2015 books by the numbers

2015: Books by the Numbers

2015 books by the numbers

Gather ’round, nerds.

Wait, maybe I should wish you a Happy New Year first? Happy New Year. I’ll give you a second to clear your bleary, hungover eyes, because it’s that fabulous time of year when we get the payoff of crunching last year’s reading and the beauty of a fresh new spreadsheet. I’m not quite sure how I ended up being a person who loves spreadsheets and analyzing data (you do remember me complaining about prepping for the GRE math, yes?), but it’s very much my thing. So much that it’s now part of my work and, hopefully, the next several years of schooling.

Overall, I read 131 books in 2015, which is down from 154 in 2014 (and way down from 160 in 2013). Maybe that will keep falling over time? I’m not sure, but I’m fine with any outcome. I’m reading plenty. I’m interested in looking at my behavior and choices over the year, but really just see the specific numbers as a gateway. If numbers are your thing, or if you just like scrolling around on your computer, Tableau allows for interactive noodling.

 

Reading by Month

Hey, guess what? I read a ton of books when I wasn’t working. Amazing how that happens. I was off in late June and July, so my reading skyrocketed during those blissful summer months. Fall was all over the place, with house hunting and grad school applications, which is why I fell into a few garbage hellfire months like September and November. I wasn’t sure how to account for March, but after looking back at what I read, I noticed I was slumping like mad. Bad books will suck the reading right out of you.

Source and Format

I didn’t necessarily go on a book buying ban this year, but spending drastically changed in our home and I shifted book money to other things. It worked out great because I discovered my fabulous library system and ended up getting over 22% of my books from the library in 2015 (way up from about 5% in 2014). Still, most of my reading comes from the embarrassment of riches sent out by publishers.

Publishers by Rating

Tracking my reading by imprint to help guide the books I choose is something I started in the middle of 2014 and, with a complete year of information, I wanted to see how my ratings for specific publishers added up. In the chart, publishers I read most often have larger circles, while books I rated highest have the darkest circles. Liveright, Picador, Random House, Riverhead and Knopf seem like they’re my sweet spots, but Hogarth takes the cake.

Genre Breakdown

Not much surprise in the genre corner, eh? I’m predictable. I actually read the same number of short story collections as 2014, though I enjoyed them more this time around. The one major shift was in my nonfiction reading, which was up to 38% of my total reading from just 22% in 2014. Otherwise, many of my categories are very similar—I’ve kind of honed in on what I like.

A Note on Diversity Statistics

I make it a priority to seek out books written by traditionally marginalized voices and keep track of the author information I can find in my personal spreadsheet, as I find it helps guide me toward gaps in my reading. However, I’ve chosen not to include that information in this year’s year-end statistics. After reading a post by Danielle/OneSmallPaw earlier this year and thinking quite a bit about it, I still feel uncomfortable boiling the multiple facets of over a hundred authors down to somewhat binary categories. I can say that I had a great year of reading incredibly thought-provoking, beautiful, and challenging work by fantastic writers and hope 2016 can be even better. Goals to come next week!

 

  • Ciska van der Lans

    I always look forward to your chart post. It is your fault I have been tracking my reading in a spreadsheet for the first time this year and it is so much fun working with that though I do not feel safe to draw any conclusion yet for this year.
    Hope you have a great 2016!!

    • Yay, I hope you’re having fun tracking! It will be so exciting when you get to pull everything together and see how things add up :)

  • Ooooh – I’m in awe of your imprint bubbles!! Smart of you to track that by rating…I will be implementing that for 2016! I also tracked imprint, but just by whether I recommended the book or not. And some of the same names worked for me…but, I need to check out Picador!

    • I just keep a spreadsheet with all the book info tied together, so it ends up being pretty simple to run things by different dimensions at the end of the year :) Picador is a good one!

  • Kay

    I never thought about keeping up with the publisher. Hmmm…I’ll have to think about that. I do like numbers and spreadsheets and charts. It’s the accounting nerd in me. Hope 2016 goes well and you get to experience lots of great books.

    • Tracking publishers has been helpful in pointing out which styles I kind of click with – it’s not always foolproof…you’re not going to love everything, but it’s a good guidepost :)

  • Elena

    Wow, Shannon, you have done some serious work here. Well done! Like other readers, I never thought about sticking with a publisher, but it’s definitely something I’d like to keep in mind from now on, especially if the publisher is new or has a committment to give voice to young women writers. Happy New Year!

