I’ve never done this before, but I got a sudden interest in reviewing the books I read last year, in terms of numbers and favorites. Here is my list of books I read last year.
First off, the numbers :
- Total books read: 60
- Total fiction read: 42
- Fiction by women: 34
- Fiction by men: 8
- Total non-fiction read: 18
- Non-fiction by women: 4
- Non-fiction by men: 14
- Non-Caucasian authors: 6
- Non-Caucasian fiction: 5 (all by women)
- Non-Caucasian non-fiction: 1 (by a man)
I am not surprised that I read more books by women than by men (38 versus 22) or that I read more fiction than non-fiction. However, I am a little startled by the extent to which the fiction was by women and the non-fiction by men. 63 percent of the books I read were by women. However, only 22 percent of the non-fiction I read was by women, while 81% of the fiction I read was by women. I do not know how these numbers compare to the percentage of books published by women and by men, but I suspect that there is in fact less non-fiction published by women than by men, due to subtle sexism that affects both women’s perceived ability to write non-fiction and the ease with which they can get published. However, I would like to read more non-fiction by women and intend to make more of an effort to do so.
Regarding books by non-Caucasian authors: I am a bit ashamed at my pitiful number of six, and would like to make efforts to read more diversely. I am not surprised that it was mostly fiction (and that the one non-fiction was a memoir), as I suspect it is even more difficult to find non-fiction by non-Caucasian authors than it is to find non-fiction by women.
If I were to set reading goals for this year (which I do not particularly want to do formally, but just express as intentions), I would say that I want to read more non-fiction by women and more works (both fiction and non-fiction) by non-Caucasian authors.
And now, for some favorites. These are the books that stood out the most for me this past year:
On Borrowed Wings, by Chandra Prasad (brief thoughts)
The Bastard of Istanbul, by Elif Shafak (thoughts)
Amy and Isabelle, by Elizabeth Strout (thoughts)
The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell (thoughts)
Touchstone, by Laurie R. King
Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver