My 2018 Reading Life in Numbers

Okay, so I know I said I was back a few months ago, and then that kind of became a non-starter. This time I am (hopefully) really back! It’s a new year, I feel like I’ve gotten a handle on the new job, & life is finally settled down. I really miss blogging & all of you, so I’m glad to jump start 2019 with a post about my quantitative reading life in 2018.

I’m a HUGE data nerd & so a few years ago, I was super excited to find an online reading spreadsheet I could download & use to track my reading. Not only does it track basics like page numbers & books completed, I use it to track the number of authors of color I read, the number of queer authors I read, how much I read in translation, etc. The spreadsheet I use (with some tweaks I make myself) is the Read Harder spreadsheet. 2019’s can be found here. It’s a really great tool & it allows me to make meaningful reading goals and then track them from year to year. This year I made charts!!! So, without further ado, here are my 2018 charts, with some commentary & comps to 2017. All charts are based on the total number of books I read in 2018 which was 188 (!).

Author Stats

First up, I tracked the gender of every author I read. I read 1 non-binary author this year, but that is obviously an area, where I have room for growth. My goal is usually to read more women than men, and I succeeded this year. In 2017, I read 74% women, 36% men, and 0% non-binary authors, so general totals were fairly similar.

In addition to author gender, I also tracked whether authors or artists of graphinc novels were people of color. As you can see, 41% of my books were authored by POCs. In 2017, only 21% of authors/artists I read were POCs. This was a goal for improvement for me this year, so I’m happy to see that I did increase my percentage quite a bit. I’m aiming to at least maintain, but potentially increase that percentage in 2019.

The last author characteristic I tracked was percentage of publicly queer authors vs. non-publicly queer authors. A major goal of mine this year was to increase reading from queer authors. While I still overwhelmingly read non-queer authors, the percentage of my reading from queer authors in 2017 was 6%, so I made an 8% increase. I’m continuing to work on this goal in 2019 as well.

Character Stats

I wanted to look at these two charts at the same time, because there are a few things I find interesting. In 2017, 28% of my reading featured POC protagonists & 16% featured queer protagonists. While my reading has grown in both areas, I’m struck by how different my 25% of books with queer characters is from my 14% of books with queer authors, which means I may have some ground to gain in reading #ownvoices queer literature. However, my percentages of POC authors & POC characters is fairly on par with one another.

The above discussion also leads into this chart, where you can see that about 34% of my reading was #OwnVoices, which is an increase from 27% in 2017, but a number I would like to grow further.

Book Stats

I felt like I was reading a lot more of what I owned this year, but I was surprised to find only about 26% of my reading came from books I owned (which was still about 48-49 books, so not too shabby…but I’m slowly chipping away at the many books I own that I haven’t read!). This was my first year tracking this metric, so I’m not sure if there was improvement, but my major goal this year is to read what I have before buying new books. I think I may publish a post on the methods I’m using to motivate myself on that one, so watch for that!

In 2017, I read 61% print, 30% digital, and 9% audio, so that held pretty much steady this year.

This is another metric I tracked for the first time in 2018. It was interesting to see where my spikes in reading volume were. January is Bout of Books & 24 in 48, so I think that accounts for that spike. April is Dewey’s Readathon, so that also makes sense. In July, I had just moved, I was off work, and there were also a few readathons (but 26 is crazy!). As school started, I notice that my reading pretty much balanced out, but that makes sense. I’m excited to see what 2019 brings!

I always read more fiction than non-fiction so that was not surprising to me. I was, however, trying to read more non-fiction than in 2017, and I did not quite succeed. In 2017, I read 13% nonfiction, and this year was about steady with that. Maybe I’ll finally try Nonfiction November this year! In genres, I wasn’t surprised to see that I mainly read science fiction & fantasy (and I suspect that’s higher on the fantasy end). It was really fun to see this pretty picture though! I was happy that I had read at least something in every genre because I’ve been working on giving other genres a shot.

Reflection

So, the point of this post is to show my reading life and goals in a more straightforward fashion. As a straight white cis woman, it’s not my intent to pat my own back for reading more diversely, but rather to see that my goals of diversifying my reading are working, and to showcase areas in which I know I need to improve. I’m sharing this more out of a sense of accountability and to show why I have my reading goals, than to celebrate my own improvements.

For me, tracking my reading like this has really opened me up to new reading experiences and goals. I like the accountability of hard numbers, and I like that it helps me make my reading more intentional. I frequently check my results throughout the year, to see if I’m improving and/or on track to meet my goals. As a mood reader, it also sometimes helps me be more intentional about my choices between books and authors. If this is a practice that appeals to you, I’d love for you to let me know about it in the comments, or let me know how you track your reading & set your own reading goals! Happy 2019, everyone! Here’s to a great year of intentional reading!

 

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