Series to Finish in 2020

It’s been snowing here on Orcas Island for the past few days, and I’ve been enjoying some excellent quality reading time. Now that I’m almost done with the books I wanted to finish reading for the Winter Magical Readathon, I’ve started thinking about the series I’d like to finish this year.

I mentioned in my 2020 reading goals post that I want to finish at least 5 series that I’ve started but not yet finished. I’m focusing on series that are now complete. So, most of these are older series. Some were hugely popular. Some I initially loved and then bailed on for whatever reason. Now I want to revisit them and see how the rest of the stories play out.

I started to make a Goodreads shelf to track them, but I’m not even sure I’ve got everything, yet. It turns out that there were more than I’d thought. So many that I had trouble narrowing it down to just 10 that I want to finish, but I did it. Below are the top 10 series that I’d most like to finish reading in 2020.

  • Fire and Thorns Series by Rae Carson — I read the first book in this series shortly after it came out and enjoyed it. Then I never read the rest of the series. I think there are more books in this series coming out now, so I’d like to at least finish the original trilogy and see if I want to keep going.
  • Poseidon’s Children Series by Alastair Reynolds — I read the first two books in this trilogy, and loved them. Then I never read the final book. I bought this last one on ebook when it came out, but I still haven’t read it. So, this is one I definitely want to finish this year. I think this will be a good one for a Tome Topple readathon.
  • Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — I really love this comic series. I own the bind-ups through volume 7, but I’ve only read the first 2. It’s possible that this series isn’t done yet, but I’m going to at least catch up to wherever the most recent volume released is by the end of 2020.
  • The Amberlough Dossier Series by Lara Elena Donnelly — I read the first book in this series, and I own the other two books. The problem is that I have them all in paperback, and I keep forgetting about them. I’d really like to remember to finish this series this year.
  • Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas — This used to be my favorite series. I devoured the first four books. Then I started souring on SJM’s writing style. At this point, I’ve pretty much completely forgotten what’s happened, and the series is done. So, I’m going to have to go back and refresh my memory with some recaps. Then I think it’s time for me to finally finish this series, for better or worse.
  • Brothers Sinister Series by Courtney Milan — I’ve been taking my time reading these because I love them so much. I have the rest of the series on ebook now, so I could read through them all. The only problem with finishing them is that I’ll need to find a new series for pulling me out of reading slumps.
  • Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab — I’ve been dragging my feet about reading book two in this duology because I’ve heard it’s not as good as the first book. The problem is that I bought this on ebook when it first came out, so I’m determined to read it. My plan is to save it for a Tome Topple and then read it and see how I like it.
  • Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet — I didn’t love the first book in this series, but I wanted to give book two a try, so I bought it when it was on sale. Then I bought book three when it was on sale. Now I’m committed to finishing this series. I liked the world-building and was curious to see what happens with the plot. I just didn’t like the characters or the relationship between them. Here’s hoping they grow on me as the series progresses.
  • The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante — It’s been a while since I read the first two books in this series. I have two more to read, and I really want to finish them. They just keep getting bumped off my TBR. Not this year. This year they’re getting read.
  • The Folk of the Air by Holly Black — Out of all the series on this list, the last two books in this series are possibly the two books I’m most looking forward to reading. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the first series I end up finishing this year.

Given the fact that there are several series in that list that I’m not super excited to read, you may be asking yourself why in the world I’m bothering to put these on my TBR and make a goal out of finishing them. To that I say: I don’t have to read all of them. I only said I’d finish five. As for the rest, well… I like to finish things. I find it really hard to DNF books, and almost as hard to DNF a series once I’ve started it.

If I pick up reading the Kingmaker Chronicles, or the Throne of Glass Series, or even the Fire and Thorns series and just do not like the next book, I may bail on reading the rest. But, I only have one book left to read in Poseidon’s Children and Monsters of Verity. So, I’m going to finish those, even if I’m not loving the book.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Do you feel compelled to finish every series you start? What series have you given up on? Or which one do you really want to finish reading this year?

2020 Reading Goals

Now that I’ve pretty much reviewed all aspects of my 2019 reading life, it’s time to focus on the year ahead. I decided a couple of things while reflecting on 2019. The first was that I am tracking my reading in way too many places. I know. I say this every year. Or at least, I definitely said it last year, and then went and did pretty much the exact same thing I’d been doing. I am making a few changes this year, and I’ll talk about that at the end of this post.

