Obviously, I read. I read a fair bit. I mean, I don’t write because I hate the written word, or anything. But the ongoing discussions about diversity in reading, in reading more widely, in what we choose to read, and why, made me curious. I decided that a low-key project last year would be keeping better track of what I read.
And, having bothered to maintain a list, I thought it might be interesting to share it, too. If I’m going to use this process to think more about my choices, perhaps other people will find it useful as well.
So, here’s what I read in 2017! The list is in chronological order from most recent to earliest in the year. Shorter works — short stories, novelettes, webcomics, single issues of comics — aren’t included. Neither are re-reads, and neither are books I didn’t finish.
This isn’t a list of recommendations. All you can reasonably infer from a work’s presence on the list is that I was interested enough to try it, and that I completed it.
- A Closed and Common Orbit, Becky Chambers (novel)
- Change Places With Me, Lois Metzger (novel)
- Vallista, Steven Brust (novel)
- The Fifth Season, N. K. Jemisin (novel)
- Empowered Vol. 10, Adam Warren (graphic novel)
- Gluttony Bay (Sin Du Jour Vol. 6), Matt Wallace (novella)
- Greedy Pigs (Sin Du Jour Vol. 5), Matt Wallace (novella)
- Doom Patrol: Brick by Brick (Vol. 1), by Gerard Way/Nick Derington and Tamra Bonvillain (graphic novel)
- Empowered Vol. 9, Adam Warren (graphic novel)
- Skyfarer, Joseph Brassey (novel)
- A Man of Shadows (A Nyquist Mystery), Jeff Noon (novel)
- Sex Criminals Vol. 1: One Weird Trick, Matt Fraction/Chip Zdarsky (graphic novel)
- Empowered Vol. 8, Adam Warren (graphic novel)
- Empowered Vol. 7, Adam Warren (graphic novel)
- Glitterbomb: Red Carpet (Vol. 1), Jim Zub/Djibril Morissette-Phan and K. Michael Russel (graphic novel)
- Kaijumax: The Seamy Underbelly (Season 2), Zander Cannon (graphic novel)
- Kaijumax: Terror and Respect (Season 1), Zander Cannon (graphic novel)
- Empowered, Vol. 6, Adam Warren (graphic novel)
- Finder: Voice, Carla Speed McNeil (graphic novel)
- Finder: Third World, Carla Speed McNeil (graphic novel)
- Scaramouche, Rafael Sabatini (novel)
- The Guns Above, Robyn Bennis (novel)
- October, China Mieville (non-fiction, history)
- Empowered Vol. 5, Adam Warren (graphic novel)
- Empowered Vol. 4, Adam Warren (graphic novel)
- Empowered Vol. 3, Adam Warren (graphic novel)
- Empowered Vol. 2, Adam Warren (graphic novel)
- Empowered Vol. 1, Adam Warren (graphic novel)
- Borderline (The Arcadia Project), Mishell Baker (novel)
- An Oath of Dogs, Wendy N. Wagner (novel)
- Six Wakes, Mur Lafferty (novel)
- Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (novel)
- Amberlough, Lara Elena Donnelly (novel)
- Beanworld: Hoka Hoka Burb’l Burb’l (Book 4), Larry Marder (graphic novel)
- Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection Volume 2, anthology (graphic novel)
- The Vision: Little Worse Than A Beast (Vol. 2), Tom King/Gabriel Hernandez, Michael Walsh (graphic novel)
- Buffalo Soldier, Maurice Broaddus (novella)
- Another Castle: Grimoire, Andrew Wheeler/Paulina Ganucheau (graphic novel)
- Mooncop, Tom Gauld (graphic novel)
- The Vision: Little Better Than A Man (Vol. 1), Tom King/Gabriel Hernandez (graphic novel)
- A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (novella)
- Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, Jill Thompson (graphic novel)
- Patience, Dan Clowes (graphic novel)
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Refine (Vol. 5), Tom Siddell (graphic novel)
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Materia (Vol. 4), Tom Siddell (graphic novel)
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Reason (Vol. 3), Tom Siddell (graphic novel)
- The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (novella)
- The Candidate: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, Noah Richler (non-fiction, political memoir)
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Research (Vol. 2), Tom Siddell (graphic novel)
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Orientation (Vol. 1), Tom Siddell (graphic novel)
- Hammers on Bone (Persons Non Grata, Vol. 1), Cassandra Khaw (novella)
- Monstress: Awakening (Vol. 1), Marjorie Liu/Sana Takeda (graphic novel)
- Corporation Wars: Dissidence, Ken McLeod (novel)
- The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (novella)
- Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White, Michael Tisserand (non-fiction, biography)
- Wayward: Out From The Shadows (Vol. 3), Jim Zub/Steven Cummings, Tamra Bonvillain (graphic novel)
- Wayward: Ties That Bind (Vol. 2), Jim Zub/Steven Cummings, Tamra Bonvillain (graphic novel)
- Wayward: String Theory (Vol. 1), Jim Zub/John Rauch (graphic novel)
- Amulet: The Stonekeeper (Vol. 1), Kazu Kibuishi (graphic novel)
- Maddy Kettle and the Adventure of the Thimblewitch, Eric Orchard (graphic novel)
- Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy! (Vol. 1), Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis/Brooke Allen (graphic novel)
- Daytripper, Gabriel Ba/Fabio Moon (graphic novel)
- Hunger Makes the Wolf, Alex Wells (novel)
- Paper Girls (Vol. 1), Brian K. Vaughan/Cliff Chiang (graphic novel)
- Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet (Vol. 2), Ta-Nehisi Coates/Brian Stelfreeze (graphic novel)
- Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet (Vol. 1), Ta-Nehisi Coates/Brian Stelfreeze (graphic novel)
- Ms. Marvel: Super Famous (Vol 5), G. Willow Wilson/Takeshi Miyazawa (graphic novel)
- Ms. Marvel: No Normal (Vol. 1), G. Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt (graphic novel)
- Idle Ingredients (Sin du Jour Vol. 4), Matt Wallace (novella)
- SuperMutant Magic Academy, Jillian Tamaki (graphic novel)
- I Hate Fairyland, Skottie Young (graphic novel)
- Saga (Vol. 6), Brian K. Vaughan/Fiona Staples (graphic novel)
- The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now (Vol. 3), Ryan North/Erica Henderson (graphic novel)
- The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Power (Vol. 1), Ryan North/Erica Henderson (graphic novel)
- Infomocracy, Malka Older (novel)
- Too Like the Lightning (Book 1 of Terra Ignota), Ada Palmer (novel)
- All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (novel)
- The Stars are Legion, Kameron Hurley (novel)
- My Father, the Pornographer, Chris Offutt (non-fiction, memoir)
- The Flux, Ferrett Steinmetz (novel)
- Tales of the City, Armistad Maupin (novel)
- The Shadow of the Torturer (Vol. 1 of the Book of the New Sun), Gene Wolfe (novel)
- Into the Fire (Samantha Kane Book 1), Patrick Hester (novel)
- Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson (novel)
- The Witches of Lychford, Paul Cornell (novella)
- The Ark, Patrick Tomlinson (novel)
- Clouds of Witness (A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery), Dorothy Sayers (novel)
- Whose Body? (A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery), Dorothy Sayers (novel)
- Company Town, Madeline Ashby (novel)
- Hounded (Vol. 1 of the Iron Druid Chronicles), Kevin Hearne (novel)
- Every Heart A Doorway, Seanan McGuire (novella)
- Waters of Versailles, Kelly Robson (novella)
- Pride’s Spell (Sin du Jour Vol. 3), Matt Wallace (novella)
- Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho (novel)
- Heroine Complex, Sarah Kuhn (novel)
- An Accident of Stars, Foz Meadows (novel)
- Hawk, Stephen Brust (novel)
Totals for 2017
- 33 novels
- 4 novel-length non-fiction books
- 12 novellas
- 48 graphic novels
What did I learn from this process?
Well, I didn’t read as much prose as I hoped to, this year. After I started tracking my reading, I wondered if I could hit 52 books for the year, because that would be pretty cool. I didn’t, obviously, even being generous and counting novellas (and really, it would be more fair to count 2 novellas as 1 “book” for the purpose of this kind of tracking).
I was surprised at how little non-fiction I read, at least in book-length formats. I love non-fiction and if I’d guessed, beforehand, I would have said that I probably read rather more than that in an average year.
I did, however, read a lot more graphic novels in 2017 than I would have expected at the start of the year. And, you might notice that the first 23 items on the list are all prose. After that, graphic novels start appearing in large numbers. There were a bunch of reasons for that, the most important of which I’ll get into in more detail in my forthcoming Everything-I-Did-In-2017-Besides-Read post.
And clearly, I read a lot of genre? I mean, I knew that and it really isn’t a concern. I like plot, I like tropes, and I love my speculative and my fantastical. Still, there are only five works of prose fiction on that list that aren’t in SF&F (maybe four, depending on how you count Underground Railroad, which some have argued falls within a broad definition of speculative fiction and/or fantasy). This might be a good opportunity to expand my horizons.
An issue that’s both more important and immediately apparent to me is that I’ve been reading a lot of dudes. Like, a disproportionate and, to me, embarrassingly so, number of dudes.
And here is where the value of tracking and planning my reading becomes clear, because I strongly feel that I need to read more widely and inclusively. Especially, I need to read more works by women, and people of colour. I need to be more mindful, more open, and maybe set myself some variation on the Tempest Challenge for 2018, to force myself out of the box that results when I simply follow my preferred creators, subgenres, and books I hear about on Twitter and that happen to spark my interest.
And what didn’t I learn?
I didn’t track whether the books I read were in print or e-book, or whether I bought them or borrowed them from the library. I think that would be interesting information.
I know that my reading increased overall when I started using the Toronto Public Library’s ebook app and was able to download library books to my phone — it makes reading on my morning commute so much easier! On the other hand, all my graphic novel reading is in print, because I don’t read on a tablet and phones are not my preferred way to read graphic novels.
I don’t have a big pithy conclusion or a call to action. But I’m glad I tracked my reading in 2017. It’s something I plan to continue this year, and I hope it will continue to encourage me towards thought and care in my choices in 2018. If you tracked your reading last year, what did you read? And what did you learn from the process?
Coming up on the blog: Probably more looking back and looking ahead. And much more interesting stuff, too!