Review of the Year #2 – Book Stats!

I always say this, but this post is possibly my favourite of the year! The master spreadsheet is still going strong. I love playing all that data to mine for nuggets of information that will tell me if my reading habits have changed. Without further ado, here are the charts (accurate to 25 December).

Books & Pages through the Ages

Again, I read slightly fewer books this year – Covid-19 anxiety has definitely played a part – I can’t stay awake to read as easily, and during the day I endlessly binge-watched telly, listened to the news or did jigsaws when I could have been reading. The average page count was down slightly to 263 from 269. Factored into the pages read, but not numbers of books are the short story singles and DNFs.

I just managed to reach my Goodreads target of 125 books on Christmas Day, but hope to exceed it by a couple more at least by the real end of the year.

Source of Books Read

With the library shut for the most part, I read far fewer from there this year, and despite buying loads of new books, I didn’t read many of them either although I did read ten more from my TBR piles. I’d like to shout out a huge thanks to all the publishers who have kept me in review copies – print ones too, in spite of difficulties in sending, for the number of review copies I read was up on last year. THANK YOU!

Year of Original Publication

The oldest thing I read was actually an 1896 short story by Willa Cather, but single shorts are not included here. Corresponding with the increased in review copies I read, the number of books I read originally published in 2020 has increased too. I did manage to read a few more first published before I was born though.

Author Birthplace & Original Language of Publication

Looking at author birth countries, I read no Scandinavian or South American authors at all this year. As always France and Ireland lead other countries after the USA with 10 books apiece, followed by Japan and Belgian (i.e. Simenon). Africa is up to 3 books from a single one last year, but remains underrepresented – something to improve on. My US author quotient is down again – I’ve read more home-grown thrillers perhaps?

Language-wise, 82% of the books I read in 2020 were written in English. This gives 18% in translation which is similar to last year – something to at least maintain or better in 2021.

Author Gender Identification

My reading still is more by male than female authors, I suspect it always will be this way. I still maintain that gender is not a factor in choosing the books I read. Once more this year, I’ve read a book by a trans author (included in the gender they identify as), and one by a non-binary author.

P.S. Edited especially for Dark Puss of Morgana’s Cat: I’ve broken down this year’s reading into gender and decades/years – in 2020 I read no books by women until those published in the 2000s.

Types of Book, Imprints & Fiction Genres

I won’t dwell on Non-Fiction as I joined in Non-Fiction November and mentioned most of what I read there. Numbers-wise, I added a few books I read 26 books by which is 21% of my total, down by 4% i.e. 5 books on last year, but still a respectable showing. Poetry was also down, from 9 to 5 books. I’ve broken 94 fiction books into their genres – it wasn’t worth doing a chart this year.

  • General fiction incl. historical novels (too hard to classify what is historical) – 57
  • Crime, thrillers and spy novels – 19
  • SF / Spec fiction – 5
  • Fantasy / paranormal (broadly) – 5
  • YA / Crossover – 3
  • Graphic novels / Cartoons – 3
  • Short stories – 2

Publishing Imprints: I’ve read books from 63 imprints, with many indies in the mix. Totting up, it was great to see indie Canongate tieing with PRHO giants Penguin and Viking at 8 books each, followed by Picador (Pan Macmillan) and W&N (Orion) at 6 apiece, then Bloomsbury and Faber with 5 each.

…And Finally

A few more fun stats for you…

  • Longest book read – Dune by Frank Herbert at 884 pages. I read 6 books of 450 pages or more.
  • Shortest book read – I read several single short stories and a poetry pamphlet, between 18 and 43 pages.
  • Number of Re-reads – 6
  • Most viewed post from whenever – STILL Return to Wigtown, (4040 views in 2020) by a long way – I wrote about this phenomenon here.
  • Most viewed 2020 post The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman.

And some recurring motifs in book titles…

  • Animals: Bird (unspecific) x 2, Dog, Kestrel, Magpie, Seals, Snakes.
  • Body Parts & Functions: Body, Breathe, Cadavers, Foot, Memory, Mother’s milk, Swallowing, Tongue, Urine, Voice
  • Forenames: Unusually, just the two – Dora and Vernon!
  • Friends & Family, People: Children, Daughters, Earthlings, Girl, Man x 2, Mother x 2, Sister, Woman
  • Numbers & Ordinals etc : Two penny, Third, Six, Sixpenny, Sixties, 100 million years and a day.
  • Occupations & Activities: Dancer, Doctor, Keeper, Knave, Police, Raider, Searcher, Serial killer, Sovereign, Spies, Tourist, Vampire
  • Real Places: Archangel, Babel, Brooklyn, Limehouse, Tokyo
  • Real People in fiction: Dan Leno, Lincoln, Mr Wilder, Piranesi, Tamburlaine
  • Science (broadly): Constellations, Echo, Electricity, Fire(s) x2, Fresh water, Glass, Maths, Mercury, Planet, Silver, Static, Universe, Water
  • States of Mind: Bad, Becoming, Cheerful, Deceived, Happiness/Happy x 2, Hope, in Love, in the Dark, Rage, Spoon-Fed, Wicked
  • Weather & Seasons: Ice, Snow x 2, Summerwater, Sunshine, Weather x 2

That’s all Folks! 

I hope you enjoyed the stats

Coming on Dec 31st: My Books of the Year

18 thoughts on “Review of the Year #2 – Book Stats!

  1. Lois Smith says:

    I really like book stats and keep a modest spreadsheet. You and your readers may like to listen to the Radio 4 programme ‘The Five Foot Shelf’ in which Ian Sansom asks small bookshop owners and their customers which books have helped them through lockdown (if you haven’t caught it already). It was broadcast today 29th December at 11.30 am. It’s not clear if this will continue as a series, but I hope so.

  2. Calmgrove says:

    Stats are helpful to set goals or targets for the future, aren’t they; in the middle of a pandemic it’s going to be rather harder, I guess, as many options are out of your hands. Still, as ever I’m impressed by your book consumption, despite the prevailing mood.

  3. Rebecca Foster says:

    I love this post every year! I’ve never thought to track my reading of certain publishers, though I did note that Jonathan Cape published my top novel of 2020 plus two of my top three nonfiction books. Also, I’ve read four Little Toller books this year, but that’s mostly because I made an order from them over the summer. Like you, I feel that despite everything I’ve managed about the same reading volume and review copy hauls as in previous years. 18% in translation is fab … I have no idea what my showing will be. It’s time to go work out my own statistics for the second half of the year.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      It’s the first time I’ve mentioned the publishers. I was very surprised at Canongate’s showing – given that I only had one review copy from them – 7 from my own shelves!

  4. BookerTalk says:

    This is some impressive analysis Annabel. Do you think any of these insights will influence your reading plans for next year? I notice for example you said you didn’t read very many African authors – is that something that you think will change?

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      That’s always the plan Karen! Whether it’ll happen is another thing – I’m so easily distracted. But I do have a new African review copy for Feb in my pile, so that’s a start in that direction. 😀

  5. Liz Dexter says:

    I love this post! I have kept detailed stats for the second time this year and am hoping I manage to do a comparison in my end of year stats as well as just the stats! Fascinating stuff.

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