2020 in Facts and Figures

I already posted my main 2020 in Review and Looking Ahead to 2021 posts a while ago — only on my new blog (separate post to come) –, but I held back on my 2020 reading statistics until the year was well and truly over.  And for all my good intentions when posting my mid-year summary back in early July 2020, the second half of the year continued pretty much in the same vein as the first half had begun; i.e., my statistics for the whole year are still a variation on the theme of Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, or, 17 charts showing that 2020 was a year of reading Golden Age mysteries written by women (and following other Anglo-/ UK-centric reading proclivities); i.e. comfort reading galore … it was just that kind of year, I guess.

As a result, my Golden Age Mysteries / Detection Club reading project progressed very nicely.  Luckily, as I said in my main 2020 in Review post, I also managed to add a number of new countries to my Around the World challenge, and the gender balance is solidly in favor of women authors: I read almost 2 1/2 books by women for every book written by a man — in fact, I even reread more books by women than the total number of books by men.  So there was at least some progress in other areas, too.  And I liked or even loved most of the books I read in 2020 — including most of the new-to-me books –, which of course was another huge plus; in a year where reading was my go-to source of comfort, at that: most of my ratings were 4 stars or higher and thus, above the rating that marks “average” in my personal scale (3.5 stars).

Still, in 2021 I’m going to make a fresh attempt to refocus on my Around the World reading project, in furtherance of which I’ve also created a Diversity Bingo that I’ll try to get through in the space of this one year (though if it takes longer, it takes longer); and I’ll also try to include more books from my Freedom and Future Library in my yearly reading again.

And now, without any further ado:

Greatest New Author Discoveries of 2020

Classics and LitFic
Bernardine Evaristo
Olivia Manning

Historical Fiction
Dorothy Dunnett
Jean-François Parot
Paul Doherty

Golden and Silver Age Mysteries
Josephine Bell
Moray Dalton
Molly Thynne
Christianna Brand
Anthony Gilbert
Raymond Postgate
Patricia Moyes

My Life in Book Titles

This is a meme I’ve seen on quite a few blogs towards the end of 2020; it was created by Annabel at Annabookbel.  You’re to answer the prompts, using only books you have read in 2020; without, if possible, repeating a book title.  I thought I’d include it in my yearly roundup — and to up the ante a little bit further, I decided to use only books I read for the first time in 2020.

In high school I was Unspeakable (John Bercow)

People might be surprised by (my incarnation as) Lioness Rampant (Tamora Pierce)

I will never be The Horse You Came in On (Martha Grimes), nor Resorting to Murder (Martin Edwards, ed.; Various Authors)

My life in lockdown was like (a) Tour de Force (Christianna Brand) and (a) Tragedy at Law (Cyril Hare)

My fantasy job is The Thinking Machine at Work (Jacques Futrelle)

At the end of a long day I need to be Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi) (to my) Pilgrim’s Rest (Patricia Wentworth)

I hate being (around) Serpents in Eden (Martin Edwards, ed.; Various Authors)

Wish I had The Lost Tools of Learning (Dorothy L. Sayers)

My family reunions are (often with) Thirteen Guests (J. Jefferson Farjeon)

At a party you’d find me with My Friend Mr. Campion (Margery Allingham), Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (Emmuska Orczy), and other Bodies from the Library (Tony Medawar, ed.; Various Authors)

I’ve never been to Goodwood (Holly Throsby), Cherringham (Matthew Costello, Neil Richards), or At the Villa Rose (A.E.W. Mason)

A happy day includes A Small Place (Jamaica Kincaid) (of my own): My Beloved World (Sonia Sotomayor)

Motto(s) I live by: To Love and Be Wise (Josephine Tey); and We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

On my bucket list is Shakespeare’s Local (Pete Brown)

In my next life, I want to have The Grand Tour (Matthew Pritchard, ed.; Agatha Christie)

The Stats

Number of books started: 273
Number of books finished: 271
DNF: 2
Average Rating (overall): 3.9
Average Rating w/o Favorite Annual Xmas Rereads: 3.8

Note: The above chart includes my 6 annual Christmas rereads, which have a habit of slightly skewing my overall rating figures upwards; without these books, the number of 5-star books is reduced by 5 and the number of 4.5-star books is reduced by 1.

