Full Nerd: 2017 in Books

I’ve almost always kept a running list of the books I read, but this year I decided to go Full Nerd.

I used Google Sheets to log each book I’ve read since October 2016—66 books in total, spread over 384 days.

I tracked titles, authors, author genders, copyright and publish dates, genres, page counts, format, dates started and ended, days between books. Starting at this new data year, I’ll also begin tracking author race, to hold myself accountable to hearing equal voice.

Accountability is one of the main reasons I began tracking this data. For example, based on the names on my bookshelf, it was clear I wasn’t reading enough books by women. And the data don’t lie. It was only through conscious intention this past year that I read the women I did; Rebecca Solnit, Jane Goodall, Janna Levin, Hannah Arendt, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In most cases, their work was also the most urgent and profound. My goal is to keep building up this percentage. Hearing, listening, and understanding more.

I also used a five-star ranking system for the books I read. I usually thinking rankings are bullshit, so I didn’t put much thought into the rationale. If the book affected me or prompted me to think differently, it got more stars. This helped me identify what were my “favorite” books from the past year, and which ones sucked.

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An entire city waited beneath them

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If you read anything by Peter Hessler, make it Oracle Bones. It’s about the China I one day hope to meet. Here are a few parts I liked:

In Anyang, at an archaeological site call Huanbei, a small group of men work in a field, mapping an underground city. The city dates to the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries B.C, which the Shang culture was probably approaching its peak. Nowadays,the Shang ruins lie far beneath the soil, usually at a depth of five to eight feet. Peasants have planted crops for centuries without realizing that an entire city waited beneath them.”

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