2019 in Books (Stats and lists and graphs, OH MY!)

(I love how I always struggle with writing one long-ass year-end post so this year I was like WHY NOT WRITE TWO. So I’m very sorry about this being very late. But oh well.)

2019 book banner

My love of statistics and lists regarding books has gotten ever so slightly out of control.

I’ve been making Word documents listing my yearly reading for many years and used different methods of highlighting to signify authors of colour and female authors to keep track of those stats. But in 2019 I went one – or several – step further and made a Google Docs sheet with multiple categories to track and an analysis sheet that counts the stats for me (full disclosure, I’m not super great at excel stuff and got the original sheet from Bourque’s Books, for which I am eternally grateful!). And then I figured I might as well make excels of all the previous years I’ve tracked as well. And then all the books I own. And then all the books I borrow from the library. And so on and so forth. Basically, I’m a huge nerd.

In the past I’ve included a very brief overview of my reading stats and goals in my top 10 books of the year list, but those posts were getting super long and unwieldy, so I figured I’d save the less statistically inclined some pain and separate the number twiddling into a post of its own. So if you like stats and thorough documentation of ALL THE BOOKS, you have come to the right place! If not, may I refer you to the somewhat briefer top 10 list for a more concise and curated version of my year! But all y’all nerds, COME WITH ME!

Here’s what’s going on.

PART ONE. First, I will list ALL THE BOOKS! There were some 102 of them (!) and I will categorise them broadly by genre into fiction, non-fiction, comics/graphic novels and poetry. I will give brief overviews of the things in each group and point out some highlights and notable books and/or authors.

PART TWO. Iiiiit’s STATS TIME!! All the stats you could hope for! Authors of colour! Genders! Library versus owned! Ebook versus physical book! Etc!

PART I: ALL THE BOOKS

Fiction (45)

In my top 10 list this year I called 2019 “the year of reading speculatively”, which about sums it up. I don’t really know what happened, but in 2019 I threw myself head first into the world of science fiction and fantasy in a way I haven’t done in any year prior. In fact, in 2018 I read zero sci-fi books and barely a handful of fantasy books. The YA dominance was real, y’all. And while YA is by no means gone from this year’s list – in fact it comprises almost half of the fiction category – it was clear that SF/F took precedence.

One key factor in this shift was my discovery of speculative short fiction. Early in the year I picked up Nnedi Okorafor‘s Binti and Martha Wells‘ All Systems Red and they opened up a whole new world for me. I think one of the main reasons I’ve been reluctant to pick up more SF/F in the past is the general length and complexity of the books. Getting familiar with and immersed in an unfamiliar world always feels a bit daunting to me and that has probably influenced my reading habits. But Binti and All Systems Red were tiny and approachable and they kickstarted and enthusiasm for science fiction that was completely new to me! I read both short story series from start to finish this year and loved them both very much! Early in the year I also picked up the short story collection How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N. K. Jemisin, and while I only finished that particular collection in December, it got me completely hooked on Jemisin’s writing, and I ended up reading and loving her SF/F masterpiece, The Broken Earth trilogy last year as well. Okorafor, Wells and Jemisin were definitely some of my favourite new author discoveries of 2019 and I look forward to reading ALL THE THINGS from them in the future as well!

Other names in SF/F worth mentioning are, naturally, Becky Chambers, who is perhaps my favourite author at the moment, and Rivers Solomon, another new find last year. I read one novel and one novella from Chambers last  year and I absolutely adored both. She is just peerless when it comes to these hopepunk space stories about family and identity and community and I could just die from the amount of love I have for her work. From Solomon I only read their debut An Unkindness of Ghosts, which was gut-punchingly good, but I’ve been on the waiting list for their follow-up The Deep for ages and I will devour it the second I get my hands on it in 2020! So excited to see where they’ll be going next year! For more gushing and more favourites (2019 was SO GOOD!!) see my top 10 list!

On the YA front, I really focused on queer fiction, even more so than in prior years, even though that’s always been where my interest lies. As usual, I also prioritised authors of colour and stories about POC characters. And I guess these decisions paid off because most of the YA I read last year was utterly brilliant! The amount of YA books about sapphic girls in particular really blew my mind. Ashley Herring Blake‘s How to Make A Wish and Katrina Leno‘s Summer of Salt were two of my absolute favourites, and I wish so dearly I’d had access to books like these as a teenager! Absolutely stunning.

