Saturday, February 10, 2018

The year in reading, 2017

How did it get to be February already? It seems like we just finished the holidays! Since the year is already getting away from me, I am a little late with my reading roundup for 2017. Oh well, better late than never. Here goes:

In 2017 I had a goal to read 75 books (not counting the picture books and so on read to Malcolm) - I read 80 (a couple of those were chapter books read to Malcolm, but since they were actual books, I let them count). I am pleased with my total, especially since I started working a month into the year and my free time declined precipitously. I didn't keep track, but I suspect the number went up from 2016 because I have been listening to more audio books during my commute every day. I can read faster than I can listen, but I can't read while driving, so audio books are a great solution. I didn't break the books out into categories, but I definitely read mostly science fiction and fantasy this year. Probably because the news is so dreary and dreadful most of the time that I need something to take my mind somewhere else entirely, even if that world is even more wrecked than our own.

For the last two years I have had goals to increase the diversity of the perspectives I encounter by reading more books by women, minorities, and non-US/British authors, as well as more poetry. In 2016, about 60% of my books were written by women; 2017 was about the same, with 63%. I am actually a little surprised about that - at times it felt like I went weeks without reading any male authors. But I am pretty happy with 63% and aim to keep the ratio about the same for this year.

In 2016 I read only eight books by minorities - six of which were by two authors - and I made a very concerted effort to increase that number in 2017. I was pretty successful - I increased the total to 21 books by minorities, one quarter of the total books. There was some duplication of authors, but not much. In 2018, I want to keep seeking out diverse authors and hope to get closer to 1/3 of my books.

Foreign authors is still a hard category for me and needs improvement. I only read five books by non-American/British authors - one Cuban, one Japanese, two South African, and one Nigerian. One of the American women I read is also Nigerian, but since she was born in the US and lives and works here, I didn't count her in the foreign category.

Poetry: I only read two full books of poetry this year, but I did read all the poetry every month in Literary Mama, and occasionally dipped into favorite books of poetry for short snacks. I don't think this category is every going to be a big one for me - poetry just isn't something that I connect with regularly, even though I do enjoy it from time to time.

Favorite books of 2017 in order read throughout the year:
Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Binti (and its sequels) by Nnedi Okorafor
The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
The Heist (and the other four books in the Fox and O'Hare series) by Janet Evanovich
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
The Stone Sky (The conclusion of the Broken Earth trilogy) by N.K. Jemisin
Provenance by Ann Leckie
Artemis by Andy Weir

There were a lot of pretty good ones that I didn't put on this list too. You can find my complete list of books read in 2017 on my Goodreads page.

Friday, December 8, 2017

It's been a minute

As they say around here. I can't believe 2017 is almost over and my last post was back in May! So, a quick catch-up post, before my annual end of the year round up. A bulleted list, I think:

  • Job: I am still enjoying my job at the Faulkner County library. It has been great to have a transition time to learn the position and all the details while the person I will be taking over for is still around. She retires next week, and I will be full-time starting in January. Not entirely looking forward to full 8 hour days all the time, but at least I like my co-workers and the actual work itself. 
  • Running: still getting up at zero dark thirty to get in training runs. Now, not only is it very dark, it is finally starting to get cold - it was 26 this morning, after being almost 60 last week. It isn't too hard to get the runs in, unless it is six or seven miles like the other day. It tends to be hard to get up early enough to get it in before I have to be home getting Malcolm ready for school. I can do it, but it is a big rush. Thankfully, I only have to do that long of runs once a week or so. 
  • Malcolm: he is in kindergarten this year at the local elementary school and seems to be enjoying it. He is learning to read and count and do addition. He's started taking tennis lessons and is getting better at hitting the ball.
  • Books: I have read some really good books this year, but I will save those for the end of the year wrap up. I do a lot more listening to audio books these days, during my drives to and from work, even though I can't listen while running as much (for safety reasons in the dark).
  • Baking: I'll be honest, I haven't done much baking at all since I started working. It is just hard to find the time these days. I still make cookies or brownies once in a while, but I haven't experimented much. 
  • Tennis: Sort of a tough year for me - haven't won a lot - due to a lot of different factors, but I am still playing regularly, and look forward to the next year.
OK, enough catch-up for now. I'll be back shortly, I promise!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Nostalgic moment

After a busy couple of months, I am (finally) starting to think about summer vacation. Malcolm has been out of school since the beginning of May, but it isn't really summer yet. Not really. Since a trip overseas isn't in the cards this year, there is really only one place I want to go, one of the rituals of my childhood that I want to share with him - backpacking on the Olympic Peninsula.

This is the place I think of as part of home, even though I usually only went there once a summer for three or four days at a time. It is my happy place that I go to in my mind when I need to be somewhere else. And it is the one thing I miss most, living way out here in Arkansas. Yes, I miss my parents and childhood home and all that, but I can keep in touch with them, I visit them regularly. The beach is much harder to get to - a ferry ride, a several hour drive (long stretches of which used to be on gravel roads), a hike through the woods. It isn't somewhere you can just drop in on a whim in the afternoon, like a city park. The journey is part of the experience, part of the shedding and then regaining of normal life that makes it so special.

So this summer, I am hopeful that I can take Malcolm there, to see the endless stretch of the ocean at the edge of the continent, to play in the cold ocean, to get sand in his hair, toes, teeth, ears. To eat simple camping food around a fire after a day of running and hiking and digging. To see the stars without the lights of the city dimming them.