The other thing I decided was that I’m taking a year off from reading challenges. I’m not saying I’ll never do one again, but I am saying that I realized I like readathons with reading prompts WAY better than reading challenges. It’s a lot easier for me to put personal constraints on readathon prompts (ex: it has to be a book that’s already on my Kindle or bookshelf). This is probably because the entire point of reading challenges is to get you reading things that you probably don’t already have on your TBR.

What I will miss from not doing reading challenges is that extra push to read outside my comfort zone. Instead, I’m just going to have to push myself. To that end, one of my goals includes some reading metrics that I want to keep an eye on throughout the year (plan is to check in quarterly) to make sure I’m continuing to read books written by people with different perspectives than mine.

Given all that, these are the reading goals I decided on for 2020:

  1. Read at least 52 books (or book-like things). — This is my staple “Goodreads Challenge” goal. If it counts as a book on Goodreads, it counts as a book for this goal. Even after reading more than 80 books in 2019, I’m still keeping my goal at a book a week on average.
  2. Finish at least 5 series that I’ve already started. — A lot of the series that I’ve started over the past several years are now complete, but I haven’t had a chance to sit down and finish reading them, even though I own the books. So, this is where I’m going to focus my “bust my TBR” energy in 2020. I’ll do a post soon on which series I am considering completing for this goal.
  3. Read all purchased books within six months of purchase. — I’m changing my focus from trying to control the number of books on my Kindle (impossible) to reading what I buy instead of hoarding books. So, every time I buy a book (starting with my 2019 purchases), it goes on a list in my Google sheet (and I make a note of it in my bullet journal). I decided on six months as a time horizon because if I’m going to wait that long to read a book, I may as well have just reserved it from the library.
  4. Read at least one owned book for every book I purchase. — I’m probably going to regret this goal because it’s going to be really hard to track. I made space for a list in my 2020 Reading spread in my bullet journal, but I think I’m going to move this to a column in my reading spreadsheet, instead. Anything purchased prior to 2019 counts for this goal, because if I bought it in 2019 it should already be covered by goal #3.
  5. Read more books by marginalized authors (measured by % of total books read). — This is always a goal for me, but this year I’m quantifying it. In the past I’ve relied on reading challenges as a crutch to help with this, but even with nearly completing the 2019 Read Harder challenge, my stats for % of books read by marginalized authors were down last year. This year, I’m just going to focus on the numbers instead. My targets are as follows:
    • At least 33% books by “non-white” authors with a stretch goal of 50%.
    • At least 15% books by queer authors with a stretch goal of 33%.
    • At least 10% books by indie authors with a stretch goal of 25%.
    • At least 50% of books written by female-identifying authors.

So let’s talk about tracking. I’m going to make a few subtle changes this year and see if that helps. For starters, I’m not going to use my bullet journal to keep lists of what I read. My BuJo is my planner and my journal all wrapped up into one neat package. It’s not a spreadsheet, so I’m not going to use it like one.

I have this one spread to track new books I want to read, remind me of my reading goals, and list books I’ve purchased so that I can have to reference this info or make notes when I’m not at my computer. In my daily logs, I plan to note when I start or finish a book and maybe journal a bit about what I loved or write down a quote I particularly liked. But that’s it. This way, I can reference my daily logs for start/end dates when I update my spreadsheet.

My Google spreadsheet is going to be how I keep track of what I’ve read, and Goodreads is going to be primarily used to keep track of what I want to read. I’ve already invested a lot of time making Goodreads shelves for books I have on my Kindle, books that are on hold at the library, books I’ve borrowed from the library, and books I own in paperback or hardcover. In the past I’ve tried to keep track of my TBR in my Google sheet as well as on Goodreads, but it always ends in frustration. So, the only TBR I’m going to track in my Google sheet is my list of book purchases with purchase date and (calculated) read by date.

In case you can’t tell, I’m trying to keep things as simple and low maintenance as possible this year. If I thought I could accomplish what I want to accomplish without keeping track of what I read, I might try it. But even though reading fuels me and makes me happy, I’m aware that it’s also food for the creative compost heap in my brain. If I’m not reading, it makes it so much harder for me to write. Similarly, if I’m not reaching for things outside my comfort zone, I’m just consuming empty calories. So, I like to put a little structure around what I’m reading.