And here are the fiction books I read in 2019, in chronological order:

  1. Shaun David Hutchinson: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley
  2. Shaun David Hutchinson: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza
  3. Rivers Solomon: An Unkindness of Ghosts
  4. Nnedi Okorafor: Binti
  5. Maria Turtschaninoff: Maresin voima
  6. Angie Thomas: On the Come Up
  7. Angelo Surmelis: The Dangerous Art of Blending In
  8. Adib Khorram: Darius the Great is Not Okay 
  9. M-E Girard: Girl Mans Up
  10. Ashley Herring Blake: How to Make A Wish
  11. Katrina Leno: Summer of Salt
  12. Claire Kann: Let’s Talk About Love
  13. Nafissa Thomspon-Spires: Heads of the Colored People
  14. Martha Wells: All Systems Red 
  15. Martha Wells: Artificial Condition
  16. Martha Wells: Rogue Protocol
  17. Laura Silverman: You Asked for Perfect
  18. K. Jemisin: The Fifth Season
  19. Amy Spalding: The Summer of Jordi Perez
  20. Elizabeth Acevedo: With the Fire On High 
  21. K. Jemisin: The Obelisk Gate
  22. Martha Wells: Exit Strategy
  23. Rainbow Rowell: Landline
  24. Hank Green: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
  25. Becky Chambers: Record of a Spaceborn Few
  26. Nnedi Okorafor: Binti: Home
  27. Sophie Cameron: Last Bus to Everland
  28. Sophie Cameron: Out of the Blue
  29. Pat Barker: The Silence of the Girls
  30. A Change is Gonna Come
  31. Kelly Loy Gilbert: Picture Us in the Light
  32. Gloria Chao: American Panda
  33. R. R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings
  34. Nnedi Okorafor: Binti: The Night Masquerade
  35. Randy Ribay: Patron Saints of Nothing
  36. Mark Oshiro: Anger is a Gift
  37. Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone: This Is How You Lose the Time War
  38. Tamsyn Muir: Gideon the Ninth
  39. Becky Chambers: To Be Taught, If Fortunate
  40. K. Jemisin: The Stone Sky
  41. K. Jemisin: How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?
  42. Nina LaCour: Hold Still
  43. Ursula K. LeGuin: The Farthest Shore
  44. Kirsty Logan: Portable Shelter
  45. Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas

Non-fiction (24)

I read a metric shitton of non-fiction in 2019 compared to any year prior, which is astounding considering that zero per cent of it was for university. Actually the real number would be even higher had I counted any of the books I read for my thesis in the spring, but I rarely had time to read the full book and logging partial reads felt like cheating. But even omitting the thesis reading, I read almost triple the amount of non-fiction compared to 2018. The subgenres ranged far and wide from feminist manifestos to memoirs to art books to trans anthologies. A lot of it was okay-to-good, but there were also many standouts! When They Call You a Terrorist made my top 10 list and Educated was cut out at the last minute. See my top 10 list for more honourable mentions.

  1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: We Should All Be Feminists
  2. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Dear Ijeawele – A Feminist Manifeso in Fifteen Suggestions
  3. Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell: Art Matters
  4. Ariel Levy: The Rules Do Not Apply
  5. Hannah Hart: Buffering – Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded
  6. Marco Melander & Saara Salmi: Atelieri O. Haapala ja sen ihmeellinen maailma
  7. Reni Eddo-Lodge: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
  8. Deborah Frances-White: The Guilty Feminist – From Our Noble Goals to Our Worst Hypocrisies
  9. Patrisse Khan-Cullors & asha bandele:When They Call You a Terrorist – A Black Lives Matter Memoir 
  10. Tara Westover: Educated
  11. Rose-Marie Peake & Outi Santavuori: Entiset heterot
  12. Minja Koskela: Ennen kaikkea feministi
  13. Humphrey Carpenter: J. R. R. Tolkien – A Biography
  14. Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya & Nancy Fraser: Feminism for the 99% – A Manifesto
  15. Chelsea Kwakye & Ore Ogunbiyi: Taking Up Space – The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change
  16. Freiya Benson: Trans Love – An Anthology of Transgender and Non-Binary Voices
  17. Jessica Pan: Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come
  18. Samra Habib: We Have Always Been Here – A Queer Muslim Memoir
  19. Christopher Eccleston: I Love the Bones of You – My Father and the Making of Me
  20. Chris McDonnell: Steven Universe – Art & Origins
  21. Jacob Tobia: Sissy – A Coming-of-Gender Story
  22. Juno Roche: Trans Power – Own Your Gender
  23. Taisia Kitaiskaia: Literary Witches – A Celebration of Magical Women Writers
  24. Ville Similä & Mervi Vuorela: Ultra Bra – Sokeana hetkenä

