Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2019 Reading by the Numbers

This year, I used the Book Riot 2019 Reading Log to track my reading in addition to using Goodreads. The built in charts and graphs allowed me to see at a glance data that used to take me hours to compile in previous years. Huzzah! The Book Riot 2020 Reading Log is available now and I highly recommend it - you can just use the parts that work for you. For instance, I don't log books I DNF, or at least I didn't in 2019, but might do that this year as an experiment. (This is not a paid advertisement, by the way, just a tool that works for me!)

Overall, I read 305 books that I logged in 2019. I read another set of books for my duties as a member of the Over the Rainbow Booklist Committee but since I don't publicly rate those, I didn't find it useful to include them in the log if I planned to share it, which you know I did.

Some celebrities think end of year booklists are bullshit, but I persist. Sharing what I read is the greatest joy in my life, but I also have goals that I like to see coming to fruition through carefully kept data. (Those who know Gallup strengths, and know mine, would not be shocked.)

So the first piece of data is pretty simple, fiction vs. non-fiction. I'm not surprised that fiction is almost 80% but my book club and some reading challenges keep me dipping into non-fiction.

The format is at just a little over 50% digital (and by digital, Book Riot means eBook; my audiobook listening is exclusively digital as well, but I only used "audio" for them.) I think the number of eBooks I read has a lot to do with the number of ARCs I read, since most of them are digital. I'm actually pleased that I read 10% audio, as I wouldn't have thought it was that high.

Age is not so surprising at 3% YA, one title total that is "middle grade," because I mostly read books for adults.
I read a lot of ARCs. A lot! This 50%ish number includes eBooks and physical books. But I also am using my libraries heavily - my academic library where I work, the statewide academic library consortium, interlibrary loan when I need something outside the state, and my public library system. The library number also includes all digital books I get through library subscriptions, largely Hoopla but also Libby, RB Digital, and the occasional academic eBook title.

Next is the gender of the author. The last few years I'd read about 50/50 male/female with a sprinkling of multi-author or non-binary authors. Last year female dominated male. This year that trend continues, with a higher number of non-binary authors.
More about the author - whether or not they are a Person of Color. Why does this matter? I suppose I want to make sure I'm not just reading white people. I don't do well in tracking the #ownvoices column of this spreadsheet so I won't include it, but they are also interested in knowing if a book containing a person from a specific community is written by an author also in that community. I wasn't sure if I should only include it for race and ethnicity or also sexuality, etc., so I found it more straightforward to look at these numbers for now. Some of what helps my number in this category is the reading I do for my Around the World challenge, and Women in Translation Month.
There is also an option to track LGBTQ+ authors. I definitely have a greater awareness of works in this category because of my committee role, but sometimes feel awkward going in search of this information if I don't know it already. It is absolutely possible that I missed some queer authors because I didn't think to check, or they do not include that information in their biographies.

Just like the author matters, the characters matter too. Full disclosure: I edited the labels of the next two graphs, because the spreadsheet asks to select if the main character is a person of color or a queer character, so I did not include gay best friends or a token character on the sidelines. (The graphs originally made it look like it was differentiating between books having any characters of color or queer characters, and I didn't look at it that way.) We want centrality, we want focus.
I've never tracked either of these categories before so I will just list them here for comparison with next year. I definitely believe in reading diverse books.

So what kinds of books am I reading? First we can look at form. With 80% fiction it's no surprise that I'm almost 60% novel but how about 8.5% poetry? Awesome.

When it comes to genre, general/contemporary is king (I put most poetry in this category too.) A few years ago, I was running 18-24% science fiction and fantasy so that number is lower, but I'm not surprised by it. I'm pleased by almost 12% memoir as it is one of my favorite forms, and probably my memoir focus in November is largely to blame. This year I read more romance than I ever have before, and it shows!
A few numbers I don't really need graphs to show - I read 14% books in translation and give most books 4 stars.

Page number wise, I'm guilty, I will read four 200-300 page books before I'll tackle the 400+ page book. I wish I could get past this feeling! That said I did read a few mighty tomes this year, just not a lot in comparison.
And these monthly numbers are a bit deceiving. I may have read more in April, but that's total number of books, not pages. And April being poetry month, well, I might have read a lot of short ones.
I'm not sure how accurate these final figures will be, as I'm often reading multiple books at a time and I'm not sure how the data can account for that, but for comparative purposes:

Average days per book5.931147541
Average pages per day196.28
Average books per month25.50
Average hours per day0:43:58

So it's working well to track this information. Which categories do you think I should track that I haven't? What do you track, and how?

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