Random (but not really)

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Books of 2019: Stats Wrap Up!

It’s now time for me to GEEK OUT and talk about STATS!

I read a lot this year. Not as much as in 2017 when I was really struggling with, well, everything, but I hit 200 book read in November.

I did not read a single paper book this year.

To be clear, I got new cookbooks, which are paper, and which I used, but I didn’t read enough of the books to feel okay reviewing them. And I wanted to go back and re-read a couple series which I had in paperback, only to discover that I loaned out the first book in the series at some point, and have no idea where that book is. And those books aren’t available in electronic format. (Bruce Alexander‘s Sir John Fielding series, starting with Blind Justice for one.)

I did listen to audio books (five for the year) but when we started the bathroom remodel, I switched to podcasts, which are easily interruptible when using power tools or making a lot of noise.

Here’s a look at how my reading habits have changed since I got my first eReader.

There is a lot less variety in how I read than there used to be, and there is a two-pronged reason for this. First, I started needing reading glasses–but don’t need glasses at any other time. It is SO EASY to just make the font size larger on a kindle–no glasses needed! No worries about where I’ve set my reading glasses, no worries about having to take the glasses off to look at something away from the book–just reading. Second, even before the advent of ebooks, I rarely read hardback books. They were (even then) just too heavy and impossible to read one handed. Then reading paperbacks for extended periods of time started to hurt my hands, and that’s when the shift began.

The multiple formats and re-reads are related, but not always directly. Once I fell in love with eBooks, I started getting some of my favorite books as eBooks. In fact, I have an entire private wish list just to watch for old favorites going on sale. Also, I cannot listen to most fiction unless I’ve already read the book. Feel free to analyze, but it’s just how my brain works. So almost every audio book is also a re-read.

Also, now I’m looking at this data, I’m wondering where library books should fit in. If an ebook of a book I own in paper is very expensive, I’ll immediately see if it is available to borrow from the library, either as an eBook or as an audio book. So over the last couple years, a lot of library borrows were rereads. Plus, I’ve also been using the library to branch out my reading, borrowing books I’m not sure if I’ll like. If I don’t like it–nothing but time lost!

I can probably add this information on pretty easily going forward. We’ll see.

 



 

Next up–author gender and book genre.

I have always read a lot of female authors. In fact, when I first ran into the trope of guys talking about there being “no good female SFF authors out writing” I thought it was a joke. I’ve always read a lot of female authors, and assumed (correctly the overwhelming majority of the time) that an author publishing under their initials was a woman.

I fully admit this chart is pretty bad. There is a LOT of data here, and to make matters worse a single book can have multiple genres (a romantic fantasy, a supernatural mystery). This means the numbers in the right axis add up to half again as many books as I read this year, which can seem initially wrong.

The trend to note, however, is that even when I wasn’t reading romance at all, I was still reading mostly female authors. This year I overwhelmingly read female authors, partially because I read a lot of romance, but mostly because I have been trying to escape the toxic masculinity that has been saturating our culture. I just can’t handle ugliness in my escapism right now.

I’ve always wanted to read about women standing up for themselves and getting things done. I just have very little tolerance for male bullshit these days. Right now the only author I’m pre-ordering that might fit that stereotype is Andrea Camilleri (who died this past summer). And although he doesn’t do a good job with writing women, and the treatment of many of his female characters is not so great, the stereotypical masculinity of the characters is almost a parody. For example, Mimi isn’t lauded for sleeping with anything in a dress. Salvo is an asshole, but he’s equally an asshole to everyone (especially Mimi). Plus, he was 93 and mostly blind by the time he died, so I’m willing to cut him some slack.

 



 

Break time! Here’s my most insane chart. I keep it just for amusement purposes.

Genres by year

That’s the number of books I read each month. 2004 & 2017? Those aren’t typos.

 



 

OK, some numbers I just started tracking last year: Character Gender, Character Race, and Character Orientation.

Character Gender is skewed heavily male this year, even though I read so much romance, because I read a LOT of books with M/M romance.

character gender

That gave me far more male lead stories than in the previous year, although It’s not unreasonable–twice now I’ve re-read my collection of Robert B Parker Spenser mysteries (32 books). Another year I re-read all of Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti series (now 28 books).

However, for my sanity I didn’t go back to fill in those categories from past years. We’ll just see how these things go going forward.

Character Race is still skewed heavily white, but I have been trying hard to read more books with character of color.

character race

Part of my problem with this category is that I really do love historical mysteries and romance, but have zero interest in reading much set in the US prior to reconstruction, because it’s all but impossible not to bring up slavery if the book has any historical accuracy. I don’t want sanitized history, but I really can’t handle reading about the horrors and atrocities that happened in the US for so much of our history.

I know full well the world is and has been a horrible place. If I am to remain functioning, I have to push the bad things to the back of my mind. I know this is a weakness, but it’s one I accept to allow myself to get out of bed in the morning.

It’s part of my first-world white privilege and I am both aware of it and thankful for it.

(I’ll note, however, that KJ Charles does an excellent job of having characters of color in historical England. Just in case you were looking.)

As I noted, I read a LOT of M/M books this year, so that means I read a LOT of LGBTQ books.

character orientation

As I’d noted in earlier posts, I generally dislike boinking books, yet the overwhelming majority of LGBTQ books I’ve come across are boinking books. What this means is that they had compelling stories to keep me reading. So you might want to keep that in mind if you’re looking for a new author to read.

The Books of 2019

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