At the end of 2017, I realized I’d read paltry few books (I think I counted 8?) and what a sad shame that was for someone who used to love to read. I decided to put excuses (and my smartphone) aside and read for half an hour a day, with a modest goal of reading about a book every 2 weeks, which I would track on Goodreads. Half an hour a day quickly added up and I hit my goal of 26 books in March. My total for the year?
67 books!! I’m still hoping to make it a nice round 70 before January 1st. 😉
Anyway, this is proof that setting a small goal for yourself can yield big results. Now I’m posting book reviews to my blog and contemplating the best setup for a book review podcast. My own fiction has also improved in the last year–pretty drastically, in my opinion–and I know a great part of that is simply that I’m internalizing good habits by reading great writing.
I also set a goal for myself to read more nonfiction (based on advice from Chuck Wendig that, again, proved to be great for my own writing). “More” than 1 or 2 nonfiction books a year was pretty easy to accomplish.
Additionally, I wanted to read 50% books by authors of color. That led to tracking some demographic information on a spreadsheet. Here’s a brief statistical breakdown of what I read:
Total books read: 66
Graphic Novels: 15, or 23%
Young Adult Fiction: 20, or 30%
Nonfiction: 15, or 23%
Audiobooks: 12, or 18%
Books* written or edited by women: 39, or 85%
Books* written or edited by POC: 19, or 41%
Most read authors: Mackenzie Lee, Grady Hendrix, and Victor LaValle
*graphic novels were not included in this calculation, sorry!
Keeping track of demographic information created a fine kettle of fish for myself. How to include graphic novels, which have multiple authors and artists? Could I reliably track author data (not everyone publicly reports their gender, race, disabilities, etc.)? What about anthologies–was one LGBTQ character in one story enough to qualify the entire book for a tick in the LGBTQ category, when the other 20 stories are about cisgender, hetero characters? Arg. This was an interesting exercise, but I’m not sure I’ll track the same statistics in 2019.
And now, the recommendations! I read a lot of books…so, which ones did I enjoy the most? Get ready for a genre breakdown! With links to my specific reviews.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzie Lee, is perfect for you if you like swashbuckling action, period romance, and humor.
The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton, is a lush, beautifully written fantasy novel for anyone who loves dystopian worlds disguised as utopias.
The Female of the Species, by Mindy McGuiness, is not a book published in the last two years, but it was easily one of the best books I read in 2018, so it’s making the list. It’s my list, I do what I want!
Into the Drowning Deep, by Mira Grant, is about murderous mermaids. It’s the novel my 14 year old self has dreamed of for a long, long time.
The Changeling, by Victor LaValle, is every parent’s worst nightmare given form. LaValle’s writing is evocative and entrancing.
The Graveyard Apartment, by Mariko Koike, is a classic Japanese horror novel recently given a wonderful new translation. I couldn’t put it down.
Well, That Escalated Quickly, by Franchesca Ramsey should be required reading for anyone who wants to exist on the internet.
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West, is the book you need if you, like me, are a fat white woman in her thirties.
AND NOW, MY FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR!
The Power, by Naomi Alderman, is technically science fiction, in the way Margaret Atwood novels are science fiction. I chose this book as my favorite for the year because it’s the one I find myself recommending to other people the most. It really resonated with me and my mind keeps returning to it, months later. I highly recommend the audiobook.
So, dear reader, what books do you recommend? What should I read and review in 2019? Will you listen to my podcast when I finally get myself organized enough to record some episodes?
Happy New Year! ❤