I’ve always loved end of the year stats posts and wanted more data about what I was reading, so last year, I started tracking my blog stats using a great spreadsheet from Nikki at Fyrefly’s Book Blog. I was (and am) trying to diversify my reading, so to track how I was doing, I added columns for: the author’s nationality, whether the author was a person of color, whether any of the main characters were non-white or LGBT, and whether each book was translated (if I remember correctly; the version of the spreadsheet available at Nikki’s blog is no longer the one I downloaded, so I apologize if I’m stealing credit for some of her stat tracking ideas!). While using those categories last year, I realized just how tricky tracking diversity could be.
First, as Andi at Estella’s Revenge pointed out, you have to define what you mean by diversity. My categories above illustrate my definition. I looked for books with main characters of a different race or sexual orientation from myself or authors of a different race or nationality from myself. However, another point Andi made in that same post really resonated with me, because she highlighted a problem I’d been having: how do you determine an author’s race and nationality? Sometimes this is obvious from their biography, but often appearance and names can be ambiguous and many authors have lived in so many countries, it’s hard to determine what nationality best describes them. While it would be easy to drive yourself crazy trying to figure this out or to simply give up on tracking diversity in your reading, I think it’s important to avoid both of those outcomes. Tracking your reading shouldn’t be so hard that it takes away from your enjoyment of reading, but if you really want to see if you’re increasing the diversity in your reading, you have to have numbers. Here are some of my tips for simply tracking diversity in your reading:
- Like Andi suggested, first figure out what diversity means to you and what kinds of diversity you think are important.
- Check out what other bloggers are doing. Challenges related to diversity, such as some the challenges I’ve joined this year, can provide you with someone else’s definition of diversity to start from.
- Then, figure out metrics that measure each type of diversity.
- Try to find substitutes for metrics that are hard to determine.
Example: I like to read authors of a different nationality than myself. As I mentioned above, actually recording an author’s nationality can be tricky. Instead, this year I’ve switched to tracking only whether each book is translated fiction. Yes, this may lead me to underestimate the diversity of my reading, but it’s an easier metric to track and the underestimation is only likely to encourage me to search harder for diverse books.
- Admit there are some things you just won’t know. Perhaps include an NA (not available) option in most of your categories, for when you just can’t find that information.
- Consider limiting your tracking. For example, you could work on reading more books with LGBT characters this year or this month, then move on to translated fiction or author diversity later.
- Find a convenient tracking system that works for you. The Ultimate Book Blogger plugin ($35) or web sites like goodreads will help you track some stats automatically. You can also use a spreadsheet for more customized tracking. I’ve switched to a template from Leah at Books Speak Volumes this year, because its on Google drive and accessible from anywhere. Much more convenient!
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to define some aspect of diverse reading you’d like to track, find a method of tracking it, and then share what you did in the comments. Be sure to also enter your info in the Rafflecopter giveaway below to be entered in a drawing for either a $10 Amazon gift card or a book costing no more than $10 from The Book Depository.