Every year, I wrap up the old year and start the new one here on the blog with a look back at my reading stats. You can see my stats for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014,and 2015 by clicking on the years.
Total books read: 59
Average books read per month: 4.92
Month most read: August with 7
Month least read: July with 3.
Longest book read: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski with 705 pages.
Fiction: 49 (83.1%)
Nonfiction: 10 (16.9%)
Series: 24 (40.7%)
Standalone: 35 (59.3%)
With my new commitment to read only things I enjoy, this reflects a lot of me reading the first book in a series and then choosing not to continue because I didn’t enjoy it quite enough, so there was more room for standalones this year.
–print: 8 (13.6%) (Down quite a bit from last year.)
–ebook: 42 (71.2%)
–graphic novel: 0 (0%) (I’ve honestly lost most interest in graphic novels.)
–audiobook: 9 (15.3 %) (Almost the same as last year. My final audiobook of the year that I am still on is dragging, hence the slowdown.)
I’ve always read slightly more female than male authors but this is a vast majority this year, as opposed to 2015’s 57.7% female authors. I think this is a reflection of my commitments to read what interests me and stop being ashamed of it, particularly chick lit. This meant more female authors. Interestingly, my ratings of books by women show that I like them significantly better.
Ratings of Female Authors:
Ratings of Male Authors:
Not a single one of my 5 star reads was by a male author.
This went down, largely because I only accepted 6 ARCs this year. You’ll note that I still read indie books that were not ARCs. I do struggle to find indies, though, since my reading list is often influenced by other book bloggers, and I find that many of them don’t seek out indie reads quite the way I do. That means it can be harder for me to find the indie reads.
I thought glancing at this that I did poorly reading pre-2000s books but the goal I set for myself last year was for 20 to 25% of my reads to be pre-2000s, and I actually surpassed that with 27% of my total reads being pre-2000. I still felt like it was a bit low, though, so for 2017 I’ll aim for 30%. I’ll keep going up til I hit the sweet spot.
I read slightly fewer adult books this year, with more YA and also a new venture into NA. I’m happy with this distribution.
–Scifi: 12 (20.3%)
The subgenre I read the most of in scifi was outer space (50%).
–Contemporary: 9 (15.3%)
–Fantasy: 7 (11.9%)
The subgenre I read the most of in fantasy was urban fantasy (71.4%).
–GLBTQ: 7 (11.9%)
–Chick Lit: 6 (10.2%)
–Mystery: 6 (10.2%)
The subgenre I read the most of in mystery was an even split between cozy and traditional.
–Thriller: 6 (10.2%)
–Nonfiction – self-help / psych: 4 (6.8%)
–Romance: 4 (6.8%)
–Nonfiction – history: 3 (5.1%)
–Historic Fiction: 2 (3.4%)
–Horror: 2 (3.4%)
–Nonfiction – biography: 2 (3.4%)
–Alternate history: 1 (1.7%)
–Nonfiction – lifestyle: 1 (1.7%)
–Nonfiction – memoir: 1 (1.7%)
My top two genres are scifi and contemporary, followed by a tie between fantasy and GLBTQ lit for third place.
A marked improvement over last year with 4% more 5 star reads. The rest of the star ratings remained similar distributions to before, but I generally felt a larger enjoyment of my reading. I think more 5 star reads helped with that.
General Thoughts on the Stats
You can see my new focus on reading what I enjoy rather than making reading a chore most reflected in the genres I read, the number of ARCs read, and surprisingly in the gender of the author. I did not set any intentions on what gender of author to read and yet seeking out books I was fairly certain I would enjoy led me to more women authors. I think that’s interesting.
I was also surprised by the strong presence of contemporary fiction this year. I didn’t used to perceive of myself as someone who found contemporary lit to be escapist, but apparently it works for me now. While I still have a dominant showing in scifi and fantasy (32%) this is far down from the 50% last year. This shows that venturing into new or returning to old well-loved genres left less room for scifi and fantasy but I still visited them and enjoyed it.
