In 2015, I read a total of 91 books — higher than the goal I set of 75 books read, but 59 books short of the 150 I read last year. I hate to use the word “but” there as I actually feel rather good about this number. I spent a lot of time in 2015 not reading and, instead, concentrated on enjoying some of the other activities I enjoy — traveling to Iceland and Montreal, kayaking the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin, completing a 40-mile cycling event through the city of Boston, etc. I feel like I finally tossed off some of the hyper-competitiveness I’ve felt towards book blogging in the last year, even if this has meant a trade-off in comments and interactions with the community. C’est la vie.
I do still enjoy looking at my stats for the year, however. I tossed my detailed spreadsheet out about two years ago and, instead, relied up GoodReads to do much of the tracking for me. The site isn’t equipped to handle rereads so one book is missing from their yearly wrap-up post for me, but the basic statistics are 91 books and roughly 31,111 pages read. That’s an average of 1.75 books a week, or 95 pages a day. Not bad for someone who barely read at all between September and October and for someone whom 91 of those books were comics/graphic novels.
Books By Genre
Now comes the part my stats-loving, nerdy self enjoys most — charts! Unlike years past, I moved away from a closer 50/50 breakdown with fiction dominating my reading this year. (In 2012, fiction was 46% of my reading. In 2011, it was 58%.) This is first full year I have not been in university, which I’m sure had something to do with the extreme drop in nonfiction. I also did not participate in the Nonfiction November event this year.
I go back and forth on whether or not I’m bother by this shift. I love reading nonfiction, but I also know that I only love it when I am truly and deeply interested in a topic. If the interest is sparked, then I’ll bring home a whole armful of nonfiction books from the library. If not, then I will continue to pick up fiction novels.
Books By Genre
Speaking of the library, living in such close proximity to my local branch means I’m sourcing the majority of the books I read from there. (Another chart at 78%, oddly enough!) With the list price of a single book around $25 dollars, the library has managed to keep around $1,775 in my pocket over 2015.
I stopped soliciting review copies back in 2013 hence the low percentage of my reading coming from that particular source. I would like to bump up the percentage of books that are from my own personal collection. I’ve been indulging far too much at the used book sales over the past year and have run out of shelf space in my apartment as a result. Hopefully, the Triple Dog Dare will help out in that regard.
Books by Format
I’ve developed a love affair with audiobooks in the past year. One of the women in my book club asked me when exactly I listen to audiobooks since I have such a short commute, and I rattled off so many places that I think she was slightly startled. I love heading out to the local cross-country ski track and making laps as I listen to an audiobook, preferably a mystery/crime novel. I’ve gotten so swept up in an audiobook before that I’ve lost track of time out there, and I usually know exactly how long I’ve been exercising.
eBooks continue to comprise such a low percentage of the books I read. I switched out my iPad for a Kindle Paperwhite back in November in the hopes the Kindle will work better with my poor eye health so I will be curious to see if this trend continues in 2016. If so, then I guess I’ll be a Luddite when it comes to eBooks.
Books by Author’s Gender
I continued with my trend of having a roughly 60/40 breakdown in favor of female authors, which always surprises me given how many articles and blog posts appear on my Twitter feed decrying how publishing is a male-dominated sphere. I don’t doubt the validity of that argument; it’s just never been my experience. Not sure if this is because I instinctively gravitate towards female authors or because female authors tend to write about the topics I’m interested in, but I have no plans to try to reform this split into a more even 50/50 distribution.
One chart missing from this post that has been generating a lot of buzz in the book blogging and the publishing community, particularly in the last month, is a breakdown of my reading by author’s race. Even when I kept a more detailed spreadsheet, author’s race or ethnic identity was not a marker I kept track of.
Instead, I tended to use whether or not the book had been translated into English as a marker for diversity. (In 2015, 12 percent of the books I read were translated — the first time I’ve broken double digits.) I recognize using translations in this way is fraught with it’s own complications. Discovering Icelandic literature may have bumped this percentage up (and encouraged me to visit that beautiful country), but it certainly did not increase the number of authors of color whose books I enjoyed in 2015. I can’t comment on exactly how many books I read by POC/BAME/LGBT authors but, looking over the list of books I read in 2015, there are only five I immediately recognize as being written by a person of color.
Looking Forward to 2016
So what does all this mean for 2016? Well, for starters, I would like to make a sizable dent in the number of books I own both in print and on my Kindle as well as continue to make progress on my Classics Club list. I’ve also started following #ReadDiverse2016 on Twitter for suggestions and encouragement on increasing the diversity of my reading, and plan on keeping track of the number of books I read that are written by POC/BAME authors so I can be even more introspective on this issue in the publishing industry going forward. Overall, though, I want to keep the healthy balance between books/blogging and the rest of the activities I love that I stumbled upon in 2015. So I’ve set a goal of 75 books for this year on GoodReads and hope I don’t exceed it (too much) in 2016. Looking back, the 217 books I read in 2009 should be an anomaly that I don’t aim for ever again.