Maybe one of these years I’ll do a “no reading goals” reading goal. The idea of that completely freaks me out, so I probably should try it at some point.

Do you make reading goals? If so, are you doing anything new and different this year? Have you mastered the art of tracking what you’re reading and what you want to read? Let me know in the comments. (Really. I’m not kidding. You can talk to me. I read the comments.)

Top Five Surprise Favorite Reads of 2019

I was going to make this my top five favorite reads of 2019, but as I looked through my five star reads from 2019, trying to narrow them down to a top five, I noticed a few things. One is that I need a new rating system. The generic star rating system sucks at helping me decide on which were actually favorites.

So, I started thinking about which books stuck with me the most. Which were the ones I was still thinking about and recommending to others? That’s when I started to realize that the books I’d given five stars to fell almost neatly into two stacks: five star books that I expected to be five stars, and five star books that I had not expected to love as much as I did.

Since the previous post was about disappointing reads, I thought it made sense to make this one about the opposite. These are the books that I didn’t think I was going to love, but ended up raving about to anyone who will listen.

  1. Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews — By far the most surprising hit of 2019. I was expecting a book about magic, witches, vampires, and werewolves with a romance. What I got was that with a sci-fi twist and some staggeringly creative world-building. I can’t wait to catch up on the rest of this series.
  2. The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst — A common complaint about YA fantasy is that authors pull punches so there are wars and somehow no one dies or even gets badly injured. The world in this book is dangerous. The heroine isn’t the best, she’s merely the most determined, and there’s a real reason for that title. Beloved characters die. More than just a few. It’s brutal, and I loved it. That may be why I’m starting this year by reading book two in this series.
  3. Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente — I’ve talked about this book a lot. I did not expect to like it because it was being compared to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I didn’t like. I know. But where the Hitchhiker’s humor didn’t really work for me, the humor in this book was calibrated perfectly to my taste. The audiobook narration made it even better. Surprise hit!
  4. Dryland by Sara Jaffe — Books that feature swimmers or swimming as a sport are very hit or miss for me. I was not expecting this one to be a hit, but it was. It may have been the added bonus of being “historical fiction” that takes place in Portland in the 1990s. It could also be the unique structure and narrative voice. I liked this way more than I thought I would.
  5. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern — I kept my expectations really low for this one, which may contribute to the “surprise hit” factor. But, I wasn’t expecting the story within a story structure of this book, and it really worked for me.

So, what are the books you read in 2019 and raved about? Let me know in the comments if you have one that you think I should check out based on this list.

Most disappointing reads of 2019

All right. Let’s get this post out of the way. I hate talking about things I didn’t like because writing books is hard work. Publishing books is hard work. Truly bad books are just not that common. Problematic books are much more common, but that’s a different topic. Every year I argue with myself over whether or not to do this post. But, after looking through the books that received the lowest ratings on my spreadsheet, I decided to put this out there because the books that made my list really had very little to do with the quality of the writing and everything to do with my expectations going in.

Before I get into my list, I wanted to mention (in light of the ongoing drama with RWA which is in itself a hugely disappointing read after all the progress I thought we were making and further erodes my faith in humanity), my most disappointing reads of 2019 were all books I read as a judge for the RITA awards. They were all traditionally published books, and at least five of the seven contained at least one, if not more than one, problematic element that had me cringe reading and made me have to rethink how far the romance genre has actually come in recent years. Then again, I may have way too optimistic a view on how far we’ve come due to the fact that almost all the romance books I read are written by authors of color and/or queer authors.

With that said, let’s focus on books that were objectively fine books, just ones that I found disappointing. This is a truer representation of “disappointing reads” for me because I chose to read these books, they weren’t assigned to me.

