2019 By the Book

I read 53 books in 2019.

So, I didn’t realize that I have this obsessive aspect of my personality- where I get to doing something and then convince myself that I need to keep doing it to get to some  magical number.

In 2018, I planned to read 25 books, but that went pretty quickly. So, I was like 50!! My goal is 50. And I got it. But then last year, I was like, 52 is nice because that is a book a week. 52 is the number!!!

Seventy-five percent of the authors I read were white, 13.21% were black, and 9.43% were asian.  I thought I started the year with a lot of diversity, but I somehow just did not keep that going.

Over 70% of the authors I read this year were female.  Compare this to 2018, when only 38% of the authors I read were.  Not bad.  I didn’t do this on purpose.  I am not sure how I managed this.

I read about the same propotion of American authors in 2019 as I did in 2018 (75%). Also, In 2019, about  63% of the books I read were non-fiction, which was slightly up from 2018, when only 54% were.

My favorite books this year were:

The Water Dancer (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

Writing Science in Plain English (Anne Green)

The Valedictorian of Being Dead (Heather Armstrong)

Becoming (Michelle Obama)

Educated (Tara Westover)

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Surival, Resilience, and Redemption (Lauren Hillenbrand)

Me, an intellectual…

In a book store, I cannot ever NOT by a book.

Honestly, it is worth considering why I am the way that I am.  Seriously.  Why?

I don’t need anymore books.

It’s just that I want more books.  I know I don’t need to purchase more books, when I should just visit the shelf on my desk and make my selection.

I think it is weird.  I would rather stroll the aisles of a bookstore looking at covers and deciding on the fly (and rather dumbly) the books that I am interested in, than walk to my desk at home and choose the next book to read.  I think maybe  because I don’t read the synopsis of a lot of the books that I add to my “want to read” list,  the reptillian aspects of my brain that are attracted to shiny pretty things, takes over and I buy books that I am not really all *that* interested in reading.

This might be the case.  I have figured out that I have grand ideas about what I *think* I’d like to read.  I know this because sometimes I will, willy-nilly like go through GoodReads, clicking “Want to Read” somewhat cavalierly.  About once a month, I sit  down and decide to request some of them from CPL.  Lately, I have gotten a few books and once I read a bit of the book or the book description, I’m like:


But at least I am not spending 100 pages reading these books before deciding I hate the book and quitting it.

This is progress, people.

I wonder if this is partially about wish fulfillment.  Maybe I want to be a person who has the time to read so voraciously that I can afford to waste time reading books that I have carelessly decided to read, because, big deal.  I have plenty of time! I worry about this a lot with some of the things I want to do.  Like, do I *really* want to hike the Appalachian Trail, or do I want to be at a place in my life where I *could* hike the AT?

Because they aren’t exactly the same thing.

Honestly, I could just see me having decided to hike the AT and bailing before I even got out of Georgia, like, “NOPE.” But it would be nice to be *able* to hike the AT.

Or maybe this is just about identity and impression management.  Like, I just want to seem like the kind of person who reads some books.  I could be this shallow.  The more Man-Booker books I read, the more I wonder if this is the case.  When I decided to read the Man-Booker books, I mostly knew what I was doing.  I knew that the MB Prize is awarded to the “best” English literature published during the year.  Not the most popular.  But “best” awarded by literature types who read for a living.  They read and eschew the popular and plebian.  That is how you end up with The Finkler Question (a “comedy” about old Jewish dudes obsessing about their dicks, being Jewish, and philandering).   Maybe if I read these books people will think I am smart?  An intellectual? Is that what is happening?

Oh, you can definitely tell it is the end of the quarter and I have a shit ton of grading to do.  When I am getting meta about my life, it’s time to sit my ass down in a chair and grade some more.



Smug A What?

Do you wanna feel better than others for a minute?  Do you want to be smug for just half a second?

There is a thing I have been doing… mostly it started just to mess with Facebook and Instagram’s logarithm.  I should start by saying, I am not even all that mad at the idea of logarithms.  I mean, if you’re going to put ads in my feeds, I would rather see adds for books, notebooks, pens, food, bags, snacks, and crafts and NOT dick pills, HRT, and ANY MLM. Truthfully, January was blissful in my feed because it was all bags all the time.  Kickstarters for new bags, newly designed and produced bags, bags *clearly* made in China, ads for accounts that review bags.  It was great.  That is some logarithm shit I can get on board with.

