Wrap Up of 2019 ๐ŸŽ‰

Welcome to the end of 2019! Happy Holidays, and an amazing New Year to you all. This year, to simplify my end-of-the-year stats, I took the initiative to learn how to make pie charts. Turns out, it’s super simple and looks nicer than me making a bunch of lists.

But first, a few notables from 2019 at Grab the Lapels:

I read 8 books aloud to my spouse, including chonkers like David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell.

I read several series, which I almost never do! In fact, I tend to avoid series. I completed the Mark Renton books (5 novels) by Irvine Welsh, The Snow Queen Cycle by Joan D. Vinge (4 novels), Faith (4 comic books) by Jody Houser, a chunk of the Valdemar books (16 novels) by Mercedes Lackey, and The Vampire Chronicles (original trilogy) by Anne Rice. Will this be a new trend at GTL?

In 2020, I do have plans to read more from Valdemar and tackle a chunk of the Descentverse series by S.M. Reine. However, the new goal is not to review each individual book, but each mini-series within the larger body of work. Part of my reasoning is I want to stick to three posts per week: Tuesday and Thursday + the Sunday Lowdown. Lately, I’ve posting more than I think is reasonable.

Favorite Fiction & Nonfiction in 2019:

The book I talked about incessantly, both on the blog and at the library where I work, was No Visible Bruises. The depth and type of information Rachel Louise Snyder chose was mind blowing, highlighting the systemic issues that allow domestic violence to continue.

My favorite fiction was Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. Quite terrifying, but lightened by romps in town, this classic novel is a memorable, scary, atmospheric book.

Stats from 2019 and the Decade:

I did not include stats on nationality, race, disability, and sexuality as I had originally intended to. I found myself in a position of guessing or making assumptions about an author’s identity, and I wasn’t comfortable with that.

Are you already setting goals for your blogging and reading in 2020? What is a new goal you’ve set? Or an old one you want to try again?

68 comments

  1. Impressive pie charting, but I’m sticking to lists for my eoy. As a blogger I think 3 posts a week is enough, that’s a fair amount of reading, research and writing.

    As a reader of blogs I just read what’s there without thinking a lot about whether so and so is doing more than usual. But then someone does one a day and you think that’s enough, I’m worn out.

    Like

    • One post per day is too many to expect bloggers to read, especially if you’re part of a community that appreciates/expects each other to read, comment, and reciprocate.

      The pie charts were actually easier than I thought. Excel spread sheet, two columns (one with title, one with numbers), and click “create chart” or whatever. It was painless!

      Like

  2. Yeah, I’d like to track other characteristics re the diversity of my reading, but find it too quickly becomes problematic. Even race and gender are difficult at times.

    Like

    • When I read Dear Girls by Ali Wong, I learned she’s Chinese-Vietnamese-American. That’s a mouthful. One woman was born and raised in the U.S., but her parents are from Nigeria. Is she Nigerian-American, or African American? I have no idea, and I felt skeezy guessing. Even labeling a writer as “white” made me feel weird, for example, because one author is Mexican-American, but she looks white. That doesn’t make her less Mexican-American.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it’s complicated! I just split my reading into ‘authors of colour’ and white authors, based on the writer’s self-identification, not their appearance (so your Mexican-American writer would count as a writer of colour).

        Like

        • That’s where it’s tricky, though — since race is skin color, the Mexican-American woman IS white. Then I decided I just need to back up and try to read books by people who aren’t always like me, and a queer Mexican-American female author is one of those people.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I don’t think race is just skin colour, but I’m by no means an expert on this… But I agree, that’s my aim with trying to up my reading by writers of colour.

            Like

  3. I’m tracking author’s country of birth rather than nationality. It isn’t always trivial either as country borders change but the birthplace is usually easy to find so I have selected to use the current country the birthplace resides in. Of course the result won’t necessarily be very representative for an individual author, who may e.g. have left the country at a very young age, but for aggregated statistics I believe it gets me close enough for it to be a meaningful measure, and it avoids the problem of having to make assumptions of an author.