  1. Vengeful by V. E. Schwab — My most disappointing read of 2019 because of how much I loved Vicious (still my favorite book by V. E. Schwab) and how much I was looking forward to reading this sequel. I didn’t even rate it that low. It was good. It just wasn’t the book I wanted. As I wrote in my recap, I would have preferred it if the book focused on the newly introduced (mostly female) E.O.s and if Victor and Eli were just side characters.
  2. Mercenary Instinct by Ruby Lionsdrake — I really wanted to like this one, but… nope. I’ve been searching for a sci-fi romance to love and a sci-fi romance author to follow to the ends of time, but this was not it. As I wrote in my recap post, all the men were constantly threatening to rape the women (because mercenaries, I guess?), and the plot was a convoluted mess. Still looking for a great sci-fi romance if you want to recommend one.
  3. Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole — My second most disappointing read because I LOVE her Reluctant Royals series which is contemporary fiction and this is sci-fi, which is much more in line with what I usually read. But I think this would have been better if it had been written as a YA book. Instead, we’re supposed to believe the main characters are adults when they keep behaving like teens. That disconnect really took me out of the story. If they’d all been aged down to high school students, this book probably wouldn’t have made it onto this list.
  4. I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells — I’m a huge fan of the podcast Writing Excuses and have grown to really like the author of this book through his work on that podcast. This was the first book I’d read by him, and I anticipated great things. While I enjoyed the paranormal and thriller aspects of this book, this one had the opposite problem from Radio Silence. The main character in this book is supposed to be a teen but read like an adult. Some of that might have to do with the fact he is supposed to be a sociopath, but still, his narrative voice (it’s written in first person) made it hard for me to get immersed in the story.
  5. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander, J.K. Rowling — All right, so this one had less to do with my expectations and more to do with the content. We’ve cancelled JKR, right? I mean, I have a warm place in my heart for the original Harry Potter series, and I always will, while still acknowledging it as a problematic fave. But the stuff that’s been published outside of the original series seems to just double down on all the issues, if not create new ones. Many of the descriptions of creatures and even the clarification of what made one a “beast” just didn’t sit right with me. I cringed while listening to this on audiobook, repeatedly. Ugh.

I always feel dirty after writing posts where I talk about things I didn’t like. Do people even enjoy reading this sort of thing? Is it worth doing it? I just don’t know. If you have thoughts on this, let me know in the comments. Meanwhile, I’m going to go write my “favorite books read in 2019” post so I can enjoy raving about things I loved.

January 2020 Bullet Journal Set-Up

And now a break from the reading summaries, stats, and updates to share my bullet journal spreads for 2020. Unlike most, I don’t bother starting a new notebook at the start of a new year. If I still have pages left in my current notebook, I just keep going.

Before diving into my 2020 spreads, I used almost ten pages planning my 2020 writing schedule and goals which I’m not showing here. In general, I laid out a future log for the entire year, four months to a page, divided horizontally so I had space for mini calendars on the left and notes on the right in each box. Then I used pencil (not normal for me) to start putting in rough plans for what writing project(s) I wanted to be working on each month.

In addition to that, I came up with two major writing goals for the year. One is a revenue goal and the other is to “build my backlist.” After that, I made sure my Q1 goals and projects tied to my 2020, and that’s it. All that’s left is to set up some sort of Kanban board to track my tasks associated with those project and make sure it all gets done. With that more or less set up, I moved on to my reading goals for 2020.

I’m keeping it pretty simple with this two page spread. On the left side, I can keep track of new books that I want to put on hold at the library (or add to my wishlist). There’s an 8×8 box for each month, and I’m writing the release date and title in each box for the books I’m excited about. On the right side, I’ve listed my reading goals for the year (which I’m going to talk about more in a separate post). Then I’m using the bottom half of the page as a tracker for the books I’ve purchased to make sure I’m buying and reading books rather than buying and hoarding them.

Next up is my month at a glance. I like the traditional line-a-day view for this. I’m putting my regular life events on the left side and my writing business stuff on the right side. I also have a little habit tracker on the left side for the four habits I’m tracking in January (vitamin, meditation, cardio, and stretching).

The right hand side also has a mini habit tracker because I have a goal of writing 1000 words every day in January. They can be in any of the three Modern Fae projects I’m currently working on, but blog posts and outlining and brainstorming don’t count. It has to be part of a story scene, even if I eventually end up cutting it from the finished product. Ultimately, I want to see if I can keep this up all year, but I’m going to take it one month at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed by my ambition.

