Tracking My Reading: An Update

how i track my reading

As I mentioned in this post, I’m tracking my reading in 2016 in order to illuminate trends and identify potential holes in my reading habits. Since a quarter of the year has now passed (WHAT?!?!), I thought I’d pop on and do a quick update of my selections from the year thus far. Already I’m getting a clearer picture of the type of voices I’m missing out on as well as honing in on the subjects I find most fascinating. Here’s a breakdown of my first few months…

  • I have read 10 books so far in 2016.
  • The oldest was published in 1998, the most recent in 2015.
  • These 10 books were comprised of 3,137 pages.

Author Info

  • 6 authors were female and 4 were male. (Better than I thought!)
  • All authors were white; 1 Jewish born of immigrant parents. (YIKES! Definitely something I need to work on!!!)
  • 6 authors were American, 3 were British, and 1 was Canadian.
  • Only one identifies as LGBTQ. (Another area for improvement.)

Genre Info

  • I read 3 memoirs, 3 works of fiction (1 thriller, 1 historical), and 4 works of non-fiction.
  • A few themes that were encountered throughout several books included; travel, stories of financial struggle/low-wage work, the effects of oppression/patriarchy on women, and mental illness. (Uplifting, eh?)
  • 5 of the books took place in America.
  • The historical fiction novel I read took place from 1791-1810.
  • These books expanded my knowledge in environmental science, cultural anthropology, nutrition, Southern history, Indian politics, ethnography, mental health, and religion.

Fiction Info

  • Of the fiction books I read, all 3 utilized a female narrator.
  • All 3 passed the Bechdel Test (although one BARELY passed).
  • While only 1 had characters who were identified as POC.

With that information in mind, here are the 10 books I’ve read so far in 2016:

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

How to Be Good by Nick Hornby

The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler

January First by Michael Schofield

Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home by Leah Lax

Now, over to y’all…what have YOU read in 2016? Have you noticed any trends in your reading selections over the years? And finally, can you recommend some books for me to start filling in the gaps of missing voices in my reading lists? I’d love suggestions and recommendations! Thanks in advance. 


8 thoughts on “Tracking My Reading: An Update

  1. Girl, I have not read a single book of fiction this year yet! So you’re doing a lot better than I on the fiction. I’m still reading on Civil War by Shelby Foote, Volume 2 (they’re pretty large volumes each so it’s taking me a while! haha). Starting next week I’m going to start reading White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi which is a creepy thriller told from different perspectives. Oyeyemi is a best selling author and is like, 23-25 years old, and I’ve read many good things about her. Definitely ready to get back on the reading train!

    1. White is for Witching sounds amazing! My sister is reading Boy, Snow, Bird (by that same author) right now and LOVES IT! I’ll have to read some of her books soon. Happy reading!

  2. I love your tracking spreadsheet and until I get on your level, I use goodreads as my tracker. Find me here:

    Here’s a great reading challenge with really thoughtful categories to read:
    Also if you like owning books, BetterWorld donates books & a % of each purchase to different literacy charities around the world. Their bargain bin always has amazing sales and I’ve gotten like 8 books for $12 before. Also a lot of their books are old library books with the pockets in the back and I LOVE THAT. (end of pitch)

    I am on year three of a big expansion– 2014’s goal was female authors or translated books, 2015’s goal was to really dig in on comics and graphic novels, and this year I’m more into reading things that are unfamiliar or topics/concepts I’ve never read before (manga, business books, historical works). Like, I didn’t know anything about Hawaii’s history, so I’m reading Unfamiliar Fishes and whoa I have given Sarah Vowell books as gifts but never treated myself. Lesson learned!

    I super recommend Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Looking for Mister Goodbar (amazing historical context/like whoa slut shaming was a death sentence in the U.S.!), The End of Normal (Bernie Madoff’s daughter in law- I read it in a day on a bus and CRIED at his destruction), all Octavia Butler, the Bitch Planet comic series… and I could really really go on! 🙂

    1. 1. I’ve had a rifle through your goodreads list and found lots of great ideas!
      2. I am highly susceptible to any book buying enabling and your pitch for BetterWorld was a good one. 🙂
      3.Your approach to reading expansion is totally awesome! I especially like this year’s goal. My goal for tracking my books’ subject areas this year was purely out of curiosity about trends in my natural inclinations but maybe I should use it to identify the subjects I should AVOID next year! Inspiration!
      4. THANK YOU THANK YOU for the recommendations. I’ve read Infidel but I’ve added all the others onto my reading list (including Sarah Vowell’s Hawaii book b/c I too have given her books as presents but never treated myself!).

  3. Oh man, I really thought I was doing an awesome job by tracking my books on my goodreads for 2016 but look at you! I could probably sit down in a matter of hours and do a spreadsheet…when I have a spare minute. Ha. I have ready 61 books since Jan 1, 2016. I read a LOT of female authors, I would venture to say only two of them are male! I know 59-2 females! I don’t know what any of their orientations are but I am friends with several of the authors on facebook. I decided to read a minimum of 500 books in 2016 but I don’t know that it will happen I did 380 in 2014 and about 400 in 2015 so it may or may not happen! I had a lot of series to read in 2014-15 and this year I have been reading a lot of 300-1000 page books that don’t have series.

