At the end of last year I wrote this short post looking statistically at the books I’d read in the previous twelve months. I’m not sure where the idea came from – I might have pinched it, I can’t remember; if I did, I’m sorry – but it was quite revealing and I enjoyed doing it. It was the first time I’d looked back and thought carefully about what I’d been reading, what this said about my reading habits, and what I wanted to do in the coming year. In lieu of a typical end-of-year review I’ve done a similar thing this time. Here is my reading year in numbers…
In 2016 I completed 26 novels and 3 short stories.
I listened to 1 audiobook (Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America 1927 – unblogged).
I failed to finish 1 book.
The oldest novel was Our Mutual Friend, published in 1864 but I also read Edgar Allen Poe’s short story The Tell-Tale Heart which was published in 1843.
The newest book I read was Shylock Is My Name, published in 2016.
Roughly 15% of the books I read were published before 1900, 19% were published in the first half of the twentieth century, 27% in the second half and 38% in the last sixteen years.
17 books were by male authors. 9 were written by women.
They were written by authors from 14 different countries.
Fiction accounted for nearly 93 % of the books I read.
The longest book was War and Peace (1,317 pages). The shortest was The Uncommon Reader (121 pages).
I have read 2 more books from the BBC Big Read this year (War and Peace and Perfume).
My most popular blog post of the year – in terms of the most views – was this one on tips for reading War and Peace. At last count it had been viewed 91 times.
So what does this tell me? Firstly, that although I read fewer books than last year, it really wasn’t as bad as I was imagining. There were a few occasions in the second half of 2016 when I felt like I was wasting time; days and weeks were passing by and I wasn’t finding time to do any reading at all. It was annoying. But, you know what? Given the various upheavals the year has thrown my way, 26 isn’t really all that bad. It could be worse.
I’m also really happy to see that my efforts to read books by a more diverse range of authors have been partially successful. British authors still dominated (9 books in total) but the remaining novels were written by authors from the US, Germany, Italy, Russia, France, Uruguay, South Korea, Albania, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, Chile and Zimbabwe. Looking back, I’m not sure I’d have discovered many of these works at all if I hadn’t been making an effort to push myself and my last Top Ten Tuesday post should stand as proof of how much I’ve enjoyed doing this. I should also thank the ladies at Hard Book Habit for launching the Around the World challenge and giving me the push I needed.
It’s also worth saying, however, that this shift away from my quaint little English Victorian/Edwardian comfort zone has had the unexpected effect of making my reading material less diverse in other ways. In 2016 I read less non-fiction, fewer female authors and fewer classics than in previous years. Maybe this says something about the kinds of works that get translated into English – is modern fiction more likely to get translated than classic fiction? – or maybe it’s just one of those weird unavoidable things. Maybe I just wanted to read fiction this year because times were tough and I subconsciously thought that non-fiction might be too heavy going. Maybe there are just more male authors than female ones. Who knows.
All in all, though, I think I can look back on the past twelve months and be reasonably happy; I read some wonderful books, discovered some new authors, and have plenty more to look forward to in 2017.
Happy 2017 all 🙂