Note: “F / M (mixed)” refers to anthologies with contributions by both male and female authors, as well as to books jointly written by male and female authors. — “N / A” in the protagonist gender chart refers to Martha Wells’s Murderbot, who is deliberately created as gender-neutral.

Note: “Multi-ethnic” either refers to several persons (authors / protagonists) of different genders, or to one person of mixed ethnicity.

 

2020 Mid-Year Reading Review and Statistics

What with the pandemic still very much ongoing, BL acting up again, MR’s and Char’s resulting posts re: BookLikes, the BL experience, and moving back to Goodreads, this feels like a somewhat odd moment to post my half-yearly reading stats.  I hope it won’t be the last time on this site, but I fear that the community to which I’ve belonged for almost a decade — longer than to any other online community — and which, most recently, has played a pivotal role in making the Corona pandemic more bearable to me, is on the point of breaking up.  And frankly, this is making me incredibly sad.

Book-wise, too, the pandemic has had a huge impact on my reading; for three out of the past six months, I pretty much exclusively withdrew into Golden Age mystery comfort reads, because I just didn’t have it in me to tackle anything else.  Though I suppose in comparison with others, who went into more or less full-fledged reading slumps, I can still color myself lucky.

That said, the past six months’ reading highlights definitely included all of the buddy reads, both for the shared reading experience and for the books themselves — as well as a number of books that I read either before the pandemic began or in the very recent couple of weeks … though I’m tempted to list every single favorite Golden Age mystery that I reread during the pandemic, too; in addition to a whole number of new discoveries.  So, without further ado (and roughly in reverse chronological order):

 

Highlights:

The Buddy Reads:

Jean-François Parot: L’énigme des blancs-manteaux (The Châtelet Apprentice)
The first of Parot’s Nicolas le Floch historical mysteries set in 18th century Paris.  Nicolas is a Breton by birth and, on the recommendation of his godfather, a Breton nobleman, joins the Paris police force under the command of its (real) Lieutenant General Antoine de Sartine, one of the late 18th century’s most influential statesmen and administrators. —  Parot was an expert on the period and a native Parisian, both of which elements clearly show in his writing, and I’m already looking forward to reading more books from the series.

French-language buddy read with Tannat and onnurtilraun — we’re now also looking into the possibly of “buddy-watching” the (French) TV adaptation starring Jérôme Robart.


The pandemic buddy reads; including and in particular:
Josephine Tey: A Daughter of Time (with BT’s and my individual add-on, Tey’s play Dickon, written under the name Gordon Daviot, which likewise aims at setting the record straight vis-à-vis Shakespeare’s Richard III) — A Daughter of Time was a reread; Dickon was new to me.
* Georgette Heyer: No Wind of Blame (the first of the Inspector Hemingway mysteries — also a reread);
* Agatha Christie: Towards Zero and Cat Among the Pigeons (both likewise rereads);
* Ngaio Marsh: Scales of Justice (also a reread; one of my favorite Inspector Alleyn mysteries);
* Cyril Hare: Tenant for Death (the first Inspector Mallett mystery — new to me);
* Patricia Wentworth: The Case Is Closed (Miss Sliver book #2 — also new to me; this isn’t a series I am reading in publication order).

Dorothy Dunnett: The Game of Kings (book 1 of the Lymond Chronicles)
16th century Scotland; the adventures of a main character somewhere between Rob Roy, Robin Hood and Scaramouche (mostly Scaramouche), but it also features a range of strong and altogether amazing female characters.  Another series I’m looking forward to continuing.

The first buddy read of the year, together with Moonlight Reader, BrokenTune, and Lillelara.

 

My Individual Highlights:

Bernardine Evaristo: Girl, Woman, Other
Heaven knows the Booker jury doesn’t always get it right IMHO, but wow, this time for once they absolutely did.  If you haven’t already read this, run, don’t walk to get it.  And though initially I was going to say “especially if you’re a woman (and from a minority)” — no, I’m actually going to make that, “especially if you’re a white man”.

