Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reflections and Resolutions | 2014-2015

On the last day of 2014, I reflected (through statistics, mostly) on the reading I have accomplished this year.  Goodreads has a wonderful export function on their website that allows you to download all of your reading data into an Excel spreadsheet and analyze it to your heart’s content.  Of course, I did that! 
Here is the breakdown:
  • In 2014, I finished 51 books and read a total of 15,049 pages.  This count does not include any book I am currently reading or any book I have started but put down throughout the year.  If that were included, my page count would be significantly increased.  I’m looking at you, Philip Pullman!
  • Of the 51 books, 30 (59%) were written by female authors and 17 (33%) were written by male authors.  The remaining four books (8%) were written by multiple authors of differing genders.  45 books (88%) were written by white authors (this includes all nationalities, not just white people from the United States), 5 books (10%) were written by nonwhite authors and 1 (2%) book was written by multiple authors of differing races.
  • There was an almost equal distribution throughout the four seasons of the year, with just a little lag in the last few months because of the holidays.  A majority of my reading has been focused in the 21st century (35 books) with quite a few new releases this year and 27 of the authors I read were  “first time” authors for me, meaning I had never read their work prior to this year.
Overall, my reading was much more diverse than I thought it was.  I am not saying it was ideal, and I am making some resolutions on improving my reading experience.  But I am proud of what I have accomplished this year.  Moving forward into 2015 – I have set a few goals, or reading resolutions for myself to direct my reading habits and experience. 

The Goodreads Challenge
I will participate in the Goodreads Challenge reading goal once again, but I am lowering my goal from 50 books to 30 books.  I am doing this for several reasons – most importantly, I know I can reach this goal and I will not feel pressure at the end of the year to squeeze in books I wouldn't normally want to read because I have an arbitrary goal to meet. I want to enhance the quality of my reading, which brings me to my next resolution.

Reading Diversely
I will have a separate post on the revelation I had on reading more diversity in 2015, but I want to state that I am fully on the bandwagon of increasing the diversity of books in stores, in publishing, and in the general public awareness.  I am first making the change within myself and my own habits so I can lead by example when I speak of this topic with others.

Inspired by Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, and wanting to diminish the number of books I have piled up on my TBR shelf, I have created a list of 25 books (20 of which I already own) to read in the new year. The list is diverse in author race, nationality and gender, as well as in genre category.  The goal is to expand my reading with backlist titles while still making room to enjoy 2015 new releases.  Some of the authors on my list include Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Marilynne Robinson, Toni Morrison and Karen Russell. 

Utilizing the Library
A majority of the books on my 2015 Reading List are already on my shelf or waiting on my Kindle because I bought them with the best of intentions of reading them that week, or that month, but got distracted and moved on to something else.  I want to put more intention into my reading and the money I am spending on reading.  Therefore I have decided to utilize my library’s physical and E-book catalogue prior to purchasing books, and then only purchasing the titles if I feel the need to add them to my personal collection.  I just ordered the Kindle Paperwhite to make e-reading even more enticing and I’m stocking up on a few books today to ensure I have plenty of reading material on hand for the upcoming year. 

Perhaps the most exciting portion of 2015 – all of the good book events on the horizon! So far I only know of and am definitely attending BookCon this year in May for a full weekend instead of just one day. I have also located a great independent bookstore near me – the Doylestown Bookshop – that hosts author events on a relatively regular basis that I would like to attend this year. 

Stacks & Shelves
Blogging has been sporadic and mood fueled for me in the past year.  I either feel pressure to update with relentless and usually meaningless (to me) content like book hauls or tags because I want to maintain traffic to the site with regular updates. But posting that content felt empty because I was only doing it to say something, instead of having something to say, if that makes sense.  This year I am not going to guarantee a certain number of posts by week or month.  Instead I am going to focus on meaningful posts, like book reviews or discussions or other events and news happening in the literary world.

So there you have it – my introspection on the past year and my goals for 2015.  I hope everyone has a wonderful new year. I look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

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