    Like

      • Yeah, those are the kind of cases that are hard to get right. I would say whatever nationality/nationalities she identifies as herself, but that information may be hard to find. That’s why I find it easier to use either official nationality (whatever it says in her passports) or country of birth and just accept that it won’t be 100% right. On the other hand if I just use the data as a rough measure on the diversity of my reading, it isn’t really a problem if one or two authors end up listed in a country they have a weak relation to (in my case the most problematic author this year is Gerald Durrell who was born in India to British parents but moved from there before he was four years old. I count him for India but it is rather misleading). I prefer using country of birth as you can have only one of those but multiple passports which messes up my statistics. I use a spreadsheet and track publication year, author’s country of birth, author’s gender (man/woman/other, the latter mostly used for books with multiple authors) and a number indicating what I though of the book.

        Liked by 1 person

    • My husband and I went to our monthly book club meeting last night, where everyone talks about what they’ve been reading rather than everyone reading the same book. This high school girl went on for ages about this book of stats she read, and it was really interesting! I hadn’t realized there are people that into data, but boy howdy, she is.

      If you’re going to do stats for your blog, definitely keep track all year. In the past, when I’ve tried to do everything based on my blog posts and Goodreads activity, my head nearly exploded.

      Like

  4. Nice post! I have pivot tables like Booksbythecup but I’m in a big reading frenzy at the moment so reserving judgement until 1 Jan to see what I’ve read these last few days!

    “I did not include stats on nationality, race, disability, and sexuality as I had originally intended to. I found myself in a position of guessing or making assumptions about an authorโ€™s identity, and I wasnโ€™t comfortable with that.” – yes! I have done them for the first time as I wanted to check the variety of my reading and make sure I was reading enough people who are different to me, but felt funny checking their race and didn’t do disability or sexuality, tho I noted when books had these as a theme. We’ll see what I end up sharing!

    Like

    • I couldn’t figure out if I was trying to prove to other bloggers that I read diversely, or if I was checking myself. In the end, I felt exploitative either way, so I let it go.

      I’m not sure what a pivot table is, but I now know two people who do!

      Like

    • It sounds very football, lol. I’ll get on a kick where I catch myself only reading nonfiction. Really good nonfiction is so compelling that sometimes if I grab a novel and it’s not amazing, I feel like the problem is that it’s fiction, not that it’s a less-than-stellar novel.

      Liked by 1 person

    • They were super simple! Make on column of the different pie chunk titles (i.e. genre) and the next column the numbers. Hit “create pic chart” or whatever, and there they are. You can download them as a png — super simple.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! I love the pie charts, I should definitely do that this year. I completely agree about it being hard to track certain things about author identity when they don’t make it clear what their own experience is (which they certainly don’t need to). Instead of all the specifics I try to just check y/n for OwnVoices and for whether the author seems to have spent time in the country they’re writing about. Which, again, isn’t always easy to mark if it’s not in the author bio, but it’s important to me that while reading around the world I read from writers who’ve actually been to the places they’re writing about. I haven’t tried to chart the statistics yet though, so I don’t know how it’ll turn out.

    Anyway, I’m so excited to see a du Maurier for your favorite fiction of the year, I really need to read more of her work! And I’m so looking forward to No Visible Bruises as well, I can’t believe I haven’t picked that one up yet! My biggest goal for 2020 is more 5-star reads, and I think that one would do it for me, so I’m still hoping to pick it up soon.

    I also think it’s a good idea to stick with 3 posts per week. When I fall behind or have a lot of things I want to fit in a certain time frame (like end-of-year posts) I tend to go up to 5 or even 6 posts in a week, and that’s really hard to manage. And I definitely can’t expect readers to engage with everything I’m posting in those times, especially since I tend toward long posts. I really need to find a better balance next year.
    But however many posts you end up with, I’m looking forward to reading them! Happy new year! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    • Because I work part-time, I can do more than three posts. The problem is I don’t think I should over-burden followers; I only read the blogs of people who read and comment on mine, too, because I like the conversation aspect. I think of my blog friends as FRIENDS and have met or texted them in real life, too.

