Time for a little “rithmatic,” which I have promised not to do much of in my blog title. I do like to follow the tradition of my father-in-law’s country store and do inventory at the end of January. I don’t make resolutions for the new year, but I do reflect on the past year and make needed adjustments that I notice.
My job as a writer is to be a reader – one of the reasons I like this job – so I count the books I’ve read for the year. The number was 91 for 2015, the most since I’ve been keeping track starting in 2004 except for the year that I had a friend on the Newbery Committee. She fed me books right and left to evaluate – and then couldn’t tell me how my choices were doing with the committee!
Of these 91 books, 32 were for adults, 42 for middle grade or young adult, and 17 were for young children. I’m quite sure the younger children count is short of my total since I spent a week with a couple of preschool grandsons and didn’t keep count of the books I read them. The books were 75% fiction and 25% nonfiction. A protagonist that fit in the category of diversity either by culture or some kind of physical challenge made up 27% of the books. Probably for the same number, the protagonist could have been from any culture since the book was generic or some kind of fantasy.
In recent discussions on the need for diverse books, a caution has been raised that poorer quality should not be accepted just for the sake of diversity. Let me assure you, this was not the case. Some of my most enjoyable reads were Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan and Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle who are Latino writers, The Crossover set in the Black community by Kwame Alexander, and Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstorm that features a blind protagonist.
As 2015 drew to a close and I began my book count, I received a quote from Word-a-Day (December 28, 2015). “In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adler, philosopher, educator, and author. I’ll have to say 2015 was a very good year for books that got through to me.