On Reading: 2019-2020

It does sort of fascinate me how since I haven’t had the mental energy to write fiction and don’t have the intestinal fortitude to write about politics this blog has spent 2019 morphing into a book review site. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but it’s interesting to see how the site changes as my priorities change.

You should friend or follow me on Goodreads, if you haven’t yet.

At any rate, pictures first! Here are the books I read this year:

Some statistics that I realize only matter to me (but it’s my blog, and if y’all haven’t realized I’m a numbers nerd by now…)

  • According to Goodreads, that’s 135 books for a total of 49,866 pages. This does have full page-count for some books I DNFed but does not count any of the comic books I read this year, which Goodreads would have allowed me to add had I liked. I probably bought at least a few hundred comics this year. Let’s say around 50K pages and leave it at that.
  • 56 of those books were by authors I hadn’t read anything by before this year.
  • Diversity check: I deliberately didn’t keep track of author stats this year because I wanted to see how I read if I didn’t pay attention to who I was reading all that much. About 61 books were by women– nearly half, which isn’t too bad– and at least 41 were by people of color. I feel like that could have been higher.
  • Why “about” and “at least”? Because for some of them it isn’t quite immediately clear how they identify and for a couple at least I may just be wrong. I remember spending some time thinking Hannu Rajaniemi was Indian; he is Finnish, which makes him literally as white as it is possible to be. ūüôā
  • Interestingly, despite those numbers, 12 of the 15 slots in my Best Books list this year went to women or people of color. I did not set that up on purpose.
  • One major failure this year was that I wanted to do a lot more rereading, and … just didn’t. If I remember right, I wanted to reread at least 30 books this year and only made it to fifteen. I have to do better on this score next year; eventually my bookshelves are going to literally collapse on me if I don’t do something.

135 books is quite a lot, even by my standards, and I probably won’t make it to that number again next year. Two goals: nebulously, I want to reread more of my books (again!) and I am going to focus on reading books by women of color this year. I want to have read 52 of them by the end of the year– one for each week in the year, although I don’t promise to literally read one of them each week. I’m thinking about making a point to review each of them as I go along, too, or at least a reviewlet; we’ll see what I do about that. Also, this is 52 books, not 52 authors, so if I end up reading three N.K. Jemisin books all three of them count. Just FYI. Trans, genderqueer, and nonbinary authors will be considered on a case-by-case basis; I’m probably going to count anyone who doesn’t explicitly identify as male, but I’m going to continue to call the list “women of color” because “people who do not identify as male of color” seems a trifle too wordy.

First, though, I gotta finish this big-ass book about cancer I just picked up, because obviously we gotta end 2019 and begin 2020 on a positive note, right?

Call for author recommendations

8:45 on Christmas Eve is totally the best time to do this, right? I’m sure I’ll get tons of responses.

One of my focuses for my reading next year is going to be on books by women of color. I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to set it up; a percentage of my overall books is a possibility, as is simply setting a raw number of books that I want to read– I’m tempted to say 52, a book a week, but that’s going to mean a pretty good number of new authors.

Anyway, I need y’all to give me some names of authors to read. My rather considerable booklist on Goodreads is here, and I’m not exactly coming at this from a place of complete ignorance (you can leave out Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemisin, to start) but there have got to be lots of women of color out there that I don’t know about and I want to know about them. I generally prefer speculative fiction, as you probably already know, but any genre, fiction or nonfiction, is just fine. Recommend some books!

(Also: if you know of authors of color who identify as nonbinary, or genderfluid, or basically anything other than male, go ahead and toss their names in here. So JY Yang, who was AFAB but currently identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, counts, but Yoon Ha Lee, a trans man, does not. If you’re not sure if someone counts go ahead and tell me about them and I’ll sort it out myself later.)

In which fear is stupid

IMG_6721Holy cow, that tablecloth has gotten raggedy.

I had an idle thought the other day and put it on Twitter–¬†I wonder what kind of artist I could be if I drew something every day for a year, it said– and now suddenly I own a sketchbook.

Well, “suddenly” if¬†agonized over the idea of spending $5 on a sketchbook for two days counts as “suddenly.” ¬†I mean, as projects go, this isn’t much of one, right? ¬†I’m not talking about full-blown landscapes or some shit, just, like, a quick sketch every day to elevate my ability to draw from¬†not the worst artist on the planet to maybe somewhere in the top¬†half of humanity. ¬†I’m not about to start a webcomic or anything, although I’ll admit thinking about the first Questionable Content vs. how it looks now as a perfect example of what practice can do for someone.

So I own an inexpensive, yet reasonably robust sketchbook, and I bought some new pencils, which probably wasn’t strictly necessary but hey, pencils. ¬†And all I have to do is draw something. ¬†I don’t even really have to do it every day! ¬†Just draw some shit once in a while! ¬†Like, I get to set the rules!

And I put the sketchbook down, because I found the idea terrifying, and here I am blogging about it instead of just picking up a pencil and drawing something simple and calling it a day.

It’s so weird how hard I work (we work? ¬†It’s not just me, right?) to hold myself back sometimes.

EDIT: ¬†Boom. ¬†Don’t expect me to post these too frequently, if I even continue with the project (I’d estimate no more than a 50% chance this lasts longer than a few days) but at least I did it¬†once:


Also, I need pencils with better erasers, as you can tell from Uncle Grandpa’s incorrectly-misshapen head up there.

#Weekendcoffeeshare: 2016 edition


If we were having coffee, we’d be talking about the same thing everybody else is talking about: it’s 2016! ¬†What have you been doing with your life for the last couple of weeks? ¬†What do you want to do with your life next year?

I’m not super interested right now in looking back at 2015. ¬†I blogged every single day last year, most days more than once; feel free to start with January 1 and work your way through. ¬†The year had high points and low points much like any other and was, I think, on balance more high than low despite the chaos of the last few months while¬†I’ve been on medical leave.

I don’t do resolutions. ¬†Resolutions happen in January and are abandoned by February. ¬†However, if you ask me what my current goals are in life and I don’t have any, it means I’m probably deeply depressed. ¬†I¬†always have a couple of goals that I’m working on; right now is no exception. ¬†Most of them are related to my writing and I’ve already discussed. ¬†The rest, right now, are job-related.

I want a new job. ¬†Preferably soon. ¬†Real soon. ¬†I’ve put a hold on stressing out about it over the holidays; there was no point, as the holidays are a deeply bad time to be unemployed. ¬†You have to be unemployed through the whole several weeks; all the folks with job openings, on the other hand, are looking at piles of resumes and going “Yeah, we’ll deal with that when we get back.”

(The exception that proves the rule: my brother recently moved to Illinois to be with his fiancee, and has had some trouble finding work too. ¬†He had a series of interviews last week in rapid succession, and when the¬†third interview in three days was “go downtown, talk to this person, and then do the paperwork for your background check” I told him he had the job and to not worry about it. ¬†Why? ¬†Because they pulled in teachers over winter break to interview him, and they did three interviews in three days, and that means they’re in a¬†huge damn hurry¬†to get the job filled. ¬†I was right. ¬†Most of the jobs I’m applying for are¬†not jobs that are going to lead to death or dishonor if they’re not filled this week.)

Well, at any rate, tomorrow’s Monday, so everybody will be back. ¬†My suspicion is that every office on Earth will start with a horrible three-hour meeting and then 80% of the people at work will spend the rest of the day looking around their desks, bleary-eyed, and trying to remember their passwords, and that therefore the earliest any “Hey, come interview with us!” phone calls could possibly happen will be Tuesday.

I am¬†desperately hoping to get a phone call on Tuesday, especially for one particular job that I applied for the week of Thanksgiving and was explicitly¬†told not to hold my breath about until after New Year’s. ¬†We’ll see, I guess.

At any rate, I’m going insane over here and I need a new job. ¬†So that’s goal one, even before any writing stuff happens: get a damn job.

I kinda feel like that’s enough for right now. ¬†How about you? ¬†What are you working on right now?

On reading and books and 2016

51yHchbYJTL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_A couple of things:  first, The Sanctum of the Sphere is free today at Amazon.  Have some other e-reader?  Email me or leave a comment (you have to provide an email address for that anyway) and ask for a copy for whatever your device is.  No problem!

Second: my Top 10¬†New(*) Books I Read in 2015 post is coming soon. ¬†Previous editions are here and here. ¬†I’m probably going to wait until after Christmas, but since I’m into my mostly-annual¬†Lord of the Rings¬†reread and therefore nothing on it is likely to change, if I end up with nothing to say sometime this week I’ll get it done earlier. ¬†One way or another, coming soon.

Third: I’ve read 99 books in 2015 so far, and it’ll probably be 101-102 by the end of the year. ¬†37% of those books were by women or people of color. ¬†I’ve been interested in increasing the number of books by women/POC that I’m reading, mostly as a way to find new authors, and I’ve been going back and forth on how exactly I was going to do that, from “I will read no books by cishet white men during X months in 2016” to trying to set an arbitrary number, and now I think I’ve come up with a slightly softer method: ¬†I’m going to double that percentage in 2016. ¬†Slightly more than that, actually, as my goal for this next year will be that 75% of the books I read will be by women or people of color. ¬†I think white gay or trans men will probably count too, but as I don’t intend to do research into the sexual presentation/orientation¬†of the writers I read, unless I somehow¬†already know someone is gay I don’t think it’s going to add too many books to the total.

Probably easier to just say I’m limiting cishet white guys to 25% of my reading and leave it at that. ¬†The main reason I’m not doing a blanket ban, either for all or part of the year, is that I follow a fair number of indie authors, and I don’t feel like carving out an exception so that I can read Book 5 of The Yellow Hoods when it comes out. ¬†Easier to just say “I’m going to double how many I read” and leave it at that.

New books only, by the way. ¬†Rereads aren’t counting toward the total.

Do you have any reading goals for next year?