Comics (29)

A good year for comics! (Honestly I read so much more overall in 2019 than any year prior so statistically it’s probably going to be a good year for all genres lmao) I continued the only comic book series I’ve seriously followed since my Donald Duck days, Lumberjanes! It continues to be delightful. A lot of it feels like filler since the larger plot isn’t very tangible, but honestly I don’t mind. I could read a thousand books worth of queer and non-conforming kids enjoying their lives and having adventures together and be satisfied. Some stories and some books are better than the others, but all in all it’s just supremely good. In 2019 I also picked up another series, the Runaways revival written by Rainbow Rowell. I’ve liked what I’ve read so far, but I’ve never read the original Runaways so some of it gets a little confusing at times.

  1. Guy Delisle: Hostage
  2. Neil Gaiman: Sandman vol 3: Dream Country
  3. Willow Wilson: Ms. Marvel vol 1.
  4. Neil Gaiman: Sandman vol 4: Season of Mists
  5. Shannon Watters: Lumberjanes vol. 7: A Bird’s Eye View
  6. Shannon Watters: Lumberjanes vol. 8: Stone Cold
  7. Shannon Watters: Lumberjanes vol. 9: On a Roll
  8. Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau: Bloom
  9. Aino Louhi: Mielikuvitustyttö
  10. Rainbow Rowell: Runaways vol 1: Find Your Way Home
  11. Tillie Walden: Spinning
  12. Maia Kobabe: Gender Queer
  13. Rainbow Rowell: Runaways vol 2: Best Friends Forever
  14. Tee Franklin: Bingo Love
  15. Rainbow Rowell: Runaways vol 3: That Was Yesterday
  16. Liv Strömqust: Einsteinin vaimo
  17. Shannon Watters: Lumberjanes vol 10: Parents’ Day
  18. Shannon Watters: Lumberjanes vol 11: Time After Crime
  19. Tillie Walden: I love this part
  20. Shannon Watters: Lumberjanes vol 12: Jackalope Springs Eternal
  21. Fanny Britt: Jane, the Fox and Me
  22. Nnedi Okorafor: LaGuardia
  23. Mariko Tamaki: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me
  24. Rainbow Rowell: Pumpkinheads
  25. Jen Wang: The Prince and the Dressmaker
  26. Sophie Labelle: Serious Trans Vibes
  27. Kate Charlesworth: Sensible Footwear – A Girl’s Guide
  28. Manuela Santoni: Jane Austen – Her Heart Did Whisper
  29. Cory Doctorow: In Real Life

Poetry (4)

Well, I still don’t read a ton of poetry! However, Andrea Gibson‘s Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns was a solid five stars, so the little I read I at least tend to like! The rest were more middling, and Jacqueline Woodson‘s Brown Girl Dreaming was more of a memoir told in verse so a somewhat different beast from the others. I have come to discover that I don’t really enjoy verse novels (or memoirs I guess), the style always feels like a distraction and it leads me down a rabbit hole of thinking about the essence of poetry and that takes me to some dark places of literary impostor syndrome… So maybe I should just steer clear of them for a while. Anyway, here are the four poetry books I read!

  1. Blythe Baird: If My Body Could Speak
  2. Andrea Gibson: Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns
  3. Morgan Parker: Magical Negro
  4. Jacqueline Woodson: Black Girl Dreaming

PART II: STATS, STATS, STATS!

Just… all the numbers. There were gonna be graphs but honestly it’s February and I just want this post over with. Maybe later.

