The Year in Books

Another orbital period has passed, which means it’s time to recap the year or some such thing. I’m still catching up on movies, and I’ll be posting a recap of the year in beer in the next few days too, but let’s take a look at my reading for 2013 and see where I’m at. I keep track of my book reading at Goodreads, and they have some fancy statistic generator things (that isn’t anywhere near as detailed as I’d like, but hey, I’ll take what I can get). Since I’ve been using the site for a while now, I’ve got several years worth of stats to compare too.

Let’s start with overall books read:

Number of books I read from 2010-2013

So I’ve read 31 books in 2013, which looks like a significant decrease when compared to 2012, but that is a bit misleading too. I was reading solely for quantity in 2012, and I cheated a bit in that I read a bunch of short novellas and comic book collections. My original idea for 2013 was to only read super long epics, but that was perhaps too ambitious, so I just sorta read what I wanted, length be damned. Of course, book length is tricky to measure, but by any standard, the average length of books I read in 2013 was much higher than 2013. On the other hand, it appears I did read more overall in 2012:

Number of pages I read from 2010-2012

Proportionally, it’s not as big a disparity, but it is still significant. It appears that reading super long epics does sorta take longer than reading three smaller books with an equivalent number of pages. That’s perhaps not strictly true, but longer books tend to meander, which means I tend to get bored and fall asleep earlier and thus not cover as much ground.

Longest Book and Shelves

The perfect example of this is Pandora’s Star, the longest book I read in 2013 and the first in a bloated duo of books that are supremely longwinded. I don’t normally mind this, but those books tested even my patience (though I did enjoy them quite a bit in the end). All told, those two books alone account for almost 20% of my reading this year. Another epic of note that I read was Douglas R. Hofstadter’s monumental Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. It clocks in at 832 pages, but it is some very dense, heady stuff, and it had been sitting on my shelf unread for about 5 years or so.

You can also see that I read a small portion of comic book collections and novellas in 2013 as well, but not as many as in 2012. Other stats of note:

  • 3 Comic Books (one Morning Glories and two Locke & Key)
  • 2 Novellas (both from Ian Sales’ Apollo Quartet)
  • 8 Non-Fiction books, which is less than last year, but proportionally more
  • 10 of the 31 books were written by women, which is again less than last year, but proportionally much higher. It’s still not equitable, but 2012 was the year of Lois McMaster Bujold, while 2013 was much broader (9 different female authors).
  • 23 Fiction books, mostly in the science fiction or fantasy realm, though a couple of oddballs popped here or there.

Goodreads also provides a neat little gizmo that graphs publication dates, as such:

Graph of publication dates

If you click the image above, you should be able to get a more interactive version of the graph, though I do find it annoying that it only states the publication date, not what book it is! The oldest book of the year was Leigh Brackett’s 1949 tale of Martian adventure, The Sword of Rhiannon (for those who don’t recognize the name, she was one of the screenwriters on for The Empire Strikes Back).

So it’s been a pretty good year for reading. I certainly didn’t get through as much as planned, and I definitely didn’t spend as much time reading in 2013, but I think I did pretty well. As for next year, I think I’m going to take a similar approach: read what I want, length be damned. I may also get off my arse and read all the Hugo nominated books this year, something I’ve always wanted to do. Indeed, I’m pretty sure that I’ve just read a book that will be nominated in Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, but I’d also like to take a shot at the other (shorter) fiction categories. I’ll probably set my sights at a similar 30 books/11,000 pages rate for 2014, but who knows how things will go?

2 thoughts on “The Year in Books”

  1. I read 49 in 2012 and 38 in 2013. I still set my goal for this year as 52 books. A book a week is reasonable, I think, since while something like A Storm Of Swords may take me two weeks or more to slog through, there are usually some weeks where I can polish off a Mercedes Lackey, and one or two shorter nonfiction, YA or mystery books easily. I may also start adding some cookbooks. I used to not include these as really reading, but we have a few text heavy cookbooks and drink books we received as gifts that I may sit down and read cover to cover. Having to plan the wedding really cut into my reading time last year. Also, I think the fact that I use the DVR only to record quality TV, means that I generally sit down and actually only focus on the TV most of the time I watch it now. I don’t think I watch more TV than I used to, but I watch more good TV that isn’t just on as background noise and so I can’t read a novel and watch TV at the same time.

    For the past few years, I have tried to focus on a specific author or theme to help guide me in choosing what to read and sort of create an urgency in reading. For 2013, it was first novels. This did not work so well, since it is much harder to pick from a broad category. And with the exception of the Mysteries of Pittsburgh, most authors first novels are not usually their best novels or necessarily even that great. I may take a break from that this year and like you, just read whatever I want. The library has a new system where you can set the beginning date of a hold request, so I’ve started trying to request books I want to read as soon as I first hear about them and then throw in a random date. And for trilogies and series, I can add multiple books at one sitting but space them out a month or two in between.

  2. On average, I’d say that I read about 200-300 pages per week, so something like Storm of Swords would probably take me 3-4 weeks (which is roughly what it took me to take down the Commonwealth Duo).

    I’ve also been watching a lot more TV lately, though mostly on Netflix/Amazon Prime, etc… Some stuff is on my DVR, but I hate waiting week to week for shows. I only really watch a handful of shows live, and those tend to be HBO or something, like Game of Thrones (so no commercials). TV has cut more into my movie time than reading though. I’m far behind where I’ve been at this time in the past few years. Not that it’s a job or anything:p

    I think the big guiding principle for me this year will be the Hugo awards. We’re entering the nominations phase now, and they’ll be announced in the next few months. I may even purchase a worldcon basic membership (which comes with a packet of all the stuff nominated, so it’s worth it) so that I can vote. Should be interesting…

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