My Year in Reading – The Data

Books I Finished in 2010
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer (Eh)
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore (Liked it)
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano (Loved it)
The Seducer by Jan Kjaerstad (Taken as a series, one of the best books I’ve ever read)
Stoner by John Williams (Loved it; one of the best books I’ve ever read)
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Eh)
A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster (Loved it)
The Conqueror by Jan Kjaerstad (Taken as a series, one of the best books I’ve ever read)
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (Re-read; much better at 17)
The Infinities by John Banville (Liked it)
Ghosts by Cesar Aira (Liked it)
So Long, See You Tomorrow by Williams Maxwell (Eh)
Reality Hunger by David Shields (Liked it)
The Mystery Guest by Gregoire Bouillier (Liked it)
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon (Loved it)
The Discoverer by Jan Kjaerstad (Taken as a series, one of the best books I’ve ever read)
The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (Liked it)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (Loved it)
Hyperion by Dan Simmons (Liked it)
The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon (Liked it)
The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons (Eh)
Dune by Frank Herbert (Liked it)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Hated it)
Mockingbird by Walter Tevis (Liked it)
Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson (Re-read; loved it again)
The Magicians by Lev Grossman (Eh)
The Big Short by Michael Lewis (Liked it)
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (Liked it)
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (Re-read; better at 19)
Gone by Michael Grant (Liked it)
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (Loved it)
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Loved it)
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Loved it)
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Hated it)
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Eh)
The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles (Liked it)
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (Loved it; one of the best books I’ve ever read)
Remainder by Tom McCarthy (Liked it)
Feed by M.T. Anderson (Liked it)
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (Eh)
The Name of the Rose by Umbeto Eco (Loved it)
Burger Wuss by M.T. Anderson (Loved it)
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Loved it)
Hunger by Michael Grant (Eh)
Room by Emma Donoghue (Eh)
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Loved it)
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (Liked it)
A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter (Eh, but the writing is brilliant)

Some Statistical Observations
Total Books Read: 48
Percentage by Women: 19%
Percentage in Translation: 21%
Percentage by Authors of Color: 0%
Percentage of Non-Fiction: 10%
Percentage of YA Fiction: 19%
Percentage of Books Written Before I Was Born: 17%

Moving Forward
It was only at looking at this list, imaging how it might be perceived by others, that made me ask the statistical questions I did. I was shocked by my discovery that only 19% of my reading was by women and that none of it was by people of color. My 2009 discovery, along with much of the rest of the reading world, of Roberto Bolano, led me to seek out much more writing in translation, and I feel I grew from engagement with different perspectives outside of the dominant western tradition. Having already read pretty much the entire African-American literature cannon during my master’s studies, I need to make a more conscious effort to seek out those voices that might not appear in the NY Times book review or on the entry table at my favorite Brooklyn independent bookstores, let alone those at Barnes and Noble. I also need to add more non-fiction to my reading, especially as I teach a Global History now, where the gaps in my knowledge are quite literally the size on continents and millennia.

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