As mentioned earlier, I read all of 102 books in 2019. This is easily the most books I’ve read in a year, by a margin of some 40-50 books. My previous peak was reached in 2018 with 65 books, the years prior to that landed somewhere between 52 and 64. So yeah, new heights have been reached and I’m honestly a little nervous to see if I can ever reach them again! When it comes to page count, the difference isn’t as drastic, the average page count per book was the lowest it’s been (252 pages/book), but I did reach a combined page count of 25,724, which is still some 6500 pages more than my previous peak year (2015 with 19,218 pages). I am happy to see that the trend with my average book rating keeps climbing, this past year being the highest with a rating average of 3,8.

As expected, fiction reigns supreme with 45 books (44%), of the whole sum. It is noteworthy, however, that that’s only 3 books more than in 2018, which suggests that the real increases came from nonfiction and comics. And indeed, my nonfiction tally ended up being 24 books (24%) and comics a whopping 29 books (28%) (I really should’ve stopped at 100 books, it would make the percentages so tidy…). Compared to 2018, the amount of nonfiction increased by 15 books (compared to 9 in 2018) and comics by 19 (compared to 10 in 2018). Holy moly!

As for my reading pace, it was quite uneven and oddly unpredictable. 2019 in general was unlike any year before (of the ones during which I’ve tracked my reading, at least) because I graduated in the summer, and therefore my autumn/winter season has been devoid of any study pressure for the first time ever. This probably explains why my usual end-of-the-year slump didn’t happen and how I managed to crank out my all time reading record in December with 14 books. (This record has since been conquered by 15 books in January). My reading rhythm has always been uneven and I can’t discern any solid trends, but December being a crappy reading month has always been a fact of life. But as I realised in early December how tantalisingly close I was to a 100 books, I just had to get there by any means necessary. And in the end it wasn’t even that hard! My other peaks happened in March (oddly enough since I was up to my ears in thesis work… The power of procrastination I suppose!) and July, but to be fair those were some of my most comic-and-YA heavy months, so that definitely factors into it. My favourite reading months were probably October and November, almost half of my top 10 list come from those months.

Now for some diversity stats! Thanks to the massive amount of books I read this year, my diversity numbers are looking pretty happy as well. The main things I pay attention to are gender and ethnicity, because frankly I seek to minimise the influence of white men on my reading hobby. I’ve been doing pretty well on the gender front for years, the last time my female author stat dipped below 50% was back in 2013, when I wasn’t paying attention to diversity at all. Since then the percentage has been fluctuating somewhere between 50% and a little over 80%. In recent years I have started including non-binary authors in that number as well, but I want to be clear that the only reason I lump non-binary and female authors together is to measure it against male authors. The system isn’t perfect and I’m working on increasing the percentage of trans and non-binary authors regardless of gender, because in that aspect I still come up quite short. In 2019, I read 83 books (81%) by female or non-binary authors (the numbers being, as far as I can discern, 79 female and 4 non-binary authors). I am quite happy with this number overall.

As far as race and ethnicity go, my progress has been exponential in the past 6 or so years. In 2013, a mere 2,3% of my books were by authors of colour. That is ABYSMAL. The situation remained much the same in 2014-2016, but since then I have been making more of a conscious effort to read broadly and diversely and it has paid off. In 2019, I read 32 books (31%) by authors of colour, 28 (27,4%) of them being by women or non-binary people of colour. In the grand scheme of things, 30% isn’t great, but I’m happy that the number keeps rising. However, it is noteworthy that a vast majority of the POC authors I read are American, so geographically I’m still staying very much in my comfort zone. That was something I hoped to work on in 2019, but it didn’t really pan out. Maybe this year.

At the end of the day, white dudes authored less than 15% of the books I read last year, and that’s all that matters. Almost all, anyway.

As far as 2020 goals go, I don’t think I’m going to set any specific ones since I keep failing at them anyway, but I will try my best to keep up the pace I reached in 2019. So far I’m doing very well, since I’ve already read 15 books this year and January only just ended. I’m also participating in some reading challenges this year, so we’ll see how that goes. But in general I just want to keep the reading flame burning and enjoy many more new books this year!

So once again, happy 2020 (are you still allowed to say that in February?) and have a fun reading year!