So, a few months ago, something in my profile on Facebook pulled in an ad for a newly published romance/erotica book.  Which is interesting, because it is the genre of books I find least interesting and because I don’t have all that much time to devote to reading, and don’t read for pleasure all that often.  At all.  And, because of the sections I walk through at any given book store or library, they are the books I am least likely to pick up/acquire, and read willy-nilly.  And you can bet your ass that I am not blowing an Audible credit on a romance/erotica.  No.  Just no.

My initial intrigue at what part of my profile flagged the logarithm set to display this romance/erotica book in my feed was soon replaced by three things:

  1. Interest in the “genres” of these novels.
  2. What clicking on any of these ads would do to future logarithms.
  3. The comments.  The comments are always entertaining, but also make me sad for humanity.

First, these genres are ridiculous. So, when you go to Amazon to see the listings for these books, there are tags to let the reader know generally what the content is: standalone or series, cliff hanger, hotwives, first time, billionaire, baby, bad boy, boss, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, etc.  Which is unreal because that’s giving away a big part of the plot, don’t you think? So, you go to a listing for a book and in the about section and comments, etc, a big part of the book is told to the reader up front. For me, it removes any premise that these books are written for literary enjoyment.  That is not their purpose.

Also, it is funny to me, because the success of the billionaire, baby, and boss genre tells me a lot about what these writers think women want to read about.  If that is in fact what these authors write.  I mean, we’ve already established that they are not writing the great american novel. To read these descriptions, you would think that most women want some billionaire boss bad boy, with him they have a happily ever after.

I clicked a post with a book about a billionaire boss… because it is funny as fuck and unrealistic.  Sure, some 30 year old nitwit with a body also happens to be a boss, who “needs” a “personal assistant”.  Its hilarious because actual 30 year old billionaires look like the biggest nerds on the planet:


I look at each of these guys and think: they probably know their way around some html code or bitcoin.  There is nothing about the looks of any of these dudes that make me think: oh yeah, probably good in bed.  I don’t mean to be a hater, like, I recognize that when its all said and done, Elon Musk is probably going to have the biggest impact on climate change of any person on the planet.  And I am glad to exist during the same era as him.  Again, just not realistic.  Completely fantasy at this point.

Second, clicking on one of these ads ensures that more will come up in your feed.  Obviously, that is how logarithms work.  A few “books” I have followed to Amazon’s page  have only guaranteed that more like that have come up.

Last, let’s talk about the comments and the real reasons why I feel like a genius.

I am also going to start from the premise that most, if not all comments on a romance book’s ad on Facebook are fake.  Because… well… Its an ad… and if there are farms of computers in Russia and Moldova commenting on political articles to win Trump elections, I have no doubts that there is a market for commenting on other shit.  So, obviously, skeptical.  But, even if we assume that some of them are real, I have some real questions about people who comment on an ad for a self-published erotica on Facebook.  Because the comments are never: “Meh. This was kind of a waste of time and money… but it beat reading the newspaper.” The comments that I see are: “This book is the BEST! Absolutely love Lainey and Brayden together! New favorite couple!”  or “Caiden sounds so fucking hot!”

So I read one of these “books” and it was a nightmare.  Start to finish.  Little character development, completely implausible dialogue.  And not funny.  Not even like breathe loud once through your nose funny.  Basically, I think the book had 6-8 sex scenes… and it was just terrible dialogue and shitty character development stringing from one scene to the next.  It was fucking awful.

And so how do I feel smart?  First, I am smarter than any real person who comments that they love one of these books on a social ad.  Full stop.  Again, assuming that most of the comments are fake, I am, at the very least, smarter than the fraction of real people who comment that the books are amazing.  The best!  The best series!!!  AND I am smart because the majority of the books I read are about real shit. Or they are actual literature… about boring shit (looking at you Finkler Question).  And not completely unrealistic trash being sold on Amazon for $0.99.

That also makes me better than a lot of people.