December 19th, 2011

The Year in Books

I read a lot, and I never feel like I’m reading enough. Everyone is always talking about some book I’ve never heard of, or worse, some book I’ve heard of a thousand times and want to read but haven’t gotten to yet. I am perpetually behind in my periodicals, searching for the next book-club book, seeing reviews of stuff I need to pick up, attending launches and buying those books, being overwhelmed when my library holds finally come in, and then cruising past a “new releases” table at the library or bookstore and going, “Hey, what’s this?”

I would not, of course, have it any other way. I’ve read more this year than ever before (since I started keeping track in 2006) but still not nearly enough. Lots of bloggers run reading stats just to see, and I never have but it looks like fun, so I did it this year, just for those I read cover-to-cover only; I don’t count it if I skim or flip or don’t finish.

I categorized by genre (anthologies, novels, non-fiction, short stories, YA, graphic, and poetry, and then again by author genre. I don’t know why I picked these categories, except that they seemed obvious. I had meant to do national categories as well, but I realized I don’t know where all my authors are from, some move around, and I actually don’t care.

I’m not posting the math because I couldn’t actually make the two sets of numbers total the same, which is embarrassing but not worth doing all the math a third time to see what the problem is. I would approximately 85 books, about half of those prose fiction. Surprises? Yeah, that the poetry and graphic novel numbers were so lame (guess I know what my reading resolutions will be), that gender parity is perfect (the book I have in hand is by a dude, so I guess the scales could tip). On the other hand, I am not surprised that the YA number is low; I respect the genre but I rarely enjoy it, and I don’t think I’m going to resolve to read more, at least not this year. The non-fiction number is respectable but it’s also kind of a lie, containing narrative non-fic like *Black Like Me* in the same category as wedding planning guides (yes, I read them cover-to-cover; I can’t help it).

This was a curious exercise, and it proves some blind spots (not least of which are my math). I might try to reflect on the year more qualitatively in my next post–ie., a best-books-this-year post. The quantitative method doesn’t seem to be doing to much for me.

2 Responses to “The Year in Books”

  • Scott Watson says:

    I want to say something witty, but I’m stunned that you read 85 books! Wow!

    To be number nerdy, what was your country split?

  • Rebecca says:

    I didn’t get very far with the national numbers, but I know it was highly highly slanted towards anglo-Canadian. Then American, then British, I would gander… That may be the locus of another new year’s resolution!

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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