Posts Tagged: Reevaluating My Reading

Reevaluating My Reading: Genreflection

November 9, 2016 Books 4

Earlier this year, I took a look at my reading stats for the past 5 years to get an idea of (1) where the authors I’ve read come from and (2) the gender of those authors.

I also started writing this post back then but it languished in my drafts for months for no good reason… so here we are now. Keep in mind that these “Reevaluating My Reading” posts cover books I read from 2011-2015.

Here’s my intro from those posts:

I’ve been seeing more and more buzz about diversity in the book world lately, and I got curious:

How diverse are my reading habits?

There are lots of ways to measure this. Author or character gender, LGBT orientation, ethnicity or culture, disability or mental illness, and on and on and on. Today, though, I just want to focus on… genre.

Today I wanted to focus a little more on the content of the books themselves rather than the people that wrote them.

My reading habits have changed a bit over the past 5 years. I’ve gone from an MLIS student to a teen librarian at a public library to a tech librarian at an academic library. In 2014, I joined the Classics Club, and I signed up for the Foodies Read and TBR Pile Challenge projects in 2015. I started sewing in 2012, got interested in genealogy in 2013, and we bought a house just last year. All of these things have influenced my book diet.

– – –

Skip this section about methodology if you just want to see some pretty pie charts….

First, I separated the titles into fiction and nonfiction. Obviously!

Second, I tried to guess what I thought would be the most common and least common genres, and I combined “like” genres where appropriate. For example, I read very little in the way of straight-up romance or erotica. But for a while I was reading a lot of YA contemporary fic with strong romantic themes/plots, so I decided to lump anything focusing on relationships into one category.

Which brings up a particular point — I did not separate books based on either intended audience or format. Adult books are mixed in with YA and kids’ books, and audiobooks and graphic novels are mixed in with regular print.

A lot of books, fiction and nonfiction alike, can land in more than one genre or can be hard to define. In these cases, I just went with my gut. If I was shelving this book in my home library (which is arranged by genre/topic), where would it go?

– – –

Here’s what my genre breakdown looks like for fiction:

reevreading_genre_fic

Um, it’s pretty obvious that I have kind of a thing for speculative fiction, huh? Particularly high fantasy. High fantasy is set in another world as opposed to including fantasty elements in our own, which is why I included portal fantasy in this group. But it makes a big difference that a lot of high fantasy is done in series — like the 15-book Wheel of Time series that I read 2011-2013.

And of course the second most common genre is “low” fantasy — paranormal, magical steampunk (as opposed to sci-fi style steampunk), contemporary fairy tales, etc. A lot of this group is due to my high-YA diet during my tenure as a teen librarian. I still read some YA, just not as much these days.

And here’s nonfiction:

reevreading_genre_nfic

I think my nonfiction genres are a tiny bit more balanced. Biography/memoirs take the cake, but a lot of those are actually subject-specific or themed in some way. I rarely sit down with a big ol’ tell-all bio, but the story of an expat’s years in France or a journal from whatever time period I’m currently interested in will always grab my attention.

I’m a bit ashamed to see that I only read 2 books of poetry in all of 5 years, when I’ve been meaning to read more poetry from quite some time now… clearly I need a more defined goal or challenge if that’s going to happen!

– – –

So, talk to me — do you keep track of which fiction genres / nonfiction subjects you’re reading about? Do you have a good idea of what genre(s) you consume most? And are pie charts the bee’s knees or what?


Reevaluating My Reading: Battle of the Sexes

February 20, 2016 Books 0

A little while ago I did some quick number-crunching to figure out where the authors of the books I’ve read over the past 5 years have come from.

Here’s my intro from that post:

I’ve been seeing more and more buzz about diversity in the book world lately, and I got curious:

How diverse are my reading habits?

There are lots of ways to measure this. Author or character gender, LGBT orientation, ethnicity or culture, disability or mental illness, and on and on and on. Today, though, I just want to focus on gender.

Just a quick note: Yes, I am aware that there is a difference between gender and biological sex. Read the section below if you want more info about my methods. Otherwise, just trust that I did my best to make sure each author was represented as accurately as possible.