On the next page, I have a big blank page for capturing what I read that month and any favorites from my “culture consumed” (like podcasts, music, movies, tv shows, etc.). I’m not sure exactly what this will end up looking like, but I’m intending to try to make it a bit of a collage. I’m thinking of printing out mini book covers to paste in, or maybe doodling the covers of the books I’ve read. I’ll probably add ticket stubs from movies, if I go to any. I’m leaving plenty of space to be creative and have a bit of fun.

I’m also trying something new this month. I’ve never done a mood tracker before. I thought it might be helpful to be able to visually compare my mood to my movement, so I came up with the idea for this chart.

The days of the month are across the bottom. Number of steps are on the vertical axis alongside a very basic mood scale from “no good very bad day” to “everything is awesome” with “meh” in the middle. I’m using some symbols to track what kind of movement I’m doing for my daily cardio (for me this means at least 30 minutes of continuous movement). I’m really curious to see how this turns out.

One of the reasons I wanted to try a mood tracker this month is because I’m not great at being mindful about how I’m feeling. I’m hoping this will force me to stop and think about it at least once a day. I suspect I’ll feel better on days I move more, but who knows. Maybe I won’t. It will be interesting to find out.

The final new thing I’m trying this month is this reference page just before I start my daily pages where I can do some meal planning and write down admin tasks that need to get done but that I don’t want to add to my daily log for whatever reason.

I have these little post it flags that happen to be almost exactly 3×10 squares. So, I made a week and then started writing some of our regular meals on the flags. This way I can move them around and re-use them throughout the month. The lime colored ones will be crockpot recipes and the blue ones will be for everything else. That way if I know I need a crockpot recipe on a certain day (because I won’t be home until late, for example), I can see at a glance that I’ve got myself covered. I’m hoping this will also help me stay on top of groceries for the week.

And that’s it. That’s my set up for January. I don’t like using weekly spreads. I keep trying them and then hating them for a variety of reasons. I like the flexibility and the focus of daily logs. So, that’s what I’m sticking with for January. I definitely lean more towards the traditional bullet journal method rather than the “instagram friendly” bullet journaling that gets featured a lot on YouTube and elsewhere. But, if you like this sort of thing, let me know in the comments, and maybe I’ll do more posts like this.

Reading List: Powell's Books staff's best books of 2019

It’s up! Powell’s just posted their Staff Top 5 Picks of 2019! Since it has become an annual tradition of mine to crunch the numbers* on the staff picks, I couldn’t resist doing it again this year. (Click any of these to see previous years’ posts: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.)

The results are in. Below is the consensus top ten list of the books most mentioned in individual lists. Presented in order of most to least total points, the top ten highest rated books of 2019 according to the staff at Powell’s Books (in Portland, Oregon) are:

(Links below take you to Powell’s, because that seemed appropriate.)

  1. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado (memoir)
  2. Lanny by Max Porter (lit fic)
  3. Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer (sci-fi graphic novel)
  4. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (fantasy)
  5. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (lit fic)
  6. Mother Winter by Sophia Shalmiyev (memoir)
  7. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki (contemporary fiction graphic novel)
  8. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (non-fiction)
  9. The Topeka School by Ben Lerner (lit fic)
  10. Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden (memoir)

The thing that surprised me most about this year’s list is that Sorcery of Thorns landed on it, and ended up in the #4 spot. I’ve been hearing a lot of mixed reviews about this one from BookTubers and elsewhere online. Now I’m even more curious to read this for myself. It is the only one on this list that was already on my TBR.

Least surprising were the number of memoirs on the list. I’ve come to expect interesting memoirs to be top picks from the staff at Powell’s. But, after last year, I’ve really started trusting their taste in memoirs. Some of my favorite non-fiction books I read in 2019 were memoirs recommended by Powell’s staff.

If you want to add these books to your TBR, I’ve added them to a Goodreads shelf called PowellsBestof2019. If you do add any to your TBR, let me know in the comments which you plan to read. Alternatively, if you have already read any of these, let me know what you think/recommend in the comments.

* In case you’re interested, here’s how I came up with the total points… I did some good old “copying and pasting” of all the lists into a spreadsheet. Then I assigned points to each mention of each book based on where it appeared in each list (5 points for first place, 4 points for second place, etc.). Then I made a pivot table and sorted the results by total number of points in descending order. There was an obvious cut-off after the first ten books. So I capped the list at ten books.

