This year I participated in my sixth Cannonball Read. I read 70 books, which is fewer than I thought I would, given I didn’t have a full-time job for the vast majority of the year. Alas, I think I allowed myself to get stuck on books I wasn’t enjoying (and my attempt at a Blackout BINGO didn’t help that), which led me to put off reading the books I really wanted. So out with that in 2019.
I read 36 books with male authors, 34 books with female authors, and two books with authors whose gender I couldn’t determine. I’m sad to say this is my first year where I read a majority male authors. However, eight of those books were from two male authors: a series of five Icelandic mysteries, and the Crazy Rich Asian trilogy (I had to get ready for the movie!), whereas each of the 34 books were written by different women.
This year 56 of the books were written by white people, eight by Asian people, seven by Black people, and two by people of Middle Eastern descent. The country of origin for authors was broader this year: one each from France, Ireland, Norway, and New Zealand; two from Canada; three from Singapore (all the same author); five from Iceland (all the same author); 26 from the UK and 30 from the USA.
I still prefer non-fiction to fiction, though this year I found myself sucked into a couple of series (and attempted to read fiction to meet BINGO requirements), so I read more fiction that usual. It was a 1:2 fiction to non-fiction ratio, whereas it’s been as low as 1:5 in years past.
In terms of genre, I think the number are a bit misleading, as literature is the top category (17 books), but only because so much of the fiction I read doesn’t have a better category for me to assign it. My second-most read genre was sociology (13 books), followed by memoir (10 books), travel (eight books), and mystery (those five Icelandic murder mysteries). I read three each of YA novels, history books, and health books; two philosophy books, and one each of fantasy and science fiction.
As part of my participation in Cannonball Read, I do rank each book on a 1 (make it stop) to 5 (this is the best thing ever) scale. And while I didn’t give out any 1s this year, upon further reflection I do think one book deserved that rating. Overall, I averaged a 3.67 rating, with five books earning two stars and nine books earning 5 stars.
I read a lot this year about my new town, which I probably won’t be doing as much in 2019. I also found myself waiting for books that were already out in the US but hadn’t reached the UK yet, which I’m not used to doing. That said, being in a new country means that when I wander into a bookshop, the displays offer up authors I’ve not run into yet in the US, so I find myself reading from a broader selection. It’s a nice change.
The best non-fiction book I read this year was Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race. It was fantastic, and it’s a book I recommend literally everyone read.
The best fiction was probably Sadie by Courtney Summers. It weaves in true crime podcasting with the realities of the people profiled in those podcasts.
Meanwhile, the worst book I read this year was, hands down, Between the Bridge and the River by Craig Ferguson. Ooof, what a waste of time and money.
As for 2019 – I don’t know what my book life will look like. I’m back working full time, so I do have a commute that I can use to read more. I have about 60 unread books mocking me at home, so I think this will be the year of starting a book and, if I truly am not into it, just donating it and letting it go. I definitely want to challenge myself and learn, so I’m not going to give up on books that are hard, but I know I’ve stuck with books just because, and that needs to end now. Life is too short, and there are way too many great books out there waiting to be read.