Saša Stanišić: Herkunft (Origin) and Gaël Faye: Petit pays (Small Country)
Two autobiographical books dealing with the authors’ genocide experience, in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Burundi, respectively. Stanišić’s account — an odd mix of fact on fiction, which does lean pretty strongly towards the factual, however — asks, as the title indicates, how precisely our geographical, ethnic and cultural origin / sense of “belonging” defines our identity; and it focuses chiefly on the refugee experience and the experience of creating a new place for oneself in a new (and substantially different) country and culture.  Faye’s short novel (barely longer than a novella) packs an equal amount of punch, but approaches the topic from the other end — it’s a coming of age tale looking at the way our cultural identity is first drummed into us … and how ethnic stereotypes and hostilities, when fanned and exploited, will almost invariably lead to war and genocide.

 

Josephine Tey: The Inspector Grant series, Dickon, and Miss Pym Disposes
Having already read two books from Tey’s Alan Grant series (The Daughter of Time and The Franchise Affair) as well as her nonseries novel Brat Farrar in past years, and Miss Pym Disposes at the beginning of this year, I took the combined (re)read of The Daughter of Time and the play Dickon during the pandemic buddy reads (see above) as my cue to finally also read the rest of the Inspector Grant mysteries.  And I’m glad I finally did; Tey’s work as a whole is a paean to her much-beloved England — and though she was Scottish by birth, to a somewhat lesser degree also to Scotland –; a love that would eventually cause her to bequeath her entire estate to the National Trust. — Though the books are ostensibly mysteries, the actual “mystery” element almost takes a back seat to the land … and to its people, or rather to people like those who formed Tey’s personal circle of friends and acquaintances.  And it is in creating characters that her writing shines as much as in the description of England’s and Scotland’s natural beauty.

Pete Brown: Shakespeare’s Local
Another book that I owned way too long before I finally got around to reading it; the discursive — in the best sense –, rollicking tale of one London (or rather, Southwark) pub from its earliest days in the Middle Ages to the 21st century, telling the history of Southwark, London, public houses, and their patrons along the way.  The title is glorious conjecture and based on little more than the fact that the pub is near the location of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (combined with the equally demonstrable fact that Shakespeare loved a good ale and what today we’d call a pub crawl) … so it’s highly likely that, like many another celebrity over the centuries, he’d have had the occasional pint at this particular inn, the George, as well.

Dorothy L. Sayers: Love All
A delightful drawing room comedy that was, owing to its completion during WWII, only performed twice during Sayers’s own lifetime and never again thereafter, which is utterly unfair to both the material and its author — topically, this is the firmly tongue in cheek stage companion to such works as Gaudy Night and the two speeches republished under the title Are Women Human?  (I’d call it feminist if Sayers hadn’t hated that term, but whatever label you want to stick on it, its message comes through loud and clear and with plenty of laughs.)

Christianna Brand: Green for Danger
One of the discoveries of my foray into the realm of Golden Age mysteries; an eerie, claustrophobic, psychological drama revolving around several suspicious deaths (and near-deaths) at a wartime hospital in Kent during WWII.  None of Brand’s other mysteries that I’ve read so far is quite up to this level, but she excelled in closed-circle settings featuring a small group of people who all genuinely like each other (and really are, for the most part, likeable from the reader’s — and the investigating policeman’s — perspective, too), and in this particular book, the backdrop of the added danger arising from the wartime setting adds even more to the tension.  It’s also fairly obvious that Brand was writing from personal experience, which greatly enhances every single aspect of the book, from the setting and the atmosphere to the individual characters.

Sonia Sotomayor: My Beloved World
Sotomayor’s memoirs up to her first appointment to the Federal Bench.  What a courageous woman!  A trailblazer in every sense of the word — a passionate advocate for women, Latinos/-as (not just Puerto Ricans), those hindered in their career path by a pre-existing medical condition (in her case: diabetes), and more generally, everybody up against unequal odds.  Fiercely intelligent and never satisfied with second best (for herself and others alike), she nevertheless comes across as eminently likeable and open-minded — on the list of people I’d like to meet one day (however unlikely), she shot right up to a top spot after I’d read this book; in close vicinity with Michelle Obama.