Disclaimer: I don’t work at Powell’s Bookstore. I have no financial affiliation to Powell’s Bookstore. I get no money from doing this post. I only do this because I have a tendency to like the books their staff recommends and because I like top five lists and crunching numbers. Enjoy! 🙂

December 2019: Reading Wrap Up

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s time for me to do all of those fun end of year wrap up blog posts, starting with what I read in December, what books I hauled in to read, and what I plan to read first in January. Ready? Let’s do this!

Outbox

Let’s start with what I finished for the Winter Magical Readathon. If you’ve been following along with my blog posts, you are probably already familiar with the books I selected for the various reading prompts. I’m all read up through Chapter 4. The ones that have stuck with me the most are The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern and Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh.

I was really worried that I was going to be disappointed by The Starless Sea, but I think I liked it even more than I liked The Night Circus. It seems to be getting mixed reviews from folks, but I loved the story within a story structure of the book. I love her descriptions. A lot of times descriptions can bore me or take me out of a story, but hers always have a way of making me feel even more immersed in the story. The world-building was unique, and I loved the characters.

Saga vol. 2 reminded me how much I love that series and need to finish it. There There ended up being a page turner while still being a very literary novel and a great read (of course it was, given where it ranked on the Powell’s staff top five lists last year). The only two I was disappointed with were Fantastic Beasts and Jean Grey vol 1. I’m curious to watch the Fantastic Beasts movies now that I’ve read the book and realized that it’s basically an encyclopedia of creatures and there isn’t much of a story. I probably won’t be continuing with the Jean Grey series.

Besides my reading for the Winter Magical Readathon prompts, I did finish two other books: The Barefoot Bandit by Bob Friel and A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole. The later is the last book in her Reluctant Royals series, and it’s just as good as all the others in the series. I think book two (A Duke by Default) is still my favorite, but this one is a close second.

I read The Barefoot Bandit for the “read a book of nonviolent true crime” task in the Read Harder Challenge. I chose that book for this task because a good portion of the story takes place on the island where I live, and the author also lives on this island. It was a very entertaining read, and I definitely recommend checking it out if the description sounds interesting to you.

In the end, I didn’t finish all the Read Harder Challenge tasks before the end of the year. But… I think I got closer than I ever have before. I finished 21 of the 24 tasks. This challenge (like the readathons I participated in) definitely helped me read through some of the books I’ve been meaning to read for a while. Still, I don’t think I’m going to attempt it again in 2020.

Inbox

Most of my book haul this month are ebooks that I got off hold from the library, but I did buy one book, A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. I really like political space operas, and it sounds like this is going to be a good one.

I’ve been comparing bookish subscription boxes for months, mostly via unboxing videos on YouTube. I’ve been trying to decide on one that will have just the right mix of usable bookish swag with a book that I’m actually interested in reading. Based on the videos I’ve watched of previous boxes, I decided to go with Fairy Loot. My first month’s box came with a mix of really cool stuff and stuff I’m not likely to use. But, I had a pretty good idea what the book was going to be, and I was right. It was A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy, and it’s one that I wanted to read anyway, so I’m glad I got it. Depending on what this month’s box contains, I may not continue with this experiment, but I wanted to give it a try as a holiday present to my self.

As for actual presents, my mom bought me a bunch of books off my wishlist. I got Spaceside by Michael Mammay, The Alehouse at the End of the World by Stevan Allred, The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas, and The Warrior Moon by K. Arsenault Rivera.

Currently Reading

Since I’m still not done with the Winter Magical Readathon prompts, the first order of business for January is to read the last three books I planned to read for that readathon: The Reluctant Queen, The Art of Theft, and The Right Swipe. Luckily, they all fit really well with my reading goals for 2020. More on that in a future blog post.

While I work on that post, tell me what is going to be the first book you’re reading in 2020? Let me know in the comments.

2019 Reading Stats

All right. It’s time. Now that December is over, it’s time to take a look at my 2019 reading stats. (For 2018 reading stats, check out this post.)

Ready for some numbers? Cool. Let’s do this.

