As fun as it is to put together a list of my favorite books of the year, I can’t lie: the reading stats post is by far my favorite! It’s just really cool to break down the numbers and look at the hard data of my reading.
Some quick stats for you:
Total books read: 176
Total pages read (including DNFs): 64,473
Average page count per book: 338
Compared to last year, I read nine more books and about 4,000 more pages. My average page count was also 22 pages shorter this year than last year.
Books Read Per Month
I’m not sure that this graph has a ton of interesting information, but it’s still kind of cool to see how many books I read per month over the course of the year. These numbers average out to 14.67 books per month—I didn’t realize it was quite such a high number!
I’m very happy with the ratings I gave to the books I read this year. Almost two-thirds were categorized as four or five stars, and my average star rating was 4.0! Of course, I’ve talked repeatedly about how I struggle with the star-rating system, but now that I’ve gotten use to using it, I kind of like it. Plus it helps me put together nifty charts like this one!
If you’re wondering why there aren’t any one-star reads, I think it’s because I tended to DNF books if I suspected I wouldn’t end up liking them, which would put them in the one or two star categories.
Fun fact: 63 percent of the romances I picked up got a four or five star rating, compared with 73 percent for scifi, 73 percent for fantasy, and 77 percent for nonfiction. Romance still made up the bulk of my two- and three-star reads (36% of the romances I read), while contemporaries were all over the place, and literary fiction was consistently underwhelming (part of why I’ve decided to stop forcing myself to read litfic).
For the books I didn’t rate, they were generally books I didn’t quite know what to make of. They challenged me to think, but I can’t say I liked them, or they just felt too far outside of my frame of reference to give a proper rating to. I also didn’t give ratings to most of my rereads.
Interestingly, this data is pretty consistent with my numbers from last year, though paperback went down some and increased the audio and hardcover categories. Honestly, I’m hoping next year to significantly boost the percentage of books I read on my kindle. I upgraded this past year to a kindle paperwhite and find myself preferring to read in digital format for the sheer convenience of it. We’ll see if that winds up becoming a reality!
Breakdown by Page Length
This graph really isn’t too different from last year’s, though I read a lot more books in the 100-199 range and less in the 400-499 range. Funnily enough, I find myself complaining for almost every 600+ page book that I read that they’re too long and could use some significant trimming. I loved bigger books as a kid, but it seems that these days that I’m just not a fan.
Backlist vs. New Releases
I thought I read a lot more new releases* this last year than that. It felt sometimes like all I was reading was arcs, so that really surprises me. That said, it is up 10 percent over the number of new releases I read last year. And of the new releases I read, 34 percent were arcs.
I also felt like I wasn’t enjoying new releases as much as some of the backlist books I was reading, but I looked at the breakdown of my ratings for new releases, and I gave 71 percent of the new releases four or five stars, so that’s clearly a false assumption. At first I thought that maybe it was just me trying new releases from new to me authors that resulted in the bulk of the three-star ratings, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. I guess it’s just all over the place.
*I categorized new releases as books that I read within six months of their publication date. I was mostly looking to track what books I was reading as they were being published, so it might have come out in 2018, but if I didn’t read it until eight months after it came out, I didn’t count it as a new release.
So one of my goals for 2018 was to reread more books, and while I did technically accomplish that goal, it only resulted in a one percent increase. As I mentioned in my 2019 Reading Goals post, I want to keep my focus on getting to a zero TBR, so I’m not setting any rereading goals for myself this year, but maybe I’ll do that again in 2020, because I really do want to reread more books.
Owned vs. Library
This is another interesting set of data because I thought I read a lot more library books than 36 percent. Plus, what this data doesn’t show you is that about a quarter of the library books I read (24%) were books where I owned a physical copy of them, but chose to read a digital copy from the library. So the real number of library books I read is more like 26 percent. Once I reach my goal of a zero TBR, I’m hoping to dramatically increase my library usage.
Also, of the books I read that I owned physical copies of, I donated 38, or 31 percent, of them. That’s actually a really interesting number to me, because I thought I was donating a lot more of the books I bought and read than that. Though I also DNFed nine books that I owned physical copies of, and I donated all of those. That brings the total up to 35 percent. Still a smaller number than I was expecting, but a much higher number than I would like. Ideally I’d like to enjoy all of the books I buy physical copies of enough not to donate them!
Conversely, I went back and bought physical copies of about 10 books I read in audio or digital format. There are a few more I read this year that I still want to buy physical copies of, but I haven’t taken the plunge just yet. I suspect the final number will wind up being 16 or so. And of the 25 arcs I read this past year, I bought finished physical copies of seven of them.
I didn’t really pay attention to what genres I was reading from this past year, so it’s interesting to see that I read slightly more romance (3%), nonfiction (4%), and scifi (4%), but less fantasy (4%) and YA contemporaries (about 3%). But these changes are fairly minimal, and overall it’s kind of cool that I wound up reading virtually the same amount from each genre.
The miscellaneous section includes classics (three), historical fiction (four), literary fiction (four), mystery (one), and short story collections (one).
The subgenres changed it up a bit, though. Of the nonfiction I read, 20 books (64%) were memoirs, compared to only four books (17%) last year. Romance was split 46 percent historical, 40 percent contemporary, and 14 percent paranormal or fantasy romance, compared to 46 percent, 30 percent, and 23 percent last year.
