Reading Year in Review, 2015

I haven’t done this in a couple of years, and I’m not really interested in keeping up the kind of general statistical analysis that I did in some previous years. However, I wanted to mention one thing that is both retrospective and forward-looking. The writer Robert Wringham, whom I like a lot, mentioned in his 2015 reading retrospective that he is trying to read more books written by women, and that indeed over half the books he read in 2015 had female authors.

I was curious how my own reading would stack up on that front, without my having given it any conscious thought. Looking through my 2015 Goodreads list, I count about 13 of the books I read as having female authors. (It’s not always 100% clear; I counted co-authored books and edited collections as 50% female unless all of the contributors were of a single gender, but the count of these is in any case fairly small.) I think the actual situation is even worse than that number would suggest, though. A fairly high number of the female-authored books I read were cookbooks (Dana Velden, Heidi Swanson, Edna Lewis), and that is not an area where female authors are generally under-represented or under-appreciated.

So I am setting as a 2016 objective that at least half of the books I read will be by female authors. I think it will be an interesting experience. I am off to a good start, with my first book of the year being The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin, as well as two other female-authored books being very high on my reading list (Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu).

On a separate note, my five-star-rated books of 2015: - The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir