Reading Wrapup for 2023


Like most writers, I’m a big reader. For a few years I did reading challenges, which I’d announce at the beginning of the year, and then at the end of the year, I’d report on how I’d done. This year I didn’t do any challenges (besides a Goodreads total read number), partially because I’ve been in a reading slump. The good news is that I seemed to finally get over the slump this year, and I’m really enjoying reading again. I have been reading more nonfiction than I have in the past, so less fiction, but that’s fine. I firmly believe readers should read whatever they want, so I don’t feel bad. In this post, I’ll talk about the Goodreads challenge and many of the books I read this year (though I’ll spare you the complete list).

Goodreads Challenge

I committed to reading 100 books this year, which was a common target for me in the past. Because I’m also sometimes studying picture books, I also logged those on Goodreads, which artificially skewed my numbers, because I don’t “count” picture books as real book reads. In my reading slump years, this helped me get close to my goals, but this year they skewed things. I do count almost everything else, including YA, MG, and graphic novels (the graphic novels really help with my numbers, but I still think they count).

I surpassed 100 many months ago because of all the picture books I read (I counted about 95 several months back, and I haven’t read any since). But Friday night, December 29, I counted how many non-picture books I’ve read over the year, and it came to 90.

A Challenge Within a Challenge

Well. I hadn’t realized I was that close to 100, and who am I to shy away from a challenge? I hit up my graphic novel shelf and pulled several off and scrambled to read everything. This might be a little sketchy, but I have read many graphic novels over the year, so it’s not like I’ve been fudging all year, so it’s fine. I didn’t want it to be all graphic novels, so I also found some other books I started previously and was reasonably close to finishing.

Friday night I managed to finish three books, including a nonfiction book I started ages ago, and I almost finished another I started earlier in the week. I continued all weekend, and these are the books I read in my mad scramble to 100, in order:

  1. Saga #10 by Vaughan and Staples (sci-fi GN)
  2. Data Analyst: Careers in Data Analysis by Rasmussen et al (data science-related NF)
  3. She and Her Cat by Shinkai and Yamaguchi (cat manga)
  4. Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned: The Myth of the Objective by Stanley and Lehman (career/data science-related)
  5. Cat + Gamer #1 by Nadatani (cat manga)
  6. Saga #11 by Vaughan and Staples (sci-fi GN)
  7. Cat + Gamer #2 by Nadatani (cat manga)
  8. In Praise of Walking: A New Scientific Exploration by O’Mara (NF about … walking)
  9. Goomics by Cornet (a humorous NF GN about Google culture)
  10. American Born Chinese by Yang (graphic memoir)

And now I’ll talk about some of the books I read the rest of the year.

Young Adult Fiction

This is generally my favorite category, and I mostly read contemporary, with a few others thrown in. Some standouts include:

  • This Poison Heart and This Wicked Fate duology by Kaylynn Bayron
  • I Must Betray You by Ruth Sepetys
  • Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
  • Quiver by Julia Watts

I’ve been crediting the Bayron books for finally really breaking my reading slump. I’d never stopped reading, but it was just happening in slow motion. It would take me forever to get through a novel, whereas before I’d read two a week. But this series had me so engrossed that I tried to find a paper copy of book 2 locally after I finished book 1, but couldn’t, so I had to wait a couple days for it to arrive from Amazon. The series is an LGBTQ contemporary fantasy about a teen girl who has a strange power over plants. The story gets complex and harkens back to Greek mythology.

I Must Betray You is another fantastic Ruta Sepetys historical novel, set in 1989 Romania. I didn’t think I’d be as into it as I was, because she creates a fantastic main character. I just loved it.

Symptoms of Being Human is a fascinating book about a nonbinary teen. The teen is gender fluid and it’s handled masterfully—Garvin avoids using any pronouns for the character and they give no hint to their presumed gender (by their parents, for instance) even though they’re not out yet. It isn’t until page 148 that there’s a first real clue. This sounds like it would be gimmicky, but it actually comes across completely natural, without awkward moments that make you wonder why a pronoun wasn’t used. But outside of that, it’s a good story about knowing who you are, even when life is very harsh.

