Personal · Reading

My 2014 in books – the halfway point.

I love reading and I love statistics so I always love posts about reading stats, whether my own or others’. The last time I talked properly about the stats behind my reading was at the end of 2012 (you can see that post here) – I wasn’t so good about keeping detailed stats in 2013 unfortunately.

I didn’t set any specific reading goals at the beginning of 2014, I simply decided I wanted to be more mindful about what I was reading. I wanted to continue to extend the range of books I was reading, and I wanted to make sure there was greater diversity in my reading both when it came to the characters in the books and the people who were writing them. With that in mind I drew up a spreadsheet so that I could track all sorts of data about what I was reading and have been filling it in ever since.

I wasn’t going to write a halfway post which is why now I’ve decided to do it it’s coming towards the end of July rather than the beginning (I am still only counting the books read between 1st January and 30th June). Part of this was because I didn’t read as many books as I’d hoped in the first half of the year. I think though that it’s still worth looking at how my reading in the first six months of the year breaks down – I have a feeling the picture in the second half of the year may be a little different. No graphs in this post I’m afraid, you’ll have to come back at the end of December for that fun!

The Basics.
So far in 2014 I’ve read 32 books. Of these the target age breakdown is as follows:

Children’s (8 and under) – 2
Middle Grade (8 – 12) – 10
Young Adult – 15
Adult – 5

I’m a little surprised by this, whilst I knew the Children’s figure would be low I definitely didn’t expect the Middle Grade figure to be as high as it is. I love middle grade fiction but hadn’t realised I’d read quite so much already this year.

Only one of the books was non-fiction, of the 31 fiction books I read 1 was a novella, 2 were picture books and the rest were novels. I haven’t read any short stories or graphic novels yet this year.

The Authors.
So far this year I’ve looked at a couple of traits for the authors who’ve written the books I’ve been reading. In terms of nationality they breakdown:

Australian – 1
French – 1
Irish – 2
American – 9
British – 19

I really wish there was a bit more of a range here. I’m really pleased to see that I’m reading lots of books by British authors, but I’m going to try harder to read more broadly for the rest of the year.

The gender breakdown is also something I’ve been interested in. So far I’ve read 19 books written by a female author, 12 books written by a male author and one book co-written by a male and female pairing.

8 of the 32 books are début novels, 7 of the these are by female authors. The début novelists come from 4 of the 5 nationalities I’ve read (Australia, France, USA (2) and UK (3) ).

The Books.
I’m not going to drill too deeply into the data I’ve been collecting on the books in this post. I’m going to pick out three of the things I’m really interested in but save the rest for my big round up at the end of the year – I think there will definitely be a couple of posts in it.

One thing I have been curious about is whether I naturally lean more towards standalone books or those which make up series. So far I’ve read 18 standalone books, 8 series openers, 3 books that are second in a series, 1 that’s third in the series, 1 from a series of companion novels and 1 prequel (the novella). This is pretty much as I expected, I sometimes find series harder to keep track of so have a bit of a habit of reading the first book in a series and then waiting until I can read all of the subsequent books in a row.

In addition to looking at the the gender of the author I’m also looking at the gender of the main characters of the books I’m reading. This one’s a little more tricky to record, there are books where I’m finding myself wondering about the most accurate way to describe it – some are dual narrative (though this is easy, I’m just recording the gender of each narrator), more difficult are the ones where I find myself wondering whether they have a true main character or fall more into the ensemble grouping. As it stands the breakdown is as follows (only includes novels and novellas):

Male Ensemble – 1
Dual Narrative Male and Male – 1
Mixed Ensemble – 3
Dual Narrative Female and Male – 4
Male Main Character – 8
Female Main Character – 13

For the same set of books I’ve also been looking at representation of diversity. I’ve been noting books that feature at least a significant supporting character from one or more minority groups. 5/29 feature at least one LGBT character, 3/29 have at least one character with a disability and 11/29 have one or more characters of colour. I’m being at least a little deliberate in my aims to read books with more diverse characters – if they’re not being read and talked about they’re not going to increase in their numbers. This is an area I really hope to do yet more with over the second half of the year.

The rest of the year.
I’m glad I’ve taken the time to look back at what I’ve been reading so far this year. There are some gaps I want to fix; to read more non-fiction books and some short stories and graphic novels for starters. I also want to try and broaden my reading further, I want to make sure I’ve read books by authors from all of the continents. Finally I want to keep doing what I’m doing, but just do more of it. Reading as many varied books as I can and talking about them.

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