Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reflecting on 2016 in Books: Part One--Stats, Estimates, Observations

This is going to have to be another two-parter.  Today I'll go over my stats and what-not, then the next part will be about specific titles--best of, and all that.

By the Numbers

According to Goodreads, and with 3 1/2 days left in 2016, I have read 229 books.

Which is slightly ridiculous, as I lowered my reading goal from 200 to 175 this year, and in no way was attempting to beat my previous records.

All the usual caveats apply--I read a LOT of YA, which goes much faster than Serious Literary Fiction.  I also read a fair number of graphic novels and picture books this year.

A slightly more meaningful statistic is that I read 59,284 pages, which is 3,185 more than last year.  So even with all my caveat-ing, I guess I did read more this year.

It was probably the two Dewey's 24 hour Read-a-Thons, now that I think about it.

Every time I click on Goodread's "Your Year in Books" feature, they give me a different shortest book.  Basically, a 32 page picture book is the smallest type of book I read this year.  Take your pick which one represents that.  For longest book, it says Illuminae, which also kind of seems like cheating to me.  Average book length is 260 pages.

The Girl on the Train is the most popular book I read this year--me and over a million others read it in 2016.  The least popular book is either a teaching book (Lit Circles in the Multicultural Classroom) or a library sciences book (Where Do I Start? School Library Handbook), both of which have been read by four other Goodreads users.  I'm curious about which fiction book I read that was least popular, but not curious enough to do the research myself.

My average rating is 3.6.  The highest average rated book I read was Crooked Kingdom, with a combined 4.69 rating.  I gave 21 5 star ratings, although looking back, there are a few I could see bumping down to 4 stars, and there are some 4 stars that stand out in my memory as being amazing, possibly deserving 4 stars.  Another way of putting that is the books that come to mind BEFORE I check Goodreads as being the best of the year don't line up perfectly with my 5 star ratings.

THIS.  This is delightful.  What this means is that out of all the books I read this year, only a measly dozen failed to interest and entertain me.  I like my 3 star books, and I don't consider that a negative rating.  With just over half of my books getting 4 stars, with 10% being 5 star reads, I feel like I'm doing a great job and finding and selecting my books.  

I read 20 of the books I tracked aloud, either to my children or to my classes.  There are plenty more picture books I didn't track the reading of, especially leading up to Christmas, when we read a few dozen holiday books together every year.

61% of my books had female authors, 39% had male authors.  Three were either anthologies or co-written by both.

Other data About the Authors:

Clearly I need to do more work on this. I have THOUGHTS about this for next year.  Stay tuned.

I'm not sure why I track this.  I don't feel strongly about reading or not reading debuts.

"Other" includes more Canadians than I would have thought--14.  One from China, two from Australia, one from France, two from Ireland, one from Mexico, one from Puerto Rico, and one from The Netherlands.  Some are no longer living in those places, but I went with "born and raised" as my criteria.

Another one I'm not sure I'll continue to track, especially as it seems pretty well balanced.

Problematic Data Regarding Diversity

Okay, these statistics are all messed up.  First of all, the percentages are just in reference to the books that had something in this category.  So 48.5% of the books with diverse major characters had POC leads, not 48.5% of all the books I read.  See the problem here?  Also, there were plenty of books that included multiple types of diversity, so the same book got counted more than once.  Also, I clearly struggled with "mental illness" vs. "physical and mental difference."  Not to mention poverty, which is a pretty subjective category, and "religion" which I marked when characters actively practiced non-Christiam religions, but also if they were fundamentalist Christians, since that is so different from how I was raised.  And what the heck is "other"?

Then there's the whole thing that just because a book includes a "diverse" character doesn't mean that the representation is accurate, or isn't offensive and damaging.  Which is why I also try to track author's backgrounds, but again, sometimes POC authors write about rich white kids, but then some straight female author writes the best ever book about gay see my problem here?  But I also don't want to go, "Oh well, it's all too complicated to track," because I KNOW that's the quickest way to end up reading a bunch of books by and about straight, white, healthy Americans.

Feel free to offer suggestions on this one, folks.  I'm struggling.

Book Specific Data

Well, THERE'S a surprise!  (sarcasm font)  Just over half of what I read was YA.   I'm also noticing that these numbers don't add up to the grand total Goodreads claims, but I can assume that it's because I didn't always track picture books, given that "diversity of main characters" has a different meaning when you're talking about animals and robots.  

This suffers from a bit of wonkiness too, as some of these categories are not mutually exclusive, but I just marked one for each book.  Also, why is ebook on there twice? 

 *Shakes head at self's dismal attempt to look organized and factual*

I'm taking this to mean I listened to six books and read either 4 or 8 online (probably 8).  I read two short story collections, 43 graphic novels, and six books that weren't graphic novels, but had more pictures than most books.  But actual picture books I called "traditional print" because, well, that's what a picture book is.  

I still can't get over how many contemporaries I read.  Or "realistic fiction" as we English teachers call it.  Fantasy and mystery have always been my top faves, with historical fiction and sci fi taking up a smaller but still significant portion of what I enjoy reading.  

This says it all.  I don't really like writing full, official reviews.  I either jot some thoughts down on Goodreads for my own reflection and memory, or I don't review at all.

Last year I looked at my data and thought that I should read more #ownvoices works and more serious, adult literature.  That's actually why I lowered my GR goal.  But while I still want do a better job at focusing on #ownvoices and diverse characters, I think I need to accept that this is not the season in my life for wrestling with weighty tomes.  I just don't have the mental energy.  Reading is my escape and refuge, and I will not make it into yet another thing I have to do.  I'll get back to the serious stuff when the kids are grown.  Another upcoming post will be about the reading goals I DO have for this year though.

And there you have it.  It kind of KILLS me to do this BEFORE the year is actually over, but I know that a few more books will not affect any of the overall trends shown here.


  1. I love these posts! I also obsessively track my reading statistics, and I like to see how they compare to other people’s. I will make an analysis post eventually. I haven’t done it yet because I’m lazy, and making all those graphs takes forever.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. I set up a google form and tracked everything through it, so it made the graphs automatically. I can send you a copy of it if you want to try something like that.

  2. It is always interesting to look at the trends in one's reading. You are definitely tracking a lot of areas! I, too, struggle with tracking diverse books and what is considered a diverse books. I'll be curious what people respond about that and what thoughts you have about tracking that next year.

  3. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has a hard time crunching the numbers before the year is actually over---as if I'm going to change something huge in the last day or two. You track a LOT of different things for your books. I might have to check out that Google spreadsheet that you use...

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. I'm really interested in checking out your Google spreadsheet, but I can't seem to find it anywhere. I could swear you had a link to it in one of your posts, but I can't seem to track it down now. Can you send me the link? Thanks!!!

    2. It's in the post called "Gearing up for 2017"--first post in January. I'm excited you are going to check it out!

  4. I can't believe you read that many books in one year! That's incredible. I beat my Goodreads challenge in 2016, but my goal was only 100 books. Ha ha!

  5. Quote:
    "But while I still want do a better job at focusing on #ownvoices and diverse characters, I think I need to accept that this is not the season in my life for wrestling with weighty tomes. I just don't have the mental energy. Reading is my escape and refuge, and I will not make it into yet another thing I have to do."
    Same here! Also, like you, I don't consider 3 stars a negative rating, whether it comes from me or anybody else (unless they specifically say that any book under 4 stars is kind of "meh" for them).

  6. 229 books! That is amazing! I love the colorful pie charts and bar graphs. I decided to set a Goodreads challenge for the first time in 2017. I hope I don't disappoint myself.


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