I read 35 books last year — a dip (as discussed in my prior post) but no less satisfying. It doesn’t take into account any piecemeal reading for research or the one re-read I did, but even if I were to take them into account I wouldn’t have met my target of 50 books for the year. Anthologies of any kind always take me forever and I have no idea why.
Besides setting a benchmark of 50 books, I hoped to read more women in general but didn’t make a point of seeking them out over male authors.
How did the numbers break down? 18 of all the books were written by women, 17 by men. One anthology included both genders. A fifty-fifty split generally works for me.
But what about the kind of books? 19 books were non-fiction, 16 were fiction. That was unexpected; I honestly thought I’d read more fiction. I’m guessing that it felt like I’d read more fiction because they were so good, and so took up more mental headspace. Anyway, onward! Of the non-fiction, it ran the gamut from writing how-tos, a couple of essay collections, and a few specialty topics.
Back to fiction: 13 of the 16 novels were written by women. And considering I didn’t make a systematic effort to do so, that bit of math pleases me greatly. More so, they were amongst my favorite books of the entire year. As for the genre breakdowns of all novels, regardless of gender, there were 7 fantasy, 4 science fiction, 2 historical novels, and 1 contemporary thriller. The anthology and the single-author collection were both mixed genre books.
(Of the unfinished books that will carry over to this year, two are novels, one is a short fiction anthology that’s mostly done, and two are non-fiction. Shame they won’t be included here, as they will always feel like 2014 books even if GoodReads says otherwise. Sad face.)
I had a glut of great books all at once in the second half of the year and waxed poetic about several of them in September. I was blissfully right in my anticipation for Walton’s My Real Children and Hurley’s The Mirror Empire. And if I thought those were great, I was unprepared for Katherine Addison (the pen name of Sarah Monette) and her latest book The Goblin Emperor — sweet and thoughtful and wonderful. Like, seriously, go read it. Right now. And the rest.
Looking back, I can say that Kameron Hurley’s work, as both novelist and essayist, made the biggest impact on me as both a reader and a writer. I’ve started into her Bel Dame Apocrypha series while I wait for Empire Ascendant (SQUEE), with a slight detour into Watt’s Echopraxia, along with all the non-fiction I’m still knee-deep in.
As I said, I didn’t plan to read X number of women this past year, but I did make a point to keep my eyes open. The places I go to online were talking about women writers more than ever before, and about the books they were releasing that year. Reading new releases is something I did work hard on, so doing one informed the other.
Also of note: after a healthy diet of balanced and, better yet, nuanced gender representation in books, I have even less tolerance for novels where that balance doesn’t exist — where female characters are either watery tropes, sexy lamps, or not even present at all.
Did I say less tolerance? That should read zero tolerance.
Needless to say, I am completely ecstatic about the books coming out in 2015. See these grubby little hands? Gimme whatcha got!