Books

The books I read in 2015

This time last year my colleague Nina convinced me to keep track of every book I read, an activity I intend to continue this year. Here's what I read in 2015. (To make things simple, I've rounded up all my percentages.)

I read 74 books. I didn't include books that I didn't finish, children's books, or periodical comic books. Two were audiobooks while the rest were print, and only one was a reread which took me by surprise. I've always gotten a lot of joy out of reading a book a second time - sometimes a third, fourth, fifth time - and I suspect this change in my reading habits is due to working as a bookseller. There are always so many new books to stay on top of.

With this in mind, I'm not surprised that I read predominantly new books. 53% of the books I read were published in the last two years, while only 10% were published before 2000. The earliest published book I read was an Agatha Christie crime mystery published in 1969. Another byproduct of my work was reading a lot of new voices. 19% of my reading list were debuts, while 68% were by authors I was reading for the first time.

75% of the authors I read were female (though J.K. Rowling's Career of Evil was published under her male crime pseudonym, Robert Galbraith). 44% were American, 34% were Australian, and 11% were UK authors (British, Irish and Scottish). Only two of the books I read all year were translated - Elena Ferrante's The Story of the Lost Child and Alejandro Zambra's Ways of Going Home - and both were excellent.

22% of the books I read were non-fiction, which is a high percentage for me as I tend toward fiction. It was mostly memoirs and essay collections, some cultural studies and true crime. These picks were largely guided by my housemate who's a prolific reader and generously gifted me such excellent recommendations as The Silent Woman by Janet Malcolm.

The #LoveOzYA campaign also prompted me to dive into Australian YA fiction, and YA fiction ultimately formed 32% of my reading list. I enjoyed so many of these book and am looking forward to reading even more amazing local YA books this year. (If you're keen to dive in here with me, I've put together a summer reading guide to OzYA books of 2015.)

Looking back over 2015, I feel like I've covered a lot of ground. I've read some seriously addictive page-turners, some crushing heartbreakers, and some stunning graphic novels. I was also introduced to some amazing female essayists: Eula Biss, Claudia Rankine, and Fiona Wright. Two of my favourite authors released new books that surpassed my high expectations: Elena Ferrante and Rainbow Rowell. I discovered the cookbooks of Anna Jones. I fell in love with the magic and mystery of Jaclyn Moriarty’s Kingdom of Cello, which is the most marvellous and unique version of ‘Narnia’ that I’ve read in recent years. And Richard Price's The Whites may have finally convinced me to watch The Wire.

So yeah, it's obvious that 2015 was truly a rad year for books.

BUT... It's also obvious that I didn't push myself to read widely enough. Only seven of the books I read were published by authors who identify as people of colour, and even more glaring, just one was by an Indigenous Australian author.

My goals for 2016 are to read more diverse books, more translated books, and more books from Indigenous Australians. With this in mind, here's what I have on my reading list:

Happy reading.