Quiver is a great story about two teens from very different worlds—one a liberal family that lets the kids be who they are, and one from a ultra-conservative, fundamentalist Christian household with a tyrant for a father—but still manage to connect. The story is about how one of the Christian girls really learns to think for herself, with quiet support from the other teen.

Other Fiction

  • Happy Place by Emily Henry
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • Yellowface by R. F. Kuang

Happy Place is basically an upmarket romance, but it’s really good. Everyone I know who’s read it loved it. I’ve enjoyed every book of Henry’s that I’ve read.

The other two both deal with race in ways that are uncomfortable for a white person, but also seem totally real. Such a Fun Age is about a Black girl who’s recently graduated from college and is working as a nanny for a wealthy white family. I loved this character, who’s watching her friends get “real” jobs while she feels stuck in this non-career job. But then she’s the victim of a racist incident, and the white woman she nannies for goes bonkers trying to be the right kind of white ally, completely failing to actually see her own real privilege. I love how everything resolves.

Yellowface is about a white woman who steals an Asian writer’s manuscript. The book is all about how she justifies every crazy thing she does after by deluding herself, and it’s fascinating to see what she does. There are elements that I found a tiny bit far-fetched (mostly with how the publishing industry would deal with her, especially in the beginning), but the overall story is great, even though it also is uncomfortable to read as a white person. But I like that challenge.


  • The Hidden Language of Cats by Sarah Brown
  • Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin
  • Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years by Geoffrey Nunberg
  • Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries by Kim MacQuarrie

These are a little more self-explanatory because of the titles, but you probably know how into cats I am, so the first one makes sense. I read another one about cats that was also good. I’m sure I’ll read more in the future.

Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle just charmed me. I’m a big fan of Darwin in general, and this was his account of the 5-year voyage he took in his early twenties, and his passion for nature was just adorable.

The book about assholism was interesting both because of his exploration of differences between assholes and other types of unpleasant people (and his analysis of specific people) and because of his info about the linguistics related to the term. (I love linguistics, especially sociolinguistics.)

I read the last book because I was going to South America in November, and I read several books related to the continent (it’s also why I read the Darwin book when I did). But this book was so cool, full of crazy stories about interesting major and minor incidents in South America, mostly in the Andes.

Next Year

I’m looking forward to seeing what I’ll read next year.

June 2023 Update

The last few weeks have been good for me as both a writer and a reader.


I sent my final draft of Uglier to my line editor. She won’t start working on it for a couple weeks, but I’m still on track to release it August 1.

A Reading Slump

This of course makes me happy, but one other things has happened that makes me even happier: my reading slump seems to have ended. For those of you who know me at all, you know I’ve always been a big reader. Easily 100 books a year, basically two books a week. I’ve always been a mostly fiction reader, but usually I’m reading a couple of other nonfiction books, just more slowly. But mid-2021, I fell into a reading slump. It was awful—I’d want to read, but then I’d read about 10 pages, and feel overwhelmed. So I did still read, but not every night and obviously not very much at a time. It’s just terrible to not be able to enjoy something you know you should enjoy.

The End of a Reading Slump

But lately, I’ve started tracking what I am reading as part of my efforts to find content for BookTok, and after reading This Poison Heart and This Wicked Fate a few weeks back, my reading has picked up again. I am reading a lot of books at once, and some I’m just reading slowly and I’ll finish eventually. But as a point of reference, last week I read from 16 books and finished 6 and the week before, I read from 14 and finished 4. To be fair, some of the books I’m reading are short Spanish beginner readers, but still. Some of them were full-length books.

A Chart!

As you might have just gathered, if you didn’t already know, I’m a data nerd. I have kept a spreadsheet of all the books I’ve purchased and read since 2011. So I’m going to share a chart I made of my reading over the last ten years.

Although there have been a few months with an unusual number read, it’s pretty obvious that my numbers fell dramatically in 2021 and only really picked up in the last month. The more recent high values have been on the graphic novels I’ve gone on binges with. That’s what happened in October 2022. And then in December, I spent half the month traveling, so I read a lot on the bus. Basically I didn’t consider the slump over—I was getting better, but not all the way there. I was still struggling to enjoy reading. But now, it’s different. I’m only one week into June, so I’m sure I’ll get through a lot.

And Bringing It All Back

So it’s nice to be enjoying reading again. Now I just need to get other people reading my books so they can enjoy reading them.