Jenny's Library

Books 2013: Statistics

Posted on: March 28, 2014

Here is the breakdown of the massive list I posted on Monday:

I read a total of 207 books last year.

bar graph of types of books read in 2013

Nearly a third (68) were young adult books, and another third were board books and picture books (25 and 45, respectively).  Middle grade novels (28) and adult novels and stories (35) each made up another sixth of what I read last year.  I also read a handful of easy readers and non-fiction books (4 each).

80%  (169) of the books I read last year were written by women, but only 14% (29) were written by writers of color.


I’m not terribly concerned that only 20% of the books I read were written by men; there are plenty of people with much more influence than I do that seem to read and talk about only male writers, so it can’t possibly hurt for me to read and talk up female writers.  In fact, it’s clearly still needed. Also, I’m probably still balancing out what I read when I was younger.

That 14% does concern me though, especially considering what I do.  My reading and talking about that low a percentage of authors of color doesn’t just impact my circle of friends and what they read, it means that when I do reader’s advisory, when I create book lists and displays, and when I order books for the library, the vast majority of the books that come to mind will be by white writers.  Even if I try to do searches and peruse recommended lists in order to make these all more balanced, the titles I find that way are not going to take emotional priority or stay in my head the way that the books I’ve actually read will. Which means that I’m not doing my job and that I’m failing the children I’m supposed to serve.

So my goal for this year is to double that percentage, for at least one third of the books I read this year to be by a writer of color.

I hope to eventually increase that number to an even larger percentage, to better match the demographics among children in the US.  But I also know that only 10% of the children’s books published in the United States are written by an author of color, and I don’t know at what point (if ever) that reality will begin to make such goals difficult.  And for this year (because of my time and budget) I wanted to start with a goal that I know is easily doable.

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