I read 143 books last year and wrote 126 reviews – but that says relatively little about my reading habits, other than I spend a fair bit of time with my nose buried in a book or writing about them… So how did those figures break down?
Gender of author
Of those 143 books, 86 were written by women and 57 were written by men. I try to ensure a rough parity – the first couple of years I started writing reviews, I was shaken to notice that the huge majority of books I read and wrote about were written by men. I decided that simply wasn’t good enough – so over the last couple of years I have been mindful to ensure the gender balance doesn’t tip too heavily one way or another. And if it does, given my initial unconscious bias, it should be tilted towards female authors.
I’m NOT suggesting that anyone else does the same, after all deciding what you want to read should be a fundamental freedom – so long as it isn’t perverting young minds, or stirring up hatred. But as a female science fiction and fantasy writer whose hobby is writing book reviews, it behoves me to spread the word about the wealth of writing talent out there by a bunch of gifted, entertaining writers whose work somehow doesn’t get reviewed as often as their male counterparts.
What I do find interesting, is that after a couple of years of making a sustained effort to ensure gender parity, these days I hardly have to think about it. Many speculative fiction authors write series of books which I thoroughly enjoy and when browsing, there are invariably another crop of names I haven’t come across before that need checking out.
Below I’ve provided a table of genres – of course some of the books are a mash-up, in which case it’s a judgement call.
Sci fi Fantasy Urban fantasy Alt history /Steampunk Crime Children Literary /Other
36 41 19 13 10 6 18
Just to clarify things – the Crime section only includes ‘straight’ crime, not those murder mysteries with a twist of fantasy that I’m so fond of – I’ve included them in the Urban Fantasy section. The other sub-genre I decided against adding was YA – while a number of the books in all these lists are YA, that still doesn’t tell you exactly they are about, so I decided it wasn’t helpful. If I’d read more children’s books, I would have also separated those out into their genres, rather than age groups, but without exception they are either fantasy or science fiction.
The only other number that might be of interest, is that I read 60 books by authors I haven’t encountered before – which came as something of a shock as I assumed I’d read more books from new authors. Now I’ve segregated my reading list into the subject areas, the main thing that jumps out at me is that my reading content is fairly narrow these days. However, I also read a fair amount of poetry which I don’t review, so haven’t included it on my blog and neither have I included the ‘How To’ writing books I regularly dip in and out of, as I regard those as tools of the trade rather than books I want to share with other readers.
What genre do you most often read and why? Me – it’s simple – I love to open up a book and escape. It’s been the same from the very first books I handled – the further away from ‘real’ life, the better as far as I’m concerned. Which is why there is dearth of what my mother calls ‘sensible’ books on my reading list. I’d love to hear from you about your reading numbers last year, or your thoughts on why you want to read… I’m guessing there is a fairly wide range of reasons why people enjoy reading and I’d like to see if I’m right!