Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reading stats for 2010

Several years ago, I was at a B&B in Inverness, Scotland. I don't remember how the conversation started, but the owner (a woman in her sixties) explained she had kept a journal listing every book she'd read since she was in high school. She had a whole shelf of the journals, years of book titles and dates. I was crazy jealous.

I started my own reading log three years ago, the summer before I moved to the UK. It's simple record keeping. I jot down the date I finish a book, the title, and the author. If I don't finish a book, or if I'm re-reading the book, I mark it with an asterisk and a short note. Last year, I learned that only 13% of children's books published every year are written by and/or about people of color. So this year I challenged myself to read at least 13 poc books; I recorded them by writing "poc" in the margins. It's not rocket science by a long shot. I probably forget a few books here and there, but I tend to keep the journal on my dining room table so it's hard to forget for long.

And the best part? All those books!

If someone asks for a fantasy recommendation, I can scroll through the titles, see if I read anything good. If someone asks if I've read the most recent PD James, or if I want to check the last time I read a book, all the information is there. Unlike Goodreads (which I also use and love), it's entirely private. I wish I'd started it earlier!

It tells a lot about me as a reader, but also as a writer. What kinds of stories am I fascinated with at the moment? What kinds of stories am I giving up on? When I first came to the US, I craved American books that were unavailable to me. Now I look at my list and see numbers of British books that most of my American friends have never heard of.

Clearly, I'm 100% reading dork! Here are some of my stats for the year as of today:

Completed: 105
Reread: 7
Adult fiction: 10
Non-fiction: 6
POC: 19
Didn't finish: 27 (21% of books I started)
Some of my reasons for not finishing: "Didn't care," "Flat characters," "Goodie-goodie character," "Poor writing," "Stupid premise," "Sticky library book!"

Some thoughts:
Yes, any book that wasn't non-fiction or adult fiction is a children's book. How do you think I read so many? No shame! I want to write children's books for a living! And I love them!

I blogged some reviews on the POC books I read throughout the year.
I'm shocked I didn't finish only 21% of the books I started. I would've guessed that number was a lot higher. Who knew I was that patient?! Actually, that percentage is probably more attributable to how careful I am about what I choose to read.

Any thing else you want me to count up while I'm thinking about it?

Friday I'll share my top ten books of the year. If you can't wait, here's last year's list!


  1. "Sticky library book!" LOL

    Such a fascinating snapshot! I'm looking forward to your top ten list.


  2. I'm crazy jealous of your notebook reading log! I've kept a log but in a spreadsheet, and it's never been as convenient as I hoped it would be, but I blamed myself instead of realizing it hasn't been a good tool fit for me. (All my OTHER logs like exercise, writing and spiritual journals, etc. are notebook based. Go figure!) Thanks for posting your stats. You've inspired me to go get a blank notebook and begin fresh.

  3. I had a book journal--it was spiral bound and filled with my list, plus lists of what I wanted to read next, authors to check out, slips of papers with recommendations, and so forth. On one trip home from the library I realized my journal was missing. I had left it on a shelf--I do remember that. But the library never found it. Someone, somewhere has this. I hope they still do and that they've added their own lists to it.

  4. Thanks, Elisabeth! I'm not usually very finicky, but that library book was GROSS. I don't care how good people said the book was, I just couldn't read it. =)

    Bridgette: I tried to keep a more detailed version in a spreadsheet, and quickly gave up on it, too. I'm so happy to have inspired you--I hope the paper version works better for you!

    Andrea: Your comment really scared me! Would hate to lose my journal. But somehow the thought that someone else is using it and loving it is quite comforting!

  5. Anne, I was ill for a long time after losing that journal. But you're right, the thought that someone else is using it is quite comforting. Never let yours leave the dining room! ;)

  6. Oh dear, Andrea, I totally sympathize! I'm chaining mine to table right after I get off the computer!

    Did you ever start a new one?

  7. I did, Anne, but it's not the same. It's more of what I want to read/get to and authors/titles to investigate. This one doesn't leave my desk.

  8. You did great this year! I must admit 2010 was pretty slow for me reading-wise. I gave up on a lot of books for the reasons you mentioned. I was definitely NOT a patient reader! Maybe next year...

  9. Wow, I'm really impressed Anne with your reading list.

    Like Anna, it was slow-going for me reading-wise.

    And it's really great that you dedicated some of your reading list to POC books. :)

  10. Anna: Thanks, Anna. But no shame in giving up on a not so good book. Especially when there's so many good ones out there!

    Karen: The POC reading challenge was a really good one for me. I hadn't realized how few I read, even though their representation was so important to me. So not only did I read several, but it's opened me up to some new authors and encouraged me to read just as many (if not more) next year.

    I had a lot of time this year to read, so definitely took advantage of it. I have a feeling the next few years could taper off.

  11. I kept a book journal in high school.

    Now with Goodreads I love keeping track of books I've read.

    Looking forward to your top ten list.

  12. Thanks, Medeia!

    I love Goodreads, too, almost enough to ditch the journal. But I worry sometimes about ratings being so public, so I've limited myself to only keeping books I truly liked on Goodreads.

  13. What a great idea! I know what I'm going to start doing in 2011! ^_^

  14. Thanks, Rachael! I hope it's as useful for you as it has been for me!


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