I am quite happy with how my stats look this year. The only thing sticking out to me as a goal for 2017 is the format of books. I am out of room on my print book shelf at home, and I can see why with only 8 of my reads being in print. While I prefer reading on my kindle paperwhite (for convenience), there are still books you can only get in print. These are what are taking up my shelves. I’d like to read 1 a month to continue to allow myself to pick up the not available digitally books as I see them.
I hope you all had a good reading year and found my reviews helpful in your pursuit of good books. Sending best wishes for everyone’s 2017!
To celebrate Women’s History Month, I thought it’d be fun to assemble a reading list looking specifically at the women’s history aspect of a particular historical event. When I thought about it, I couldn’t easily think off the top of my head of any books about women and the Vietnam War, so I decided to build my list on that. It taught me something while I was assembling the list for you.
I tried to cover both women part of the War, as well as women protesting the War or part of the counterculture. All book blurbs come from either GoodReads or Amazon.
Daughters of Aquarius: Women of the Sixties Counterculture
by: Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo
Publication Date: 1997
“Hippie women” have alternately been seen as earth mothers or love goddesses, virgins or vamps-images that have obscured the real complexity of their lives. Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo now takes readers back to Haight Ashbury and country communes to reveal how they experienced and shaped the counterculture. She draws on the personal recollections of women who were there–including such pivotal figures as Lenore Kendall, Diane DiPrima, and Carolyn Adams–to gain insight into what made counterculture women tick, how they lived their days, and how they envisioned their lives.
This is the first book to focus specifically on women of the counterculture. It describes how gender was perceived within the movement, with women taking on much of the responsibility for sustaining communes. It also examines the lives of younger runaways and daughters who shared the lifestyle. And while it explores the search for self enlightenment at the core of the counterculture experience, it also recounts the problems faced by those who resisted the expectations of “free love” and discusses the sexism experienced by women in the arts.
Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC
by: Faith S. Holsaert, et al
Publication Date: 2010
Fifty-two women–northern and southern, young and old, urban and rural, black, white, and Latina–share their courageous personal stories of working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement.
The testimonies gathered here present a sweeping personal history of SNCC: early sit-ins, voter registration campaigns, and freedom rides; the 1963 March on Washington, the Mississippi Freedom Summer, and the movements in Alabama and Maryland; and Black Power and antiwar activism.
Home Before Morning: The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam
By: Lynda Van Devanter
Publication Date: 1983
On June 8, 1969, a patriotic, happy-go-lucky young nurse fresh out of basic training arrived in Vietnam to serve a year’s tour of duty as a second lieutenant in the Army. It was a year that was to rob Lynda Van Devanter of her youth, her patriotism, her innocence – and her future.
Unfriendly Fire: A Mother’s Memoir
By: Peg Mullen
Publication Date: 1995
Outspoken, fearless, and wickedly humorous, Peg Mullen tells the story of her transformation from an ordinary farm woman into a nationally recognized peace activist following the death of her oldest son, who was killed by artillery misfire in the Vietnam War.
The Valiant Women of the Vietnam War
By: Karen Zeinert
Publication Date: 2000
From journalists and nurses to those who mobilized to protest or support the war effort on the home front, women of all ages took advantage of the changing social climate of the 1960s to break free of their traditional roles. A discussion of Vietnamese women’s roles in the conflict is included.
Happy Valentine’s Day my lovely readers!
I know, I know, it’s a made-up holiday. But I think there’s something lovely about celebrating romance in the middle of winter. Even if your version of celebrating it is delighting in the quirks of the genre and maybe not necessarily romance in real life.
(Personally I will be celebrating it in real life, but hey, I’m a newlywed. 😉 )
So maybe you’re finding yourself at home with no plans for Valentine’s Day. Sure, you could watch re-runs of The Bachelor, but why not spend the wintry day curled up with a quick romance read? Not sure what to read? Here are three speed read romances, vastly different from each other. What makes them a speed read? They are all less than 200 pages. And don’t worry. All three of them got 4 stars or more here on Opinions of a Wolf.
