Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Reading by the Numbers

I already posted my list of top reads from 2016, but here is the rest of it! Between Goodreads and all my extra shelves I create, I track quite a bit of data that I personally find interesting.

Around the end of December, Goodreads users get greeted by their year in review, automatically generated. These numbers are actually a bit high because it includes the books I abandoned, since I track those too. But they are close.

In 2015, I read 244 books and 65,186 pages. So in one year I increased by roughly 38% in each way of counting, accounting for the handful of abandoned books which shouldn't count but do. I may find a new way to keep track of abandoned titles in 2017. My Read in 2016 shelf says 327 books, which sounds about right.

Last year I read about 50/50 male/female authors; this year my numbers skewed more to female, at about 58%. This isn't the only diverse category I'm interested in but I feel strange tracking authors for other things. Just know that I have been reading widely and diversely and feel pleased that this list is not just all dead white men.

Format is always interesting to me. This year I read 188 (56%) books in print, 125 (37%) in eBook, and 24 (7%) in audiobook. That makes about 2 audiobooks a month. I used to only read library and review copy books in eBook but now that I have a Kindle Paperwhite, that accounts for some increase. I really love reading on it, and it has been a help when I travel. A large amount of the audio and eBooks I read are review copies, and overall I read 109 review copy books this year, accounting for 32% of the books I read, so almost one third. I request review copies, and it is a rare day where I will blindly accept an offer (so please don't get any ideas.) I go looking for specific titles and stick with those.

Other technological shifts that changed some of how I read included learning about Hoopla through the public library (with audiobook and eBook downloads) and the Serial Reader app, which distributes daily content of classics in eBook format. While those were not a huge percentage of the books I read (and they are accounted for in the above format breakdown), this was the first year I read using either of those methods.

I read a lot of books because of award lists. In 2016, that broke down this way:
Baileys Prize - 4
Dylan Thomas - 4
Giller Prize - 1 
Man Booker - 9
Hugo - 3
National Book Award - 6
Nebula - 3
Pulitzer - 2
Tournament of Books - 2

My book club alliances have shifted slightly, and I need to keep better track of books I read because of various groups in Goodreads and Litsy, but here is what I kept track of:

International Center Book Club (in-person) - 9
League of Extraordinary Dorks - 1
Sword and Laser - 6
Misfit Readers - 2
Postal Book Group - 5

And here is a hodgepodge list of various genres and subgenres that I track because I'm interested in getting back to them easily. Some of them I looked at percentages too, just out of curiosity, so will include those when relevant. I felt like I read less science fiction and fantasy this year but it was actually slightly more than last year. I love that 11% of my entire reading list was of translated works. Those were the two surprises.

Africa2016 - 38 (11%)
Around the World - 60
Banned Books - 3
Biography and memoir - 23
Books on Books - 5
Cold Weather Islands - 12
Creative Non-Fiction - 13
Cults & Communes - 4
Graphic novels and comics - 10
Poetry - 39 (12%)
Post-apocalypse and dystopia - 9
Romance - 17
Science Fiction & Fantasy - 43
Secret Agents & Detectives - 4
Short Story Collections - 19
Southern - 8 (this may be low, not sure I caught all of them)
Spooktober - 5
Translated - 36 (11%)
Travel Writing - 7
YA - 17

Jenny's Best Books of 2016

I talked about most of my top books of the year on Episode 075 of the Reading Envy Podcast. But at a glance, it's not easy to figure out which are my picks, and I have a few more I want to mention. Bear with, bear with. I read 337 books in 2016 and so many were fantastic. These are not the only good reads but the cream of the crop.

Many of my favorite reads were books translated into English.

The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Forty Rooms by Olga Grushin
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

Five of my favorite titles were poetry anthologies, three that came from my Africa 2016 reading. The last three were given to me as review copies but I wish I had them on my shelf with their beautiful artwork, especially the chapbook collections. Those are going on my shopping list for 2017. 

Ark by Ed Madden
Physical by Andrew McMillan
New-Generation African Poets (tatu) ed. By Kwame Dawes
New-Generation African Poets (nne) ed. By Kwame Dawes
The January Children by January Elhillo

Two titles were from award lists - one won the Pulitzer and the other was shortlisted for the Man Booker (while winning other awards.) Both took place partially in Asia, both were excellent reads.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Three titles, all very different from one another, all had one thing in common - a very strong female voice, and cold weather islands. Different genres, different islands, but unforgettable.

