At the end of each year I try to look back at the books I’ve read. This year I read 73 books, which is 15% more than my previous best of 63. I have Pajiba and the Cannonball Read to thank for this, because I know that if I hit 52 in a year that helps fund the fight against cancer. But because we also must review the books, it means I spend at least a few minutes reflecting on everything I read. It’s made me a better reader, it’s exposed me to books I wouldn’t have previously considered reading, and it’s introduced me to a lovely community of fellow readers.
So – what did my year look like?
Starting with the most obvious … I read a lot of white women authors. Nearly 60%, in fact. That’s not great. 20% of the books I read are the thoughts of white men, which means that just over 20% come from non-white authors. Most of those are women, but clearly I need to make a more concerted effort to read diverse voices. So next year’s goal: never read two white authors in a row.
Another yikes here – I read SO MANY books from authors who are from the USA. Eighty-six percent, to be precise.
Okay, this is much better. There are clearly some types I gravitate to, such as memoir and sociology. I like to learn about people and things, apparently. But look, there are 17 different genres or types of books on here, including a play, a collection of short stories, and even a cook book. And I know one of those memoirs was also a graphic novel, so that’s 18. That’s good!
Finally, how wisely did I choose my books?
Eh … not bad. Not great – a lot of middling books. But only a handful of bad choices and nothing so wretched that it earned the not-at-all coveted one star.
What can I do better for next year? I do not want to stop reading white women authors altogether, mostly because I just ordered Carrie Fisher’s entire catalogue. But I need to be more intentional in my choices of books, and step back more often to see if going on a ‘kick’ has really meant that I’m just reading a whole lot of the same type of author or book.
As far as my favorite book this year, my recommendations are:
- All Fun and No Joy by Jennifer Senior
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Real Artists Have Day Jobs by Sara Benincasa
- Shrill by Lindy West
- When Breath Becomes Air
- Where Am I Now? By Mara Wilson
Alright, on to Cannonball Read Nine!