I read a total of 81 books in 2019. That is a HUGE number of books for me. The most books I’ve read in one year prior to this was 76 books in 2015. On average, between 2008 and 2018, I read about 42 books per year. So, this year was nearly twice that. Wow.

Here’s how my 2019 reading stats break down:

  • New vs. backlist: 17% of the books I read (14 total) were books published in 2019 vs. 83% (67 books) published prior to 2019. I read fewer new releases this year than I did last year (2018 was 39% new releases).
  • Fiction vs. non-fiction: I read quite a bit more non-fiction this year than I usually do, but fiction still dominated with 80% (65 books) fiction books and 20% (16 books) non-fiction. Usually, it’s closer to 90% or more fiction.
  • Author genders: I have to make some assumptions for this stat because not all authors are clear about their pronouns. 75% (61 books) were written by female-identifying authors, 20% (16 books) were written by male-identifying authors, and 5% (4 books) had one of each. None were written by non-binary authors, as far as I can tell.
  • Book format: I listened to 12% of the books I read this year (10 total). Ebooks made up 54% of my reading (67 books), and print was 21% (17 books). So audiobooks continue to be a thing I enjoy, but less than I did in 2018  when 20% of my reading was audiobooks due to an eye issue that made listening my only option. Also, print is making a comeback for me! That’s a much higher percentage of print books than I read in 2018 (7%) or 2017 (17%).
  • Age category: This year I made a big move toward adult books. 73% of the books I read this year (59 total) were “adult” vs. 23% “young adult” (19 books) and 4% (3 books) were “children’s or middle grade.” In the previous two years the split between “adult” and “YA” was 57% and 39%.
  • Genre: The majority of what I read was sci-fi and fantasy (56%). However, the total of these two genres is actually down a bit from previous years. Romance came in at 16%, followed by self-help/business books at 11%. Next was contemporary or general fiction at 7%, then memoir/autobiography at 4%. The remaining 6% were a bunch of one-off books that ended up lumping into one category of “other.”
  • AOC: As with the gender stat, this one can sometimes be difficult to determine. As best as I can tell, 31% of the books I read (26 books total) were written by an author of color (aka one that does not identify as “white”). That’s down from 2018 (43%), and I’m not happy about that.
  • LGBTQA: Please note, I’m not always sure how an author identifies, and I don’t think that I need to be. That said, I think only 9% of the books I read (8 total) were written by an author who I knew identified as something other than “straight.” Again, I’m not thrilled with this stat. It needs improvement.

Okay, data geek-out is over. For now. You’ll see me reference some of these as metrics for my 2020 reading goals when I publish that post. But first, before we leave 2019 behind completely, I want to share my favorite books and my most disappointing books of 2019. Stay tuned for those posts, coming soon!

I’m curious, do you track your reading stats? If so, do you track these same types of metrics? What do you like to keep tabs on, and why? I’m always looking for ways I can improve my process, so I’d love to know your thoughts.

Winter Magical Readathon — Chapter 5

I am almost done with Silver in the Wood. I think I’ll be able to finish it today, and then I’ll be all caught up and ready to start my reading for the final chapter of the Winter Magical Readathon! And that’s good because I got three new prompts this week!

Chapter 5 started with a party, and I chose dancing, because of course I did. If this was a real party, I’d be one of the first ones on the dance floor. The next day there was some helping of Neville with the Mandrogas. Then, because I followed the spiders in Chapter 4, I ended up with a rooster as my weapon of choice. And, I got my first prompt: “Read a book with a bird, winged creature or feathers on the cover!”

After scrolling through my Goodreads shelves and squinting at all the covers looking for wings and/or feathers, I came up with a couple of options. One is The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas. The other is The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst. I’ve been meaning to read The Burning Sky forever, but I’m not ready to start a new series right now. My plan for 2020 is to finish a bunch of series that I’ve started reading. Since The Reluctant Queen is book 2 in a series I want to finish in 2020, I think I’ll go with that one. It’s also shorter. by over 100 pages.

Armed with my rooster, I headed to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom to find out how she died and (because I didn’t go to Nearly Headless Nick’s Death Day party) to tell her an embarrassing story to cheer her up. If you want my embarrassing story, click here for my tweet per the #MakingMyrtleLaugh prompt.

