But first, lemme take a shelfie
2019 was the year of the reading slump.
I had more trouble finding books I wanted to read this year than I can remember ever having. I hate that. It means I’m losing time that can be spent on actual reading once said books are found. But given my policy of immediately abandoning books I’m not into, I guess thems the breaks. Sometimes you have to kiss a few (or many) frogs to find your prince.
I also went through about three weeks where I was adjusting to a new medication (a stimulant) and throughout that time, I made a ton of collage art but didn’t read a damn thing.
So, win some/lose some?
At the end of the year, I had a chance to increase my numbers. My Christmas break from work gave me a week and a half to stuff in a few more volumes before the end of the year. I live for this break. Unfortunately, I have been sick throughout the entire thing. The strep throat seems to have cleared up thanks to 10 days of penicillin, but my sinuses continue to torment me and I still can’t hear out of one ear. Sigh.
Lots of reading time, in other words, since I haven’t had the energy for much else. And also House Hunters.
In any case, here are some fun reading wrap-up stats.
2019 Wrap-up and Geeky Stats
The Reading Race:
Each year, Ben and I have a friendly competition to see who can read the most books. The rules are pretty loose and we operate on the honor system. There’s no page count minimum or anything. This year, as in the past couple of years, Ben beat me, reading 57 books to my 53. I made it to the 50s, so I’m not too fussed. I’ve set myself a goal of 60 for 2020.
Total books read: 53
Female authors: 32
Male Authors: 21
Nonbinary/Trans authors: 0 (Ick, need to work on this.)
Non-white authors: 2 (Well, that is just freaking abysmal. Will work on reading more authors of color in the coming year. Please suggest some for me in the comments!)
Audiobooks: 9 (Yep, I count these as reading.)
Re-reads: 2 (The Kids Will Be Fine, Running With Scissors)
Most Read Genres
True crime: 6 (not surprising)
Other Genres I Read
Historical fiction: 3
Translations (not necessarily a genre, but a type): 3 (all classics: Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, Ibsen plays)
Graphic novels: 1 (Paper Girls: Volume One)
Nonfiction history: 3
Nonfiction British history: 1
Short stories: 1
Social issues: 3 (I lump many things into this category. This year these books qualified: The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives, The Kids Will Be Fine, and This is Where You Belong.)
Favorite Books of 2019
Keep in mind that these are just books I read in 2019. I don’t make much of an effort to read new books unless they catch my interest. There are too many good books out there to limit myself to those published in the year in which I am reading. 🙂
The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier
I truly love Daphne. Need to read another by her in the coming year.
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
I’m always interested in hearing about how women make money, especially if they are low earners or don’t work in an office (like I do). I find I need exposure like this to better understand the many ways people get by. Reading books like this one are part of how I educate myself on economic and women’s issues.
Madame Lalaurie, Mistress of the Haunted House by Carline Morrow Long
We went on a New Orleans ghost tour in March and the Lalaurie house was part of it. This grisly account of Madame Lalaurie’s alleged crimes actually included quite a bit of well-researched New Orleans history. It also gave proper stage time to the stories of the enslaved people in the home.
Lalaurie Mansion looking creepy AF
Gentleman Jack: A Biography of Anne Lister, Regency Landowner, Seducer and Secret Diarist by Angela Steidele
I found this book on Anne Lister, 18th-century lesbian landowner and diarist, totally delightful! Talk about a woman who didn’t conform to gender roles. She was also pretty obviously out as a gay woman, which was dangerous at the time. On a related note, have you watched the Gentleman Jack series TV series via HBO? I tried it and was disappointed to find that I just couldn’t get into it. May give it another whirl in the future.
The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
LOVED this quirky memoir by the owner of the Book Shop in Wigtown, Scotland. I’ve got his second book on ILL order at the library right now and can’t wait to get it.
Sally Wister’s Journal by Sally Wister
I picked up this slim book at the Museum of the Revolutionary War in Philadelphia over the summer. It’s the diary of a young woman during the first battles of the Revolutionary War. Short, but fascinating for this women’s history nerd! There is some drama due to the war, but this is quite focused on the day-to-day activities that must go on even in wartime. I love reading about how women who came before spent their time.
Shout out to my sister- and brother-in-law for the gift of watercraft this Christmas!
Hidden Nature: A Voyage of Discovery by Alys Fowler
This book is the reason I wanted inflatable kayaks for Christmas. 😀
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
Listen to the audiobook—you won’t regret it.
Ties That Bound: Founding First Ladies and Slaves by Marie Jenkins Schwartz
Schwartz is dedicated to telling the side of the story we don’t usually hear when reading about first ladies. This book looks at them from the perspective of the people they enslaved and tells the stories of those enslaved people. If you don’t know these stories, it is eye-opening. This is another I found at the Museum of the Revolutionary War in Philadelphia.
Calypso by David Sedaris
My favorite literary weirdo. I listened to this on my walks home and laughed out loud in parts. Sedaris is admittedly not for everyone, but I am definitely the target market for him…possibly because I am also weird. 😉
In addition to the above, I thoroughly enjoyed Bingeworthy British Television by one of my favorite book bloggers and fellow Anglophile Sarah Cords (and her coauthor, of course, Jackie Bailey). Highly recommend this one if you are interested in British television. It is an excellent encyclopedic review of all that’s available, and I love thumbing through it for recommendations.
Thought One: I always say that historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and yet, I only read three books that fit this category: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton, and The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier.
Thought Two: I didn’t read a single volume of poetry. I barely wrote any either. Reading and writing poetry used to be a major part of my life and I have really abandoned it in the past several years. Would like to remedy this.
Thought Three: In the past, say, five years or so, my preferences have really skewed toward nonfiction, whereas fiction reined in the past. I wonder what that’s about…
Thought Four: I used to be all about YA and children’s books. In fact, several years ago I began the project of reading every single Newbery Medal and Honor book. I think I read around 20 or so, but my interest flagged. I wonder if that’s something I should revive.
Bookshelf proof that I once cared about poetry…
2020 Reading Goals
- Read 60 books (finally win the Reading Race? ;))
- Read more historical fiction
- Intentionally read diverse books (especially authors of color and trans/nonbinary authors)
- Read some frikken poetry
- Participate in 2020 classics challenge? If there isn’t one this year, I’m thinking of just setting out to conquer another doorstop. Les Mis comes to mind.
Lots to look forward to. How about you? Would love to hear your goals for 2020.
Happy New Year!