in the church.
  5. You’ve Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators by Kelley Hartnett – It’s totally biased to put this book on the list (I did edit it), but I love it.

And an honorable mention to Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much by Tony Crabbe. I didn’t rate this book well, but I did blog about it and it’s stuck with me.

More Reading

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

Top 10 Fiction of 2017

I read 95 books in 2017 and have some favorites to share.

I struggled to find books I loved this year and coupled with my relatively low reading count, that makes it hard to come up with a top 10.

I actually re-read several books that deserve to be on this list, but it doesn’t seem fair to list a book I’ve listed in a previous year’s top list. The last two are probably more honorable mentions than actual top books.

That’s not to say these aren’t great books. I gave the top 8 books 5 stars on Goodreads (and I’m stingy with my 5-star ratings).

But I’m parsing.  Let’s get to it.

Here’s a look at my favorite fiction of 2017:

  1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – The best book I’ve read in a while.
  2. American War by Omar El Akkad – A second American civil war that can help us understand terrorism. (read my blog post)
  3. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View by Various – I don’t like short story collections, but this one is great. (read my blog post)
  4. All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai – Great time travel story.
  5. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – Great multi-dimension story (kinda like time travel, but not quite).
  6. Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin – A novel about Congressional sexual misconduct before all the actual sexual misconduct.
  7. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – This was a tough, but necessary read.
  8. March Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell – The finale in the series that hits the biggest points.
  9. Time Salvager by Wesley Chu – A really unique futuristic time travel story.
  10. Clay’s Ark by Octavia Butler – A very unique turn in a series. I’m not sure anyone else could pull that off.

And an honorable mention to Patina by Jason Reynolds and The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (I wanted to quit it a few times, but I’m glad I stuck it out).

More Reading

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

2017 Reading List

I read 95 books in 2017.

That’s a bit off the mark for me. Last year I complained about a reading slump while still reading 158 books. That sounds ridiculous, I know, but that slump continued to plague me all year.

Total books, 2001-2017
My total annual reading, 2001-2017.

Last year I blamed fewer audio books while running , reading fewer books aloud to the kids, and just a general slump. All three problems continued.

This year I all but gave up on YA and middle grade books. Those books usually make up a significant portion of my reading (a third? half?), and this year they’re probably 15% (helped along by some Star Wars books in December). I do love those genres, but this year I was just tired of kid stories. I was tired of whiny YA protagonists and problems that just so happen to feature child-size heroes. Meh.

But my real problem was finding books I loved. I started and stopped a lot of books this year. I gave up on more books than I ever have before. All that quitting did result in finding some gems. But it’s hard.

I re-read several books this year. That’s one way to deal with a slump.

I also read a lot more non-fiction than I usually do. Sometimes it’s easier to tell when a non-fiction book is going to be hard to put down.

So that’s where I am this year. I’ll talk favorites (fiction and non-fiction) and statistics in other posts.

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

You can also check out my previous reading lists: 20162015201420132012201120102009200820072006, 2005200420032002, and 2001. Continue reading 2017 Reading List

2016 Racial & Gender Diversity in My Reading

I read a lot of books. That’s no secret.

I love the power of reading, but I also think we have to be intentional about the kinds of books we read. I’m a big fan of reading what you love, but I think it’s still important to pursue diversity in those choices.

I’ve learned from experience that you have to be intentional about that. So every year I track those diversity stats to see how I’m doing. It’s not a perfect system and it’s not the only thing I do, but it’s one step.

I base gender simply on the author, counting a book if any contributor is a woman. For race I count a book if a contributor or main character is a person of color.

Here are the results for 2016:

  • 54% POC books
  • 59% female authors.

Here’s how diverse my reading has been since 2001:

2016 diverse reading chart

Here are the actual numbers (with totals) for 2016:

2016 diversity tracking

Results

While the numbers are just numbers, I think the real results are showing up in my lists of favorite books for the year. Both my fiction and non-fiction lists this year were topped by writers of color, and my fiction top five is all writers of color. Those lists have been getting more diverse over the years.

It’s all pretty subjective, but in general I think it continues to push me toward hearing and responding to more voices, especially ones that are different from my own experience and perspective.

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

Top 10 Non-Fiction of 2016

I read 158 books in 2016 and have some favorites to share. I already shared my fiction favs, now here’s a look at the best non-fiction.

  1. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes – I’m not usually one for self help books, but this was funny, engaging, inspiring. Good stuff.  (I even wrote a blog series based on it.)
  2. Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles – Best faith-based memoir of the year. Gay atheist finds God through feeding the poor.
  3. Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark by Addie Zierman – Second best faith-based memoir of the year. (I wrote a blog post about this one.)
  4. Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World by Laura Barcella – A great collection of inspiring stories.
  5. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum – Very helpful insights on racism.
  6. Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew G.I. Hart – Very helpful insights on racism within the church. (blog post).
  7. Prayer: Forty Days of Practice by Justin McRoberts and Scott Erickson – Unique collection of art and prayers.
  8. Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton – A very insightful look at how we spend our money and why it does or doesn’t make us happy. (I wrote a blog series about this one too.)
  9. Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres – A very difficult to read memoir about adoption and abuse.
  10. Just Write: Here’s How by Walter Dean Myers – He wrote something like a hundred books and shares his writing tips and insights in this quick read.

More Reading

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

You can also check out more of my reading favorites for some suggestions.

Top 10 Fiction of 2016

I read 158 books in 2016 and have a few favorites. Here’s a look at the best fiction.

Novels:

  1. Freeman by Leonard Pitts Jr. – Exploring freedom and humanity in the aftermath of the Civil War.
  2. Roots by Alex Haley – Following multiple generations from freedom in Africa through the harrows of slavery to eventual freedom. This is the story of America.
  3. Copper Sun by Sharon Draper – Much like Roots, this book tells the story of slavery from Africa to America, but instead of generations it follows one girl. I read it one night.
  4. Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past by Diane Wilson – This book mixes memoir with fiction as the author explores her family’s native roots and ties to the Dakota War.
  5. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – I’m not usually a fan of fantasy, especially when it’s not very clear what’s happening, but I rolled with it on this one and really enjoyed this story of a persecuted group of misfits with the power to control seismic activity.
  6. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – This is fan fiction for a fictional universe created for another fictional story. Follow all that? Plus, it’s a lovely homage to Harry Potter.
  7. Frindle by Andrew Clements – Read this to my kids and we all loved it. It’s about how words come to be.
  8. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate – Another outloud book for the kids and another 5-star book from Katherine Applegate. This story mixes the power of imagination and a child’s perspective on being homeless.
  9. Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff – This story of a girl in search of a family is a quick read, but touching.
  10. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – This is a sad, but I think ultimately hopeful story. It’s probably my favorite book club book of the year.

Continue reading Top 10 Fiction of 2016