It’s time for my favorite post of the entire year! I love breaking down my reading stats from the past year, though it took me a little longer to put together this year than normal. I really should try to do better about updating my spreadsheet throughout the year so I don’t have to do all of them at once. Regardless, it is here, and it is glorious! Enjoy!
To start with, here are some quick stats for you:
Total books read: 242
Total pages read (including DNFs): 81,184
Average page count per book: 323
Compared to last year, I read 66 more books and about 16,700 more pages. That’s crazy! I saw a minor jump from 2017 to 2018, but this increase is massive. And interestingly enough, my average page count also dropped again, down about 15 pages. It was a 22-page drop from 2017 to 2018.
My star rating analysis is actually a little bit of a sad statistic because my 5-star ratings dropped off significantly. I had 32 percent 5-star ratings in 2018, 11 percent more than in 2019. At the same time, my collective 1- and 2-star ratings increased from four percent to 10 percent this year, which isn’t ideal. I do think I might have been a bit more of a critical reader in reducing some 3-star reads, and I think a lot of this is because I read a lot more big series that were enjoyable, but ultimately only 3 or 4 stars per book. Obviously star ratings don’t fully reflect the state of my reading (as I’ve opined numerous times), but it’s still sad to see my 5-star ratings drop so much.
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.
I said last year that I wanted to boost my kindle percentage, and I did by 20 percent! How cool is that?! See, this is part of why I pushed so hard to get my physical TBR down to zero. The reality is, I just really like the ease, convenience, and experience of reading on my kindle, and the less physical books I own, the more I can take advantage of that.
Despite the increase in my kindle usage, my audible usage also went up, albeit only two percent. Paperbacks and hardcovers each dropped 11 percent from last year, though as you can see, that means I read next to no hardcovers in 2019. I’ve said before that it’s my least favorite format, and you can see the truth of that here.
Backlist vs. New Releases
I think these numbers sound about right. As you can see in the graph, I define a new release as something that I read within six months of its publication date. So a good chunk of what I’m reading is new stuff, though the bulk of it was published previously.
It’s actually about the exact same as last year (66 percent vs. 34 percent), and while last year I was unhappy with a lot of the new releases I had been picking up and wanted to cut back some, this year I’m actually pretty happy with the new releases I’ve been reading! I’ll be curious to see if this number holds again in 2020.
I didn’t even bother to make a graph for this one because it’s so sad. Only 5.8 percent (fourteen) of the books I read in 2019 were rereads. Funny enough, the number is pretty much the same as it was in 2018, when I did in fact make a graph: last year it was six percent. I can’t say what I’d like an ideal number to be, but I do wish it was slightly more than about six percent. Maybe I should strive for ten percent and see how I feel at the end of the year? Idk.
I should add, most of my rereads are books that I read a fairly long time ago. I almost never reread books within a few years of the first time I’ve read them. Jenica at Firewhiskey Reader is inspiring to pick up books I love again much sooner, though, so maybe that’s something I can work on in 2020, too!
Owned vs. Library
Wow, these numbers are scary similar to last year. In 2019, I only counted books as owned or borrowed. This year I put arcs into their own category: they’re kind of owned? But I always pass on physical arcs and buy finished copies of any arcs I really loved, so I don’t really view them in the same way as owned books. I also added a Scribd section, since those aren’t really owned, but they’re not borrowed from the library.
If I combine owned and arcs and then combine the library and Scribd, I get 67 percent vs. 33 percent, which is almost identical to last year’s 64 percent and 36 percent! I’m a little surprised by this, though I’m not really sure whether I should be. I expect this one will change the most in 2020, though, since I’ve reached a zero physical TBR, unless I find myself reading more kindle books I’ve bought? I guess we’ll see!
This breakdown is always one of the most interesting to me! I knew my romance reading increased dramatically in 2019, and in fact it went up seventeen percent. I suspect that attending KissCon, RWA, and the romance event at BookCon contributed to this greatly, as I walked away with A LOT of romance novels. But I also think I read a lot more romance out of comfort, as I wasn’t very happy at my job this past year. I’m planning to attend KissCon again this year, though not RWA, and idk if they’ll do a romance event again at BookCon, so I should still have a lot of exposure to romance in 2020, though I have fortunately changed my job situation, so I’ll be curious to see if this percentage holds constant again in 2020 like it did from 2017 to 2018 or not.