John Bercow: Unspeakable
Bercow’s time as Speaker of the House of Commons was doubtlessly among the more remarkable periods in the history of the British Parliament, both on account of his personality and of the momentous decisions taken during those years; and his unmistakeable style jumps out from every page of his memoir — as well as every minute of the audio edition, which he narrates himself.  The last chapter (his attempt at outlining the odds for Britain post-Brexit) was already obsolete before the Corona pandemic hit; this is even more true now.  However, the vast majority of the book makes for a fascinating read, not least of course because of his insight into the politics — and politicians — of his time (he is neither sparing with the carrot nor with the stick, and some of his reflections, e.g., on the qualities of a “good” politician / member of parliament, would constitute ample food for thought for politicians anywhere).

 

Statistics:

As I said above, the one thing that definitely had the biggest impact on my reading in the first six months of 2020 was my three-month long “comfort reading” retreat into the world of Golden Age mysteries.  So guess what:

Of the 129 books I read in the first six months of 2020, a whopping 63% were Golden Age and contemporary mysteries — add in the 10 historical mysteries that also form the single biggest chunk of my historical fiction reading, you even get to 91 books or 70.5%.

I am rather pleased, though, that — comfort and escape reading aside and largely thanks to a number of truly interesting memoirs and biographies — the number of nonfiction books is roughly equivalent to the sum of “high brow” fiction (classics and litfic).

Another thing that makes me happy is that my extended foray into Golden Age mysteries was not overwhelmingly limited to rereads; these accounted for only 28% of all books read (36 in absolute figures), a percentage which is not substantially higher than my average in the last two years.  At the same time, as a comparatively large number of Golden Age mysteries are not (yet?) available as audiobooks — not even all of those that have been republished in print in recent years –, and as I have spent considerably less time driving to and from meetings and conferences than in the past two years, the share of print books consumed is higher than it was in 2018 and 2019.

 

Given the high percentage of comfort reading, it’s no surprise that my star ratings are on the high side for the first half of 2020 — the vast majority of the books were decent, if not good or even great reads.

Overall average: 3.7 stars 

However, my Golden Age mystery binge also had a noticeable effect on the two statistics I’m tracking particularly: gender and ethnicity.

As far as gender is concerned things still look very good if you just focus on the authors: 88 books by women (plus 5 mixed anthologies / author teams) vs. 36 books by male authors; hooray!  However, inspired by onnurtilraun, I decided to add another layer this time and also track protagonists … and of course, if there is one genre where women authors have created a plethora of iconic male protagonists, it is Golden Age mystery fiction; and all the Miss Marples, Miss Silvers, Mrs. Bradleys and other female sleuths out there can’t totally wipe out the number of books starring the likes of Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, Roderick Alleyn, and other male detectives of note.  Then again, the Golden Age mystery novelists actually were ahead of their time in not only creating women sleuths acting independently but also in endowing their male detectives with equally strong female partners and friends, so the likes of Ariadne Oliver, Agatha “Troy” Alleyn, and of course the inimitable Harriet Vane, also make for a significantly higher number of books with both male and female protagonists.  Still, the gender shift is impossible to miss.

 

(For those wondering about the “N / A” protagonist, that’s Martha Wells’s Murderbot, who of course is an AI and deliberately created as gender-neutral.)

And of course, since there isn’t a non-white author to be found among the Golden Age mystery writers (or at least, none that I’m aware of and whose books figured as part of my reading during the past couple of months), the ethnicity chart goes completely out of the window.  Again, as long as you just look at the number of countries visited as part of my Around the World reading challenge (and if you ignore the number of books written by authors from / set in the UK and the U.S.), the figures actually still look pretty good — and yes, the relatively high number of European countries is deliberate; I mostly focused on authors from / settings in the Southern Hemisphere last year, so I figured since tracking ethnicity was substantially impacted by the mystery binge this year anyway, I might as well make a bit of headway with the European countries, too.