      This year I got two Barnes & Noble gift cards for Christmas, and one of the books I bought was Jamaica Inn because it’s totally the kind of book you re-read with glee.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a good point! I do really like the back-and-forth of exchanging thoughts and viewpoints, and the friendships I’ve made through blogging are valuable to me. I guess I started blogging just to put all of my book thoughts together somewhere, and I hope that my WordPress friends know that I’m not going to fault anyone for missing/skipping some of my posts. It’s definitely worth considering though that some people might be frustrated if they want to engage with everything and simply don’t have the time!

        That’s great to hear, I’m so looking forward to reading more of du Maurier’s work! I’m hoping My Cousin Rachel will help kickstart me into working through her list!

        Like

          • It’ll only be my second of her novels (though I’ve also read a short story), and I haven’t seen the movie yet either. I’ll definitely want to watch after reading!

            Like

              • Ah, I did recently (finally) watch Rebecca! And actually I think I’ll watch it again before returning it… It’s My Cousin Rachel I haven’t see yet, even though I know it was a popular release just a couple of years ago!

                Like

                • Ah, I see! I just double checked and discovered that there is an older version of My Cousin Rachel starring Olivia de Havilland, who is Joan Fontaine’s sister. The two had a fierce love-hate competitive relationship (although I’m not so sure this wasn’t just Joan Fontaine making stuff up in her head. I read her autobiography, and boy was she overly dramatic and quite the victim).

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Oh wow, I should not be surprised that a popular Daphne du Maurier novel has been adapted more than once, but for some reason I was under the impression that the new My Cousin Rachel was the first one!
                    (Also I find it very amusing when dramatic personalities invent feuds and fraught relationships that haven’t really happened as imagined, it’s like fiction brought to life, lol)

                    Like

                    • Oh, and I just remembered that Shirley Jackson used to get so bored being a homemaker/writer that she would image her appliances fighting with each other, so when her family got home in the afternoon, oftentimes the toaster and blender, or whatever, would be on opposite sides of the counter because they were “fighting,” lol.

                      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love your pie charts!!!! And 3 posts per week sound reasonable to me. I do 2-3, but usually 2, and that seems to work just fine.

    Also-whoa, you bought alot of books this year. But many were used right? So that’s not so bad….

    now I really really really want to read Jamaica Inn, even though I’ve learned it doesn’t take place in Jamaica ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    • Most of the books I bought were 50 cents at the Friends of the Library sale. They keep weeding books I want to check out! Gah!

      I previously read a library copy of Jamaica Inn, but I bought my own yesterday with a gift card and plan to read it again soon, probably to the spouse. It’s wonderful and scary and funny, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You keep some really interesting statistics, like the decade published and types of posts. I just posted my own stats so this is a good time to thing about fields to add next year. I find Goodreads helps me categorize books throughout the year so it’s not too hard at the end of the year. I also struggle with how to count the diversity of the authors I read. I’ve settled for classifying them as “author of color” though often that’s not clear, and it ignores other types of diversity.

    Like

    • I’d never done the decades before, but I realized I was reading a lot of books published in 2019, and it’s odd for me to read new works.

      I mentioned in another comment that author of color doesn’t quite sit right with me, especially since I read a Mexican-American author whose skin is white. I also wish I had more stats on whether I’m reading disabled authors, but most aren’t posting information about that, yet we’re asked to read more authors with disabilities. It’s confusing, but I try to do my best.

      Like

  8. Oooh, pie charts! Love it. I love that you had so many discussion posts. That’s something I need to once again work on. You bought so many books this year compared to years in the past. I’m so sorry, I feel like I might have contributed to that, haha. Wishing you a wonderful New Year’s!

