2017 Reading Stats

January 11, 2018 Uncategorized 17

I’ve finally had the time to put together my stats from last year! I enjoyed plotting them and am excited to share them with you.

The Books

I knew I read more library books this year, but I was surprised to see that fully half my books came from the library. I did a lot of putting books on hold as soon as I wanted to read them and once I had books, I felt on deadline to pick them!

I’m not surprised to see I read few ebooks and about an even number of hardcovers and paperbacks. I don’t mind reading ebooks, but I do prefer a physical book and I don’t care if I get paperback or hardcover. Plus for library holds I find it easier to get physical books and rarely pay attention to whether they’re paperbacks or not.

Only a third of my books read this year were an author’s debut work and only a third of these were published in 2017. I’m curious if most books published or perhaps most books really advertised by publishers are not debuts, because I certainly don’t avoid debuts intentionally.

I actually read 48% nonfiction this year! I was very surprised by that since I only read 31% nonfiction last time I did lots of stats in 2014. I could have told you I read the most history and science nonfiction, but I think of literary fiction and historical fiction as my favorite fiction, despite my empirical preference for sci-fi and contemporary!

I read slightly less YA then in previous years, but I’m not surprised to see it makes up so little of my reading this year.

I’m also unsurprised by my preference for all things new and shiny. I’m going to try to read more backlist books this year, but I do find it hard when I can so easily put exciting new books on hold at the library!

The Authors

If I had a goal for author gender, I’d aim for at least 50% books written by women. As I’ve found year after year, however, I don’t have to pay attention to author gender to achieve that. I really like reading about women in history and that alone tends to steer me towards female authors.

I read slightly closer to even numbers of books by men and women when reading nonfiction. That surprised me, because I did think my preference for nonfiction about women might make the imbalance greater in my nonfiction reading.

Although the vast majority of my books are by American authors, I’m still quite pleased with the number of different countries the authors I read this year call home. Obviously, I could only do my best with the information available online to assign an author a nationality – ditto gender and other demographics.

Continuing my trend of reaching for shiny, new books, the vast majority of authors I read were new to me this year. I’m terrible at making a point of getting to the backlists of authors I love. I’m hoping to do a little more of that this year, but I do like that I’m always discovering new authors.

The Ratings

I’ve always known I’m a fairly generous rater and I like to think it reflects my ability to choose books I’ll love and not to my lack of discernment. I am always tempted to add a more exclusive category beyond five stars or to try to hand out less of them so I have some way to denote my absolute favorites.

Just out of curiosity, I checked and can tell you that I don’t rate significantly differently across author gender; debut vs subsequent works; or fiction vs nonfiction. I may rate indie authors slightly better then others, but I’ve not read enough indie books to say. My ratings aren’t significantly different across publishers or imprints either, but there are so many of each, my sample sizes are pretty small.

The Publishers

In fact, only 6% of the books I read this year are by indie authors. I don’t feel strongly motivated to seek out indie authors and I think you’d have to in order to read more of them.

I suspect my publisher selection mostly reflects the size of these publishing houses. Seems reasonable! I’m not even going to show imprint data, because there are so many of them, I can’t really draw any conclusions there.

The Demographics

I was pleasantly surprised this year to see that approximately 20% of the books I’ve read this year are by and/or feature a main character who is a person of color. (I’ve been a little lazy this year about distinguishing author and character demographics, but that was because in the vast majority of cases, they were the same.) Personally, I want to read books by people who are demographically different from me to gain different perspectives. I also believe that, given a level playing field, author demographics would match population demographics and I like to do my best to make that the case in my reading. According to wikipedia, 30% of people in the US identify as non-white, so I still have a little way to go to get my reading to reflect that.

I’m reasonably happy with the number of books I’ve read that are by and/or feature a main character who identifies as LGBT+. It seems like 10% is about the highest estimate of the percent of the population that identifies as LGBT+, so that’s generally what I’d like my reading to reflect.

Conclusions

I didn’t find anything too surprising here, except perhaps my increased use of the library. I’m generally happy with how diversely I’m reading in terms of both author/character demographics and genres I wish I rated a little more harshly, because I feel like my 5 stars would mean more, but that’s been true for as long as I’ve been blogging, so probably won’t change. I’m thrilled with how much nonfiction I read last year and I hope to read a similar amount this year. I ‘m sorry to report that I can’t predict how I’d rate a book based on any single stat I tracked this year. I am hoping with more years of data that I can eventually identify publishers and imprints that I particularly love though. We’ll see!