In other genres, nonfiction sadly dropped seven percent, while scifi is down five percent. Those numbers both upset me a bit, as I really love nonfiction and have been enjoying discovering more scifi, so hopefully I can get those numbers back up again in 2020. I also basically killed the miscellaneous section I had in 2018, which was made up of an assortment of classics, historical fiction, lit fic, and mysteries, though my mystery reading went up enough to get its own section with five percent! I think that’s largely due to the Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen, so I have no idea what that number will look like next year.
Surprisingly, fantasy is only down by two percent. I feel like I’ve barely read any fantasy this past year, but the numbers clearly show otherwise! I think my reading has just shifted away from epic/high fantasy towards more urban fantasy (I discovered Kate Daniels this year and started the Guild Hunters series), but still. I would have never guessed!
In terms of subgenres, romance was mostly made up of historical romance (45 percent), followed by contemporary (31 percent), and paranormal (nine percent). The remaining 15 percent included fantasy romance, scifi romance (a new fave! I guess my scifi reading switched over more to romance), and romantic suspense.
My nonfiction reading was largely memoirs (30 percent) and general nonfiction (30 percent). Sadly, I only read one biography last year, and my history reading dropped off, too. Something to keep in mind for 2020, I suppose. And I did in fact read twice as much urban fantasy as epic fantasy last year.
Also, I think it’s interesting to see that my reading was 90 percent adult. I felt like I barely read any YA this past year, and that feeling is affirmed here. That number is down 11 percent from 2018, and while I tracked my reading slightly differently in 2017, I suspect its down from then as well. Most of my YA reading this days are contemporaries, though I do still pick up the occasional YA fantasy. But I’m not as disappointed not to be reading YA as I thought I’d be.
Gender of Author
These numbers are about par with 2018, though I actually read less male authors this past year and instead read a lot of Ilona Andrews, a husband-and-wife writing duo who make up most of the “both” category! And while I did read at least one book this past year by a nonbinary author, I didn’t include it in the chart since it didn’t even amount to one percent.
In case you’re curious (I was), if you filter out romance, the numbers change to 62 percent women, 19 percent men, and 18 percent both. Obviously romance is largely written by women, and that’s the bulk of what I read, but I’m not surprised that I still tend to gravitate more towards female authors even when I’m not reading romance.
As per previous years, I have no qualms about reading books from primarily female authors and have no intention of changing that figure. I’m just more interested in books written by women, though I would like to commit to picking up more books by nonbinary authors in 2020.
New to Me Authors
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this number, but I guess I thought it would be lower? I don’t feel like I try that many new authors, but clearly I do! Though this stat is slightly down from 2018, when 41 percent of the books I read were by new to me authors.
The stat in the graph only accounts for the first book I picked up by a new to me author, but if you count all of the books I read in 2019 by authors I hadn’t read prior to 2019, the number actually jumps up to 51 percent! I thought this was pretty cool, but then I realized that I did the same thing last year, and the number jumped to 65 percent. Make of that what you will.
Most Read Authors
My most read author in 2020 was definitely writing duo Ilona Andrews. I finally read the Hidden Legacy series and loved them, so I circled back to their Kate Daniels series, and wound up binging the entire thing. Basically, they’re a new favorite, and I can’t wait to see them at KissCon!
Nalini Singh‘s presence continued to be strong in 2019. Good lord, her backlist never ends! I finished out the Psy/Changeling series and caught up on the Psy/Changeling Trinity books, and made a decent dent in the Guild Hunters series. I plan to finish that series in 2020 and catch up on the Hard Play series, which Jenica kindly gifted me for Christmas after we read Rock Hard together as part of our reading project!
Other frequently read authors include Rhys Bowen at 11 (I read the Royal Spyness series this past year), Julia Quinn at 9 (I reread the Bridgerton books), Meg Cabot and Alyssa Cole at 7, Lisa Kleypas at 6, and Tessa Dare, Camille Monk, and Elia Winters at 5.
