I set a goal (as usual) for 52 books this year (one a week) and read 77 books this year. I only read 56 last year and blamed pandemic brain.
This year wasn’t much better pandemic-wise (especially since I was hit very hard by COVID), but I did get back into reading more. Part of that is that I found a really awesome Excel file to track my reading. The original spreadsheet is from Sophie Islington and you can find the spreadsheets for various years here on her YouTube channel. I edited one from 2017/2018 to fit my needs and use it along with Goodreads now.
This year I read …
By The Numbers
Non Fiction Books Read – 30 (39%)
Fiction Books Read – 47 (61%)
Ebooks – 68 (88%)
Paperbacks – 8 (10%)
Hardcovers – 1 (1%)
Adult – 65 (84%)
New Adult – 1 (1%)
Young Adult – 11 (14%)
Busiest Month of Reading – 8 books (January, August, October, November and December)
Least Busy Month of Reading – 3 (April)
Genre Most Read – Suspense (Fiction) followed by Mountaineering (Non Fiction) and Writing (Non Fiction) books.
Page Length – 38% of books were between 300 and 399 pages. Shortest book was under 100 pages. Longest was over 900.
Author Gender – 51% male and 49% female. I tend to read more female authors, so this was a surprisingly even split.
BIPOC Authors Read – 9 books (12%) from 7 authors (technically 8 because one was a writing duo). Better than last year at least.
LGBTQ2IA+ Authors Read – 4 books from 4 authors. There may be more; I only marked an author as LGBTQ+ if their bio stated it or stated they were married to someone of the same gender.
1 Star – 0
2 Star – 0
2.5 Star – 2 (3%)
3 Star – 35 (45%)
3.5 Star – 20 (26%)
4 Star – 13 (17%)
4.5 Star – 4 (5%)
5 Star – 4 (5%)
I tend to choose books I know I’ll like at least a little, which is why nothing was below 2.5
Read Harder Challenge – 6 of 24 done
Here is a rundown of some of my favourites (and not-so-favourites):
Favourite Non Fiction Books Read
Our Friend Joe: The Joe Fortes Story – I loved this book which has as detailed a history as possible on the late Joe Fortes, named Vancouver’s Citizen of the Century. It’s a fascinating look at the man’s life and the early history of Vancouver, especially the history of Black citizens.
Homey Don’t Play That!: The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution – I watched ILC every single Sunday, and loved the show. It completely encapsulates the early 90s for me. This book was a fantastic look at how Keenen Ivory Wayans came up and revolutionized sketch comedy. There’s great family history, cast info, chat with the writers and a lot of background of comedy and TV in LA in the 80s and 90s.
Favourite Fiction Books Read
Straight (Chuck Tingle) – Most people know of Hugo award nominee Chuck Tingle from his erotic novels like I’m Gay for My Living Billionaire Jet Plane and Pounded By The Pound: Turned Gay By The Socioeconomic Implications Of Britain Leaving The European Union. Underneath the titles and cover art are often poignant and raw truths about people and circumstance that make you realize love is indeed real. Straight is a modern LGBTQ2IA+ horror novel that manages to be frightening in its new take on the zombie genre and touching in so many ways that will hit home with LGBT folks and allies.
One Step Too Far (Lisa Gardner) – I also want to include the first book in the Frankie Elkins series, Before She Disappeared because both are so good. I love this new character and series Lisa Gardner has come out with – and I always get nervous when favourite authors debut new characters. Frankie is a recovering alcoholic whose mission in life is to find missing people. The first book is set in urban Boston, while this one is in the wilds of Wyoming, where she joins a search group looking for a missing man and finds more than she bargained for.
Land of Shadows (Rachel Howzell Hall) – I loved this book about a Black LAPD detective solving murders in the city. I’m disappointed to have read that Hall is no longer writing series books and is focused on standalone, because I really loved this first book and I’m looking forward to the three other books in the series.
Best New-to-me Author Discovery
Rachel Howzell Hall (see above) – I love the snarky way she writes Elouise “Lou” Norton. Her secondary characters really shine as well. I was just really happy to find her books. I’ve been wanting more POC suspense series.
Least Favourite Non Fiction Books Read
Wicked Beyond Belief (Michael Bilton) was a well-researched book about the Yorkshire Ripper, but I was frustrated with the fact that after 900+ pages I felt like I knew next to nothing about many of the victims and the perpetrator. The question of why is not really even posed. It was mostly a book about policing on the case, and as such it read dry.
Least Favourite Fiction Books Read
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Suzanne Collins) – It seems obvious in retrospect that a book about a sadistic dickhead would be a trying read lol. I found some aspects interesting – the way the early Games were run, Lucy Gray Baird’s character – but Coriolanus Snow is a total dickhead, from start to finish. So I found myself questioning why I was bothering to read because I knew the outcome – we know what he becomes. And honestly … I didn’t care about why and how. The book doesn’t really explain it either. He just is a bad seed from the genes. I’d rather read about how Tigris ended up breaking away from him.
Marilla of Green Gables (Sarah McCoy) – While there was a lot to like here in terms of the time period and research, I found many aspects of the story (Marilla the abolitionist for one; Matthew courting for another) totally unbelievable and not close to how I would have envisioned the characters when they were young.
The Last Star (Rick Yancey) – I liked the first book, found the second a bit of a slog, but I was really interested in how it would all come together, and I didn’t like it. I mean, I think the epilogue section pretty much left everyone the way I expected it would, as there really was no other out. But it just got too convoluted for me.
Best Book Settings
Alaska – Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak series really brings Alaska to life. I’ve been watching and enjoying Alaska Daily on TV and I like catching all the references I’ve learned from Stabenow’s books. It’s been interesting seeing the changes in her fictional town of Niniltna as the books have progressed too.
Boston – In Lisa Gardner’s Before She Disappeared Frankie Elkins arrives in the Boston neighbourhood of Mattapan to find a missing girl. Gardner does an amazing job of bringing you right into the neighbourhoods of the city.
Least Favourite Book Settings
Italy – Jeffery Deaver’s The Burial Hour took place in here. I think I’ve only liked ONE book set in Italy, and it was a children’s book. I can trace my hatred back to Patricia Cornwell’s Book of the Dead and Thomas Harris’s Hannibal. I don’t know what it is, but Italian police procedurals make me irrationally angry lol.
Number of Books I Re-Read
None – I want to re-read SO many, but I have so many unread books that it feels like cheating to go back and read something I’ve already read. But I’d love to, especially first books in series’ that I’ve been reading for ages. I want to see how it is to re-read those.
My biggest goal was to just read more without worrying about who I was reading or if I was doing enough non fic vs fic etc. Basically removing any rules so that I could relax and just read, and it seems to have worked.
I also made an effort to read some books that had been on my to be read list for years and years. I had a TBR list of 16 books in my Excel file and I read 14 of them (finally!). My Goodreads TBR went from about 60+ to around 40, so that was good as well.