Last year, I began to blog about the books I read. I am glad I made that decision, and I am thankful to the friend who shared their blog post of them tracking their reading because it really got me motivated to read. I am going to try and continue that this year! In addition, I am also starting my own Booktube channel, Josh’s Bookish Voyage. I am loving it! Editing was a little scary at first, but it is a process I enjoy doing. Although I still worry that I might not have the time to do all I’d like to do.
Hopefully, I can do both, but my time may end up monopolized by one sometimes. I’m already finding myself behind on my blogs (still 4 or 5 more to write, and I just finished 4!). I am loving making videos though, so it is worth it! I’ve set a limit and sort of a goal of 2 videos per week. This won’t always be feasible, but I know the more excited I get, the more likely I am to spend too much time on this. I am really excited for the channel. I want to point out, my channel name is an homage to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. He began the series with a moving quote,
We are going to explore the cosmos in a ship of the imagination.
Each month, I’ll share my TBR for that month and review the month before it!
Ratings in 2020
If you read my 2019 stats post, you’ll know I wanted to change how I approach rating the books I read because I felt like I was too generous. My average rating was 4 or 4.5, and the fact is not every book is amazing. It is true that I enjoyed most of what I read. Nevertheless, I wanted to develop a more objective approach, so I broke it down into the factors I consider most important to me in a book.
Desire to reread
These can be expanded for fiction/nonfiction which I have slightly different expectations for:
This may seem like a very convoluted way of thinking about these, but for me, rating a book isn’t about any one aspect of it. There are books that aren’t the most enjoyable that I feel like are still a positive experience. Sure, some of these matter more. The idea is, I can appreciate certain aspects of a book, and breaking it down is a way of thinking about each one then tying it together. This is still very much a measure of what I like in a book.
I’ve weighted each characteristic based on how important it is to me (see below). That means the rating I give one trait, say enjoyment, will matter more than say the writing style. Comprehension matters because I want to leave the book feeling like I understood what I read, but sometimes, confusion doesn’t ruin the book. Now, each of these will often effect my rating of the other; if I don’t find a book engaging, I probably won’t enjoy it. However, I think there are a lot of eccentricities that go into how we judge a book such that breaking it down feels like the best approach for me.
I mentioned “special” because it gets to the core of that special feeling a book can make you feel. I can read a book that I find enjoyable, engaging, and everything else seem perfect about it, but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be a profound book to me. I think that should matter. Another trait is my desire to reread a book. Now, together these two are only worth a quarter of a star out of five stars. However, you might see how that can just barely shift a book into lower category. On that note, I am moving away from .25 ratings and rounding to the nearest half; on Goodreads I will round up or down based on if my final number is above or below .5.
This is a breakdown of each aspect of a book that matters to me with a weight to indicate how important it is in the calculation of the final number.
It’s 2020! That’s a new year and a new decade. This is the decade I really hope to hone in on my passion of reading, but that is only possible because I’ve had such a fantastic year in reading. I read 80 books this year. To put that in context, I’ve read ~250 books my entire life (save my very young reads, e.g. Magic Tree House). I was a decent reader in my teens, and I’ve always tried to keep that up every year with 10-15 books a year.
Fast forward to this year when I went from struggling to get fifteen, to an uptick in reading in July and even more in September when I came across Booktube for the first time. Booktube has proven to be a both an inspiration and a guide. It has pushed me to try new books, but it has also given me new challenges to spice up how I read. Most of them were audiobooks (see below), and it was because of Books and Lala that I decided to try listening to a book at double speed, revolutionizing my reading.
What’s more, I’ve read several physical books (maybe a tenth the number of audiobooks), and I haven’t read a physical book in years. The result is me reading one third of my total life time of books in a single year. I am so excited moving forward, and I hope you join me in discussing the different reading stats.
Stats are key to setting goals. I don’t just want to read more; I want a wider range of diversity and viewpoints to better myself for the better. There are a lot of stats, so I am going to create a Table of Contents so you can jump ahead if you prefer.
I saw a friend of mine share a post of all the books he read in 2018. He did it to encourage himself to read more, and I thought it was a great idea! I’ve decided to do it now. Of course, all of my casual reading will be via audiobooks. I’m sure there are some of you who may not consider that actually reading. I really don’t care. I’ll save the reading for my research.
I will try to post monthly updates. Below these, I will post ongoing reviews and commentary about the books I am reading, but I won’t post these until I finish the book. You can see the complete list below. I’ve got a couple large short story collections I am in the process of reading, but you can find those ongoing reviews on their own posts. These are books I am not reading consistently. Some of them I am reading but holding off posting until I make it through more stories.
Click on the month in question to see the update at the start of that month including the TBR (may not be there for the first part of the year). You can jump to the January 2020 update and TBR here.
I finished 80 books this year. I started the year with an ambitious goal of 15 books this year, but I lost interest in March as I begun to read something I wasn’t loving. I also had a period of short stories/essays that I read without completing the entire collections. Fast forward to July, and I found myself reading so much more. It was September when I came across Booktube for the first time, and that changed everything. Once I saw I had read nearly 10 books both in August and September, I began to think I could read a lot more than I thought. It really was all about the routine. I stopped listening to as many podcasts and watching as many TV shows. By October, I started experimenting with 1.8 to 2.0 times speed. Naturally, that begets twice the reading. This year, shows a clear growth for the better, and it makes me so excited for next year.
