Reading review for 2019

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A couple of years ago, I realised that tracking and reviewing what I read helps me to be more intentional of my choices and it has made my reading experience more stimulating and rewarding. Here is a summary with some key data, as well as my plans for 2020.

In 2019 I had a surprisingly good year in terms of reading. I read more than I expected reaching 54 books, with on average one book a week, for a total of about 14400 pages.  24% of those books were written by men (13), so I feel like this year I did a great job at exploring more women’s voices. The authors of were from all around the world: UK, USA, India, Italy, Ireland, Hong-Kong, Comoros Islands, Palestine and France.

This year I read a very diverse batch of novels, self-help and non-fiction books, both light and deeper topics. I really enjoyed expanding my horizons on topics such as slavery, the environment and genres like dystopia.

Over the year, I treated myself to a few books to support my local bookstore, but most of the others were from the public library, the little free libraries, gifted to me or borrowed from friends and colleagues.  Eight of these books we read with our book club and had lively discussions about over good coffee. Next to the book club, I have lately been enjoying chats about books with my colleagues as we make our way through the lunch queue at work.

What I haven’t included in my overview are short stories, which I read a lot of this year, in the context of my writing course to get inspiration for my own writing.  Being transported in a few pages to totally different worlds and styles is wonderful and has led me to encounter authors I’d never heard of.

Looking at this summary, I realise that in 2020 I’d like to read more books by authors from a wider range of countries, to support translated works and discover voices that are new to me. I will try to be more conscious of this when I list books on Goodreads. I will also continue to read books on topics such as feminism and social injustice to broaden my understanding of complex issues.

I welcome your reading suggestions, please feel free to write them in the comments! Thanks and happy reading in 2020:)

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You can find my overviews of 2018 and 2017, and further book lists.

Discovering new voices

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Last year in the context of work, I discovered the power of data-driven decisions and started to apply it in other spheres of my life.  In 2017, I aimed to read more books and watch less series, so I started to count and make a list of the books I had read.  Half-way through the year, though I was happy to be progressing on my goal to read more, I realised a large proportion of those books were written by men.

While there is nothing wrong with books written by men, I strive for equality so I decided to balance out the trend. I paid closer attention and consciously chose books written by women, as well as looking out for some voices that were new to me, and in the end, 43,6% of the 39 books I read were by women authors.

Now for 2018 I plan that at least 56,4% of the books I read are written by women.  I’ll report back on how it is going throughout the year:)

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Here are some of my favorite books written by women from my 2017 readings, perfect for curling up on the couch in these days of icy cold weather:

A little life – Hanya Yanagihara

This is one of the best books I read last year.  I keep coming back to the story and its characters who I couldn’t help but care for deeply and their relationships.  Utterly heartbreaking and not for the faint-hearted (there are images of abuse and violence that I still find difficult to shake off today).

The buddha in the attic – Julie Otsuka

The story of Japanese picture brides who moved to the United States in the 1900s. I really enjoyed how their stories are told anonymously and at the same time so personally. It was gripping and fascinating as I had never heard of this part of history.

New people – Danzy Senna

A modern love story about racial identity and figuring out what one really wants in life. I enjoyed the sneak peek into a Brooklyn lifestyle in the 90s and got caught up in the shenanigans of Maria, the main character whose behaviour is both mindboggling and completely relatable.

Salvage the bones – Jesmyn Ward

Day to day life of a family in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. So beautifully written and poetic. The characters are great and you really feel like you are there with them.