It’s that time of year! I get to make a lot of graphs from all the data that I have gathered over the past year in my big reading spreadsheet (I am a scientist – I like graphs and stats!)
One thing to note before we start: I am going to use percentages the entire way through this, no specific number of books read etc. I don’t think comparing number read between people is helpful – everyone has their own reading speed and demands on their time. I also think it’s actually the least interesting data point to pull out.
I read books in a real range of formats this year – I think this is my largest range, thanks to one graphic novel. The really surprising thing, for me, is that audiobooks have as large a slice as eBooks, given I spent half the year unable to listen to them thanks to my brain just noping out on audio processing (which is my standard response to audiobooks – the 18 months of being able to listen across 2021 and 2022 is the real rarity!)
Paperback have maintained their dominance, though comparing year-on-year, it is down (thanks to reading more ARCs as my blog has grown to make it more likely that I’ll be sent them.) The proportion of hardback has more or less stayed constant, which I find interesting (as I’d expect reading more ARCs to reduce that, given ARCs are usually for hardback releases!)
Overall, I’m quite happy with these ratios as it leads to a nice range of options so I’m not in the same format all the time!
One of the things I’ve been interested to see change across the year is this split. At the beginning of the year, it was very high on “backlist” (given fewer titles have been published in a year by the end of January than the end of December!)
I’m pleased that just under half of what I read has been backlist titles, because new titles get all the shiny promotion but there are still so many other great books out there that don’t get it because they’re not just coming out.
The “re-read this year” means a book I have read at least twice in one year. It’s small (as expected! So many books, not enough time). That there are any books in this category is thanks to there being a few books published this year on an “accelerated release schedule” (i.e. more than one book a year) and me feeling like I needed to re-read the previous book(s) in order to follow along (not all series require this.) I rather hope there aren’t any like this next year, if only to help with reading other books on my TBR!
If I’m honest, this is the statistic I’m least happy with. My average page count was 385 pages this year, which just feels very small. Most of the books I read were clustered around 400 pages, which feels like a nice, solid number for a book’s length! Plus, as the box plot shows, I read some book with an awful lot of pages (primarily in the course of finishing off the Wheel of Time series in the first few months). I feel like I’d be happier if the average was over 400 pages, just because that feels more representative of the struggle involved with some of those long books.
The reason it is below that is due to the short stories/bonus chapters I read (I count everything!) and also the large number of Middle Grade I read (not many of which were over 300 pages.) So I do understand why it was so low, but I do rather wish it was higher! Maybe in 2023 it will be over 400 pages…
I suspect the largest slice on here surprises exactly no one – fantasy! It is my far my favourite genre. What did surprise me (but I couldn’t find a nice way of representing on this graph) is how few political fantasies I read – only 3% of the total number of fantasies! Instead, contemporary fantasy was my largest sub genre (11%) followed by historical fantasy (9%). ((And it’s worth noting that most of the political fantasies overlapped with the historical fantasy, so it’s not 13% between them!)) I am very much hoping to read more political fantasies in 2023 (and fewer contemporaries as they are not my favourite).
The sheer dominance of fantasy does make it hard to appreciate some of the other genre statistics. I like that dystopia was large enough and distinct enough to pull out by itself – I think we might be coming into a slight resurgence of those books (along with paranormal in YA, both of which were the things that kicked the age range off and then died.)
Although SFF have the largest slice (about 75% between them) I am pleased that I’ve been reading more widely this year (SFF had over 80% last year) and my book club is to thank for that. Very hoping that trend continues into the coming years.
My age range break down very much shows the continuing theme of the last few years, which is a lessening of the amount of YA I read, and a corresponding increase in Adult and MG. This is simply a reflection of my changing tastes, particularly as I get more irritated with the amount of romance that seems obligatory in YA.
This is actually the first year since I started tracking this much reading data that I’ve read more Adult than YA (and it’s a significant different) so I’m very please with this! Although it looks like it, it’s not quite 50% Adult, but I think this is a good balance for me.
POV and Person
We now come to some stats which say less about me and my tastes than the industry norms, especially in SFF across the age ranges. I rarely know the POV type or narrative person when picking up a book, so it doesn’t influence a choice. But I think they’re still interesting to track!
Single POV completely dominates here, at a pretty constant “around about 50%” for as long as I have been tracking it. The only real change is a slight decrease in dual POV (leading to a slight increase in the others), but I think that is partly due to me reading fewer YA because of the romance (as a lot of YA with strong romantic elements are dual from each love interest.) With all these graphs looking quite similar over the last several years, I think it shows that publishing doesn’t go in waves of style (or perhaps I need to track for longer to look at that in depth!)
I realised as I was putting this graph together that a really interesting stat to see would be the average number of POVs in the books I read. While this is a nice overview of the major types of POV, it does rather lump any book with 3 or more POVs into one category. Therefore, for 2023 and onwards, I think I’m going to add an extra column to my spreadsheet with exact number to see! (Though this will mean, with books where there are major and minor POVs, that I have to decide how to count them!)
While I did expect third person past to be the biggest, I am a little surprised that first person past is larger than first person present, but that probably reflects my personal preference for certain styles!)
The lack of second person (save for one that can hardly be seen!) reflects how much I dislike that style (I did not know when I picked up that book and I would have saved myself reading and DNF’ing it if I’d known!) I think it’s not common anyway as it is so polarising.
This is also another stat where I’d like to change how I track because I track person and tense separately, which means needing to do the calculations at this stage. Oh well, part of data collection is refining how it’s done!
I hope you enjoyed this very nerdy post! I had fun putting it together.