By the numbers

I thought I’d do one more post about the past year; it occurs to me that looking at some of the numbers might be interesting and might show me something about how I read. I have never kept track of my reading quite so carefully before, so I might as well take advantage of it and analyze the information I’ve got.

  • Books read: 56 (it might possibly go up to 57 by Sunday night, but I’m not sure, so I’ll leave it at that.)
  • Novels: 36
  • Nonfiction: 17
  • Poetry collections: 2 (although I’m now halfway through another one.)
  • Short story collections: 1
  • Journals/diaries (included in the nonfiction number): 2
  • Books written by men: 24
  • Books written by women: 32
  • Books in translation: 8
  • Books from the 11th century: 1 (The Tale of Genji)
  • From the 18th century: 4
  • From the 19th century: 6
  • From the 20th century: 23
  • From the 21st century: 22
  • From the 20th or 21st century but about an earlier century: 6
  • Books read for book groups (online or in-person): 7
  • Nonfiction about books, reading, literature, or literary history: 9
  • Travel books: 2 (Tobias Smollett and Rory Stewart)

I tried to count how many essay collections and memoirs I’d read, but I run into problems with categorization; for example, is Pankaj Mishra’s An End to Suffering a memoir? A history book? A book on religion?

I have no idea what percentage of men vs. women I’ve read in the past; it wouldn’t surprise me, though, if I usually read more men than women. But this time I read more women than men, which makes sense to me, as I felt throughout the year that I was discovering a lot of women writers I really like: Rebecca West, Anita Brookner, Muriel Spark, Elizabeth Taylor.

I see I haven’t read as much from the 19th century or earlier as I thought I might — 11 books. Maybe for next year the classics challenge I’m doing (13 books) will change that. Not all of the 13 are from the 19C or earlier, but with those and others I might increase the number. But if I add in the books I read about earlier centuries, I reach 17, which isn’t too bad.

I’d like to read more books in translation. And more short story collections, and more poetry, and more travel books, and more essays, and more books on religious history, and more books on literary history, etc., etc. It’s the problem Stefanie wrote about: what to do when with every new book one reads (especially history and books about books), one’s to-be-read list grows? I’d like to read in many different areas, and I’d also like to read deeply in a few, but I can’t do both. My list of books I’d like to read now has 167 books on it, which doesn’t include the 90 books I own but haven’t yet read. Yikes!


Filed under Books, Lists, Reading

2 responses to “By the numbers

  1. i like the way you list your reading stats, so cute (especially the books by the gender of authors). 🙂 if you like travel books, i’d recommend as the romans do by alan epstein.


  2. Pingback: By the Numbers: 2008 « Of Books and Bicycles

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