28 December 2015

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Looking Back & Looking Forward

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts from Beth Fish ReadsHappy last week of 2015! Hard to believe that in only a few days, it'll be time to put up new calendars, open new planners, and think about the year ahead. Today's Stacked-Up Book Thoughts is a combination year-end review and a look ahead.

All about 2015. I'm way too lazy this year to figure out how many hours I listened to audiobooks, but I do have a total number: 63, which is actually surprisingly low for me. I'm usually much closer to 80 audiobooks, but this year family issues and bad weather (meaning no daily walks) really cut into my listening time.

The first book I wrote about was Descent by Tim Johnston and the last book I wrote about was The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Emily Elsen and Melissa Elsen. The last book I read, as of today, was Illuminae by Annie Kaufman and Jan Kristoff, and the last book I listened to, as of today, was Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong.

I read, reviewed, or featured 320 books across a variety of venues (here and freelance). For the first time since I started blogging in 2008, I didn't review every book I read or listened to.

Some miscellaneous observations:

  • I started out strong in comics, spurred on by the birth of Panels and the ending of Fables, but read very few graphic novels or comics in the last half of the year.
  • I read, reviewed, or featured about twice as many female authors than male authors.
  • I did not keep track of diversity stats because I got confused by what I consider diverse (see later for more thoughts on diversity).
  • I read many more middle grade books than I have in other years.
All about 2016. I have no set-in-stone reading goals for the coming year. I hope to continue to read across genres and across audiences and a nice combination of backlist and brand new. In addition, I've decided to commit to absolutely no reading challenges for next year, though I thought about the Read My Own Damn Books and Clean Your Reader challenges. Still, as tempting as these are, I'm not signing up.

I still plan to post my Wordless Wednesday photos, and I continue to look forward to hosting Weekend Cooking. I will also continue to write about books in a variety of ways, including but not limited to the following types of posts:
  • Full reviews
  • Bullet reviews
  • Reading on Topic
  • Today's Read
  • Sound Recommendations
  • Imprint updates (aka Imprint Friday)
  • Middle grade round-ups
Although I like writing in-depth reviews, I also like talking about books in informal ways. After some brainstorming, I've come up with some new ideas and new kinds of posts for next year. Now to see how soon I get around to writing them!

Besides the posts you find here, I often talk about books on Twitter and love sharing upcoming books with a photo and a quick hint at what's inside the covers. I tweet about incoming books every 10 days or so and have so much fun interacting with other book nerds who are as excited as I am about new releases or who encourage me to read the new books I've bought. Follow along if you're so inclined.

A note on diversity. I've thought long and hard about how to keep track of my diversity statistics. Last January, many bloggers and Book Riot writers waxed poetic about the importance of diverse books, and I fully support all such efforts. But what exactly is diversity? For Book Riot (if I understand correctly), it means reading books written by people of color. For other people, diversity might mean reading about people who are different from themselves or just like themselves, or it might mean reading books in translation or books from non-Western countries.

I'm not completely sure what diversity means to me, but I think I'm more interested in diverse subjects and characters than I am in diverse authors. I want to see Jewish characters who are not dealing with World War II or immigration. I want to see black characters who are not dealing with slavery or civil rights. I want to see LGBTQ characters who are not dealing with coming out or AIDS. I want to read more books that take place in non-Western settings and perhaps more books in translation. I'm still thinking about my views on diversity. If I come up with any answers, I'll let you know.

Do you have any reading goals for 2016? • How do you define diversity?


Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 12/28/15, 7:30 AM  

I'm looking forward to your new post ideas! And - I struggled with the same diversity issues that you did...and decided not to report any stats this year (and probably not next year either). Have you seen Andi at Estella's Revenge's post on the issues with tracking diversity? It's fantastic and what got me down that confused rabbit hole on this topic...

Amanda 12/28/15, 7:58 AM  

I love your diversity discussion! I went into 2015 with a very vague description of "diverse," referring less to author or subject and more on how I read. If I read a classic from the 1500s, that's really out of the norm for me, so it's READING diversely for me. If I read a contemporary fantasy novel with typical contemporary fantasy tropes, and some of the characters happen to be LGBTQ or POC, that's not reading diversely for me, even though it might be diverse in terms of traditional fantasy. My goal was to try to get out of my comfort zone, rather than fill quotas of reading books by/about certain groups. I agree that I love seeing books like you mentioned, where characters of all backgrounds are represented and not just in terms of how their background is tied to a specific event/action. Actually I can kinda talk all day about that kind of thing and how much I'm all for it, heh.

rhapsodyinbooks 12/28/15, 8:23 AM  

Totally with you on every aspect of your diversity discussion!

JoAnn 12/28/15, 8:27 AM  

I nodded my head all the way through this post! No challenges (other than reading my own books!), fewer formal book review posts, and defining what diversity means to me have been on my mind, too. I've enjoyed your upcoming book tweets and am happy Weekend Cooking will continue.

Erika D. 12/28/15, 9:17 AM  

Largely in agreement with your views on diversity.

