For the Love of Reading and Data

I’ve had my Goodreads account for over 14 years (holy smokes), although I took a long break for about 7 years from updating it. Recently, heard my dad and my sister talk about their Goodreads accounts and got a little jealous so I got back into my own account and have now been spending all my “in-between time” (that is, time between working on projects) updating my reading lists and adding the books I’ve been keeping track of on Google Docs.

It goes without saying, I love reading. Reading is an important element of inspiration in my artwork. Throughout my life, reading has inspired new ideas, and especially images in my imagination that I have worked into paintings and illustrations. In the past, I’ve created works for shows depicting scenes from Fairy Tales, such as my original illustration “She Yawned Tremendously,” created for Nordic Northwest to depict a scene from The Witch and the Stone Boat in their 2022 exhibit “Folktales Reimagined.”

She Yawned Tremendously (2022), watercolor, gouache, ink

At the time of this original writing (Nov. 2023), I am currently working on a small series of illustrations for Salem Reads based on the novel by Zoraida Cordóva, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina.

Inspiration from reading is vital to my own creative process as well as to my personhood, access to ideas and liberatory philosopy. So I read a lot and I love to read a lot. I read books in my hand, I read on my phone, I listen to audiobooks, I read graphic novels, comix and manga.

And I’ve read enough to know that I couldn’t possibly say anything about my love of reading that hasn’t already been said, and also better said than I could. So here are a few quotes from authors I’ve adored:

“We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel… is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”

– Ursula K. Le Guin

“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”

– Carl Sagan

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

– Joan Didion, The White Album

“An unfinished book, left unattended, turns feral, and she would need all her focus, will and ruthless determination to tame it again.”

– Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being

Despite being absent from Goodreads for 7 years, I have been practically compulsive in my reading goals and habits. I don’t remember when I first thought this thought, but the thought did come to me that my life is finite and within it all experiences are finite as well. There will be a finite number of hours I will sleep, pictures I will draw, people I will talk to, and *gasp* a finite number of books I will read. From this, I have cultivated the drive to read as many books as I can, and to also give up on reading books that do nothing to inspire or challenge or titillate or educate me. Since 2021, I have kept notes on my reading to understand my habits and drive with an analytical perspective.

As well as a love of books, I also harbor a deep fascination with spreadsheets and data. Last year, I turned my reading data into graphs so I could see what I’m reading and how I could challenge my reading habits more. I’ve kept that up this year as well. Also, I keep increasing my reading goal each year, from 36 in 2021, to 50 in 2022 and 60 in 2023. In 2024, I’m increasing that again to 100, which is a bonkers number of books, but if I can find a way to be listening and reading nearly all the time, I bet I can do it.

Here’s my list of books from recent years! It’s not particularly informative, other than being a list of books that I have read and documented. If you want to know more about these titles, check your library or, well, there’s always Goodreads 🙂

Books I’ve Read in 2021

2022 Reading data

2023 Reading data (so far)