Braided: A Lesbian Rapunzel
By: Elora Bishop
Mood: You believe in fairy tales and happy endings!
Length: 61 pages
A lesbian retelling of Rapunzel. Gray, a witch’s daughter, visits Zelda every day. The witch switched Gray’s fate into Zelda, so now Zelda is the one entwined with the spirit of the tree that the people worship. She must live on the platform and every day lower her hair for people to tie ribbons and prayers into. Gray feels horrible guilt over their switched fates, but she’s also falling in love with Zelda.
Listening to Dust
By: Brandon Shire
Mood: You like a tragic romance that makes you cry. Keep the tissues handy for this one!
Length: 142 pages
A chance meeting between orphaned British writer, Stephen, and American soldier, Dustin, leads to a passionate love affair in England. But when Dustin chooses to go back home to his small Southern town to care for his mentally challenged brother, Stephen is left behind, sending letters that are never answered. He finally decides to follow Dustin home and arrives only to discover that Dustin is no more.
Love Among the Chickens
By: P.G. Wodehouse
Mood: You enjoy slapstick and want to laugh. A lot!
Length: 176 pages
Jeremy Garnet, a novelist, is living a relatively quiet bachelor life in London when his old school friend Stanley Ukridge shows up. Ukridge is starting a chicken farm with his wife, Millie, and wants “Garnie old boy” to come stay with them. He’ll get to write in the country in exchange for a few hours of work a day. In spite of the fact that Ukridge is planning to run the chicken farm without any prior knowledge or studying “the better for innovation, my boy,” Garnie takes him up on it. Of course, life with the eccentric Ukridge surrounded by chickens isn’t quite the quiet writing environment Garnie was planning on. Not to mention the Irish professor neighbor’s lovely daughter that Garnie can’t quite get out of his head.
Hello my lovely readers!
As I mentioned in my 2015 reading stats wrap-up, I decided to break out my reading goals into a separate post this year because I also have some changes to announce.
As long-time readers know, I had two big life events in 2015. I married my best friend and my father passed away. You may not know that in 2016 I’m turning 30. These three personal events have combined to make me really evaluate my life, my time, and my goals.
I feel a real sense of both how fleeting time is and how important it is to me to build a good life and family with my husband. I want to live with intention and forethought, while holding on to the new ability I’ve found with my husband to embrace the unexpected and do things that are not planned. That’s a pretty wordy way of saying I want to live mindfully.
My sense of time passing has made me realize that I don’t have forever to write the books I want to write in my lifetime. And that means I need to stop claiming all of my reading time is contributing to my writing. While it’s true that a writer must read, a writer must also consistently write. A writer cannot simply read. I have writer friends who have said before they had to dial back some of their reading to make time for writing, and I now understand why that is so.
This same sense of time passing has made me realize that I no longer wish to spend my time reading books I don’t enjoy. My whole life I have almost always finished not just every single book I’ve started but most books I’ve acquired as well (with a few exceptions that I got rid of when my now husband moved in with me). Since my father passed away, I realized life is too short for that. I went through my books and got rid of any that didn’t make me feel the spark of a happy reader when looking at them or their description. I’ve also started a few books that I simply stopped reading and got rid of. I’ve also finally been honest with myself about certain types of books I enjoy that I was once a bit ashamed of.
What does all of this mean for Opinions of a Wolf? Well, many things, actually.
1) Expect there to be far fewer 2 and/or 1 star ratings.
With the exception of books I accept for review (ARCs), if I start a book and am not enjoying my time reading it at any point, I am going to put it down (for good). I am still not comfortable reviewing books that I haven’t read in their entirety. So I will simply not be reviewing these books. Don’t take the sudden lack of lower star ratings to mean that I am no longer being honest. I am just choosing to spend my time in a different manner. It is still possible for there to be low ratings, though, if a book disappoints me at the end (goes off the rails, as it were) or if I’m reading it because it’s akin to watching a train wreck, haha. I will still finish any ARCs I accept, however. To this end…..
2) Books submitted to me for the annual review were accepted in a different manner this year.
