Year in Review [Numbers]

Even though math and statistics were my worst subjects in school I am strangely addicted to quantifying my everyday activities. I have joined every site on internet that would help me track progress, sort by a specific characteristic, and attach a number to many of my endeavors. Obviously there is Goodreads for my books, but there is also Last.fm for my music, and Letterboxd for movies among others. I keep journals, weekly planners and excel spreadsheets to feed my addiction shamelessly. Needless to say, year-end reviews are my favourite types of posts, so please excuse me if the abundance of graphs and numbers  might look weird to you. Let’s begin.

Total Books Read: 80. I might sound like I’m bragging, but reaching this number is a huge deal for me. In 2012 I was a terrible slowpoke (only 24 books read!). I kept complaining that it was my inability to read fast enough that hindered my progress so much. But this year taught me two things: I was very bad at focusing on reading for longer stretches of time without getting distracted and I had poor time-management skills. I generally have an attention span of a squirrel, so trying to make myself focus on reading and not thinking random thoughts while blankly looking at a page was a real challenge. It still requires a lot of work, but I found a few ways to keep my eyes on the target. Usually the most frequent causes of distraction for me are random sounds and conversations that are pretty much impossible to avoid if you don’t lead a solitary existence on a space station or something. To help myself I usually plug into an audiobook to help me keep on track while reading the same book in print, or listening to classical music to drawn out unwanted noise (no epic scores from movies though, unless I want to deal with random fantasy sequences playing in my head).

MonthMy year started a little lackluster with only four books read to 2012’s five, but then my progress skyrocketed in February to the year’s best ten titles (shared with November). That month I decided to stop feeling guilty about the page quantity of my picks, switching for quicker reads like Ethan Frome or The Cement Garden. I also finished up several books that had been hanging out on my nightstand for a while to boost up my results. In the end I think it was February that really set the pace and motivated me throughout the whole year. The red columns on the graph are a proof. In December I read the least, but that was sort of voluntary. I wanted to stop at a nice round total for the year and give myself a breather for the holidays.

PagesI also let go a little of my fear of big books. I consider my greatest improvement to be in the 450-799 range, where I went from absolute zero in 2012 to eleven for this year. I think joining several classics and chunkster book clubs on Goodreads really helped me to overcome the difficulties I had with books of intimidating size. Another great leap forward for me was reading 6 truly huge, 800+ pages books. Coincidentally,  I loved every single one of those! Try to figure that one out! Seeing these results really motivated me to join the Chunkster Challenge that I wrote about last time. I can’t wait!

Gender

This is a tough one. I obviously tend to read more books written by male authors, but that is a pretty unfair statistic to hold against me. I know that it is a pretty big thing in the bookish blogosphere to aim for equality in literary choices, but I just can’t truly commit myself to that. I don’t think that fiction, or nonfiction for that matter, really can become better or worse if you switch the gender of its author (unless maybe if they are writing on some gender-specific issues, I don’t know). The author being female or male kind of comes as an afterthought to me. I usually take books as a separate entity from its creator, no matter how bad that sounds. Likewise, my decision to read Atlas Shrugged or Ender’s Game really can’t be altered by the fact that Ayn Rand might be a hypocrite or Orson Scott Card – a flaming homophobe. I just want to read something that sounds good to me.

 FictionNow this is something I really need to work on: my fiction to nonfiction ratio. In 2012 I was much better percentage-wise, but then I did read so few books that it might have contributed to the stark difference. I have a huge TBR for nonfiction, so there isn’t even an excuse for this travesty. In ideal world (with hoverboards and non-fattening chocolate) I would love to have a 50/50 ratio for the two. Alas, I can only hope. On the flip side of the coin, this is the most nonfiction I’ve read outside of school in years. In 2014 I need to hope harder.

LibraryThis year I’ve been a very active library member. Look at me visiting almost weekly and utilizing the inter-library loans like  a grownup! No seriously, I’ve already confessed my love for EPL here, but I just have to say again how truly wonderful it is that these temples of knowledge still exist in this world filled with book-less people. I am curious to see if I’ll need to pay for my upcoming renewal in 2014, but regardless of the price, library is going to be a staple in my bookish resources.

PaperTranslation OldNewHere are some quick comparisons in statistics that you might find absolutely useless, but that get my nerd going like no tomorrow. It’s not a secret that I read a lot in digital format. Since most of my reading is done on the go, I find having a slim ereader loaded with hundreds of choices the best option out of convenience. But this year made me realize how much I miss holding a physical book in my hands (blame the library again), therefore there was a sharp increase in paper books read. For the curious, almost a third of my reading came from dead trees. Fortunately practically all of them came from green sources like the library or thrift stores, so please don’t hate me.

I’ve also been enjoying throwing my multi-linguism around like a snob, but most books under “Original” label were actually written in English. But then I came back with some nonsense about English not being my first language, feeling all smug and all. I did, however, manage to read three (!) books in Russian: Azazel by Akunin, and Dog’s Heart and Master & Margarita by Bulgakov. Like a boss, I know. I like to keep track of this statistic because of my general rule about translations: I will do my best to read in the original publication’s language whenever possible. Hopefully my studies in two more languages will allow for further expansion in distant future.

And finally, I wanted to see how often I come back to the same authors, which seems to be a trend this year. I actually have high hopes to read many sequels to series begun in 2013, so the graph might look even better by this time next year.Year-2012Year-2013

 This one was the most fun to keep. I am always curious how diversified my choices are when it comes to the original publication date. When I first started this blog I tried reading mainly classics. Now I refuse to restrict myself to a certain era. Instead I would like to spread my reading out more or less evenly. Ideally I would like to see every category filled with at least one book, and I came pretty close to fulfilling that wish in 2013. I am still lacking in Ancient, Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, but I made a giant leap in 1970-1980’s books. With all the classics sci-fi, fantasy and cyberpunk I crossed off my TBR it was bound to happen.

And there you have it. My hands are seriously cramped up right now from typing all of that and making the graphs, but I like the end result. If you have a bookish achievement you are proud of, do let me know. I love when people inspire me!

8 comments

  1. How did you create the graphs?

  2. There really is something fascinating about keeping these kinds of statistics! And you’ve graphed them up beautifully.

    It’s interesting how people differ- trying to read a book and listen to the audio at the same time would drive me buggy! I’d always be wanting to read at a different speed than the audio. It’s good that you’ve figured out what works for you though.

  3. Wow! Fantastic graphs! Congratulations on your 80 books read for 2013 and all the best to you in the New Year!

  4. @Laura: I used infogr.am and a little of photoshop magic to create all my graphs!

  5. Haha, the audio speed is a tricky thing, isn’t it? Thankfully for me there are multiple speeds available for my library audiobooks, so I can adjust accordingly. But even then I don’t rely on the technique too much – only when I have the hardest time concentrating, especially on public transport.

  6. Thank you Cleo, I will be aiming for a slightly higher number next year!

  7. Those are some impressive graphs! I’m not very good with math–I have been known to carry invisible ones, or substitute numbers randomly–but it’s cool to see your reading broken down into categories like that.

    And hey, 80 from 24 is a little more than three times the books. That’s impressive! 🙂

  8. Thank you, keeping these number this year really helped me to put my reading habits in retrospective. I tried my best to kick 2012’s butt, and I think I did not too shabby 🙂

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