2015 was the first year I made any real concerted effort to track my reading habits. After having torched my Goodreads account a few years ago, I confess I came crawling back because I simply could not let go of the shelving function, flawed as it was. (Goodreads, I wish I could quit you!)
Kelly and I gave our Recommended Reads in last week’s podcast episode and looking back at my year in reading, I was slightly appalled by how, well, homogeneous my list looked. In the episode, Kelly and I did touch on how our reading tastes have shifted (and possibly calcified) as we have aged, how working in publishing has changed how much of a fair shot we give new books (spoiler: not as much as we used to), what genres and categories we prefer, etc.
Being incredibly specific with what you like to read helps you in a publishing career because it helps you understand niches in an already-incredibly specialized market, but now that I am two years past having worked the editorial desk, I wonder if that mentality hasn’t taken a slight toll on my reading habits. As a young child I was a voracious reader, voracious and indiscriminate. I read anything and everything. Not just books: I read short stories in the Highlights magazine, the Sunday funnies, articles in Time, those slim National Geographic nonfiction paperbacks about whales, etc.
But as I grew older, my reading tastes narrowed. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing; knowing what you like to read and why is an incredibly useful thing in both publishing and writing. However, while my number of books read is incredibly high, the number of genres, authors of color, LGBTQIA+ authors, disabled authors, etc. is not. I have read 1.5 nonfiction books this year (not including a collection of personal essays, which was a reread). The vast majority of the authors on my list are white. While I am a supporter of diverse voices in fiction, I have done a terrible job of putting my money where my mouth is.
Book Riot and the New York Public Library both have a 2016 Read Harder Challenge. I like the idea of challenging myself to read harder, and not just harder—to read broader. Next year I am going to challenge myself to read outside my comfort zone, and to better support marginalized voices. Author and blogger Dahlia Adler has several lists of recommendations that I think are a great place for me to start:
- #OwnVoices in Neurodiversity and Disability
- 2016-2017 YAs by Authors of Color
- Jewish MG/NA/YA Authors
- LGBTQIAP+ Books By and About People who Identify as LGBTQIAP+
- A list of Authors of Color and white LGBTQIA+, Authors compiled by Fizzle Reads!
What about you? Do any of you have reading goals? Do you track your reading? If so, what metrics do you track? Let us know in the comments!