This year instead of setting a number I would accept, I only accepted however many books actually appealed to me. I also required submissions with excerpts, so I could read the first few pages and see how I felt about the writing. I am hoping the combination of these two means that my review of indie ARCs will serve both for me to find more obscure books I will enjoy and to offer good indie authors beneficial reviews. Again, though, if a book winds up disappointing me, I will finish it (since it is an ARC), and I will give an honest review.
3) The genres I read are going to change. Some.
I’ve always had a secret thing for humorous (usually British) chick lit. In fact, the last two books I read this year fit in this category perfectly. I am not just done hiding this genre, I am also done hating on it. I feel a lot of the hate comes from a culture-wide judgment of femme things (because of judging women). I would rather build it up as the respected (albeit silly/not serious literature) genre it should be, rather than participate in ignoring it. Similarly, before I started the book blog, I read quite a bit of self-help. I still read it sometimes but I didn’t want to read it too much, worried about what people might think of me. I’m not going to seek it out, but if one appeals to me, I am going to pick it up and not worry about what people might think. One thing that won’t change is the love of scifi/fantasy, that will stay. However, my husband noticed my growing collection of older scifi/fantasy paperbacks by women authors and commented on how cool that was. I hope to feature these books more in some way yet to be determined on this blog. I’m even going to be dedicating a whole bookshelf in our studio apartment to it. I also will be doing more reading of nonfiction I need to read to research my writing, rather than reading things that I think will help make me look smart or that I think I *should* read. Basically this whole section is saying: I’m done caring about what people think of me. I’m gonna be real. Fuck it.
4) I’m going to be spending more time writing.
Whether this will impact how much I read is yet to be seen, since I tend to read faster when I actually enjoy what I’m reading. I am working on incorporating writing into being a daily habit and, if I have enough material, I may start publishing some shorts or flash on here. Alternatively, there may just be a few more publication announcement posts. Or, I might just do a recap of writing accomplishments in some fashion.
5) I’ve adjusted the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge to be more flexible.
You may now sign up for ongoing or annual versions of the challenge. I realized for me personally reading books featuring characters with a mental illness in a positive light has become just something I seek out in my reading. It’s not a number I strive for annually. I figured, why not add that as a more casual option for folks. You can see more details on the dedicated page.
So that’s what to expect in 2016.
Expect things to be a bit more real around here and hopefully to see more of a mix of reading and writing. I’m excited to see what 2016 will bring.
Every year, I wrap up the old year and start the new one here on the blog with a look back at my reading stats. You can see my stats for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 by clicking on the years.
Total books read: 52
Average books read per month: 4.33
Month most read: July with 7
Month least read: September with 2. This is no big surprise, since that’s the month I got married!
Longest book read: The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson with 763 pages
Fiction: 46 (88.5%)
Nonfiction: 6 (11.5%) (I read slightly less nonfiction this year.)
Series: 26 (50%)
Standalone: 26 (50%)
(I’m fascinated that this wound up exactly 50/50!)
–print: 13 (25%) (Almost the same as last year.)
–ebook: 27 (51.9%)
–graphic novel: 2 (3.8%) (I successfully read 2 of the graphic novels I already own. I believe I have 2 left.)
–audiobook: 10 (19.2%)
I decided to track a few new categories this year. The author’s gender, whether the book is indie or traditional, the publication year of the book, and the target age-range. Snazzy graphs for all of these!
I read more female than male authors. This isn’t a surprise, since I actively seek out scifi and fantasy by female authors.
You will definitely hear about some indie books if you follow this book blog! 😉 Note that I only accepted 6 ARCs to read this year, so that means I read 7 indie books I sought out myself.
I mostly read books from the 2000s. I did solidly touch upon the 1970s and 1980s. I’d like to read a bit more from older books next year. Maybe up to more like 20% to 25% of my total.
I mostly read adult books.
–Scifi: 14 (26.9%)
The subgenre I read the most of in scifi was dystopian (28.6%).
