Tag Archives: katherine history

Reading Stats for 2015


I read 51 books in 2015, one book short of my goal of 52.
I read 66 short stories that weren’t included in the two anthologies I counted in the above number, so I could argue that I hit that 52 book goal after all.

Goodreads puts my number of pages read at 11,249.
My count is 12,902. In addition to the short stories not counted in Goodreads’ number, I have a couple in-progress books and maybe 10 or so DNFs. My number does not include two audio books.

I read 51 books authored or edited by 48 different people.
Nine were ARCs (17 in 2014).
Mystery/Crime was the most common genre.


Read-a-thons, Read-a-longs, and Challenges from 2015

Authors New to Me
2015 – 53%
2014 – 62%
2013 – 71%
50%-ish in 2012

Fiction / Nonfiction
2015 – 59% / 41%
2014 – 72% / 28%
2013 – 66% / 33%
2012 – 80% / 20%

By Women
2015 – Not quite 40%
2014 – 27%
2013 – 20%
2012 – 40%-ish
37% of the short stories I read were by women.

2015 – 64%
2014 – 68%
2013 – 71%

My average review for both books and short stories was over 3 “stars,” so by the numbers, it was a good reading year.

As I intended, I kept my reading plans pretty low-key in 2015, and was probably better for it. I finished 6/31 on my Obscure Literary Monsters list and read 16 works in the name of Gothic fiction. Didn’t read nearly enough from my Abbott/Joseffy list.

Plans for 2016

More of the same, really. I plan to make an effort to read from the books I already own and to keep tabs on my acquisitions. I also want to reread Helene Hanff’s books (I already reread 84, Charing Cross Road in December), and Paul Kidd’s Greyhawk novels. My best discovery of 2015 was the number of popular nonfiction books available through Tempe Library’s digital and audio collections.

On Wearing Two Hats, or why I cleared my ratings on Goodreads

I love reading. I love thinking about why we tell stories and how the construction of narratives affects how we experience them. What works? What doesn’t work? Why do I like what I like?

I am also an author. I love telling stories and trying to apply what I’ve learned to make them better.

A while back, probably well over a year ago now (two years?), I rebranded this blog as The Writerly Reader. I wanted it to mostly be a book blog—a place to think  out-loud about the books I’ve read—but I also wanted room to talk about my writing and my career as an author. I wanted to have a place to wear both my hats. My “reviews” have a tendency to pick apart what I’ve read, so I’m often grumpy, even about books I like. Regardless, I try to be fair in my comments. I’m never snarky; I try to look for the good in every book.

As a reader: I’ve never had a star rating system on my blog. I feel that star ratings are inadequate and a bit of a fool’s game. Ratings are an effort to put a quantitative measurement on something subjective. Even when I try to be objective about storytelling and style, likes and dislikes always creep in.

As an author: I have become keenly aware of how ratings, especially on Goodreads and Amazon, affect authors and their books.

I’ve never rated or reviewed books on Amazon because, since it is a consumer site, I’ve never felt comfortable as a fellow author rating “competing products.” I didn’t want to engage in the possible (or even perceived) conflict of interest.

Goodreads has been a different story. I started using Goodreads as a way to catalog my library, even before I started book blogging. My star ratings were really for myself, I’ve never been a social user of Goodreads. I’ve also never posted reviews there because I want to discuss books in my own environment. But recently, I’ve become a Goodreads Author. Despite my personal philosophy about ratings, I am courting attention as someone who would like her product to be rated. And that’s the conflict of interest.

So, I cleared all my Goodreads ratings. All 600+ of them.

I kept all my shelves and added one called Favorites. The only other shelf that has any kind of “rating” implication is Did-Not-Finish.

The last big question: Is my blog itself, and the reviewing of books, a conflict of interest as an author? Yes, it probably is. It’s also one of the things I enjoy most about the process of reading and writing. Sharing these thought in this venue is part of that. The Writerly Reader isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.


Katherine History: Electronic Texts

I’ve been thinking about books as electronic texts for a long time.

I read my first fan fiction (probably Blake’s 7 related) back in high school. Yes, the late 80s and early 90s. When my parents bought an upgrade, I got the Commodore 64 in my room. Hooked up to a modem, it wasn’t long before I familiarized myself with BBSs. As many of that era describe, suddenly there was a whole world of people who liked the same things that I did. And for me, the exciting thing was having the deluge of new things to read. I still remember a piece of original horror fiction, written by some user somewhere, that scared the bejeezus out of me. These were text files with the occasional ANSI art that I either read on the black and green screen or dumped to my printer (usually the latter). Since this was far inferior to books, my enchantment with the world of BBSs didn’t last long.

By 1997, the world wide web was populated by more than BBSs and after my autobiographical fiction prof required his students to set up a web page, it was populated by me as well. Between the search for background patterns and my slight obsession with all things Russian, I again found texts online. Pushkin, Lermontov, Chekhov were all there, as well as other things I couldn’t find in bookstores, like the non-Russian Fiona McLeod. My feelings about this were mixed. I love books. I love their look, their feel, their smell. And here was…non-book, but the content was compelling. How could I not love this too?

Even at that point, I believed there was the potential for an electronic text to be more than just the text itself. I was learning HTML at the time. I could "link" things. Imagine the works of Shakespeare with links within the text to commentary and history and art! And while I realized that one day some hand-held device with files on it might replace books, wouldn’t those "hypertexts" make that sacrifice worthwhile? (Ubiquitous wireless was a ways off in ’97. I imagined that you’d have to host the files on your device and pray that you had storage space for more than *just* Shakespeare.) I wrote a paper on it for some class or another. Wish I had kept it.

Thirteen years later, we’re awash with hand-held devices. There’s squabbling about file formats, wireless carriers, and how the publishing industry can continue to make money when the device makers hold many of the reins. As a literary student, the publishing industry mattered little to me. As an author, I’m by turns excited and alarmed by the coming of actual ebooks. Still, we have very few hypertexts. Maybe those aren’t needed or wanted. I’m currently reading Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City.* I sat down yesterday at my desktop computer and fired up Bing to see pictures of the World’s Columbian Exposition. A few keystrokes and it’s all right there. How can anyone not think that the age we live in is pretty darn spiffy?

* Grimy, used trade paperback. I’m a writer; I can’t spend money on single-purpose electronics that are sort of redundant. I own over 1000 books and several computers on which I can read the large amount of free fiction that’s available. Kindle, Nook, or otherwise, until it can make dinner for me too, I’ll settle happily for what I have.