Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2017 + 2018 book years in review

Turns out having a baby/toddler isn't very conducive to finding time to write blog posts, hence the 19 month absence since giving birth. I don't think I'll be writing much more frequently for the foreseeable future, but I want to at least hold myself accountable to continuing to monitor the diversity of my reading habits. While I read 94 books in the year before I had a kid, I've only read 66 in the two years since :/  Here's the raw breakdown of the books I read the past two years:


Female
Male
Multiple authors
Trans Man
Trans Woman
Grand Total
Asian American
2
1



3
Black
17
6
1


24
Latin@
2
1



3
Middle Eastern

2



2
Multiracial
2
1


1
4
Native

1



1
White
16
9

1
3
29
Grand Total
39
21
1
1
4
66

I've basically held steady by gender, although I've also started tracking if authors are trans or cis so I can do better about increasing representation along that axis as well.

Time period
Authors that aren’t cis males
Childhood
39%
High School
18%
College
56%
Post-College to 2016
41%
2016
69%
2017 and 2018
68%
Overall
55%

In terms of race, my share of white authors went up a bit - I think that's mostly because I read a bunch of parenting books, and had a hard time finding ones written by people of color. I also started tracking authors that identify as multiracial, instead of assigning only one race to them - I'm sure I've read multiracial authors in past years too, but I'm not going to go back through all those old records to update them, at least not right now.

Time period
Asian & Asian-
American
Black
Latin@
Middle Eastern
Native
Multi-
racial
White
Childhood
0.6%
1.8%
0.6%
0%
0%
-
97%
High School
0%
3.7%
0%
1.2%
0%
-
95.1%
College
1.4%
2.9%
2.9%
11.4%
1.4%
-
80%
Post-College to 2016
2.1%
22.4%
2.8%
4.2%
0%
-
65%
2016
8.5%
22.3%
11.7%
11.7%
4.3%
-
33%
2017 and 2018
4.5%
36.4%
4.5%
3.0%
1.5%
6.1%
43.9%
Overall
1.9%
10.9%
2.6%
3.3%
0.7%
0.6%
78.3%

In terms of my favorite books of the last two years, my top three are:

  • Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. I don't usually like short stories, but holy crap these are awesome. His stories pack more ideas and excitement than many novels that I've read.
  • The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin (and the following two books in the trilogy). Hands down the best fantasy I've read in ages. I kept staying up late to read it, even knowing the baby would get me up multiple times in the night, because I couldn't put it down. The world she creates is practically as detailed as our own, which led me to a fascinating interview she did on her world building techniques. It's hard to describe without giving stuff away, but seriously everyone should read these books.
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman. Speculative fiction about a future where women become physically dominant to men, and how that would affect (or not) societal power structures around the world. It's framed as "historical fiction" written several thousand years in the future, which is distracting at a few points, but otherwise it's riveting.
My two favorite nonfiction books were Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou, which honestly if it was fiction I would have thought it was too wild to be believable, and Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas, which perfectly dissects a lot of what I've been experiencing since moving to the Bay, and also caused some serious introspection on my own role in the issues he documents. 

Anyway, I probably won't post again until the 2019 book year in review next January, so happy new year's all!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Waiting for baby

Baby is two days past due, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be pregnant forever. We went for a few long walks over the weekend to no avail, and today drove 45 minutes to a pizza place in the East Bay that has a pizza locally famous for inducing labor. It was... intense, but I managed to eat two full slices of it.
Ben wasn't brave enough to try the prego pizza, so he just got pepperoni on his half.
Still no action, but it's only been about three hours so I guess I should wait until tomorrow morning before calling it a bust.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April Marches

Baby is due in two weeks, so I'm trying to get in as much civic engagement as I can before she shows up and I disappear into the newborn void for a while. I helped host two fundraisers for Jon Ossoff with two different groups of friends in the past month, and have been continuing to use 5calls to call various government people each weekday morning. Last weekend Ben and I went to the SF Tax March:

And yesterday we went to the SF March for Science:

Both marches followed the same route through the city, but it was noticeably more difficult yesterday (at 38 weeks pregnant) than the week before. We'll see if I'm still pregnant and in marching shape next weekend for the People's Climate March...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

SoCal wedding and babymoon

Our friends got married in LA the weekend before last! I made them this sampler:
They live in the Bay, she does Polynesian dance, and he wore a purple jumpsuit in college.
We stayed in an airbnb right by the ocean, so got to wake up to this awesome view for the weekend:

After the wedding festivities, we took the week off to hang out in nearby Ojai, CA for a "babymoon" - aka last vacation before we get sucked into a vortex of diapers and sleep deprivation in about two more months. Ojai is really pretty, and has a cute little downtown with a giant outdoor used book shop:
And a well-named liquor store:
But for the most part we just stayed in bed, read, watched movies, and took naps. We figured we should be as lazy and self-indulgent as possible while we still can, since - as this sign reminded us - there is no poop fairy to do the dirty work for us these next few years:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

2016 book year in review

Towards the beginning of last year, I wrote about realizing my reading habits were startling homogeneous, and committing to be more intentional about reading authors from a greater diversity of backgrounds. Since 2016 is over, I wanted to step back and see how I did. Here's the raw breakdown of author demographics for every book I read in 2016:


Female
Male
Multiple authors with different genders
Total
Asian and Asian-American
6
2

8
Black
18
3

21
Latin@
4
7

11
Middle Eastern
10
1

11
Multiple authors with different races
1

1
2
Multiracial
5
1

6
Native
4


4
White
17
14

31
Total
65
28
1
94

First, you can probably guess that I am mad about falling just short of reading 100 books. I was totally on track until I got pregnant, and had to slow down my reading pace since I was too nauseous to read during my daily train commute. Stupid baby ruining my life goals before it even gets here.

Second, I was struck by how white authors were still the largest group by far, despite all my efforts. Turns out its hard to not read a lot of white authors when the publishing industry is overwhelmingly white. That being said, I definitely improved on my historic averages:

Time period
Female authors
Childhood
39%
High School
18%
College
56%
Post-College to 2016
41%
2016
69%
Overall
42%

Time period
Asian & Asian-American
Black
Latin@
Middle Eastern
Native
White
Childhood
0.6%
1.8%
0.6%
0%
0%
97.0%
High School
0%
3.7%
0%
1.2%
0%
95.1%
College
1.4%
2.9%
2.9%
11.4%
1.4%
80.0%
Post-College to 2016
2.1%
22.4%
2.8%
4.2%
0%
65.0%
2016
8.5%
22.3%
11.7%
11.7%
4.3%
33.0%
Overall
2.2%
11.1%
3.0%
4.3%
0.8%
76.2%

All in all - definite progress! Best of all, as I had hoped, I ended up reading some really fantastic books that I probably wouldn't have ever heard about if I wasn't intentionally searching for more diverse authors. You can check out my spreadsheet with all the books and my thoughts on them, but in particular my top three were:
  • The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. I don't even have words to describe what this book did to me. Read it and prepare to be gutted by the most uniquely beautiful writing you've ever read, and also to need several days to recover afterwards. 
  • Anything by Luís Alberto Urrea. I read "Into the Beautiful North" first and was so transfixed by his writing that I ended up inhaling everything he's written as quickly as I could. Even his nonfiction is mesmerizing.
  • The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Okay, I probably would have heard of this one regardless because it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction last year, but it still blew me away.
It was a great year for reading. Here's hoping 2017 is even better - at least, until the baby gets here and all reading goes out the window for a while.