    I am by far a series girl! Can’t wait to work with you soon!

    1. Wow! I totally aspire to your book totals! You go, girl!

      I definitely don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a preference for female authors. I naturally prefer reading a female voice, especially in fiction. Male narrators just don’t do it for me. I’ve been making an effort to read a few more male authors but they’re usually non-fiction books.

  4. I just wrote an overly long book recommendation email to a friend, which I will copy below because I think you’ll find it interesting. Overly long comment ahoy!

    “Sounds like changes but good ones. Hope that you settle in with your new job well!

    Books! I’ve actually been reading hella’ books lately because my sister and I got an Audible account and it is the shit! Between driving to do field work, doing lab work, and cleaning up around the house, I’ve listened to a new book almost every month for the past year. It’s been kind of amazing as I feel like I’ve managed to “sneak” reading for pleasure back into my life. It’s a super affordable service, if you think that’s something you’d be into!

    Anyhow, the book I think you’re referring to is Ishmael, which is AMAZING but isn’t really a super easy read and also had a bit of an environmental bent (though non-scientists I know who read it say that wasn’t their main take away, but it was for sure my main take away). You should absolutely read it, but maybe it’s not what you’re looking for at the moment? The book my dad recommended to me, and that I liked, was Undaunted Courage, which is about Lewis and Clark’s journey and is really interesting as long as you don’t mind reading about the really ignorant mind set white people had (still have) about Native Americans. Also not an easy read, but it is one of my fave non-fiction books.

    Young adult lit is my favorite genre of literature, so I’ll try to recommend a few books I love and then a few of my fave young adult novels, for the easier read side of things, as that is what you asked for.

    * Life if Pi – best book I have read in the last 10 years until I read…
    * All the Light We Cannot See – SO GOOD HOLY SHIT OH MY GOD
    * The Martian – the movie did a pretty good job, but the book is way more interesting science wise
    * Wild – the women I know are split on this one, but I really liked it
    * 1,000 Years of Solitude – I’ll admit I didn’t love this one, but it was good and it is very famous and lots of people really like it. I’d say it’s worth your time for the experience. I liked the second half of the novel more than the first
    * The House on Mango Street – a young adult novel, very powerful story for girls. A series of vaguely connected vignettes
    * The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian – young adult lit, people want to ban it from classrooms, so you know it’s good
    * Huroun and the Sea of Stories – Salman Rushdie wrote this young adult book for his son while he was in hiding after writing his novel The Satanic Verse
    * His Dark Materials Trilogy – my all time fave young adult book series and second only to Lord of the Rings on my list of favorite books ever.
    * The Hobbit – speaking of which, if you have time you should just reread the Hobbit and the LOTR. I’m listening to them again on audiobook right now and I forgot how absolutely amazing they are.
    * Classic young adult books you have probably already read, but should read if you have not: Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, The Chronicles of Narnia (at least the first 4), Hatchet, White Fang, Call of the Wild, Julie of the Wolves, My Side of the Mountain, The Chronicles of Prydain, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Wind in the Willows, Black Beauty, Secret Garden, To Kill a Mockingbird, Where the Red Fern Grows, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, Sounder (my mom’s fave young adult book, but I have never read it), Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Frankenstein, The Red Badge of Courage, The Jungle Book

    Ok. Ending overwhelming list. That was actually super fun to write! I also have a list of just classic novels that you may have read but may not have, if you’d be into that.

    Take care!”

    I had instant regret after sending this email that I didn’t add Bless me Ultima and The Mysterious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime to my list of young adult recommendations. I also regretted not adding Outliers as a general recommendation.

    I talked to my mom, sister, and husband to source the “classic young adult book” list and they gave some recommendations that I hadn’t read (and all of which aren’t actually YA lit). That list was: Brave New World, The Joy Luck Club, The Road, The Outsiders, Sounder, 1000 Splendid Suns, The Martian Chronicles, Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee, Dracula, All Quiet on the Western Front, Rifles for Waitie, Across Five Aprils, The Beach, My Brother Same is Dead, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Freak the Mighty.

    Anyhow, I love your idea of tracking your reading! I’m totally going to start this.

    1. YAAAS! These are all fantastic recommendations and I’m so glad you included them here. I feel like it would be a blast to dedicate a summer to reading all those classic young adult books you’ve listed. Getting to see what books people love is literally one of my favorite things ever!

      P.S. Random story – I was home schooled in 4th grade (b/c my family was living with my dad while he was on sabbatical) and my mom “assigned” me the book Ishmael to read. She actually had to bribe me to read it (but I can’t remember with what) because when she described it to me it sounded so awful. It must have been super over my head and I remember hating it. After reading your thoughts I def think I need to return to it. I’d completely forgotten it existed but now I’m super curious.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s