    Like

  9. The pie charts look wonderful! It is really hard to keep track of information about authors’ identities when so much of it involves guesswork. As for me, my goals for 2020 include reading and blogging as much as I can. It was hard to keep up with my blog in 2019, and I doubt 2020 will be much easier. I’m going to focus on writing posts that blend the law and books.

    Like

    • I love the law/book posts you do. You give me insight that other blogs don’t. What do you think kept you from blogging more this year? It was likely work, family, and writing! When I don’t see you around for a while, I assume you’re fighting the good fight or penning a good novel.

      Like

  10. Those all seem like great goals and ideas. And I appreciate your consideration of your motivation for tracking certain stat’s. For me, I’ve had so many reading years in which I have believed that I’ve been reading in a certain vein/category/trend but, when I’ve looked at the actual logs, discovered that it wasn’t like that at all (or not to the extent I’d believed), that I track almost everything. But whether to share it, yes, I suppose that’s a good point. Do we need to feel there’s another layer of accountability at times (imaginary, though it may be) and not at other times?

    As for your questions, I chose to read more Quebecois authors this year and that was still rewarding (I’d started midway through the previous year) so I’m going to continue to try to fill that reading gap. And a new goal is to choose four very long books (with the idea that each might take three months, reading alongside other books) because I did finally finish one 800-page book this year, after having tried many times previously, and it was so, so good, that I want to encourage myself to do this more often. Hopefully I listen to myself. Hah.

    Best of luck with your 2020 reading goals. And if you continue to write for other publications, good luck with that as well!

    Like

    • One long book on my TBR is Brothers Karamazov. I get the feeling I need to set a long-term goal with this, such as reading one chapter per week, or something. Otherwise, if I try to read the whole thing, I’ll get behind on my reviews for the blog. Another blogger (Shell @ Books by the Cup) helped me do that with the novel Roots, which is quite long, and we finished in a few weeks. I loved it!

      For your Quebec authors: Did you say you read Mile End by Lise Tremblay? I really appreciated that work.

      Like

  11. Great stats! Your women authors vs men authors ratio is amazing and I wish I read as many women authors! My resolution for 2020 is to read more authors from around the world, including from South America and Africa. I truly believe some remain under-read and there are so many gems to discover in literature in translation. I wish you a Happy New Year!

    Like

    • Thank you for the well wishes, Diana! Since Grab the Lapels was started, there have been zero books by men reviewed on the site. However, I do read some books by the guys, who then get a few words over on Goodreads, but not full reviews.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Confession: I just spent longer reading the comments here than reading your post. XD I mean, not because I skimmed your post, but because there are so many comments!

    I love the pie charts. I don’t do anything fancy like this to track what I read… yet. Perhaps I’ll start doing it this year? I’m so bad at staying on top of my book reviews that it might become a burden. We’ll see what sorts of mischief I can get into with stat collecting, however. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Congrats on an amazing year!

    Like

    • One cool stat I’d like to see from you would be number of books you read that you reviewed vs. did not review. I know you read loads! I also don’t think bloggers need to review everything they read. It’s a different experience, reading to share one’s thoughts vs. just reading.

      I’d also like to see some kind of chart of number of books you read for all of your challenges (Newbery, Valdemar, etc.).

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re not wrong. I do like to write a review for every book I read in Goodreads. Some are too short to review, some I don’t have much to say on, others I don’t think my blog audience will enjoy. The most difficult books to write reviews are, for me, are the ones I love the most! 5 and 6 star books are really hard to review. I don’t feel like I ever have enough words to truly express my feelings.

        Oooh, that’s a good idea. Total books read for Valdemar , Newbery, and my series challenge. I love it. Thanks for the idea!

        Like

  13. Just letting you know I have nominated you for the Bloggerโ€™s Recognition Award. No worries if youโ€™ve no time or itโ€™s not your thing! Cheers Rebecca Old Bird Travels Solo

    Like

Insert 2 Cents Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s