Yet, there is one interesting wrinkle even in the comparison of author vs. protagonist ethnicity; namely, where it comes to the non-Caucasian part of the table: It turns out that the number of non-white protagonists is slightly higher than that of non-white authors, because I managed to pick a few books at least which, though written by white authors, did feature non-white protagonists.  Make of that one what you will …

   

Nevertheless, for the rest of the year, the aim is clear … catch up on my Around the World reading challenge and build in as many books by non-Caucasian authors as possible!

Addendum
In a discussion on the BookLikes version of this post, the question came up whether the author’s gender and ethnicity matters at all, or whether the only thing that really matters is the quality of the writing to begin with.  Here’s what I wrote there:

I used to think it [= gender and ethnicity] didn’t / shouldn’t matter, too. Since I started to put greater weight on women’s writing and books by non-white authors, I’ve come to change my mind.

1) It’s not about “chromosomes”, but about life experience. Women, even in today’s society, experience life differently from men. That is true even for women who (like me) were raised — not necessarily deliberately, but as it were “by default” — in such a way as to embrace roles traditionally reserved for men from early childhood on (which incidentally frequently put me at odds with the boys in the playground), and who work in an industry that, even when I was in university, was still substantially dominated by (white) men, and to a certain extent still is even today (not in terms of access to the profession as such, but in terms of what is achievable and who calls the shots). And similarly, it is obvious that blacks, Latinos/-as, Asians, and members of other ethnicities experience society differently from whites — it didn’t take George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement to convince me of that.

So it is only natural that women — and non-white authors — also tell stories differently from men, and from white people, respectively. Not necessarily, perhaps not even overwhelmingly, the way that Bernadine Evaristo does — a book like “Girl, Women, Other” could of course never have been written by a man or by a white person to begin with. (And that’s precisely the reason why I said these are the people who most need to read this book — because it reflects a perspective that they / we will only ever be able to understand, if at all, intellectually; never instinctively and from personal experience.) Nor do I necessarily mean that male writing is more “testosterone-soaked” than women’s writing (though bad male writing almost invariably is), or that “men can’t write women characters” (and vice versa). — In most cases, the differences between men’s and women’s writing are so subtle that, as long as you don’t pay any attention, you don’t notice them at all. But if you come from reading a lot of books written by men (as I had, when I set out on this course a few years ago) and then you switch to reading books written mostly by women, you start noticing them after a while — in details of writerly focus, in little things like a detail of an individual characters’ response to a particular situation (or to somebody else’s comment), in the way dialogue is framed, in what matters to a character in a given situation, etc. Again, none of this rises to the level of “good / bad” “realistic / unrealistic” writing, or to “men writing women as men with XX.chromosomes” (or women writing men as women with XY-chromosomes, or whites writing other ethniticities as black-faced whites, etc.), but it’s there; and interestingly, it’s there as much in, say, Golden Age mystery fiction and other 19th and early 20th century classics as it is in contemporary writing.

2) It’s about industry access and noticeability. The publishing industry is, for all I can see, still way too much dominated by “pale stale males”. Like in my own industry (the law), it’s not so much a matter of a lack of women (or non-white) writers (and columnists, critics, journalists, etc.) But in the corporate structures, the old hierarchies die hard — not only at the top (= the tip of the iceberg) — and though I don’t know a lot of writers personally, I know enough to realize how much harder it is for women — and for writers of color — to obtain the same amount of exposure that a white male author would be able to obtain in their situation. (Again, this isn’t as simple as “good / bad writing” or a matter of talent — it’s about what it takes *in addition* to talent and good writing.) So if I can do my tiny little bit to help by actually buying and reading their books — and by occasionally even talking about those books, whenever I feel motivated enough to write a review, or by deliberately tracking my reading and talking about that, I’m more than happy to do that.

// TA steps off soap box.

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2804666/2020-mid-year-reading-statistics

2017 – 2019 Three-Year Reading Stats

Three years ago I took a look at my reading stats for the then-just-finished year (2017) and decided they were off in several respects:

  • Too many rereads
  • Too many mysteries
    — i.e., too much comfort reading —
  • AND way too few books by female authors.

