Thursday, January 30, 2020

One More Stats Post: Reading 2013-2019

One last stats post, at least until I write up my end of January reading wrap up. Anyway, I wanted to see how my reading looks since I started tracking this stuff regularly, back in 2013.

Reading Through the Years: 2013 - 2019

Total books read

Year with most/fewest books
2019 (58 books) / 2016 & 2018 (48 books each)

Total pages read
Year with most/fewest pages
2013 (21,681) / 2018 (13,525)


POC author
Black: 8%
Asian: 8%
Latinx: 1%
Female authors

Top authors countries
US: 70%
UK: 17%
Canada: 2%
Australia: 2%
Japan: 2%



Book format
ebook: 42%
paperback: 34%
audiobook: 19%
hardback: 5%

Where'd I get the book
Kindle/Audible: 43%
Indie: 22%
Gift: 11%
Netgalley: 7%
Library: 6%
Chain bookstore: 4%
Just the Right Book: 3%
Review book (not Netgalley): 2%
Borrow (not library): 2%

Top Decades published
2010s: 66%
2000s: 18%
1990s: 8%
Everything else: 8%

Top genres
Lit Fic: 11%
Horror: 11%
Memoir: 8%
Humor: 7%
Mystery: 5%
Essays: 5%
Fantasy: 5%

Resolution books

So there are some areas for improvement, sure but overall I'm pretty happy. Let's see what 2020 has in store.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Cribsheet: If you're happy with your choices, that's the path to happier and more relaxed parenting

Look and actual, for realsies review. I told you I'd manage to get one of these done at some point. I was about to start another round of mini-reviews but realized I wasn't in the mood and decided to scan through the books I read last year to see if there was any I wanted to write about. And I realized I'm in the middle of re-reading Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster and never wrote about it the first time so why not tackle it now. It's more top of mind so maybe I can actually write about this better than "Uhh I think I liked this but IDK why".

Emily Oster's book Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong - and What You Really Need to Know is the only pregnancy book I read. This is hardly because I am an expert in pregnancy but I really was not looking for a preachy book. I was happy enough to not read any pregnancy books (and lucky enough to have my mom who is an OBGYN nurse around to answer questions) when the book Expecting Better was recommended to me by a trusted source. And it was great because it is not about telling you any dos or don'ts of pregnancy. Oster, an economist, is all about data and using the data to make informed choices, stressing that what is important for you as an individual or you as a family is a big part of the decision making process and that two people can have the same data but come to different conclusions and that's OK. That's no shaming, no finger wagging, no guilting. After I finished this book I searched for one from her on parenting but, alas, it was not to be.
At least not then. Fast forward a year and some, Matthew is here and we're up in Boston visiting some friends who recently had their own lil newborn. We're sitting around talking, the topic of books comes up (as it does) and my friend shows me this book Cribsheet by none other than Emily Oster. She has nothing but good things to say about it (of course) and even though it's brand new and thus only out in hardback, I pick up my own copy the next day at one of my fav indie bookstores (Brookline Booksmith, check them out, they're swell).

Just like with her pregnancy book, Oster's goal is to help answer the many questions that come up after the baby is here (daycare vs nanny vs staying at home, swaddling, breastfeeding) using data and stressing the importance of what is right for you and your family. Everyone should be informed about the benefits, the dangers, the drawbacks and determine, using the data, what the right choice is, knowing that people's choices can be different. She wants to step away from telling anyone what to do and repeatedly mentions how we need to not judge people who are making informed decisions (informed is the key, and it has to be real, reliable, credible information) that are best for them. As she says
This idea - that what parents need or want will play a role in choices - can be hard to admit. In a sense, I think this is at the core of a lot of the "Mommy War" conflicts.
We all want to be good parents. We want our choices to be the right ones. So after we make the choices, there is a temptation to decide they are the perfect ones. Psychology has a name for this: avoiding cognitive dissonance...This is a deeply human temptation, but it is also really counterproductive. Your choices can be right for you but also not necessarily the best choices for other people. Why? You are not other people. Your circumstances differ. Your preferences differ. In the language of economics, your constraints differ.
As an economist, who reads and interprets studies for a living, she reads through studies about all of the topics she tackles, identifies which she feels are the best/most complete while explaining why she has come to this conclusion, she shares factors that could influence an individual, she shares what she did with her two children as well as what other women she knows have done that differs. The goal is not to tell you what the best choice is, but to make sure you're informed to make the right choice for you.

