By the Numbers: 2008

Update: I finished another book and so have adjusted my numbers accordingly.

I’ve enjoyed analyzing my reading using some math in years past, so I can’t resist doing it again:

Books read: 63

Fiction (of any genre or length): 44

Nonfiction: 18

Poetry: 1 (although I’ve been in the middle of a second book for a long time)

Short story collections: 2

Nonfiction books about books and reading: 8

Female authors: 32

Male authors: 30 (including one writing under a female pseudonym)

Multiple authors, men and women: 1

Books in translation: 4

Books by authors from England, Scotland, or Ireland: 34

Books by Americans: 21

Books by Canadians: 3

Books by Japanese: 2

Books from the 11th century: 1 (Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book)

Books from the 14th century: 1 (Kenko’s Essays in Idleness)

Books from the 17th century: 1 (Milton’s Paradise Lost)

Books from the 19th century: 10

Books from the 20th century:  22  (first half: 8; second half: 14)

Books from the 21st century: 28

Books re-read: 4 (two of them I re-read for class and probably wouldn’t have otherwise)

Different books from authors I’d read in previous years: 11

The total number of books I read this year is in between the numbers for the last two years, which were 70 last year and 54 the year before (my previous by the numbers posts are here and here).  I think the drop in the total number from last year has mostly to do with the increase in my cycling and triathlon training.

I’m surprised I didn’t manage to read anything from the 18th century, although one of the books, Adeline Mowbray, is usually considered an 18th-century novel, even though it was published in 1804.  I’m embarrassed that I only read four books in translation.  That’s really bad. Maybe I can do better next year?  Compared to the last two years, the gender breakdown has been similar — I tend to read fairly equal numbers of men and women.  I also tend to read similar numbers of older and more recent books — I usually read around 11-12 pre-20th century books — and the same is true for the fiction/nonfiction breakdown.  It’s interesting to me that these numbers are consistent, when I don’t think about them when I’m choosing books and don’t check out how I’m doing during the year.

I don’t intend to make any reading resolutions for next year, but I might think about reading some pre-19th century books and more books in translation.


Filed under Books, Reading

13 responses to “By the Numbers: 2008

  1. It’s interesting to see how reading fluctuates with other activities. I can always tell when I’ve read more than worked on needlework as I’ll have very few needlework finishes (like this year and last) and lots more books read than normally. I like how you manage to read an equal number of men and women and books written in varying periods without even thinking about it. I want to vary my reading more, and I need to read more books in translation, too–I only read two more than you did. I’m looking forward to hearing what your favorites were!


  2. Now I’m curious – what was your 2008 Book of Poetry?


  3. What a fun list to share — I’m impressed that you’ve read such a great variety of books from authors from different times and spaces. Usually my book goals are more vague (i.e. “read more poetry this year”) because of the knitting projects. Like Danielle in reverse.

    Do you have any specific titles you’ve been putting off reading, that you’ll read for 2009?


  4. I love people’s stats as much as their best-of lists! And I was particularly tickled by the huge list of centuries you read from – who else could claim to stretch back as far as the 11th century?? Here’s to another fabulous reading year in 2009!


  5. Your wide-ranging reading is impressive. I don’t pay attention to choosing male/ female authors either and I seem to very often end up reading more men than women which is always disappointing. But on the fiction/nonfiction I tend to be very close to half and half without thinking about it. Hmm, I wonder what that says about me?


  6. Oh I liked how you also did yours by century – very cool! Now, I haven’t missed your favorites of the year have I?

    I do love these lists 🙂


  7. Danielle — I’ll have to make reading books in translation a priority next year. If I don’t pay attention to it, it just doesn’t happen, unfortunately. Kate had a books in translation challenge a while back which helped a lot. I don’t want to do a challenge, but something similar would tempt me. I think I end up with the variety because when I choose a new book I try to find something different from my last one — I might move from a woman to a man or from a contemporary novel to an old one. That seems to work pretty well.

    Box of Books — it was Paradise Lost. If I’m only going to read one poetry book, might as well make it a big one, right? 🙂 The one I’m still working on is Wallace Stevens. I’m hoping to get a bit more variety next year.

    Debby — there have been a few books I’ve been meaning to get to for years: Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives and Samuel Beckett’s Molloy come to mind. Also Balzac and Zola. It’s classics, I suppose, that I have in the back of my mind to read for a long time before getting there. Eventually! I’m a big fan of vague reading goals, though — otherwise I feel too burdened by them.

    Litlove — the books from the 11th and 14th centuries are thanks to my essay project (reading books mentioned in Philip Lopate’s The Art of the Personal Essay), and I’m so glad I found them! It’s especially fun to read books from earlier centuries when they are as short and entertaining as those two were! 🙂

    Stefanie — I’m not sure what any of this says about us. But that’s okay — as long as we are picking books we enjoy, it can’t matter all that much. I’ll just have to find a way to be equally wide-ranging next year! 🙂

    Iliana — I just posted the best-of list. I like figuring out the centuries too — it’s fun to break it all down. I’ve gotten a kick out of reading other people’s lists too! 🙂


  8. Unfortunately not done yet. I am going to have to work for a few hours on Friday and then I have the first two days next week. New job starts Wednesday with no time in between. Oy.


  9. Oh, that’s hard. But worth it, I’m sure. Soon enough this transition will be a memory — yay!


  10. So much fun to read people’s stats and to check out their categories. I love reading your reviews, too. Happy New Year, Dorothy!


  11. With everything else you have going on, I’d say that is a very respectable number. I surpassed my personal goal of 52 books this year. I ended up reading 64, which I’m pretty happy with. Hope you have a great 2009!


  12. Interesting how balanced your reading of male/female authors came out. Is that by design or just chance?

    Don’t neglect your 12th and 13th century reading again this year. 😉 All the best: Happy New Year!


  13. Jenclair — happy new year! I love reading people’s stats as well — it’s a nice glimpse into people’s reading lives.

    Lisa — how great that you met your goal! And you passed it by quite a bit.

    Bikkuri — it was totally by chance. I don’t plan out my reading all that much. I do notice whether I’m reading mostly men or mostly women now and then, but I don’t do it in a systematic way. I’ll have to look around in those centuries! I think I’ll have the 16th century covered this year, but those earlier ones are tougher 🙂


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