Also, the ratio of books read vs. new, unread additions to my “owned books” TBR was abysmal — in 2017, I added almost as many books to my shelves without ending up reading them than I actually did read.

So, the first thing I did was join a challenge created by Awogfli and put together a Women Writers challenge in response, with the aim of enhancing the percentage of female authors I’m reading.  That project went rather well, all told, so last year I added another challenge level (to be continued in 2020): Use your reading to travel around the world, to as many countries as possible (while still giving preference to female authors).  That project, too, went better than I had expected in 2019.  And, hooray, I even got my “owned TBR” additions under control.  Well, sort of — at least I reduced them by one half …

With three years of reading statistics under my belt — the initial ones from 2017 and those from the two succeeding years — I think it’s time to take a first comprehensive look at the last three years’ developments.

So here we go:

The one statistics that doesn’t look like it has greatly changed is the book format — ever since I really “discovered” audiobooks in 2016, my audiobook consumption has been vastly greater than my print book readings.  However, this is actually in large part the reason why my owned and unread TBR has gone down, because very often I’ll have both the audiobook and the print edition and I’ll switch back and forth between them.  This may mean I’ll eventually find a different way of charting these books, but so far I’ve counted them as “audio”, and for consistency’s sake I may just continue doing that.

Aaaand finally the Genre breakdown: Still plenty of mysteries (even more if you take into account that the majority of my historical fiction reading consists of mysteries and thrillers / crime fiction), but another effect of my Around the World challenge — as well as Moonlight’s 2019 “crowdsourced” project / reading list! — has been to diversify my genre chart (somewhat).  Mysteries (not counting historical mysteries) still account for a solid 50%, and that’s fine — since I’m also planning to continue my foray into the world of Detection Club /Golden Age crime fiction, it’s unlikely that this percentage is going to drop significantly. By and large I’m pretty happy with the way things have turned out so far!

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2026709/2017-2019-three-year-reading-stats

2020 Reading Plans / Expectations & 2019 in Review

24 Festive Tasks: Door 22 – New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day: Tasks 1-3 & Door 18 – Hanukkah: Task 1

2020 Reading Goals

Pretty much the same as this year: Read more books by women writers than by male authors, diversify my reading, and keep on exploring the world of Golden Age mystery fiction.

The Around the World reading challenge — which is also to be continued in 2020 — this year has taken me to places of the world that aren’t exactly part of my normal reading fare, and I think visits to 46 countries (8 in Africa, 10 in the Americas (11 if Puerto Rico were counted separately), 13 in Asia and the Middle East, 2 in Oceania, and 13 again in Europe) is a pretty decent tally for the first year. I hope things are going to continue in a similar vein next year.

My Golden Age mystery reading plans are probably going to cross the “diversifying” aims to a certain extent — they already did this year — for the simple reason that the vast majority of Golden Age mystery writers were Caucasian.  But that just can’t be helped, I suppose.

 

The 2019 Stats

Books begun: 250
Books finished: 247
Average Rating: 3,8

 Genre Breakdown by Subgenres

Mystery: 124
Golden Age: 89
Silver Age: 3
Tartan Noir: 3
Classic Noir: 2
Cozy Mystery: 2
General: 22

Thriller: 8
Espionage: 5
Humor/Satire: 1
General: 2

Historical Fiction: 31
Mystery/Crime/Thriller: 23
Mythology: 2
Magical Realism: 1
Humor/Satire: 1
General: 3

Fantasy: 11
Humor/Satire: 8
YA: 2
General: 1

Supernatural: 5
Short Fiction: 2
Historical Fiction: 2
Humor/Satire: 1

SciFi: 2
Steampunk: 1
Humor/Satire: 1

Horror: 3
Gothic: 1
Short Fiction: 2

Classics: 15
Short Fiction: 6
Anthology: 1
Espionage: 1
General: 7

LitFic: 16
Magical Realism: 1
Mythology: 2
Dystopia: 2
Mystery/Crime/Thriller: 2
ChickLit: 2
General: 7

Nonfiction: 32
Auto(Biography): 20
History: 3
Philosophy: 2
Science: 3
True Crime: 2
Anthology: 1
Cookbook: 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key, obviously, is in the intersection of genres and ethnicity: 25 of the 27 books by non-Caucasian authors I read were something other than mysteries; or put differently, virtually all of the 124 mysteries were by Caucasian authors (including all of the 92 Golden and Silver Age mysteries, which in themselves account for 2/3 of all my mystery intake).  I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do much about those statistics — nor do I very much want to, as long as I manage to make decent progress with my Around the World challenge and manage to get in a fair amount of non-Caucasian books in all the other genres.

