Reading stats for 2016

Apparently I wrote my 2015 stats on the first day of 2016, which suggests I was rather more organised then than I’ve managed so far in 2017 – but at least it’s still January, right? I particularly enjoy coming up with my favourite reads of the year (you can see my 2016 faves here), but it’s also fun to do a few more bits and pieces around the sorts of books I read. And I always enjoy reading other people’s too, so do pop a link in the comments if you’ve done it.

Number of books read
I read exactly 100 books in 2016 – and, yes, on December 30th that number was 98. That was so close to a hundred that I quickly finished off two books that were on my bedside table. (It’s also slightly fewer than I read last year – 106 – but makes working out percentages extremely easy.)

Male/female authors
I read 40 books by men, 57 by women, and 3 that had male and female authors. That’s a much higher percentage by women than last year, but that year was something of an anomaly – this was pretty par for the course.

74 fiction, 26 non-fiction. That is a lot lower for non-fiction than I was expecting, since it felt like I read a lot more non-fiction than usual in 2016. I think I just had a few periods where I blitzed a lot of non-fiction in one go. I don’t know if I’m disappointed in this statistic or not, but I’m certainly surprised.

Books in translation
Conversely, I thought I’d done quite poorly for translation this year, but actually read 8 – which might be an all-time high? They were from French, German, Swedish, Flemish, Turkish, and Spanish. Mostly French, I think.

Most-read author
3 books seems to be the most I read by any single author – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and E. Nesbit both landed on that number (and it was also the first time I tried Adichie – ‘discovering’ her was one of the keynotes of 2016’s reading for me).

Only 3, which might be my lowest ever – and none at all in the first half of the year. I re-read The Summer Book by Tove Jansson and The Victorian Chaise-Longue for podcasts, and Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson because it’s fabs. I do like the idea of re-reading less, because I’m hoping to get further down the tbr pile.

New-to-me authors
This one was surprisingly high – 47 of the books I read this year were by authors I’d never read before. In a handful of cases it was because they were writing about authors I had read before, but mostly not. I do like it being about half-and-half returning to older authors and exploring new ones; I’ll keep to that in 2017 if I can.

Looking back at 2015’s stats, I apparently read 47 new-to-me authors that year too. Maybe that’s my number.

Oldest book read
I didn’t read anything at all from before 1900 during 2016 – is that the first time ever? More precisely, I didn’t read anything from before 1908: Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wive’s Tale takes this particular crown.

Newest book read
On the other hand, I read 8 books published in 2016 – mostly non-fiction. I think the one published latest in the year is probably Terms and Conditions by Ysenda Maxtone Grahame.

Most disappointing book
There were a handful of books I thought I’d love and ended up… not. None of these were bad books, per se, but I really wanted to be enamoured by The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury – but they were all misses, for the most part.

And then there was Third Girl, which turned out to be a pretty weak Agatha Christie – but we all know that there are a handful of poor books among her output. I can cope with that one better.

Most frustrating book
Why the actual flip did Anthony Doerr need to make All The Light We Cannot See so very long? And so mediocre? And so totally pointless? I get crosser about the further I am away from the reading experience.

Most surprising delight
I had no idea I’d love Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee as much as I did – and it’s been waiting on my shelves for SO long.

The book I’d been nagged about for ages
I finally read some Colette! Probably not the best one to pick, but I did like The Other One a lot, and now Peter can rest contented :)

Best title
I can’t praise the punning Terms and Conditions enough – a brilliant title for a study of girls’ boarding schools.

Worst title
I really enjoyed The Secret Orchard of Roger Ackerley by Diana Petre, but that orchard didn’t mean anything at all. It was a bizarre metaphor that can only have caused confusion to the book-buying public. (And, while I’m criticising, Cider With Rosie may be brilliant, but the cider-with-Rosie bit is quite negligible.)

Book I still haven’t reviewed and should but will I?
I finished Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther by Elizabeth von Arnim back in May, and it’s excellent, but I never got around to writing about it. And if I don’t soon, I’m going to forget even more about it than I’ve already forgotten.

Whither Virginia?
I read a book by Virginia Woolf (Roger Fry – a good biography, but confusing to read her in biographical mode) and a book featuring Virginia Woolf (Priya Parmar’s Vanessa and Her Sister; much better than I’d imagined).

Animals in book titles
Guys, I need you all to check your reading for animals. Somehow there are always some. This year: The Lark by E. Nesbit, Panther by Brecht Evens, Dolphin Street by G.B. Stern, and The Bird of Night by Susan Hill.

Strange things that happened in books I read in 2016
Always the category I enjoy the most! Twins destroyed an art gallery, a toyshop disappeared, a wife was hypnotised to think her husband was invisible, dead people paced the Grand Canyon, the royal family lived in council housing, the world nonchalantly prepared for the end times, a tree haunted a boy, a man healed with his hands, St Francis steps in to save a donkey, Agatha Christie oversaw an argument between her detectives, Jane and Mr Rochester fell in love – but not the ones you’re thinking of – while the ones you are thinking of fought a battle.

