2020 Reading Trends + 2021 Reading Goals

At the beginning of November, I published a (very unscientific) analysis of the authors I read in the past three years. I’ve been trying to pay more attention to whose work I am reading, and to be more intentional about reading the authors I say I want to read. From 2017 through 2019, 35.1% of the books I added to my TBR were by authors of color, but authors of color made up only 24.2% of the books I actually read. I’m working on closing that gap by tracking this year’s reads as well.

Authors I Read in 2020

Authors I Added to My TBR in 2020

Add me on Goodreads if you want to look at my book lists.

I read 21 authors this year, across 23 books. I added 189 authors to my TBR. There’s definitely some improvement here compared to the past three years – people of color comprised 42.9% of the authors I read this year, and 48.1% of the authors I added to my TBR. I would still prefer to read a more even mix of writers, but it seems that I’m moving in the right direction.

I think, though, that 2021 will be the real test of my actions matching my intentions here. My skew towards more diverse authors this year has much to do with the George Floyd protests over the summer. Lots of authors of color have been catapulted onto bestseller lists who weren’t there before, and I was part of the surge in white liberal interest in antiracist reading. Now, a lot of that surge in interest has died down. It will be challenging to maintain my focus on reading a variety of authors as the outrage among white folks peters out.

I do have a couple things going for me, though. Over the summer, I met a group of women who have the same goals of reading more diversely and talking more frankly about race and white supremacy in our lives. We are on our second book together now and intend to keep going. We’ve hosted zoom discussions at least once a month since June. I feel supremely lucky to have met these women, all of whom are incredibly smart and who are committed to an antiracist lifestyle no matter what we do. If I had not met them, I don’t think I would have continued with these goals beyond the summer.

The other thing I have going for me is that the book world is starting to become more diverse in general. A big chunk of the authors I added this year write on antiracism and Black history, both of which I am trying to learn more about. But I have found a bunch of incredible POC fiction writers, too. Diversifying my reading means diversifying it in all genres, and I’m looking forward to doing that this next year.

I’m also hoping to just read more in general next year. According to Goodreads’ Year in Books, twenty-ish books per year seems to be my average. I have to admit I’m not super happy with that. I’ve always been hesitant to set a reading challenge because I’m afraid it would take the enjoyment out of one of my favorite hobbies. But I’m setting a goal of 40 books in 2021 anyway. I spend too much downtime scrolling through social media and would like to limit that next year. Reading is obviously a GREAT replacement. I have also gotten more comfortable with reading multiple books at once, which I think will help. As long as the books I’m reading are different genres, I can handle having a “lunch hour book” and an “evening book.” I might even give audiobooks a better shot (though I’m usually not a fan). I’m not going to put too much importance on how many books I read, but if putting a number on it helps me limit my less-constructive activities, I’m willing to try.

Are you setting any reading goals for 2021?

4 comments

  1. I’d hate to see how many books I read in 2010. I took a cold-turkey break from March – October. I’d guess that about 20 is a normal year for me. With sci-fi being my primary reading genre, books by POC are few and far between. When I find one, I usually love it because it typically takes on subject matter that is completely fresh. Over the past 10 years, women have been writing my favorite books. They are mostly late=comers to the sci-fi genre. I’ve never intentionally looked for books by POC, but now that you’ve got my mind working this way, I’ll definitely start. Happy new year.

    • Sci fi is the one genre I’ve never really gotten into. I’ve read the Martian and Ready Player One (although idk if RPO counts?) and that’s about it. I have noticed that I tend to prefer women writers too so maybe that’s why. Happy new year!

  2. Way to go! We need more Caucasians who try to understand and read from diverse perspectives. Back in my day, there weren’t as many diverse authors, but now there are more. How about adding LGBTQ+ authors to the mix?
    To help you reach your goal, it may be old school, but you can try joining a serious book club or start one.

    • I have read a few LGBT authors in the past few years but definitely need to pay attention to adding more. Book clubs may be old school but I love them! My sister and I are planning to continue our tiny book club and may try to rope our cousins into a book or two this year so that will be fun. :)

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