This is interesting. My average count was in the mid 300s. I always thought I read a lot of long books, but clearly it is more balanced. I actually read a lot more novellas this year than I normally do (by %). I had been concerned about counting them towards my books read list, but my average length shows that it’s evened out by the longer books I read.
This is a disappointing stat. My average rating was, I think, 4 stars, and that seems a little too generous. I think I am giving too many 4+ stars. I heard one person say 4 stars are good books, but 5 stars really should be absolute favorites, books you want to reread. I think that is a good standard. I intent to be more harsh in my ratings moving forward. The struggle is, if it is less than 3 stars, why finish it. Perhaps, my 2 star should be more “fine” categorically than “actively dislike.”
Types of Books (Genre, Audience, etc.)
Clearly, I have a bias for Horror, Scifi, and Fantasy. In fact, many of the scifi and fantasy overlap. I started reading more contemporary, mystery and historical fiction largely at the behest of Booktube. I think historical is the most difficult to read because there are a lot of that I am particular about. I love family drama, but I don’t like war or the Victorian. That said, I’ve made a point to vary my reading. I have my TBR shelf split by genre, and I make myself pick at least one book from each genre before I double up on another.
I find it very important to keep my reading varied to keep me interested. Some people might think this is me reading things I don’t want to read, but that isn’t the case. I am excited about everything on my shelf. Granted, there are those that I consider more experimental than others, but I still want to read them. This is to keep me from pushing through my most excited stack and lose stem when or if I got stuck on a bunch of duds. I want to make sure I always have a very highly anticipated book ahead of me.
I don’t read a lot of YA, but I am experimenting more with it. It it still hit and miss, but I think there is YA out there for me. I have definitely found some I love. I intent to experiment more this next year in hopes of finding more.
I started reading more graphic novels (comics) this year, and I hope to read more this next year. I’m not sure what more to do with this. I would like to read more anthologies. I actually read my first one this year with Ellen Datlow. Overall, I’d like this to be more varied just so I can get a better variety of experiences.
Books by Gender
It was 2015 when I realized I had a bias for men authors (85%), and that became the year of the women. In the sense that I chose to read only women. Since then, I have tried to increase that number. Part of it is my obsession with Stephen King and King rereads. My new favorites of the year would be Mary Robinette Kowal, A.S. King, Seanan McGuire, and Tananarive Due. Among men, my new favorites would be Stephen Graham Jones and maybe Jeff Vandermeer. My old favorites would of course be Octavia Butler, Stephen King, and Maya Angelou.
Books by Race
I read a lot of amazing fiction by POC. I clearly have room for improvement, and that is a goal of mine this next year. However, there are a lot of writers worth mentioning. Stephen Graham Jones writes amazing horror and is a native american author. Maya Angelou and Octavia Butler still stand out as favorites, but Tananarive Due was a new find of mine. She writes fantastic horror, and I look forward to reading more by her. Shobha Rao is an Indian aurthor who wrote one of my top ten books of the year. The last person who really stood out to me (that I can recall at the moment) is Celeste Ng who writes the best domestic dramas. I cannot wait to read more of her books; I’ll probably reread her existing ones.
I want to be clear, I don’t mention this authors because they are people of color. I mention them because they are some of the best authors I read last year. I just think its beneficial to make note of those books that are also by authors of color because I am aware of my bias and the bias of others to read what we know. This is a way of drawing attention to books that are just as worthy of your time that may not get the attention it deserves. And, if your like me, maybe you’re looking specifically authors of colors at times to make sure you are reading a more varied list of books.
Book Purchases (Owned vs Bought)
This was a bad year for book buying. I spent more money than I have. I found BookOutlet and BookTube. Now, this is not the complete list of books I bought. These are books I read. I have created a strict monthly book budget, and I am at the point where I should be able to read only books I own (or get from NetGalley). It is a good discipline to have. I hope to spend less money on Amazon this year, but when I do, it is for newer books which makes sense why I gravitated toward reading those if I have them. Thrift books is a site in the states that offers super cheap used books. Usually, I read then buy those, but since I am reading books I own, that won’t happen as much (hopefully).
DNF (Did not finish) Books
I did not DNF a lot of books this year. I quit To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis not because I hated it but because I was in a slump. Still, I find myself finishing most books I start. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so strict with myself. Alas, it is what it is, but maybe I can be more liberal with my DNFs. I just hate not meeting a goal. I also hate not finishing books I already own physically. The only other book I didn’t finish was Essay’s by Christopher Hitchens. I really tried (twice. I read the essay’s that interested me, but too many of them were esoteric and a waste of my time. I decided to give up on it, and still keep it on my shelf.
Another book I technically didn’t finish was The Time Travelers Almanac. I’ve been reviewing it as I go along, but I haven’t finished it. I am going to. I think I’ve set too strict with how I’m trying to review it, but I’m not rushing through it.