Reading Breakdown for 2015

I hope to get back to reviewing books again in the next couple of months, but as I didn’t get much of that done at all in 2015, I thought I’d do another breakdown of my year in reading. This year I did not read to a program as I did in 2014. I decided to just let my spur-of-the-moment impulses guide my reading, and see how things compared to last year.

I read a total of 78 books in 2015, up by 6 from 72. Unfortunately, some of my other statistics, specifically those showing writer diversity, did not improve. In fact, they generally got worse:

51 books/65% by men, up from 30 books/42% in 2014
25 books/32% by women, down from 39 books/54% in 2014
2 books/3% by both men and women, down from 3 books/4% in 2014

4 books/5% by people of colour, down from 7 books/10% in 2014
1 book/1.2% by women of colour, down from 4 books/5% in 2014

17 books/22% were Canadian, up from 14 books/19% in 2014

There were some things I didn’t track in 2014 that I did track in 2015:

3 books/4% in translation
4 books/5% were by Canadian women
1 book/1.2% was by both Canadian men and women
1 book/1.2% was self-published
15 books/19% were non-fiction
51 books/65% were genre fiction
12 books/15% were literary fiction

Here are the best books I read in 2015, not counting re-reads, in the order that I read them (interestingly, fewer made the list than in 2014; only 9 this year versus 13 in 2014, and the genre mix is quite different as well):

  • Light, by M. John Harrison
  • Debt: The First 5,000 Years, by David Graeber
  • Hot Head, by Simon Ings
  • The Devil You Know, by Elisabeth de Mariaffi
  • After Dark, by Haruki Murakami (trans. by Jay Rubin)
  • Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Confidence: Stories, by Russell Smith
  • Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
  • Open City, by Teju Cole

And here are the worst books I read this year, in the order that I read them:

  • The Unincorporated Man, by Dani & Eytan Kollin
  • All You Need is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (trans. by Alexander O. Smith & Joseph Reeder)
  • Tesseracts Seventeen: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, edited by Colleen Anderson & Steve Vernon

I’ve noticed a few things about my 2015 reading list that I find a bit interesting. In 2014 I made a conscious decision to read as many books written or edited by women as by men, and indeed I wound up reading more. Unfortunately I found that without making a special effort in 2015 my ratio of books written or edited by men/women returned to roughly the same as in previous years. I also read fewer books by people of colour generally and by women of colour specifically, although both statistics remained higher than in previous years. I did manage to read more Canadian books both in raw numbers and as a percentage than in 2014. What struck me was, that while I didn’t track genre explicitly last year, I read more works of non-fiction than I generally do in a give five-year period. Typically I read one, perhaps two volumes a year, and in 2015 I read 15.

My only specific plan for reading in 2016 is to read classics of “cyberpunk” literature (thought I’m starting to see why that label is problematic) and design fiction, and additionally to read more non-fiction books related to urbanism (urban planning, psychogeography, as well as “smart city” technologies and urban computing more generally). I will also have to be more conscious of the gender and ethnic makeup of my reading list.

Last year I also did a short list of honourable mentions, books that I read in 2014 that I wanted to recommend that didn’t necessarily make it on my best of the year list. That list was only two books long, but this year it’s much longer:

  • Leviathan Wakes, by James SA Corey
  • The Mirror Empire, by Kameron Hurley
  • Burning Days, by Glenn Grant
  • Can’t and Won’t: Stories, by Lydia Davis
  • Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain
  • The Outback Stars, by Sandra McDonald
  • Kill the Messengers, by Mark Bourrie (no relation)
  • Conversations with William Gibson, edited by Patrick A. Smith
  • Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style, by W. David Marx
  • Assholes: A Theory, by Aaron James


Writer. Editor. Critic.

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