What I Read in 2013

I read a lot in 2013. Some combination of new proximity to my local library, an enthusiastic book club, and my first shot at the quiet and uninterrupted solitude of single-living has resulted in me cranking through the stacks at record pace.

I believe who we read is in many ways as important as what we read. Which voices do we bring into our homes and absorb into our worldviews? Are they just like us? Older? Younger? Poorer? Richer? Colorful?

Some organizations, like VIDA, formalize this count by comparing bylines by gender at major publications. Here’s how my 2013 reading list shook out:

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Included in that blue chunk in the top right were new books like Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go, Junot Diaz’ This Is How You Lose Her, James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird, and Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanahas well as a few overlooked classics, like Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. 

Not that 40 is by any means some sort of definitive line in the sand, but I think it’s interesting that most of what I read (with the notable exception of Veronica Roth’s YA Divergent trilogy) was written by real live grown-ups. You know, not 25-year-olds.

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Lastly, was any of it true? I find that, as I get older, my preference for non-fiction gets stronger. I read more journalism, less bloggery, watch more documentaries, fewer blockbusters, read more memoirs, fewer pieces of fiction. Seems like the real world is plenty full of good stories without having to make them up. Cases in point include Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Katherine Boo) and Random Family (Adrian Nicole LeBlanc). I still read a buttload of fiction, but I only expect the slice of non-fic to get fatter every year.

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So what were my favorites? Read everything I mentioned above (especially the Boo and Adichie). For wild cackling on the train, I suggest Mindy Kaling’s memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? For when you have six solid hours on the couch and you need an epic American tale, pick up East of Edenwhich I finally read and adored this year. For the quirkiest love story of the year about an autistic astronaut and his bald wife, read Lydia Netzer’s Shine, Shine, ShineTo deepen your love of great American cities, read Dan Baum’s Nine Lives (New Orleans), You Were Never in Chicago (Neil Steinberg), or Detroit (Charlie LeDuff). And when you really want to be stunned by what magic tricks a book can do, dare yourself to try Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son.
 
What did you read and love in 2013, and what’s next?
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3 Comments

Filed under Books, Gender

3 responses to “What I Read in 2013

  1. I’m going to see you tomorrow (it’s Andrew!) but I figured I’d put this here anyway. I was too lazy to do an age distribution, but here were my 2013 numbers (with the big caveat that I didn’t include anything I read at grad school because strictly speaking I didn’t finish any “books,” only readings):

    14% female, 86% male
    9% nonwhite, 91% white
    36% fiction, 64% nonfiction
    (22 total books)

    Out of curiosity, I ran the 2012 numbers and got:
    7% female, 93% male
    100% white (!) – I double-checked and don’t think I mistakenly identified any black writers as white writers, which would be the most likely mistake for me to make based solely on names
    24% fiction, 76% nonfiction
    (41 total books)

    • Sara

      Andrew! We can discuss, but for our data-aggregation enjoyment, mine were:

      31% female, 69% male
      11% non-white, 89% white
      34% nonfiction, 66% fiction
      (35 books total)

  2. Pingback: Why a Single-Sex Media Diet is a Bad Idea | rosiesaysblog

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