Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Look At Diversity: Where Has My Reading Taken Me?

I like to think that my reading is diverse.  I don't try to make my reading diverse, but when I see authors from different countries, with different backgrounds sitting on my shelves, I feel like I don't have to try.  I've never had a set reading list (except in school), so I just go where my mood takes me.

Red over at What Red Read, wrote a post last month about her reading stats and trying to diversify where her reading comes from.  It was an interesting post and got me wondering about my actual reading statistics, not just what I felt that I read.  I eyeballed my reading list from the past year and could tell that it was an even split between male and female authors.  I quickly realized that I've been reading a lot series lately, which I felt might skew my stats, because several books would be by one author.  Also, reading a lot of series meant that I was reading a lot more newer books than classics.

I analyzed my reading stats, some of it was what I expected, some of it was not.  I decided to choose a twelve month period, from October 2013 to September 2014.  I thought that would give me a good look at where my reading has taken me.  In that time I read 50 books (I think that might be the most I've read in one year).  25 books were written by women, 24 by men, and the final one was a short story collection including both sexes.  That is what I expected.  What I found surprising was how many of these men and women were white Americans.  Previously, I read a fair amount of Canadian literature (being in Canada) as well as books by English authors, with a few from other countries.  I was very surprised with my findings and wondered why this was (Excel helped a lot).  In that 12-month time frame, 33 of the books I read were in series!  That's more series than I have ever read before. Not that I never read series, but they were much fewer than the 13 I read.  I didn't finish all the series, but from the spreadsheet, that's only because not all the books are out yet and many were books I or my Hubby already owned.  All these series were by Americans. 

As I compiled all this information, I remember, about a year ago, looking at my bookshelf and realizing that I had picked up a few Young Adult series recently decided I should really read them. So, I guess I started to and just hadn't realized how that decision had changed my reading habits.  I also wanted to catch up on two series I have been reading for years, but had been neglecting.  That hasn't left a lot of room for anything else.  I've also read much less classics than in previous years. Previously, I read something like 12 classics in one year.  That's way down for 2014.

This new realization concerned me, so I decided that I would look further back at my reading habits. If I take a look at all of 2013, not just the last few months, my stats improve.  There are many more Canadians and English authors on the list.  There are a few more classics, but not as many as I would have liked.  I eyeballed my list of read books for the last few years (it's a lot of books to actually analyze) and it's more what I thought it would be.  Still a lot of white authors, but not as many as this last year.  That means (to me) that the choice to read through a bunch of the YA series I own has left me with a less culturally diverse reading list.  Now I wonder why that is.

What does that mean for my reading choices going forward?  Well, I still want to shrink my to-be-read pile and the easiest way to do that is to read easy books, but I plan on being more conscious of reading too many of them.  I might research authors more; often times I don't know about an author's background until after I've read their first book.  I'm also going to get back to reading more classics. I've got a list I want to finish.  I still think I have been doing a good job, I just also think I can do better.


  1. I am clearly a billion years behind on my blog reading. Stupid real world, getting in the way of important things.

    I am always so surprised between how I *think* my reading is going and how it's actually going once I write it down and look at the totals. Good luck with your reading going forward!

    1. I am super behind on my blog reading. Seems like I'm forever trying to catch up.

      Since I wrote this, I'm wondering if I'm thinking too much about my reading choices because it's been a week or so since I've been able to get into a book and that's a long time for me.