    • Definitely! This has totally helped me realize I need to read *more* of some of the smaller publishers that I really love, too.

  • These are some fancy-ass graphs, and I love them! It’s so great that you seem to know what you like, and hunt it down accordingly… I’m definitely getting closer. I tracked my reading spreadsheet style this year for the first time, and it was lovely! Planning to do so again in 2016 for sure! I need a tutorial on graph making…..

    • Graphs are actually super simple in spreadsheet programs (not sure if you’re using Google Sheets or Excel) – for most of them, you can select a cross section of your data, hit the chart button and boom!

  • I agree with you wholeheartedly about the diversity stats. I started looking at what kind of writers I was reading last year and decided to do better this year. I think I did, but still find myself debating whether or not a book counts as a diverse read…

    I think paying attention to it is half of the battle!

    • Definitely – taking note has totally helped me and now I’m at the point where I can see more specific gaps (like needing to read more nonfiction by women or authors of color, etc).

  • You get the award for Coolest Charts and Tables. Hands down.

  • So awesome. I admire your tenacity with stats! I had trouble with tracking diversity too, that’s why on my final 2015 “best of” post I just talked about my top 12. I need to take the pressure off in 2016 so I’m going to focus on books on my shelf I haven’t gotten to yet, and just read whatever at whatever pace.

    • That sounds like an awesome way to jump into 2016, and from the sounds of things in the blogging world I don’t think you’re alone!

  • Wow, what lovely data visualization *-* I like how you’ve broken down pages per month. I’d be interested to see how that plays out for me. Is the spreadsheet that you keep your reading data in available to download?

  • Oo your data is such beautiful data! I love that you’re tracking books you read by imprint and rating. I should do that too in the new year. It would be great to have a better sense of which publishers are most reliably creating the books I love.

    • It’s been really, really interesting and pretty helpful – it was the one thing I was dying to see visualized!

      • I’m going to second this. I stopped tracking publisher a few years ago because it got cumbersome… but I love the idea of knowing which publisher and imprints reliably print books I love. I think I’ll add that back to this year and see what I find out!

  • Wow! Great stats! I’m impressed that you tracked all that..I was lucky if I remembered to enter into my spreadsheet when I finished a book!

  • I love the visuals from Tableau! They make everything so much easier to…..well…visualize :). I’m glad you had a good year in reading overall!

  • I love how you broke down the publishers by rating. I looked at which imprints who delivered the books I loved the most and was surprised it was Penguin imprints, because they havent been at the top of the heap for me in a long time. You had a great year and as always, I’m so impressed with your statistics. :)

  • Diane D

    I love visuals and your stats are certainly impressive. Hope you have a fantastic 2016 in life and books.

  • You are such an adorable little reading nerd. :D I love the idea of breaking it down by imprint. I have a good inkling of the ones I dig the most but it’s really interesting to see you nailing it down this way.

  • I love your stats on the publishers – such a good idea!
    Everything I keep track of (which isn’t much) is still done by notebook and pen. I can’t seem to get into using the computer more than I already do (even though you make it look so tempting!).
    Happy 2016! :)

    • I totally understand that because I’m the same way about digital vs. paper planners – as much as I want my daily tasks easily accessible in my phone, I *need* to physically write things down.

  • Wow! Your graphs are so fancy compared to mine. I love them!

  • Bryan G. Robinson

    Hmmm. I hadn’t thought about what Danielle had written. I bookmarked her post and will return to it later, but just on an initial read, I hear what she’s saying…and agree, even though I did one of those pie charts this year.

    • I did the same thing for the last few years, too, and hadn’t thought about it until I read her post…but it really stuck with me. It’s such a tricky thing to navigate, especially when authors don’t self-identify (nor should they have to!) that I just feel a better about tracking the best I can to point out gaps for myself and talking about the books I love as much as I can in place of sharing a chart.

  • Ok, your dots for publisher and rating are awesome. That kind of stats analysis blows my mind. As always you’ve taken this to the next level.

  • Sorry if you mentioned it above and I didn’t read thoroughly, but what do you track it in…excel? And your graphs are so pretty!

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  • I just love looking at all these graphs and must try it for this year. I’m curious now…

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