– – –

This section is all blahblahblah about how I gathered the stats, so skip to the bottom if you just want to see some pretty pie charts mkay?

First, I decided to stick with author gender/sex instead of that of the characters because I frankly didn’t want to struggle with the problems of nonfiction, multiple MCs/POVs, or other weirdness.

As with my last stats-gathering post, I had to figure out what to do about series, because if I read 10 books in a series by one author in a year that could really skew the results! So like last time, I decided that each author would only count once per series within one year. If I continued reading the series the next year, or if I read another non-series book by the same author, I could count them again.

Now let’s talk about gender and sex. For the purposes of this post, I assumed that whatever gender the author presents as is what they actually identify as. If for some reason gender wasn’t obvious but they claimed a particular biological sex, I decided to go with that (though I ended up not needing to rely on this). Genderqueer and intersex (in other words, non-binary) authors were counted separately (… except it turns out that none of the books I read had genderqueer or intersex authors), though I decided to count any transgender people as whichever gender/sex they present as.

– – –

So, here’s the breakdown of the authors of books I’ve read over the past 5 years (2011-2015):

authorgender1

Interesting! I suspected I may have read more books by women than men, for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve simply been drawn to them and their work, especially when it comes to the YA genre. Second, there seems to be a higher proportion (relatively) of female to male authors writing on many of the subjects I like to read about in the nonfiction category.

It’s interesting to compare this unconscious habit to my planned reading for the Classics Club, which has almost the exact opposite percentage (2/3 men, 1/3 women).

Do you know what your ratio of male to female to nonbinary, etc. authors is? Do you make a special effort to read authors of one gender or sex in preference over another?


Reevaluating My Reading: Author Origins

January 24, 2016 Books 0

I’ve been seeing more and more buzz about diversity in the book world lately, and I got curious:

How diverse are my reading habits?

There are lots of ways to measure this. Author or character gender, LGBT orientation, ethnicity or culture, disability or mental illness, and on and on and on. Today, though, I just want to focus on origin.

Where are my books coming from?

Edited to add: This has nothing to do with that current Kirkus kerfuffle. This post was scheduled well before that started. And frankly, it confuses the hell out of me.

– – –

Discussion

Skip this section and go straight to the results below if you’re not interested in the method behind the madness madness behind the method….

I decided to focus on author origin / place of publication rather than character origin or book settings, simply because many books take place in multiple countries or even completely made-up worlds.

Some authors were hard to pin down. Many writers prefer to protect their privacy online and there was no information about where they call home. Others were born in one place but lived most of their lives in another — Laura Ingalls Wilder being an extreme example of this conundrum. When I couldn’t find any information about an author’s specific location, I simply used the country where their book was originally published instead.

I also had to decide what to do about series or multiple books by the same author. I ultimately decided to count each series only once per year, even if I read several books from the series in one year. Likewise, books with multiple authors are only counted once if both authors are from the same country, but twice if they worked together across borders.

In other words, this evaluation does not reflect the actual number of books I’ve read. It’s all about the authors!

– – –

Results

For all the books I’ve read in the past five years (from 2011 to 2015), here’s the breakdown by country:
authororigins1

 

Hm. Looks like I only managed read a few books from countries where the main language is not English. Of the non-English-speaking countries, the most heavily represented (with 6 books) was Japan.

Here’s the breakdown for the good ol’ US of A:
authororigins2

 

Many states were represented by only 1 or 2 books on my lists, which is why this pie has so many tiny slices. Only Texas, New York, California, Massachusetts, and Utah were represented by 10 or more books. Oh, and “America” as a general category (representing authors of unknown origin that published in the US).

– – –

I knew my reading has been mostly by American and English-speaking European authors. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that many of the Americans claim New York or California as home. Looks like the state with the biggest share of my American pie chart (ha) is Texas, and there’s a specific reason for that: in 2014 I had to read a great many books by Texas authors for a book list committee.

What am I going to do with this information? I don’t know yet. My planned reading for 2016 pretty much fits in with this pattern. But maybe in the future this will serve as motivation to try for a little extra diversity in my book diet.