Then, because I never learned in an earlier chapter that I speak Parseltongue, I ended up with another reading prompt. This one was to “Read the first book you think about!” Of course, (predictably) as soon as someone says “think of a book,” my mind goes blank. It’s like, books? What are books? Then I thought of one. The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas! This is one I’ve been meaning to get to since it came out in September. It’s book four in the gender flipped Sherlock Holmes retelling that I love. Makes sense that it would be the first one to come to mind.

I was kind of hoping that would be it for reading prompts. But, I hadn’t even made it to the Chamber of Secrets, yet. So, me and my trusty (sleeping) rooster continued. I turned right, immobilized the pixies, and found Ginny. In order to wake my rooster and fight the basilisk, I got another reading prompt. This one was “Read a book that starts with an R (for rooster).” For this one, I’m going with The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai.

That led me to the end of the story with a total of NINE prompts for the whole readathon! Woah. Luckily, there’s no real fixed end date. So I have as long as I’d like to read these three books. I think I’m going to try to get them done by next Sunday, though. We’ll see. I may not start any of them until the first of the New Year because I want to finish The Barefoot Bandit before I start any new books. I also have book 3 in my own series coming out at the end of January, and I have to finish the interior layout files and proof read it one last time.

I think I may do one final Winter Magical Readathon wrap-up post once I’ve finished reading all these books. So, stay tuned for that, if you’re curious. I’ve also got a bunch of end of year posts planned. I’m going to do posts on my favorite reads of 2019, my most disappointing reads of 2019, my 2019 reading stats, my 2020 reading goals, and (probably) another “Top 5” summary of the Powell’s Books staff top five lists, whenever those come out.

Let me know in the comments what you’re reading for these prompts (or whichever prompts you got in this chapter) and how many total prompts you ended up with for this readathon. Happy reading!

Winter Magical Readathon — Chapter 4

I finally completed the first two chapters of the Winter Magical Readathon! I finished reading The Starless Sea for my chapter one prompt (and I loved it). I also finished reading There There (another really good book) for the first of my two chapter two prompts (“book with an orange cover”) and Jean Grey, Vol. 1: Nightmare Fuel for the second (“read a comic, manga, or graphic novel”).

Lucky for me, I just found and borrowed the audiobook of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them from my library, so I can get to work on my chapter three reading prompt (“read a book published in 2001”). Fantastic Beasts is pretty short, so I should be able to finish that in a couple of long walks. Which means I’m almost caught up! Hooray!

Winter Magical Readathon reading for chapters one through three…

That (plus the fact that it’s Sunday) also means it’s time to find out what chapter four has in store for me… The short answer is spiders plus two more reading prompts. Yep. #IFollowedThe Spiders.

First up, since I didn’t join Hermione’s book club (what a bummer, I totally would have joined if I’d chosen that path), I ended up with a prompt to “read a book that starts with the letter S, for Slytherin.” My mom just sent me Spaceside by Michael Mammay for Christmas, so that was the first book that came to mind. But, then I remembered that Saga also starts with an “S” and volume two (which was one of my options for my chapter two prompt) would be a fast read. Alternatively, I have Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh on my Kindle. That one is a novella and would also be a fast read.

Some options for my chapter four reading prompts…

I’m thinking I might go with Saga, Vol. 2 for the Slytherin prompt because the other two books will also work for the second prompt I got for chapter four. See, I decided not to go with the Pollyjuice potion, and I didn’t already have the diary, so I had to go fish it out of the toilet (yuck!). That landed me with the prompt to “read a book that has been written by an author who’s last name starts with either T, M or R.” So, Silver in the Wood (Tesh) and Spaceside (Mammay) will both also work for this prompt.

Right now, I think I’m going to go for a walk and listen to some Fantastic Beasts. Then I’ll probably do a little non-Magical Readathon reading. I’d like to make some progress on The Barefoot Bandit because I hate ending the year with partially finished books. I was really hoping that it would qualify for one of these prompts, but so far it hasn’t been an option. Maybe next week…

Once I finish with Fantastic Beasts, I’ll probably start reading volume two of Saga and see what I feel like after that. I think it will depend on how close we are to next Sunday by the time I finish. Until then, happy holidays and happy reading! Wishing you all a warm beverage and an excellent book!