I recently wrote a post for YA Highway encouraging every reader to do an examination of the books they read in 2013. Not just a cursory glance at the list – a real breakdown of subject matter, and gender, sexual orientation, and ethnic diversity (of authors and characters). The post was inspired by Science Fiction/Fantasy blogger Aidan Moher’s 2013 challenge to read an equal number of books by women and men, and by playwright Stephen Spotswood’s personal “self-dramaturg” (self-analysis) of representation in his own plays.

In my article I said the results would surprise people. Well, it isn’t really fair for me to throw that out and not come clean with my numbers, is it? So, here we go!

I read a total of 40 books in 2013. (Not all percentages add up perfectly. Some categories overlapped, some main characters did not have a gender or sexual orientation [Thanks, Book Thief], and other things. Plus, mathematician, I am not.)


Of the books I read this year, 36 (or 85%) were fiction, and 3 (7%) were non-fiction.

Books, Fiction and Non Fiction

I read 15 adults books – 38% of the total – and 24 young adult books – 60% of the total. I read just one middle grade book in the year.

Books, Age Group

Of those, there were: 16 contemporary books, 8 fantasy books, 4 paranormal, 3 science-fiction, 2 historical, 2 dystopian, 1 mystery, 1 short story, 1 biography/memoir, and 1 graphic novel.



Exactly 75% of the books I read (30) were written by women, and 25% (10) by men. (This is actually my target stat. I have no problem with this balance.)

Authors Gender


Of those authors, 4 were people of color, and 5 publicly identify as LGBT. I’m pretty darn embarrassed about the graphs below.

Authors, Ethnicity

Authors, LGBT


In the books I read this year, 19 had female main characters (48%), 11 had male main characters (25%), and 7 had multiple points of view (1%).

Main Characters Gender

There were black characters in 3 of the books (0.08%), Asian characters in 2 (0.05%), Latin@ characters in 1 (0.03%),  Middle Eastern characters in 2 (0.05%), and 7 books with LGBT characters (1%).

Main:Major Supporting Character Ethnicity

The love interests in 7 of the books were people of color (1%). I did not read a single book with a main or major supporting character that had a disability, or was Native American.

Needless to say, I was surprised – and disappointed – to see the statistics from my own reading in 2013. I’ve set out to do much better in the next year, even starting a GoodReads list with a more diverse representation that I hope to make a decent dent in.

Make Your Own List!

I created a spreadsheet to keep track of my reading throughout the year, and to follow representation among both authors and characters. If it sounds interesting to you, you are welcome to download it here and use it as a jumping-off point to track your own progress in 2014.

Happy New Year, and happy reading to everyone!


Read Your Emmys!

July 20, 2012

The 2012 Emmy Nominees are in, but the awards ceremony isn’t until September 23. While you wait to see tearful speeches, anondyne celebrity-on-celebrity ribbing, and of course the red carpet, I thought I’d pull together some books related to the nominees and their work.

Tina Fey, Best Actress in a Comedy Series

Liz Lemon… I mean Tina Fey’s memoir outlines the beginning of the 30  Rock series, including some of her favorite jokes from the show that had me dying. It was the perfect airplane read.

New Girl, Best Comedy Series

In New Girl, this book was referenced toward the end of the season by my personal favorite character, Schmidt (apparently this is the only book on his Kindle) when he [SPOILER] broke things off with his model girlfriend, saying she should go, be free with her fashion friends who are better than he is. Bonus quote from Schmidt: “I have more than one book on my Kindle. I have a subscription to Cricket. And a lot of PDFs.”

Downton Abbey, Best Drama Series

The tremendous popularity of Downton Abbey (which got something like 19 nominations, despite a definite sophomore slump in its second season) has stirred up something of a literary frenzy for books about the show, set in that time period, or just generally about the very posh and the people that serve them.

Dexter, Best Drama Series

The Dexter series was inspired by Jeff Lindsay’s Darkly Dreaming Dexter, and actually won the 2005 Dilys Award for Book to Television adaptation, presented by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.

Game of Thrones, Best Drama Series


The Hatfields & McCoys, Best TV Series or Miniseries

Downton Abbey wasn’t the only show translating to resurgent book sales. The timeless story of the fueding Hatfields and McCoys was translated to the celebrated miniseries, and ignited sales of a few different non-fiction titles, including Lisa Alther’s Blood Feud.

Sherlock, Best TV Series or Miniseries

Sherlock Holmes has been getting a lot of love from television and movies in recent years, and in my opinion the BBC’s Sherlock is the best and most interesting adaptation to come about (sorry RDJ!). But did you know that The House of Silk, by erstwhile children’s author Anthony Horowitz, also came out in November and is the first time the estate of  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle approved a new  Sherlock Holmes novel? It’s on my TBR pile and sounds really amazing.

Those are some of the literary tie-ins I’ve found among the Emmy noms—what about you? Can you think of any more?