Since the work I do doesn’t involve books or extensive reading of any kind, the 2016 Reading Challenge is my way of making reading a priority. My goal is simply to make time to read for pleasure and in the process learn about a new author, genre, series, or issue in the greater reading community.

This blog was created in part from a need to hold myself accountable for that goal, and so far it’s been great at keeping me on track. Other helpful influences have been podcasts and weekly newsletters, which taught me to pay attention to whose voice I was reading in addition to what I was reading.

One such post was written by Amanda Nelson from Book Riot, who said that tracking books has helped her identify what her reading habits are:

…without paying much attention, I read evenly between men and women. Without paying much attention, I will read almost no people of color (which is why I now pay attention). I read almost exclusively authors from the USA and UK- something I’ll be addressing with more foresight in 2015. I started the year reading almost entirely digitally, and have since evened out among formats, and increased my audiobook usage.

I’m a big fan of data in general because I think the more you study something, the better prepared you are to identify patterns and make educated decisions. Since I’ve been meaning to incorporate more WOC voices in my reading and I’m tracking the books I read anyway, starting a spreadsheet seemed like an efficient solution. So I created one and decided to pay attention to the following categories: the author’s gender, nationality, and ethnicity; and the format, source, and genre of the book.

I began by adding the nine books I’ve read so far for my reading challenge and found that 88% of the authors were either from the UK or USA, 67% were male, and 89% were White/Caucasian. Whoa.

Nine books is by no means a good sample size, but this mini-experiment has already made me want to be more deliberate in my book choices moving forward. I’ll be continuing to update this list throughout the year, and I’m excited to see what patterns will emerge. If you’re curious, here’s what the actual spreadsheet looks like (split in half here to make it easy to read):

tracking

Do any of you keep track of the books you read? How do you make a conscious decision about what to read next?

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