Fantasy is the primary genre that accounted for the different age categories (13 adult, 11 young adult, 5 new adult, and 5 middle grade), though the contemporaries were basically all YA contemporaries (with the exception of Crazy Rich Asians). I read a higher percentage of adult fantasy this year than I did last year, where most of the fantasies I read were young adult.
Gender of Author
I read slightly more female authors this year than I did last year (3%), and less male authors (4%). While nonbinary shows up on the graph as zero percent, that’s because I only read one book that I know was by a nonbinary author, so the figure was too small to show up as at least one percent.
If you take out romance, which is almost exclusively written by women (at least what I read is), the number of male authors jumps up to 21 percent. Male authors only account for six percent of the fantasy books I read, 35 percent of the nonfiction, and 36 percent of the scifi (though another 27 percent of the scifi was cowritten by a male and female author).
As with last year, I have no qualms about reading books from primarily female authors and have no intention of changing that figure, even if you take out the romances that I read. I’m just more interested in books written by women.
New to Me Authors
I didn’t realize that 76 percent of the books I read last year were by new to me authors, so it’s interesting to me that that number dropped so significantly this year when I felt like I was trying out a lot of new authors.
Though now that I think about it, I wonder if I wasn’t counting all books by authors I hadn’t read before 2017, whereas this year I specifically tracked each book I read by a new author, and then recorded subsequent books by that authors as previously read authors (for example, Nalini Singh is only tallied once in the New to Me Author section, but nine times in the Previously Read Author section). If I change that data to all books by authors I hadn’t read before 2018, then the percentage of new to me authors jumps to 65 percent. So still less new authors in 2018 than 2017, which I’m totally fine with. I need to read more of my favorite authors’ backlists!
Most Read Authors
My two most read authors are the ones whose series I binged this year: Maisey Yates (10 books, four novellas) and Nalini Singh (10 books). I also read six books in 2018 by Sarah J. Maas and five by Eloisa James.
Honorable mention goes to the following, from whom I read three books each: Tessa Dare, Alexis Daria, Deborah Harkness, Beverly Jenkins, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, John Lewis, Seanan McGuire, Sylvain Neuvel, CS Pacat, JK Rowling, and Megan Whalen Turner.
My goal in 2018 was to read at least 30 percent books by authors of color, and I’m excited to see that my final tally reached 40 percent! As with last year, it seems to be fairly mixed across all different ethnicities*, as opposed to being primarily focused on one or two ethnicities.
*Please note that I coded the authors’ ethnicity to the best of my knowledge based on a quick Google search and chose to label them as white if I couldn’t confirm otherwise. I’m also not sure I consistently identified authors who are multiracial as such, and instead classified a number of them by other ethnicities. Obviously the reality is much more nuanced than what I have in this graph, but I think the point still stands that a number of these authors identify with marginalized groups.
Author Country of Origin
Interestingly, the number of books I read this year by authors who were born in countries outside of the United States jumped from 11 percent last year to 25 percent this year. Honestly, though, I think a lot of that is because of Nalini Singh: I read 10 books by her this year, and she’s from New Zealand.
Other countries accounted for in my reading include: nine books each by Australian and British authors, four books by Canadian authors, three books by authors from multiple countries, two books by Chinese authors, and one book each by authors from Ghana, Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, and Vietnam.
A quick note on these figures: I categorized someone’s country of origin depending on where they were born and spent a significant amount of their childhood. So if an author was born elsewhere but immigrated to the U.S. as a baby, I counted them as American. But if they immigrated when they were 12 or so, I counted them as being born abroad. I figured that gave them enough experience in another country to really get a sense of the differences between the cultures in the States and their country of origin, and then bring that perspective to their books in a way that born and raised American authors couldn’t.
Also, as it happens, I only read one translated book this year. While Marjane Satrapi is Iranian, she wrote her graphic novel in French, and it was later translated into English. I wish I read more translated books, but the bulk of what I read is romance and fantasy, and those just don’t seem to be written in other languages and translated into English. In fact, most of those authors are American, though I have some recs from my book club for romances by foreign authors that I’d like to read this year.
I again tracked the number of books I read this past year that were written by authors I could confirm via a quick Google search were openly LGBTQ+, and as it happens, that figure jumped from about seven percent to 11 percent. Not a big jump, but definitely an improvement. I’m not sure what percentage I should shoot for here, but I’m happy with that number.
I do know that in 2019, I’d like to read beyond just the G part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum. I’ve seen more people start to talk about the fact that a disproportionate number of LGBTQ+ books feature gay male relationships, and I’m sure that’s reflective in my own LGBTQ+ reading (though the LGBTQ+ authors themselves are overwhelmingly female), so I’d like to make more of an effort in 2019 to read books feature lesbian relationships, as well as other parts of the spectrum. Mackenzi Lee did an amazing set of videos on the Epic Reads channel giving recs for all of the different letters on the spectrum (check out part one here and part two here), and I want to try to read at least one book from each of those categories this year.
There you have it! All of the statistics I tracked for my 2018 reading! Obviously it’s not perfect, and I wish I had data on whether authors have mental illnesses or disabilities, but that’s generally harder for me to track down. It’d just help make me more accountable for reading books by diverse authors. Though maybe going forward I should start tracking data about the contents of the books? I can record whether or not the book featured a protagonist of color, a disabled protagonist, a queer protagonist, or a protagonist dealing with mental illness. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, as well as if you have any other suggestions on tracking data!
Anyways, I hope you had a great reading year in 2018 and wish you happy reading in 2019!!