2012 was the second year I kept a record of all the books I read. It’s fascinating to look back over the list, in the same way that it’s fascinating to obsess over how many words I write each day and other navel-gazing-type-behaviors in which we writers specialize.
I’m not going to list all the books I read, but I will note some interesting highlights from my list. I’m also going to recommend some of the best queer YA I read this year, so feel free to jump straight to that if you want to skip the numbers.
The problem is, I am a much slower reader than almost everyone else I know (I took that reading-speed test that was online a while back and came in at an elementary-school level). I like to think that this is just because I’m paying extremely close attention, heh. But whatever the cause, there are a few very concrete results of my lack of speed:
- It takes me way longer to read over my own writing for editing purposes, etc., than it does for most writers. I have to allow a lot of time for that when I’m planning out my writing schedule.
- I can’t ever do any of those challenges other readers/writers do where you aim to read 100 books in a year, or even 50 books. It’s just not realistic for me.
- Most importantly, for me, deciding to read a book is a serious commitment. It means I’m going to spend multiple weeks living in this world with these characters, and it means I can’t read another book that I might want to. So I tend to be pickier about which books I actually read than I’d like to be. (I’m not nearly as picky about which books I buy, though — hence the long list of TBRs on my phone’s Kindle app.)
Anyway, here’s what I read for the past two years.
In 2011 I read 32 books. That included 25 YA books, 6 adult books, and 1 MG book. Of those 32 total books, I marked 12 as “excellent” in my spreadsheet. 9 of the books I read were published in 2011. 2 were unpublished manuscripts. 1 was an ARC.
In 2012 I read 30 books. That included 24 YA books, 5 adult books, and 1 MG book. Of those 30 total books, I marked 13 as “excellent” in my spreadsheet. 15 of the books I read were published in 2012. 4 were unpublished manuscripts. 3 were ARCs.
I’m kind of surprised that I read fewer books total in 2012 than 2011, even though it wasn’t by much. I think that’s because this year I read several manuscripts to critique for friends, which takes longer than reading a book just to read, since it means paying really close attention and taking notes as I read, etc.
I also track which books I read have queer (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, gender non-conforming, etc.) characters. In 2011 I read 4 books with queer main characters and 4 books with queer supporting characters. In 2012 I read 5 books with queer main characters and 13 books with queer supporting characters.
I’m really disappointed that I wound up reading so few books with queer MCs, though I’m glad to have read a decent number of books with supporting queers in 2012. I think that last number is partly a result of the fact that more YAs with queer supporting characters are being released, period, as kids start coming out younger and more publicly, and as authors and publishers become more aware of that fact. The zeitgeist is changing on this front. Now it just needs to change enough to embrace more queer protagonists as well as BFFs. (Not that I mind the queer BFFs. I’ll take ‘em, as long as they’re sufficiently complicated.)
I also have a habit of reading older books, and of putting off reading new books until they’re no longer new. Which is not a great way to stay up on what’s current in one’s field. So, in both 2011 and 2012 I set out to read as many YAs published in that year as I could. I made more of a concerted effort to do that in 2012, and for the first time ever I met my goal of reading 10 YAs the same year they came out.
For 2013 I’m going to be bold and up that goal to reading 20 YAs that are either 2013 releases or upcoming ARCs/manuscripts. I think I’d also like to read more adult books and MG books. And I’m going to endeavor to read at least 10 books with queer main characters, regardless of what age range they are or when they were released.
By the way, in case you’re looking for some good queer YAs to read, I have columns in my spreadsheet for “LGBT MC,” “LGBT Supporting,” and “Excellent.” Here are the 2012 books I read that got checkmarks for all three:
- The Miseducation of Cameron Post by E.M. Danforth
- The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George
- Gone Gone Gone by Hannah Moskowitz
Here are the books that I marked as “Excellent” that had queer supporting characters, but not main characters:
- Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
- Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
- Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
If you gave any suggestions for how I should kick off my 2013 reading, please share! I’m always looking for more TBRs to pile on. (Seriously, I am! It is like a sickness.)