As you guys know, I recently hit my 40 book goal in the 2014 Goodreads reading challenge, which I assigned myself.
It’s really the first time I’ve kept track of what I read over the course of a year and it has been an interesting exercise. A college friend had posted about her 52-book reading challenge on Facebook and I grew interested. I felt like I hadn’t been reading as much in the past few years or at least, the reading I was doing was research for my book.
Part of the reason I wanted to track what I read was that I suspected my reading tastes had stagnated into a pool of historical fiction and historical romance. I love those genres, but when you read too much of one thing, everything gets kind of samey. When things get too samey-samey (or I’m not reading much), it shows in my writing. I wasn’t being as descriptive in my prose or inventive with plots and characters or going in depth as I wanted to.
On top of that, in reading the same genres often, I was missing out on a wider range of writing, stories, and a diversity of characters.
You can go back and look at the lists and my ratings and links to reviews, if you like. But here’s a statistical breakdown.
Non-Fiction Books Read: 8 (20% of total challenge)
Of those 8, 1 was a family history/memoir, 1 was a biography, 2 were memoirs, 3 were history books (1 American Revolution, 1 American history, 1 World War One) and 1 was a cultural study.
Out of the fiction:
Anthology of short stories: 1
Classics: 2 Jane Austens
Historical Romance: 9
YA: 2 (Historical YA and YA Fantasy, by the same author)
Historical Fiction: 9 (a couple of them could be considered literary fiction as well; 2 British history, 1 alternate history/Russian history, 2 WWII, 1 American Revolution, 1 set in the 1920s/1930s, 1 set in modern day and WWII, and 1 set in WWI, 1920s, and modern day)
Fantasy/Sci-Fi: 7 (2 were the first book in planned series, including the YA Fantasy; 1 was Tolkien, the others were the Parasol Protectorate books by Gail Carriger).
Contemporary-set fiction: 1 literary fiction (Amsterdam by Ian McEwan), 1 novel written kind of in the form of short stories: Corona by Bushra Rehman
Books I gave up on this year: 1–At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien.
I would say that, in general, I read a decent mix of fiction and non-fiction, depending on what I’m interested in at any given time. There were several books I finished this year that I’d either owned/ been on my radar for a while and I just hadn’t gotten around to reading and finishing them. I put that approximate number at around 12 of the 40 books.
Books Written By People I Know: 1. Zero Sum Game by SL Huang
New-To-Me-Authors Discovered This Year: Kristina McMorris, Jennifer Laam, Justin Go, Bushra Rehman (and even though I haven’t read her novels yet, they’re on the to-be-read list), Lisa See
Writerly Ideas Swirling Through Me As A Result of the Challenge:
Victorian era. Dual timeline narratives. Strong female protagonists. High Stakes. Make the details count.
So, what are you reading?