And I get this may not be the parenting book for everyone (cos hey, those individual choices and preferences and whatnot). It's great for me but like her, I also kept a detailed spreadsheet of every time Matthew ate and slept, at least until he went to daycare and I went back to work, because I love me some data. The book gives me good ways to think about how to make the choices (and OMG there are so many) that come up, big and small.

Gif rating:

Oster, Emily. Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting from Birth to Preschool. Penguin Press, 2019.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Christie's Endless Night indeed felt endless

For those few who are still reading this blog (hello! you're all wonderful people and I cherish you), you know I haven't really written any real reviews in a while. This isn't going to be a real review either, not really, but it's closer to that. Basically I just finished listening to Agatha Christie's Endless Night and I want to bitch about it. Which really, is what blogging is all about.
This is going to be very spoiler-y. But also the book is...not good so should be fine to read spoilers. Basically I'm saving you.

Before I get into that, I want to write out my defense for why I picked this up in the first place. It was the end of the year. I didn't think I was going to be doing any more book reading as I had mostly traded my audiobook listening for Christmas music. But the Christmas music ended and there were still a few days left in the year so without anything particular in mind I started browsing audiobooks from the library and I came across a Hercule Poirot Christmas story and that was fun. But then I finished it pretty quickly. I figured Christie stuff is pretty fun, the handful I've read. There's also a ton of it and tends to be readily available from the library so rather than think to hard about what to read next, I just browsed the Christie stuff. And I saw this one called Endless Night. I skimmed the summary but was like "yeah yeah, marriage to rich person, land that may be cursed, sounds good" and also mostly picked it cos I liked the cover. Also it was only about 6 hours long so not too bad.

OK now to my complaints
Firstly, this is super boring. It's very slow and it's mostly just blue collar guy and rich girl falling in love and getting married and buying land with a g***y curse (it comes up a lot and it's part of the name of the house/land) and I want you to know that while it may sound interesting it is not. Not mostly. I mean, it's competently written (of course) but just...who cares.
Building on the boringness, no one dies until hour 4.5. Out of a 6 hour book. That's like 75% of the way through the book. And I'm not out for violence but one goes into a Christie book expecting certain things and one of those things is that someone is going to die under mysterious circumstances. And sure it happens here but it takes basically forever to get there. And also, did I mention the stuff that comes before it is not interesting?

Also, and I acknowledge that this is on me, but this isn't really a mystery. I mean, I guess it kind of is (who killed Ellie? - this is a spoiler area though you can prob guess pretty early on she's donezo) but mostly it's suspense. Or supposed to be. But I think you have to be more invested for it to be suspenseful.

But here is my, by far, biggest complaint. The book is told in the first person from the blue collar guy Michael Rogers. There's no framing device where he's telling this story to a particular audience. Instead a straight forward first person narration so we learn about how he fell in love with Ellie and all their work trying to get this house built. We learn Michael's thoughts about Ellie's relationship with her governess/chaperone/companion-you-pay Greta (he is suspicious - they seem very close and does Greta have some sort of control over Ellie?). We learn about Michael's insecurities about dealing with Ellie's family. We learn about Michael's grief in finding Ellie dead. All of this from Michael's first person point of view. And THEN (and another spoiler warning here) we learn that Michael and Greta actually orchestrated not only Ellie's murder but the whole marriage and everything and Michael is actually a sociopath who just married Ellie cos he wanted her money and that he's killed before.
Except, if this whole story is from his point of view, wtf wouldn't any of this have come up before? Who was he pretending for when we're in his thoughts? He talks about the times he and Greta pretended to hate each other but would meet up in secret except NOPE that didn't happen cos this was first person and shouldn't we, the audience, have seen that? How's a first-person narrator going to hide his thoughts from the audience when the whole thing is that we're seeing his thoughts?
I will say, in skimming through the Goodreads reviews of this book, most people don't seem bothered by this fact so perhaps it's just me.