Favorite books of 2019: HERE
Least favorite books of 2019: HERE

Bibliomancy

 My question: Is 2020 going to be a good reading year for me?

Miss Austen’s Collected Novels are one of the larger volumes on my shelves, so I decided to seek my answer there.

The answer: “[impor]tance in assisting the improvement of her mind, and extending its pleasures.”

That sounds rather promising, doesn’t it?

(And I’m taking it as an additional good sign that the answer is from Mansfield Park, wich was the first novel by Austen that I read — and the book that made me fall in love with her writing in the first place …)

 

Dreidel Spin for First Book of the Year

This is a pick from some of the books that my BFF, Gaby, gave me for Christmas and my birthday this year:

נ (Nun) – Craig Adams: The Six Secrets of Intelligence
ג (Gimel) – Isabel Colegate: The Shooting Party
ה (Hei) – Preet Bharara: Doing Justice
ש (Shin) – Sarah-Jane Stratford: Radio Girls

 

… and the dreidel picked:

 So, Sarah-Jane Stratford’s Radio Girls it is!

Radio Girls - Sarah-Jane Stratford

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Door 22
Task 1: Tell us: What are your reading goals for the coming year?

Task 2: The reading year in review: How did you fare – what was good, what wasn’t?

Task 3: Bibliomancy: Ask a question related to your reading plans or experience in the coming year, open one of your weightiest tomes on page 485, and find the answer to your question in line 7.

 

Door 18, Task 1: Spin the dreidel to determine which book is going to be the first one you’ll be reading in the new year.

Find a virtual dreidel here:
https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel
http://www.jewfaq.org/dreidel/play.htm
http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2023998/24-festive-tasks-door-22-new-year-s-eve-st-sylvester-s-day-tasks-1-3-and-door-18-hanukkah-task-1

2018 in Reading Review, or, The Year of Listening to Mystery Audiobooks by Women Writers

24 Festive Tasks: Door 22 – New Year’s Eve, Task 2

2018 Statistics

Total number of books read in 2018: 225
Number of as-yet unread books added to “owned books” TBR in 2018: 240

— plus the 100 or so Audible downloads that I haven’t even added to my BookLikes shelves yet.

So the ratio of buying vs. reading is seriously off this year.  (Last year, I read almost 40 books more than remained unread on my “owned books” TBR of the books added over the course of the year.)

Nevertheless, I am very happy with my reading year: very few of my reads were 3 stars or less, I didn’t expect I’d even make it to 200 books (so I actually read more than expected), I finished my Women Writers project, and compared to last year, my stats have come out on the “right” side in every aspect I primarily looked at — I read more women authors than men, and more new books than rereads:

In summary, I guess you can call this my year of listening to mystery audiobooks chiefly written by women writers … which is fine, though, and in a way even what I expected this year to be.

In fact, I’m expecting to continue reading many more mysteries in 2019 as well — I’d like to complete my “inofficial” Detection Club Bingo reads for one thing, I’m planning to read more Golden Age mysteries republished as part of the British Library Crime Classics and Collins Crime club series, and I’m likely going to join Wanda and Moonlight at least for parts of “A Study in Sherlock” / “Summer of Sherlock“.  But I’m also planning to reprise my Women Writers challenge, however with a twist along the lines of the “Around the World in 80 Books” group on Goodreads.

All in all, if 2019 turns out even half as good as 2018 has been (even against the odds in some respects), I’ll color myself extremely lucky.