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett
Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

One book lingers without a grouping, but I have to include it. An Instagram friend tells me I will find his other books just as memorable and I can't wait. This is a great read about marriage and identity, as true now as it was in 1975. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Reading Wrap-Up: Africa2016

I have been working on a project to read a book from every country for several years now. For 2016, I turned my focus to Africa and made quite a bit of progress, although there are still some holes in that map. In the image, the orange represents countries I had read books from years previous to 2016, the green represents countries I read for the first time in 2016, and the orange with green stripes indicates countries where although I had previously read books from those countries, I read additional books this year. The full list of 37 titles from 2016 is below, and I'd be happy to send a link of my full list to anyone who requests it. Links with the year in parentheses will take you to my review in Goodreads while title links will take you to Amazon.

There are a few countries I still need ideas for - Benin, Gabon, and Niger. Any ideas?

My top reads from Africa for this year would be:
  1. The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane
  2. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
  3. Cockroaches by Scholastique Mukasonga
  4. Walking with Abel: Journeys with the Nomads of the African Savannah by Anna Badkhen
  5. New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Set (tatu) edited by Kwame Dawes
I'm particularly proud of this year's list because it has more female authors than male, and more native authors than non-native. An increase in translated literature by small presses has really helped, and I can't wait to see what they bring us in 2017.

The Stranger by Albert Camus (read 2011 and 2016)
The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud (read 2016)

A General Theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa (read 2016)
The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa (October 2016)

Cabo Verde (Cape Verde)
Historia, Historia by Eleanor Stanford (read 2016)

Mystique: A Collection of Lake Myths by Beatrice Bime (read 2016)

Democratic Republic of the Congo & Republic of the Congo
Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou (read December 2016)

The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz (read 2016)

Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey (read 2016)
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (read 2016)

The Book of Secrets by M.G. Vassanji (read 2016)

Walking with Abel by Anna Badkhen (read 2016)
The Cruelest Journey by Kira Salak (read 2016)
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer (read 2016)

The First Wife by Pauline Chiziane (read 2016)

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (read 2016)
The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi (read 2016)
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (read 2016)

Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga (read 2016)
Cockroaches by Scholastique Mukasonga (read 2016)

Xala by Ousmane Sembene (read 2016)

Sierra Leone
Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna (read December 2016)

South Sudan
Beyond the River Wei by Binyavonga Wainanga (read 2016)
There is a Country: New Fiction from the New Nation of South Sudan by various (read 2016)

The January Children by January Elhillo (read December 2016)
Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih (read 2016)

When Hoopoes Go To Heaven by Gaile Parkin (read 2016)

Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar by Emily Ruete (read December 2016)

Child of Dandelions by Shenaaz Nanji (read 2016)
All our Names by Dinaw Mengestu (read 2016)
The Gravity of Sunlight by Rosa Shand (read 2016)
Thirty Girls by Susan Minot (read 2016)

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller (read July 2016)

New-Generation African Poets (tatu) ed. By Kwame Dawes (read April 2016)
New-Generation African Poets (nne) ed. By Kwame Dawes (read December 2016)
Passages: Africa (PEN America) (read December 2016)
Water: New Short Story Fiction from Africa edited by Nick Mulgrew (read November 2016)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Reading Envy 075: After the Year We've Had - The Best of 2016

Scott and Jenny discuss our best books of the year and share some of the contributions people sent in. These books might include books from any decade, just books that were read in 2016.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 075: After the Year We've Had (Best of 2016).

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via iTunes by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Listen via Stitcher

Books discussed:

Kinder than Solitude by Yiyun Li
Gutenberg's Apprentice by Alix Christie
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Benediction by Kent Haruf
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
The First Men on the Moon by H.G. Wells
Pavane by Keith Roberts
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Forty Rooms by Olga Grushin
Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett
Half Wild: Stories by Robin MacArthur
The North Water by Ian McGuire
My Last Continent by Midge Raymond
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Empire of Deception by Dean Joff
Ark by Ed Madden
Physical by Andrew McMillan
On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers
Guapa by Saleem Haddad
Doc by Mary Doria Russell
Dune by Frank Herbert
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
The More They Disappear by Jesse Donaldson
Atomic Robo: The Everything Explodes Collection by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegoner
Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
Light Years by James Salter
The One in a Million Boy by Monica Ward
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew
The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Pauline Chiziane
Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
Kalahari by Jessica Khoury
Spaceman by Mike Massimino
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichi
The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trolloppe

Other mentions:

Kij Johnson
Stephen King
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
A Good Story is Hard to Find Podcast - Dante 1 | 2 | 3
Science Fiction Book Review Podcast (Luke & Juliane)
Andrew McMillan reading his poem "Yoga"
Beyonce - Lemonade 
Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
Secret Stacks podcast

Reading Envy Episode list

Stalk us online:
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy

Scott on Twitter
Scott on his blog
Scott is @sddanielson on Litsy (for now!)