2016 was a vast improvement over 2015 when it came to meeting my reading goals. After 2015’s shoddy performance, I set my Goodreads goal at 50 books and surpassed it with plenty of room to spare.
I also discovered some new favorite authors whose work I look forward to reading more of in the coming year. I had better luck with the backlist than the frontlist. I suppose this is to be expected since backlist books have been tried and tested by time. Still, I was a bit disappointed with how few frontlist books (particularly frontlist fiction) were five-star reads.
Aside from the raw numbers, I had three reading goals for 2016:
- Read more frontlist books. I mostly read backlist books in 2015 and I missed keeping up with the latest and greatest.
- Read more books by authors of color. I set a percentage goal but didn’t track it too closely. After coming off of what amounted to a year-long reading slump, I didn’t want to impede my reading by imposing rigid requirements on myself.
- Read more fiction. If left to my own devices, I tend to read a disproportionate amount of nonfiction. I wanted to branch out and read less to gain knowledge and more to use my imagination.
Let’s see how I did…
General Reading Stats
Books Read: 92, up from 28 last year. I think that audiobooks really boosted my numbers this year.
Pages Read: 25,587.
Audiobooks: 24 (26%), up from 2 (7%) last year.
Backlist: 43 (47%), down from 26 (93%) last year. Goal achieved! I feel like I struck a nice balance between frontlist and backlist this year.
Genres: In 2015, 25% of my reading was fiction and I read no poetry at all. In 2016, 37% of my reading was fiction, which I think satisfies my goal. I also read one book of poetry–not much, but it’s an improvement anyway.
Longest Book Read: Ravensbrück by Sarah Helm (768 pages)
Shortest Book Read: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (48 pages)
Most Popular Book on Goodreads: Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Least Popular Book on Goodreads: Out of the Woods by Katina Makris
Women: I never set a goal for reading books by women simply because I don’t think I need one. I gravitate toward female writers anyway, so if there’s going to be a bias, it’s going to swing in that direction. Last year I read 24 books (50%) by women. This year that number increased to 53 (about 57% of my total).
Authors of Color: My [very loose] goal was to read 38% POC authors in 2016. I did not meet that goal, but I did do a LOT better than last year. Last year I read only 2 books by authors of color (about 7% of my total). This year I read 26 books by authors of color (about 28% of my total).
The Best + Worst of 2016
My average star rating for the year was 3.4. That was actually higher than I expected it to be. It felt like I doled out a lot more low ratings than I actually did.
In reality, I gave 10 books (about 11% of my total) five-star ratings. By comparison, only 4 (or about 4%) received the dreaded one-star distinction.
My five-star reads were as follows:
- The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge, M.D.
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- Ravensbrück by Sarah Helm
- Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky
- Making Sense of God by Timothy Keller
- Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller
- Adrenal Fatigue Syndrom by Michael Lam
- In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park
- Personality Types by Don Richard Riso & Russ Hudson
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The one-star duds were:
- Medical Medium by William Anthony (Scammy + unsubstantiated claims.)
- The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang (Vulgar and unlikeable characters.)
- Nutshell by Ian McEwan (White man schools readers on gender and race.)
- Prude by Carrie Lloyd (Gender stereotypes for women by a woman.)
2016 New Author Discoveries
I discovered a few new authors that I cannot wait to sink my teeth into more in 2017.
I listened to two audiobooks by Bill Bryson–The Road to Little Dribbling (his latest) and A Walk in the Woods. I absolutely love his humor and fact-filled diatribes on land conservation. Travel memoir is a favorite genre and his are some of the best I’ve read.
I finally read Gilead by Marilynne Robinson this year and it blew my socks off (in a gentle, breezy sort of way). It’s rare that I will include an author on my list of favorites after reading just one of her books, but Robinson is a notable exception.
I read two books by Norman Doidge, M.D.–The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain’s Way of Healing. They were two of the most fascinating, beautiful, and hopeful books I read in 2016. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
After reading a library copy of Infectious Madness by Harriet A. Washington, I promptly went out and bought my own, plus a copy of her earlier book, Medical Apartheid, which I plan to read this year. I am thoroughly impressed with her sharp intellect and ability to find the grain of truth in a great heaping pile of bullshit. The world needs more writers like her.
Mary Roach has been on my radar for a few years, but it wasn’t until her latest “curious science” book, Grunt, hit bookstores this year that I finally picked up a copy of her work. I love her humor and sharp wit and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.
My 2017 Reading Goals
Encouraged by last year’s performance, I set my 2017 reading goal at 100 books. I would like to surpass that if I can, but of course my primary concern is quality, not quantity.
I am not setting a percentage goal for POC authors this year. Instead, my goal is to read 10 books by POC authors every quarter. I think that setting a specific quarterly goal instead of a relative annual goal will make it easier for me to keep track and stay on target. We’ll see how that goes.The 2016 Reading Year in Review + 2017 Reading GoalsClick To Tweet
I would also like to read more poetry this year. I don’t have a specific goal in mind. I just want to read more than a couple of poetry collections and I want to start collecting some of the Everyman’s Pocket Poets editions.
I am participating in both of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 reading challenges. One is for fun and one is for personal growth. I usually hate reading challenges, but these feel like good fits for me, so I’m going to give them a go.
I would really like to read all the books on my Better Luck Next Year list.
Authors I Want to Read
Here are a few authors I want to explore this year along with the specific books that I most want to read. It’s not realistic to expect myself to read all of them, but I plan to make them a priority when possible.
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah, Half of a Yellow Sun, Purple Hibiscus
- Bill Bryson – Shakespeare, In a Sunburned Country, At Home
- Louise Erdrich – LaRose, The Round House, Love Medicine
- Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible, Flight Behavior, The Bean Trees
- Siddhartha Mukherjee – The Gene, The Emperor of All Maladies
- Ann Patchett – Commonwealth, State of Wonder, Bel Canto
- Louise Penny – Still Life, A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month
- Mary Roach – Stiff, Bonk, Gulp
- Marilynne Robinson – Home, Lila, Housekeeping, The Givenness of Things
Did you meet your reading goals for 2016? What are your 2017 reading goals?