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1824626/24-festive-tasks-door-22-new-year-s-eve-task-2-2018-in-reading-review-or-the-year-of-listening-to-mystery-audiobooks-by-women-writers

 

2017 in Review — and Consequences for 2018

2017 Statistics

Total number of books read in 2017: 287
Number of (as-yet unread) books added to “owned books” TBR in 2017: 250

So, looks like overall 2017 was a pretty good reading year for me — and certainly, even without having participated in BooklikesOpoly, the two games during the last four months of the year helped a lot.  The above total numbers don’t tell the full story, however (in fact, in some respects they’re more than a little deceptive).

In 2017, especially in the first couple of months, I had to do a lot of driving — as well as having to cope with a lot of stress.  To compensate and for on-the-road entertainment, I took to revisiting my favorite classics and my favorite mysteries on audio; and the amount of my comfort reading (or rather: listening) clearly shows in my yearly reading stats — not only in the number of new books read vs. rereads, but even more so in the number of audiobooks vs. print books read: 2017 was unquestionably the year when I discovered the  audiobook:

(Note: 2 books out of the total of 287 were Christmas classics I revisit every year, and where I chose the DVD version in 2017.)

Similarly, while my reading year was a pretty good one if you only take into account the new books I read (average: 3.95 stars), it improves even more if you factor in all the favourite-book rereads:

And of course, my comfort reading also impacts — big time — the genre breakdown of my 2017 reading:

(Note: “Nonfiction”, for purposes of this exercise, comprises biographies, memoirs, historical nonfiction, science and popular science, reference books, and assorted general nonfiction. — The category “Historical Fiction” includes a number of historical mysteries, which are included only once in the above chart for purposes of consistency in total number of books read, but which are included in the genre-specific analysis further below under both “Mysteries” and “Historical Fiction”, and which I’ve also analyzed separately.)

However, the area where my inordinate amount of comfort reading most significantly shows up is in the author gender breakdown.  It looks pretty evenly spread, with a slight pro-female bias, if you just look at the total figures:

(“m & f” are anthologies featuring contributions from both male and female authors or male-female author teams.)

But the vast majority of my comfort reads (or rather: audio revisits) were books written by female authors, and if you eliminate those, there’s a clear male author bias, except solely in the subgenre of historical mysteries.  In other words, almost all across the board, roughly 2 out of 3 new books I read were by male authors. (And it’s even more embarrassingly one-sided with regard to the six fantasy and five literary fiction titles I managed to squeeze in: they were all written by men.)  As all of this very much will have to change in 2018, I suppose the Women Authors Challenge / Bingo is coming just in time for me!

 

By Format:

(All but 2 of the print books were new reads, so the stats are almost exactly identical for all print books and new print books read.)

 

By Major Genres Read:

All nonfiction books I read in 2017 were new reads.)

(Note: For purposes of these last charts, the books qualifying as “historical mysteries” were included in both the charts for “historical fiction” and for “mysteries”, respectively.)

So, even in the mysteries and historical fiction tallies, despite the clear pro-women author bias in historical mysteries that remains even after eliminating the rereads, both “mysteries” and “historical fiction” flip from a pro-female to a pro-male author bias once the rereads are taken out of the consideration.

 

2018 Outlook

In addition to the Women Authors Challenge / Bingo, which is hopefully going to help me put books written by women on a bit more of an equal footing with books written by men in the year just begun, I’m planning to

* continue whittling away at that impossible amount of books I added to my owned books TBR in 2017 alone (not to mention those already lingering on it from previous years),

* continue reading science and popular science with the Flat Book Society (the current read, Helen Czerski’s Storm in a Teacup, is of course an excellent way of killing two birds with one stone — a popular science book written by a woman),

* continue filling my Detection Club Bingo card and continue my exploration of Golden Age detective fiction, (which will hopefully also go some way towards both reducing my phyiscal TBR and augmenting the number of books written by women that I’m reading this year)

* and to the extent time allows, participate in the 2018 Booklikes games!

If in addition to / as part of the above I also manage to balance out my genre intake a little more and include more literary fiction and fantasy, I’ll color myself more than happy by the end of the year!

 

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ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1629075/2017-in-review-and-consequences-for-2018