17 Responses to “2017 Reading Stats”

  1. Susie | Novel Visits

    Wow! I’m impressed, Katie. That’s quite the breakdown in your stats. I always find it interesting to analyzed and see trends. Like you, I also struggle with rating books. Sometimes I look back later and wonder what I was thinking!

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Susie! I sometimes have second thoughts about ratings too. The main thing that makes me reconsider it often how well a book stuck with me – have I completely forgotten about it after a month or am I still thinking about.

  2. whatsnonfiction

    This is such an interesting data collection! How revealing to have so many details, that’s really telling. I’m impressed with your categories for analysis too, that makes me so curious about what I read in terms of gender (I also feel like it’s more skewed towards females?) and nationality, LGBT authors, whether it’s a person of color, etc. It gives you a lot to think about. I agree with your thoughts on ratings – I struggle more than I should in that area and it bothers me. Fascinating stuff here!

    • DoingDewey

      This is only the second year I’ve managed to keep up with adding books to my spreadsheet so I could track all these different things, but I’m glad I did and hope I can do it again this year. The author demographics especially, because I don’t think I’d be aware of them otherwise. And with ratings, I was just realizing that part of the problem may be that I hate to give out two stars unless I really hate a book, because I know how much that can put people off. That means that unless I use the five star rating enough, I’m stuck giving almost everything 3 or 4 stars. Definitely something I’m pondering!

  3. Christine

    I don’t like giving 5 stars unless it’s an absolute favorite, but that can get trickier than you would think — as you’ve mentioned here! Just this week I had this happen with an excellent book I didn’t think quite qualified as such a favorite even though I loved it. I ended up giving it 4 Stars on Goodreads and writing in my review that it was really more like a 4.5. We do the best we can 🙂
    Christine recently posted…My New Reading Log (+ Free Printable Reading Logs!)My Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I could see half stars being a nice solution to this problem, but I can’t bring myself to use them. I feel like having more rating choices would make me too indecisive! I like how you use the 4.5 star rating though. I think part of what makes it harder to rate books lower is that I don’t want to use the full five star range. I know if someone gives a book two stars, I’m really put off by that and I think that’s true for other bloggers too, so that means something has to be pretty dreadful for me to give it two stars.
      DoingDewey recently posted…Nonfiction FridayMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I almost gave up on it this year, since I felt like I was getting to it pretty late, but I’m glad I did it. It seemed a shame not to after keeping up with filling out my spreadsheet all year, haha.

  4. Angela

    Looks like you had a great year! I get almost all my books from the library, so I love to see other bloggers using theirs, too. And I would say the majority of authors I read are female, not sure why, though!

    • DoingDewey

      I’m surprised more bloggers don’t use the library as much as I do, although perhaps I’m particularly lucky to live near a larger library system. I don’t often have to wait all that long to get copies of new releases and if I did, I might feel differently about it.
      DoingDewey recently posted…Nonfiction FridayMy Profile

  5. Kim@Time2Read

    I love all you stats. I’d really like to see mine in chart form, but I barely have time for reading anymore, let alone tracking my stats! I do know that I get most of my books from the library, and probably read more ebooks than print!
    Kim@Time2Read recently posted…Comments On Commenting…My Profile

    • DoingDewey

      It took me longer than I expected to put these together, given that I’d done it before! I changed some formats, added some charts, etc though, so that’ll do it. Anyway, I definitely get not having time for it and I think it’s probably true that readers have a good feel for a lot of these even without actually plotting them 🙂
      DoingDewey recently posted…Nonfiction FridayMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Paul! I’ve been updating my spreadsheet every year and (fingers crossed) I think I’m finally planning on leaving it alone this year. I’m at least going to do a better job only adding columns at the end, so I can make my graphs the exact same way next year 🙂

  6. Lorryn Woodward

    This is an amazing post! You had a great year! I love that you used graphs. I’m going to sound like a total noob and ask how you made them because I think I’m going to start using them more.

  7. iliana

    I love seeing reading stats and you even have yours with bar graphs – awesome job! I’ve been keeping track of my books read for quite a few years now and it’s funny because a lot of time there aren’t major changes in my reading but it’s still a nice way to see where our reading has taken us over the year right?
    iliana recently posted…In the StudioMy Profile

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