Ben Scofield

Ben Scofield

… rarely updated

31 Jan 2018

My January in reading and podcasts

I had so much fun doing my Reading and Podcast years in review for 2017 that I’ve decided to do more frequent look-backs this year. I don’t know that I’ll post them every month, but I thought I’d kick it off with a post even if it’s mostly for me later on.


Starting with reading: I finished 14 books in January, split evenly between fiction and non-fiction. Given that my “official” goal for the year is 52 books, I’m doing pretty well on that front.

More importantly, and the rationale behind tracking things as I go instead of just doing it all at the end of the year: I’m still trying to increase the number of works I read from underrepresented authors. This is more of a mixed bag — let’s break it down by fiction and non.

Of the seven novels I read:

  • six were by women,
  • two were (identifiably) by LGBT+ authors, and
  • one was by a person of color

I’m definitely looking to increase my POC-authored works for February and beyond, and I’ll be looking for more novels by LGBT+ authors, as well.

On the non-fiction side, of the seven works I read:

  • two were authored by people of color,
  • two were by women, and
  • one was by an LGBT+ author

This is a bit more depressing, and when I realized the whiteness and maleness of what I’d been reading in mid-January I made an effort to prioritize more diverse voices. I’m getting the feeling that my reading here will have to be a lot more intentional than it will have to be on the fiction side, though. (Which makes me wonder: are URM authors noticeably more rare on the non-fic side, and what are the diversity numbers for the genres I read, specifically?)

Genre-wise, science fiction dominated my fiction reading — I’m hoping to branch out a bit more later in the year, but … we’ll see how that goes, I guess. Non-fiction was spread much more evenly, but given my to-be-read stack I can see Expertise (which I think of as a specific mix of psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science) taking up an even bigger chunk of the pie in the months ahead.

Genre breakdown for non-fiction

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the spread in my reading. I’d like to find more LGBT+ authors, and more POC, and continue reading female (and non-binary) voices, and I’d like to spread my fiction a little further beyond science fiction, but I think this is a good start on the year.

Oh, and my favorite books so far: Winter Tide, by Ruthanna Emrys, and Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Irin Carmon.


So, thank goodness for faster-than-1x listening. In January, I heard 166 hours of audio content across 55 different shows. I’ve been able to keep pretty close to a steady state / podcast inbox zero, miraculously, as well.

Of those 55 shows, 11 have at least one host of color, 23 have a female or non-binary host, and 14 have an LGBT+ host — so 20%, 41%, and 25%, respectively. (If you look at time-listened, those percentages change to 18%, 39%, and 36%)

My most-liked genres (by number of shows; I haven’t run the numbers for time listened) are: culture (16.4% of shows), politics (12.7%), philosophy (10.9%), actual-play (people playing RPGs, 9.1%), and RPG (people talking about RPGs and gaming, 7.3%)

Genre breakdown for podcasts

I listen to a lot of podcasts — probably too many. I’ve been a little better about dropping episodes here and there, and I’m not feeling at all overwhelmed by the volume, so I don’t know that I need to change anything about this imminently, but it’s definitely something I’m keeping an eye on.

I do have some favorites, though: I’ve really been enjoying Get Hype! (there’s nothing better than hearing people talk about things they’re excited about), and I finally got around to listening to — and binging — the first season of Uncivil, which was great.