Kay 12/28/15, 9:18 AM  

I like your goals and look forward to seeing what you come up with regarding new ways to talk about what we read. And I agree with what you say about diversity. Totally. I don't have many thoughts about 2016 other than the fact that I want to read from my own shelves and not be distracted by every shiny new book that comes along. I love hearing about new books, but sometimes I long for the days of old when I just went to the library and looked at what was on the shelf. These days, we know way too much about what's coming, what's here, what's new and I've found myself wanting everything. I can't read everything. So...my own books. :-)

bermudaonion 12/28/15, 9:21 AM  

I agree that diversity is important and, for me, it means reading about someone who is different from me whether it's because of color, nationality, sexuality, etc. I don't always research authors or characters before I start a book and stumble upon diversity by accident.

Katherine P 12/28/15, 10:46 AM  

I'm not signing up for any challenges either this year though there are so many great options it's hard not too! Like you I want to read more of my own books and I will set a goal number on Goodreads but that's a bit different. I love what you have to say about diversity. I see the word over and over and about reading diverse books but the description is so vague. I love your take on it.

Unknown 12/28/15, 11:13 AM  

For me, reading diversity often means reading about characters and settings that are different from the people and locations I know. My favorite novels are usually set in the southern United States, but I'm always eager to read good stories from across the United States and around the world. i also think it's important for readers to be aware of the authors whose works they read and review and to try to read works by authors of different genders, races, and nationalities. It's easy to get stuck in rut reading the same type of fiction by the same type of authors.

SuziQoregon 12/28/15, 12:06 PM  

I agree that I'm not completely sure what diversity means to me either. I like your take on it though. I don't think it's limited to author or protagonist race/sex/orientation. Subject matter is a part of it.

As for 2016 - I'm in much the same boat. Still doing What's in a Name Challenge. I don't have any set goals but do want to focus on reading the books I already have. I've always been more about backlist than new books anyway.

I'm still going to post something about every book I read because that's my blog's original purpose but I'm planning to loosen up the format and add more of other types of posts.

Tif Sweeney 12/29/15, 12:33 PM  

Your thoughts on diversity have really caught my eye because I've been thinking about many of the same things. You were just able to better put my thoughts into the words I needed. I've had a video in my notebooks for ages that I keep wanting to talk about and share on my blog, but have not been able to wrap up my thoughts as I feel are necessary. Your thoughts may have just helped that. Thank you!

Best of luck to all you do in 2016, and I look forward to continuing to follow you in all social realms! ;)

Vasilly 12/29/15, 4:45 PM  

Yes yes yes!! I feel the same way about diversity. I don't want yo read the usual scenarios, but I still want to read books by people of different races, backgrounds, and even abilities.

Happy Holidays!! I hope 2016 is an amazing year for you!

Islandgirl Evy 12/29/15, 8:50 PM  

For me (Jamaican by birth) diversity means reading books written by minority authors. This was never an issue growing up as we were required to take West Indian Literature so we read books written by authors born in the West Indies. These stories were very much mainstream and focused on issues we all face as people. There were stories of love, lust, faith, pain..etc. I think its more important to seek out books that can teach us about the world around us and if the author is a minority, then that's a bonus.

Becca 12/31/15, 6:54 AM  

Great post. I am working on one for this weekend. I noticed by finally finishing up my Reading Stats spreadsheet (I totally didn't keep up with it well throughout the year) that I read way more about white people than I have ever before. But I also noticed that they were mainly review books. So that was interesting. I want to add more diversity this year and I think it will happen if I #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks. I slipped in reading about India, which is my favorite other culture, mainly because my BIL is from India and I loved it when I visited it there. The culture is so vibrant and rich and interesting to me. I am a bit of a mutt myself so my family doesn't really have much culture on its own. I crave diversity in reading and in life, and I let myself down a bit this year.

I think diversity should be whatever feels diverse to you - whether it is other races, other ethnicities, other languages, other religions, other socioeconomic situations, people with disabilities - whatever that looks like to you. I think it is more personal than Book Riot or many others let on. I think as long as you read about people that are different than you are or reading stories by people different than you are, you are reading diversely.

Daryl 1/1/16, 1:41 PM  

for me the same old is comforting .. more and more lately i feel as if i am living in a dystopian world ... i dont know if you read The Magician trilogy, i loved it, well its being made into a television series on the Syfy channel .. i am going to check it out ... i look forward to your new ideas .. keep blogging and sharing your reviews

Anonymous,  1/2/16, 7:15 PM  

I read a lot of books that I would consider books of diversity. I gravitate towards books that are more diverse in theme as opposed to paying much attention to who wrote the book. Best of luck with with all of your 2016 goals.

Literary Feline 1/3/16, 4:16 PM  

I love all of your features and your reviews, the way you break everything down. I look forward to sharing this year in books with you again.

Defining diversity is tricky--and I think different for so many of us. More often than not, what you describe for you is often how I view it as well. It's something I'm still working on too though.

I hope you have a Happy New Year!

Margot 1/3/16, 9:00 PM  

I enjoyed reading all of your post and the thoughtful comments. I'm surprised that you aren't joining any challenges this year, but I certainly understand why. Last year was the first year I didn't review every book I read. I'm glad you are continuing Weekend Cooking. I plan to participate occasionally this year after taking an extended break. The rest of your plans for the coming year sound great as I do love reading your blog. You always give me something to think about. I appreciate that. May 2016 be a happy and fulfilling year for you.

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