Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Sucked, But The Books Were Good (Pies, Bars, and other Charts to Prove It)


It's time for the annual statistical rehashing of my reading life. I already shared some of my favorites (and  since then I've also read and loved Grown, Dancing at the Pity Party, Darius the Great Deserves Better and Red Hood). To avoid any further last minute additions, I'm taking a page from Deb's book (ha!) over at Readerbuzz. She starts several books at the end of December and begins her year by finishing them all, setting up her new year. I am doing the same so that I don't have to skew any of my 2020 statistics. Besides the three teaching books that have been lingering on my "currently reading" shelf since summer, I have seven books I've started in the last week that I will wrap up during the first week of the new year.

Many of my statistics remain essentially the same from year to year, at least in the five years I've been doing this. HOWEVER, 2020 had one significant change I'm proud of. 

I use a Google Form to track much of my reading, but of course Goodreads has some nice visuals as well.

I no longer set "number of books" type goals for myself, Well, I set a fairly low (for me) goal of 100 per year, just because yes, it's nice when Goodreads congratulates you. But I don't need to focus on a specific number. 

I guess that means I should start logging picture books again! I stopped doing that a few years ago when I was trying to read 200 books per year. But if I'm not worrying about numbers of titles, I can add picture books guilt free. I still maintain that Deathless Divide should have been two books.

No major surprises here. A modern classic, and the second book in a little-known series by a local author.

More non-surprising data. I round up on Goodreads, and I am good at picking books I like, so my average rating is quite high. And Fighting Words is one of the best books I've read, hands down. Others agree. 

On to my personal record keeping! 

My own ratings skew a bit lower, since use half stars and am less forgiving in general. Still, pretty high overall!

This is one area where blogging has changed my reading habits drastically. 70% of what I'm reading is from the past three years. I know that in my pre-blogging life, that would not have been the case. I just picked up whatever caught my eye at the library, most of which was decidedly more backlist than that.

And while the public library is still my #1 source of reading material, my classroom library is clearly right up there too. These don't add up to 100% because if I buy a book for my classroom BUT I read it first myself, I put it in both "bought" and "classroom library." Next year I'm going to just pick one.

Another statistic that has changed during the life of this blog, although for a different reason. While I've always enjoyed YA fiction, becoming a reading/Language Arts teacher has pushed me to focus much more on YA and MG literature than anything else. I was telling my sister the other day that when I retire, I plan to re-read old favorites and dive into adult fiction, but for now, I feel such strong obligation to keep up on what's current for my students that I don't have time. 

No big surprises here either. I read a tiny bit more graphic novels this year (probably due to my Joe Hill phase) and read a few more ebooks as compared to print books, but that blue part of the pie is still a lot bigger than everything else. I like books, what can I say?

If you add together all the speculative fiction, you see that contemporary is actually NOT my prominent category. Maybe in 2021 I'll just group them that way; I don't really care if I'm reading sci fi versus urban fantasy, etc. 

I like how "horror" and "horror!" became two categories, because I didn't have it on my list and they were what I wrote in as "other." I guess those two with the ! were more horrifying to me. Looks like "horror" needs its own box to check off. 


Here's the one where I actually achieved some change. Yes, "white" is still the largest category, but instead of being 75-80% of the authors I read, which it's been consistently as long as I've been tracking it, it's dropped to 60%. In June, as the protests around Breonna Taylor's murder and George Floyd's murder broke forth, I decided to try to read two books by a person of color for every book I read by a white author. I kept that up for the summer, and while it's no longer a formal challenge to myself, it's something I do keep in mind. Given that I didn't push myself to do this until that far into the year, I feel good about the results. I definitely noticed that the more books I read by IPBOC authors, the easier it became to keep doing so. Instead of looking for books to fit the challenge and feeling like I was being boxed into them (which is my struggle with EVERY challenge--looking at you Classics Club list I keep ignoring), I was instead finding more and more books I wanted to read that fit my mood at any given moment. I hope to continue with this in the upcoming year, and I've created more specific categories in my Google Form to help track that.

I realize there are plenty of other identities that authors have and other #ownvoices categories I can look for, but as a white American, this is the one I need to focus on. Also, there is more intersectionality in these books than there used to be. Publishing is still super white and still features people saying things like "Pick a struggle" or "Why do we need Angie Thomas if we have Jason Reynolds?" but for all that, I've read books this year about gay Persians, Muslims with OCD, nonbinary Black Deaf people and more.

I love books. I love reading my way to new understandings and new experiences. I love the escape, and I love the coming home. I wish all of us a better 2021, but I know that whatever happens, the books will be good.

My niece's holiday card.


  1. I love seeing bloggers' reading statistics. I found myself reading more contemporary romance and YA fiction in 2020, probably because I wanted quick and satisfying reads during the pandemic.

  2. Congrats on reading 144 books! I included picture books in my Goodreads challenge this year. I never used to, but now I spend a lot of time reading to baby Brooklyn instead of reading to myself, so my reading stats would be depressing if I left them out.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  3. What a great reading year in so many ways! Here's to another great year of diverse reading in 2021!

  4. I feel the same way about you when it comes to your ratings - I am good at picking books I would like. I also round up on GR unless I can really pinpoint an issue I have with the book. Looks like you had a very successful reading year.

  5. I didn't track my stats as much this year and seeing yours I wish had tracked publication year more but I should be able to get that info from Goodreads. Happy New Year!

  6. All these charts and graphs make me happy! I always look forward to analyzing my books at the end of year and reading everyone else's analysis as well!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  7. I started one of those Google forms last year, but just didn't keep up with it. I wish I had, because I love all the charts and graphs! Like you, I round up, usually on sites that I can't do half stars. Once in awhile, I'll do the opposite, like only 4 stars on Goodreads, but 4.5 on my blog. Same with pub year for me, I am so much reading new books for reviews for authors and blog tours that I don't get a lot of older books read anymore. I need to figure out how to use what analyzing tools my Ultimate Book Blogger has on Wordpress since I'm paying for that. LOL.
    Lisa Loves Literature

  8. I love looking at your stats and charts about your book year! I need to start analyzing a little more. My real reading goals this year was to keep reading more new books (less rereading) and more diversely.

  9. Yes to charts and graphs! I noticed that in 2020 I read more books by non-white authors than ever and it wasn't always done on purpose--the books were just too exciting to not read. One of my favorites was Clap When You Land (YA) and for middle grade From the Desk of Zoe Washington. I'm trying to learn how to write picture books and have even sent a manuscript on submission, so if I read a picture book that I enjoy, I always post reviews on Goodreads and Amazon for the author--picture books need the love on both sites.

  10. Wow, these stats and graphs are so interesting! Analyzing your books at the end of the year sounds like a great idea.


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