Not going to lie, I’m a little disappointed in these numbers. I know my goal was to read at least 30 percent authors of color, and I met that, but I think I can do much better, and I will in 2020. I’d specifically like to dramatically increase the number of black authors I read, especially after what happened with RWA over Christmas, but I think I can bring the total number of books read by authors of color up much closer to 50 percent in 2020.
*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. This coding also doesn’t account for authors who identify as biracial or mixed race, instead identifying them primarily by the marginalized part of their identity. Obviously reality is much more nuanced and complex than what I have in this graph, but I think this still holds some important data and provides a good snapshot to ensure I’m reading diversely.
Author Country of Origin
No surprise that the bulk of the authors I read in 2020 are American. I do see value in reading from other parts of the world, but it’s not really a priority for me in my reading at this point in time. That said, I am disappointed to see that the countries of origin for my reading in 2019 are less varied than they were last year.
I’m not sure if it’s cheating to count, but Ilona in Ilona Andrews is Russian, and I read 19 books written by her and her husband. I also read 15 books by Nalini Singh, who is from New Zealand, and then 15 books by UK authors, five by French author Camille Monk, three by Canadian authors, two by Australian authors, two by authors originally from India and Japan, and one each by authors originally from the Dominican Republic, an unspecified place in the Caribbean, Iraq, and Pakistan.
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.
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+. That number jumped slightly from 11 percent to 12.4 percent. I’m not sure what percentage I should shoot for here, but I figure it can’t hurt to aim for an increase again in 2020.
I mentioned last year that I’d like to start reading beyond just the G in the LGBTQ+ spectrum, especially focusing on f/f books, and while I’ve definitely done that some in 2019, I think it’s something to keep striving for in 2020.
In addition to data on what I’ve been reading this past year, I thought I’d take a closer look at some data on what I’m buying. I don’t track this as carefully as I do my reading via Goodreads, and I didn’t put it in a spreadsheet, so this is very much back-of-the-napkin math. It also doesn’t properly track books I was gifted at events (i.e. BookCon) and arcs, so I’m sure that would skew my data some, but I think it’s a good enough approximation.
Where I Bought Books
It shouldn’t surprise me that the bulk of my books are from Amazon, but still! I bought 128 books from Amazon last year in a mix of physical and digital copies. Obviously Amazon dominates my digital purchases, and I primarily read on my kindle, but I was surprised I bought so many physical books from Amazon. I also bought 29 books at Barnes & Noble and bought/was gifted 51 at other places, including The Strand, Shakespeare & Co., Lil Book Bug, KissCon, Word, Book Depository, The Ripped Bodice, BookCon, the NYPL, Smithsonian, and RWA.
How Many Books I Bought
Again, we’re dealing with some pretty rough calculations, but I bought at least 157 books last year. I would say I acquired approximately 270 books, including gifts and arcs from publishers and freebies on Amazon. I’ve since read or passed a lot of these along, plus I have no qualms about acquiring free digital copies of books even if I don’t intend to read them in the near future (to be clear, though, I do make an effort to promptly review arcs!).
Fun fact: Approximately 35 books that I bought this past year are books I read before buying a physical copy, whether because I read an arc copy or a library copy. I only do that for books and authors I really love!
What Format I Bought
Not surprisingly, most of the books I bought were in kindle format, totaling out at around 100 books. I am surprised to see so many paperbacks at 82, but I think this number includes a lot that I acquired at events like BookCon and RWA. I’m very skeptical that I bought that many books in 2019, but I guess you never know. Additionally, I purchased 17 hardcover books in 2019 and 13 audiobooks.
Honestly, I should really do this post BEFORE I write my goals posts for the new year, as I feel like I just outlined a bunch of new goals for my reading, but that’s an easy post to write before the end of the year, and this one definitely is not!
I love looking back at my reading and seeing how my expectations line up with what I actually read. I think next year I’d like to do a better job of keeping track of what I buy, too, so I can do better than the very rough statistics provided above! Maybe I’ll add another tab to my excel spreadsheet.
Let me know if you think I missed any interesting observations or stats, or have ideas on areas I can improve my reading this year. And don’t forget to check out my other yearend posts, namely my 2020 reading goals and my favorite books of 2019!
Happy reading in 2020!!