Reading on Balance
February 8, 2011
I absolutely loved this post on Munrovian, writer Karen Munro’s blog, wherein she tallied up the books she read in 2010 and looked at the ratios according to specific criteria. Clearly she had previously set goals to counter reading biases (personal and cultural) and this “state of the bookshelf for 2010″ helped her to appraise her progress.
I took this as inspiration to look at my own reading habits and set some goals for 2011. The county library system also gives patrons the option to track their reading history for the year, so I signed up, because I didn’t write about everything I read this year, and I can’t remember what else I read. In tallying up my reading, I left out short essays, articles, and single poems. I included poetry collections read in full or close to it, and left out the ones I sort of grazed (much of my poetry-eating habits.) Ditto for non-fiction and fiction.
That the majority of books I read were written by men, that I read mostly fiction, that I didn’t read nearly enough poetry, that I didn’t read much by or about people of color, and that most of the authors I read are from the U.S.
Here are the results for 2010:
Total Books Read: 50+
Written by men: 40%
Written by women: 60%
Written by people of color: 6%
Origins in US: 82%
Origins anywhere else: 18%
I was pretty spot-on except for the bit about women. I’d like to keep that bias. For most of my life, I’ve written more poetry than in any other genre, yet this year I read mostly fiction and non-fiction. Perhaps that’s because blogging encourages more prose-reading. In any case, I’d like to up my poetry intake this year. I’d also like to read at least 25% more world literature and works in translation, and 44% more by or about people of color. A smaller personal goal is to read 20% more children’s literature, as I’d like to teach creative writing to kids.
This might be a challenge while I’m in a graduate program which emphasizes the classics, and requires that I read at least 60 books each year. But I’m game.
Here’s to better book balance this year.
Photo at Book Club Cheerleader.