2013: The Charts

One of my favourite things to do at the end of the year is to review my year’s reading in statistical charts and I choose not to ponder what weird thing this says about my personality. However peculiar, it is at least (mostly) harmless.

For the second year in a row my overall numbers were below what I’d have liked (which is somewhere near the high point of 2011) but given the personal turmoil of this year I’m just glad to have read anything at all. For someone who has had a book of one sort or another within easy reach for as long as I can remember my total lack of interest in reading that pervaded a few months this year was disconcerting. Happily I know now that my mojo is back, hopefully to stay.


This next chart shows the number of books read each month this year and gives you an idea of when things started to go awry, though some of those lean months are a bit misleading as I basically listened to nothing but Dick Francis audio books for a while (bless you Tony Britton)


No. of books read each month in 2013

One of my resolutions this year was to focus more on Australian authors and I’m pleased to report success. I have read 42 books by Australian authors this year, a respectable 40% of my total year’s reading. Participating in the Australian Women Writers challenge accounted for almost half of this number and being a judge for a national crime fiction award also helped.


I have a bunch of ways I measure the diversity of my reading, though regular readers of the blog will know that genre-busting isn’t one of them 🙂 But I’ve managed to keep up my reading of translated fiction reasonably well, this year reading 22 books which first appeared in other languages.


I’m also glad to report that I maintained a decent level of trying new authors, keeping my percentage at well over a third again this year. Not quite as high as several years ago but the downside to continuously finding new authors to love is that you want to read more than one of their books!


This year I read 45 books by women and 59 by men but I’m still close enough to the 50/50 mark not to be too concerned about any gender imbalance in my reading.


My final personal measure of my reading diversity is the number of virtual places I visit and happily this year I’ve been to a swag of interesting places. Here’s a chart you’ll probably have to click on to be able to read properly but check out yesterday’s post if you want to know what books I read for each of the 27 countries I ‘visited’ this year


On the format front I’m afraid I’m not going terribly well. I was hopeful when I bought my eReader that within 5 years I’d be reading almost totally in eBook format but only 7 of the 104 books I read this year were eBooks. Partly this is to do with my other key resolution for the year which was to buy all my books from Australian shops. eBooks here are now relatively easy to get (for non-kindle users) but they are rarely much cheaper than their print counterparts, especially for new releases, and I don’t fancy paying $20-30 for a book I can’t pass on to a friend or donate to the local charity shop when I’m done. But I have to be honest and say I really don’t enjoy reading an eBooks as much as I do a good, old-fashioned paper one. Having had a big cull of my physical books when I moved in 2012 I do have physical space to play with at the moment so the driver for making the switch to eBooks hasn’t really been as strong as it was when my shelves were crammed.


Format of books read 2008-2013

On the bright side though I did brilliantly on my resolution to buy any books I wanted from Australian shops (audio books being my one exception as it simply isn’t possibly to get them at a reasonable price via an Australian outlet). Of the 53 books I bought, 25 were in physical or eBook format and only one of those was from overseas (DA Mishani’s THE MISSING FILE if you want to know and only because I wanted to read it before the International Dagger Award winners were announced and it was unavailable in Australia at that time). However, as I predicted I did buy less books overall. Indeed half-way through the year I’d bought almost no books at all and when I realised this I actively started to buy books from my local independent store and a local online store. I reasoned there’s not much point in only achieving half a goal. For a while it hurt (knowing I was spending more than I needed to) but then I just decided to pretend it’s 2003 again and Book Depository doesn’t exist 🙂 It works for me.


This final graph also bears out my prediction, that my new purchasing habits would change my borrowing habits and this year I’ve gotten better at using my library system to get books I want to read.


Percentage of books I’ve read that are owned and borrowed

What about you? Do you keep any stats or track your reading in any way? Or are you too busy backing away slowly and avoiding eye contact with the crazy chart lady?

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10 Responses to 2013: The Charts

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Bernadette – I am so pleased you did these charts. I look forward to this feature of yours. I admire your ability to present detail this effectively. I also must say I respect the way you keep track of things that are important to you (e.g. reading Australian authors, gender balance in your readings and so on). I’m sorry you had ONE OF THOSE YEARS, and I wish for you that 2014 be a better time.


  2. Keishon says:

    Bernadette, I enjoyed reading your charts am glad to hear your mojo is back. Sorry to hear that this year was a challenging one. Hopefully 2014 will better.

    As for keeping track of what I read? Umm, I’ve never been any good at that. The stats would be nice but I just don’t want to put the work into it. Poor follow-through and consistency is my problem/excuse. At any rate, I might give it a try next year.


  3. Jose Ignacio says:

    Lovely charts as always Bernadette.


  4. I love your charts and things, its beyond me to keep records that closely so I admire your ability to do so. Wishing you a successful 2014!


  5. Kathy D. says:

    Love the charts,
    I keep a list of what I’ve read by country, add up authors by gender, new to me or not.
    I did not reach my recent years’ totals, but I fulfilled the expert level and I read books set in 21 countries. I liked several books, including Norwegian By Night, The Dying Beach, The Cuckoo’s Calling, Critical Mass. More, but have to check list!


    • I really must read Norwegian by Night – have not heard a bad word about it.

      For some reason I still can’t bring myself to read The Cuckoo’s Calling Kathy – I am somewhat put off by the whole “let’s keep the author a secret until it doesn’t sell well then let it out of the bag” – not that I think JK Rowling was responsible for that, but someone in her publishing entourage must have been desperate for it – and the reality is the book would have sunk without trace if her name had been kept a secret.


      • LauraR says:

        Before the big reveal, I was probably one of the few to have The Cuckoo’s Calling on my borrow or buy in paperback list, primarily thanks to Val McDermid reviewing it positively on release.


  6. Love the charts (like everyone else above!) I find them so interesting. I’m just about to look through my list from the year, and you have inspired me to look at a few more aspects, such as author gender and book format, though I won’t be producing such splendid charts as you….


  7. LauraR says:

    I love your commitment to analysing your reading! I may have to have a play with Excel now….. I only keep a bare yearly list of name/author or books read,plus rating out of 5 (useful aide memoire for submitting mid/full year EC top 5s!)


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