–Fantasy: 13 (25%)
The subgenre I read the most of in fantasy was urban fantasy (46.2%)
–Historic Fiction: 5
–Nonfiction history: 4
–Nonfiction science: 3
–Chick lit: 2
–Alternate history: 1
–Nonfiction cookbook: 1
–Nonfiction self-help / psych: 1
Number of stars:
–5 star reads: 3 (6%)
–4 star reads: 26 (50%)
–3 star reads: 20 (38%)
–2 star reads: 3 (6%)
–1 star reads: 0 (0%)
This was a slower reading year than last year, but given everything that happened (my wedding and the loss of my father), I’m happy I was able to make my goal of one book a week. Honestly, next year I intend to keep the same goal and focus my energy on writing more. I think a book a week is a good amount for a writer to read.
My new stats I tracked this year show with hard data what I already know. I mostly read adult books and read more female than male authors, although I do still read a strong minority of male authors. I also read a strong minority of indie books. I’m interested to see how this changes with time, and with some of my new reading goals, which are such a big deal I’m going to be making a whole separate post about them.
I’m disappointed I only had three 5 star reads this year. Where were the heart-gripping life-changing books?
The other thing of note is that half of my reads were scifi or fantasy. This blog is half scifi/fantasy and half eclectic, lol. I noticed throughout the year I wasn’t wanting to read thrillers, but I didn’t realize I’d read none. I’ve definitely changed from a thriller reader to a mystery reader.
Normally I would talk a bit more about my future goals, but as I mentioned earlier, those are significant enough this year that they deserve their own future post. So keep an eye out for that!
I hope you all had a good reading year and found my reviews helpful in your pursuit of good books. Sending best wishes for everyone’s 2016!
Hello my lovely readers!
I don’t have any big blog updates this month, but I am happy to report that featuring a book of the month has been going well. It’s been successfully generating new attention for books I reviewed years ago. Yay!
The book of the month for May will be:
How was my reading, reviewing, and writing this month?
April books read: 6 (2 urban fantasy, 2 scifi, 1 erotica, 1 fantasy)
April reviews: 3
Other April posts: 1 giveaway and 1 giveaway winner announcement
Most popular post in April written in April: Book Review: Set Adrift by D. S. Kenn (Series, #1)
Most popular post in April written at any time: Book Review: Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody (The Real Help Reading Project)
April writing: I finally started using the Scrivener software I purchased last November. I’m finding being able to set session word count goals and see a progress bar to be really helping my progress forward. I’ve also started participating in the 1linewed hashtag on my twitter account. This hashtag sets different rules every Wednesday for authors to share one line from their work (usually their work in progress). I’ve been immensely enjoying getting bite-sized feedback on my writing on a weekly basis. Definitely check it out if you are curious about my current work in progress.
Coming up in May: I have two fantasy reads for Once Upon a Time IX to post reviews for. I also have a review of an erotica ARC I received back before I started limiting myself to only accepting review copies once a year. Plus I’ll be reviewing an audiobook. I also bought a Kindle Paperwhite, and I plan to do a post comparing it to my old Kindle Keyboard.
Happy May and happy reading!
Hello my lovely readers!
I just wanted to take a moment to let those of you who subscribe via RSS feed or email that my blog now officially has its own url. It is now opinionsofawolf.com not opinionsofawolf.wordpress.com. Don’t worry, all links to the old .wordpress.com address are set to automatically forward to opinionsofawolf.com. I’m excited to be taking this leap forward.
I have also decided to focus my free time more in on my writing. Long-time readers know I am also a writer (see my Publications page here). In light of this, I have decided to close up my Etsy shop. I enjoy cross-stitching and designing patterns, but I would like to revert it back to being a hobby. However, I have made all the patterns I designed available on my Cross-Stitch page, and I will add more as I design them. At my leisure.
I have also designed and synced an author’s twitter to this blog. There is a link in the sidebar, or you may follow it here. This is a public twitter that anyone may follow. I primarily focus on tweeting about writing, books, and links to things that interest me, as well as retweeting anything I find humorous.
I also hope to start doing a monthly reading and writing reflection post. We will all see how that goes!