Last year was…. a year. My reading life was up and down and not at all what I expected it to be, but it was a year we could not have expected, so there’s that. I read 155 books last year, which is very slightly down from 2019, when I read 160, but I’m not bothered by that. Why would I be? It was 155 books. That’s a lot!
I also began using The StoryGraph, which is a book platform like Goodreads, but it actually works, suggests books you’ll actually be interested in, and isn’t affiliated with Amazon. It has a clean layout and provides statistics about things like books and pages read per month, pacing (fast, medium, or slow), length, genre, fiction vs nonfiction, and mood. Ratings down to the quarter-star can be given to provide a more accurate rating, assuming you rate books. It also shows user-generated content and trigger warnings if you need or want them.
I’ll still use Goodreads, but to a lesser degree now that StoryGraph is up and fully running. If you’re looking for a reading app, and you don’t like how error-riddled Goodreads is, or you don’t like that it’s owned by Amazon, give The StoryGraph a try.
And now on to the statistics.
- Gender: 61% of the books I read were written by women, 34.2% were by men, 3.2% were collaborations by men and women, and the remainder were written by non-binary or by unknown authors.
- Nationality: 53.6% were written by American authors, 26.8% were written by English authors, 5.9% were Canadian 2% were Icelandic, while 1.3% each were Italian, German, and Welsh authors. One book was written by an American/English pair of authors. I thought I had read more by authors from other countries, but I guess not. I should read more by authors who are not from the US or UK.
- Format: 51.6% of what I read were physical books, 21.9% were ebooks, and 26.5% were audiobooks. This doesn’t surprise me, as I’m not a big ebook reader. Most of those ebooks were ARCs from NetGalley, and a few were library books I checked out via Overdrive or Hoopla during the months I could not go into the library. I don’t imagine this will change very much in 2021, as I still have a strong preference for physical books.
- Genre: Fantasy was my primary genre again in 2020 (no surprise). It made up 31% of the books I read, followed by Nonfiction at 14.7%, YA Fantasy at 9.7%, Historical Fiction with 9.7%, Science Fiction with 6.5%, Memoir with 3.2%, Mystery and General Fiction with 2.6% each, Horror at 1.9%, and then Middle-Grade Fantasy and Graphic Novels with 1.3%. I read one photography book.
- Source: 47.7% of the books I read came from my own shelves. Not surprising, given all the shut-downs we have, even if my state never went into a full lockdown. 37.4% came from the library, and the remaining 14.8% came from NetGalley
- The oldest book I read was The Prose Edda, by Snorri Sturluson (translated from the Icelandic by Jesse Byock), which was written in or around 1220 CE.
- According to my Goodreads data (which is a little wonky, given how they input audiobook information), I read 54,297 pages, had an average book length of 350 pages, and an average rating of 3.9 stars. The rating is a little higher than it has been in previous years, in part because I was seeking out books I knew I would enjoy.
I stated in an earlier post that I wanted to take Nike’s advice and ‘Just Do It’ in 2021, which means I’m going to tackle a lot of the books I’ve been putting off for one reason or another. This may lead to my taking on a bunch of books I end up not liking, but at least I’ll have given them a shot. And who knows? I might find a few favorite.
So what this ‘Just Do It’ mantra means for me is that I’m going to try to procrastinate less (so far, so good), and get down to the business of finishing up a slew of “I’ve been meaning to do that” sorts of projects. I have my Reading Big Books challenge going on (I’m finishing up Paradise Lost– so far, so good), and I’m planning to read the full History of Middle-earth series using the beautiful hardbound bind-up set I bought last summer. There are twelve books total, and because I had it in my head that there were thirteen, I tasked myself with reading two of them in January: The Book of Lost Tales, pt. 1 and The Book of Lost Tales, pt. 2. December will be an open month as far as Middle-earth goes, which is fine because that’s normally when I reread The Lord of the Rings.
Otherwise, I’m going to push myself to branch out and read books by more diverse authors, from more countries, and in genres I don’t normally reach for. I also want to read more nonfiction than I usually do, as I enjoy learning new things and I don’t often reach for those books.
As of this writing, I have finished seven books in 2021- a few novellas I’d been meaning to get to, a poetry book by a Black poet, and a curious little literary fiction title by an Icelandic author. So far, so good for the ‘Just Do It’ mantra. We’ll see what the rest of 2021 brings. Hopefully more peace and quiet. I’m tired of living in interesting times.
About That Writing Thing:
At the end of 2019, I picked back up with a fanfiction series I’d put down a few years earlier. I dusted off my notes, adjusted some of the plot and character points I wasn’t happy with (which were the things that led to my initially abandoning the project, unbeknownst to me at the time), and got to work writing it. Since then, I’ve written three short stories, one novella, and a novelette in the series and received a lot of positive feedback from readers of the series, new and old. I’m about 40,000 words into the next installment of the story, which will probably end up being novel length (I’m estimating around 100,000 words, but it may go a little longer).
After that, the series will have another long story (probably another 100,000-120,000 words), and then a much shorter story to finalize everything. I’m hoping to finish it all up by next winter, but we’ll see how the writing goes. There are days when I can put down 1,000 words in no time, and days where I struggle to get two paragraphs. But I’ll keep working on it because I know that once I finally finish it, it will feel fantastic to write “The End”.
So those are my bookish goals for 2021. To read and write the things I’ve been meaning to read and write for a long time. Carpe diem, and all that.
What are your plans for 2021?