It’s that time of year for Best Of lists, some which I’ll be doing later this month. The ones that always cause me anxiety are the book lists, because they force me to admit that I will never, no matter how hard I try, read all of the things worthy of being read. It’s some nerd version of FOMO, I think, and it makes me hyperventilate with literary desire.
This is not going to read a list of the best things I read this year, but for what it’s worth, my favorites were The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach), Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell), The Tiger’s Wife (Tea Obreht), The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For (Alison Bechdel), and Drown (Junot Diaz). Obviously, most of these weren’t even written this year, that’s how much I can’t keep up.
Instead of a straight-up list, I’d like to take the opportunity to turn a critical, data-driven eye on my own reading habits (woooo! data!) Who do I read? Who don’t I read? We could get real specific, but here’s how it breaks down in broad categories for my thus-far-in-2012 reading list:
A few other notes:
15% of the authors I read this year are openly queer
48% are under 50, 44% are over 50, 8% are dead
23% were not born in the United States
Perhaps most surprising to me, 55% of what I read this year was non-fiction, with about half of that being straight-up memoir. Who’d have thought?
The point of anything like this (whether it’s analyzing women in the boardroom data or percentage of black women on television) is not to just through some charts up and be all “BOOM! DATA!” The point is take a closer look at our sources of information. For me, much of my perspective on the world comes from what I read (both on and off the internet). If everything I read is white and straight, well, I think it’s safe to say I’m limiting myself.
That said, I’m pretty happy with this, though perhaps the non-white section of my reading list could be beefed up a bit. That’s a sourcing problem as much as anything else, right? Where do I get my recommendations? Book blogs (mostly by white people), my bookish friends (most of whom are white), and book reviews (mostly by white reporters about white authors). So…. who’s got some recommendations for me?
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