As I did in 2015 and 2014, I kept track of diversity in my reading this year. Basically I count books with female authors, books with female protagonists, and books related to queer/race/disability issues (protagonist, author, or prominent theme). (For recommendations, see my Goodreads page or my yearly book survey!)
Mostly I do this because it encourages me to actually notice and read these books. It’s all too easy to think “Oh, that’s not a book for me” or “I haven’t heard anything about that book, it’s probably not very good” and never even notice that I’ve had the thought, but keeping this list makes me go “Ooh, I can count that!” and more consciously seek out those books.
Beyond that, I wasn’t sure what to do with the count until I realized I could turn it into a percentage of the books I read during the year, and thus have a meaningful way to compare years if I didn’t read the exact same number of books. The count is below, with percentages progressing from earliest to most recent.
- 92 by female authors (28% -> 32% -> 31%)
- 76 with female protagonists (20% -> 22% -> 25%)
- 69 LGBT+ books (author, protagonist, or prominent theme) (6% -> 15% -> 23%)
- 70 books addressing race (author, protagonist, or prominent theme) (13% -> 15% -> 23%)
- 27 books addressing disability (author, protagonist, or prominent theme) (1% -> 4% -> 9%)
It’s nice to see the numbers consistently going up (although “female authors” hovers around the same number). The number of queer books is always lower than I expect, though. The main thing I’ve noticed this year is that I want queer genre fiction, not contemporary YA or middle grade. Those are great too and I’m glad they exist, but sometimes it feels impossible to find sci-fi or fantasy, and that’s what I prefer to read. I have lists of titles that’ve been languishing for a while though, and I’m going to try making dents in those lists this year. There’s the same problem with disability-related books, but even more pronounced across all the genres, and there’s a lot of “disabled person as inspiration” exploitation literature floating around.
So, this has helped me think about which areas to focus on more in 2017. I highly recommend the exercise to anyone diversifying their reading, because seeing those hard numbers and percentages really shows you what you’re doing!