Anyway, that's my sort-of-but-not-really review of Endless Night. Maybe next time I'll write a real review that isn't just me complaining.

Friday, January 3, 2020

2019 Wrap Up!

It's the end of another year!
and you know if there's one I thing I love, it's tracking reading progress through the year.

I figured I haven't been doing my quarterly infographics but I can manage an end of year one. EXCEPT I was not paying attention and Piktochart has changed their terms so now if I want to make more infographics, I gotta pay. And if I was still making these infographics like I used to, I'd consider it. Except I'm not making them so often, so I'm not gonna pay. Perhaps in the future.

Instead, here's a simpler year end wrap up

Number of books read
58 - most books read since I started tracking!
Number of pages read
15,245 - though it's about middle-of-the-road in terms of number of pages

Month with the most/least books read
February (7) / July & November (3 each)

Month with the most/least pages read
September (1,680) / May (864)


POC author
Asian: 10%
Black: 7%
Latino: 2%

Female authors
Author countries
US: 64%
UK: 29%
Canada: 3%
India: 2%
Spain: 2%



Book format
audiobook: 78%
ebook: 12%
paperback: 9%
hardback: 2%

Where'd I get the book
Kindle/Audible: 50%
Library: 38%
Indie: 5%
Chain bookstore: 3%
Gift: 3%

Decade published
2010s: 83%
2000s: 7%
1990s: 3%
1970s: 2%
1940s: 2%
1930s: 3%

Top Genres
Mystery: 15%
Parenting: 13%
Horror: 9%
Sociology: 9%
Humor: 7%
Lit Fic: 7%
Memoir: 7%

Resolution books
Top month: July 100% resolution books
Bottom month: January 25% resolution books

Fav reads
According to my Goodreads tracking (which is missing some books but ::shrug::) about half of the books I gave 5 stars to this year were re-reads. Which I suppose makes sense because if I'm going to re-read something, it's probably something I loved. But I guess doesn't say great things about what I read this year. Except most things I gave 4 stars to cos they were fine. Better than fine, very good, even. Just not something I loved.

5 Star Rereads
The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
Texts from Jane Eyre by Daniel Ortberg
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson

New 5 Star Reads
Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley
Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar
Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch
Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster

Thursday, January 2, 2020

December Reading Wrap Up

Every month this year went by super fast and December was 10x as fast as the others. I kept thinking "I need to do some Xmas shopping" and then suddenly it's the weekend before Xmas and I am scrambling because I am not organized enough for this holiday. Christmas was good to us, especially the little monster who got SO MUCH STUFF, including multiple drums. Which...have we offended people?* There are also so many cars/trucks/buses and I don't know where his love for all things on wheels comes from, but it is strong.

I didn't feel like I ended up doing that much reading in December. Typically, most of my reading is done via audiobooks while on my commute. Except tis the season and I wanted to listen to some Christmas music. And since I've been getting most of my books from the library recently, and those have a limited amount of time I can have those out, I wasn't sure I would get through a book before I had to return it. So I just stuck with podcasts (I'm currently listening to old episodes of How Did This Get Made) and Christmas music. Except somehow I still managed a fair amount (including a book between when I originally wrote this post and when it's actually going live because I thought "no way I'll read anything else in this time.")  Now, let's see those stats.

Number of books read
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong
Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Hercule Pirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie

Number of pages read


POC authors

Female authors
US authors

Book club/readalongs

Book formats
audiobook: 75%
ebook: 25%

Where'd I get the book
Kindle: 25%
Library: 65%

Resolution book
Career of Evil cos Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling is from the UK (in case you were unaware)
Dear Girls by Ali Wong (POC author)
Hercule Pirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie - UK author AND published before 2000

*It's cool, he loves them and this gives him something that he's actually allowed to bang on