Yay, it’s that time of year again when we glance back over twelve years of things mostly bookish, and I express heartfelt indebtedness to casual readers and followers alike for their likes, comments and even reblogs.
Meanwhile my Goodreads page tells me that I’ve achieved 135% of my 2019 reading goal, having completed 70 books compared to the planned 52. Not crowing or anything but I hope my commentaries have emphasised quality over quantity — especially as the shortest title is only eight pages long!
So, as with many of you fellow bloggers, we’ve at that point when we indulge in retrospection and reflection, the R & R of all dedicated readers. I don’t intend to bombard you with the full details of stats — I’ll leave the My Year in Books Goodreads page to do that — but I do beg your indulgence while I point out a few of my highlights.
Looking back I note a proponderance of fantasy titles; I really don’t need to apologise for them, nor for the fact that many of them may have originally been intended for an audience of younger readers, whether pre-teen or young adult: regular readers know that I don’t regard fantasy as intrinsically inferior to ‘serious’ literature or somehow merely ‘escapist’. As a matter of fact I’ve also covered a wide range of fiction genres and have enjoyed some non-fiction on a couple or more subjects.
So, in alphabetical order those fiction genres include crime (amateur detective, police procedural etc), dystopia, fantasy, graphic novels, historical fiction, humour, magic realism, parody, picture books, romance, satire, science fiction and short stories, along with 19th-century and ‘modern’ classics (mostly this means 20th-century). In non-fiction I’ve looked at studies on medieval literature, early medieval history and children’s fiction; essays on environmentalism and politics; and a discussion on tricky questions asked of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
I also found it interesting to see the geographical spread of authors. A large majority of the writers are British — some, indeed, from Wales where I live — but there are also representatives from (again in alphabetical order) Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the US. However, I’m acutely aware that there is a world of writing, in translation as well as in English, beyond Europe and North America, and it’s my intention to stop shilly-shallying and explore outside these confines next year. As for age range, these books cover the continuum between teenager Greta Thunberg to authors who knew they were approaching death, such as Vita Sackville-West.
Now to gender balance. I read seventy books, by sixty different authors. Of the authors, twenty-nine (29) were female and thirty-one (31) were male: roughly 48:52 — coincidentally a figure some UK voters might find familiar.
On the surface I seem not to have achieved an ideal balancing act. But when I look at the books themselves, I see that 37 of the 70 were by those twenty-nine female writers, due to the fact that I’ve completed two or even three titles by some of them. That’s 53:47. In contrast, I can point to only one male author I’ve read more than once, and that was a trilogy.
And now it’s time to express grateful thanks to all those who’ve looked at and reacted to posts. This year views have topped 20,000 (though with marginally fewer visitors).
‘Likes’ have gone from a little under 3000 to approaching 4000, though that’s probably due to an increase in post frequency.
And finally, you good people have not been backward in coming forward with your thoughts, wishes and, occasionally, welcome critiques.
And what, I hear you demand, of 2020’s plans and how they compare with 2019’s? Ah, for those you will have to wait just a little while longer.