27 thoughts on “Reading stats for 2016

  • January 23, 2017 at 12:55 am

    A very fun to read list. I especially enjoyed your section on Strange Things that Happened. I will have to keep track of my books better. These end of year lists are most interesting. All the best reading for 2017. Here’s to more strange things happening.

    • January 25, 2017 at 12:15 am

      Thanks Pam – all the best to you, and may the strange things be contained in the books and not in the political world!

  • January 23, 2017 at 1:06 am

    I’m disappointed that this year WordPress isn’t giving us a report like it usually does, apparently *pout*they are busy doing other things.
    So I haven’t done a post like this … I thought I’d left it too late, but I see from yours that no, it’s not too late, and I do see reporting on the year as a form of accountability to our readers, so I think I should get on with it.

    • January 25, 2017 at 12:14 am

      Oh, never too late, definitely!

  • January 23, 2017 at 7:15 am

    Great statistics. I have Cider with Rosie on my TBR for this year. I hope I enjoy it.

    • January 25, 2017 at 12:13 am

      I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t!

  • January 23, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Are you excluding re-reads from your “books in translation” stats? Otherwise “The Summer Book” should add one to your list.

    • January 25, 2017 at 12:13 am

      Oh, well done Alvaret! I’d missed that one when listing the languages – added in.

  • January 23, 2017 at 9:04 am

    I had ten animals on my list – 2 dogs, a variety of birds plus a tiger, lions, a goldfish and armadillos!
    Love your categories – I am definitely not going to bother reading the Doerr book now!

    • January 25, 2017 at 12:12 am

      Ha! An excellent number of animals. I read a couple about animals, but they didn’t have animals in the title…

    • January 25, 2017 at 12:12 am

      I think I’d happily do a year without re-reading, but somehow it always happens. Not that I resist too much!

  • January 23, 2017 at 9:46 am

    You make me wish I’d kept a list of strange things and other categories. I’d heard so many report os the Doerr book being ‘beautifully written’, which to me always rings a warning bell (as in ‘nothing much happens for 300 pages but look how beautifully the author describes the sun’s rays lighting up the dew on the grass’).

    • January 25, 2017 at 12:12 am

      I always make mine at the end of the year – so I have to try to remember what happened in those books! And yes to the Doerr – only for 300 read 600…

  • January 23, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    I’ve also read All the Light We Cannot See and I totally agree. Apart from being unnecesarily long, the characters didn’t appeal to me and at the end I didn’t much care about what happened to them.

    • January 25, 2017 at 12:11 am

      I’m always glad when people also had this experience! Because it makes me feel less mad, I mean, not recognising the wonders that the Pulitzer panel apparently did.

  • January 23, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Impressive stats! I never break down my reading to that extent but this year I’m trying to at least record year of publication and gender!

    • January 25, 2017 at 12:10 am

      I tend not to as I go along, so I spend a happy evening going through the list and working out all the stats.

  • January 24, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Ooh – great breakdown… I’m gonna try a brief version of this:

    – 43 books
    – 16 male authors, 21 female, 6 authored by both male and female
    – 27 fiction, 16 non-fiction
    – 3 books in translation (low for me)
    – I read the graphic novel series Saga, so most-read Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
    – Only 2 re-reads: Heart of Darkness (4th time I’ve had it assigned in a course), Plato’s Gorgias (3rd time I’ve had it assigned in a course)
    – 28 new-to-me authors
    – Oldest book: Plato’s Gorgias (or potentially Gorgias’s Encomium of Helen)
    – Newest book: I read 4 books published in 2016, the newest being “Finding God in the Waves” by Mike McHargue

    Love the animal idea! I only got “I know why the caged _bird_ sings” and tempted to credit “grief is the thing with _feathers_”

    • January 25, 2017 at 12:09 am

      Oo, thanks for sharing your stats, Samara! I don’t envy you having to read Heart of Darkness four times. Once was plenty enough for me.

  • January 24, 2017 at 2:39 am

    Nice wrap up! I only had one animal title from last year sadly: Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann.

    • January 25, 2017 at 12:08 am

      But a great title nonetheless!

  • January 25, 2017 at 1:59 am

    Hahahaha, I know our reading tastes don’t always align, but it really gives me life every time you complain about All the Light We Cannot See. I felt similarly annoyed with it, as I think I told you, after reading like three chapters of it. WHY IS IT SO LONG AND ANNOYING.

  • January 25, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    I love your list and your categories, I might copy some of them, as haven’t done a 2016 roundup yet..
    And, Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther! How I love that book, and haven’t heard anyone mention it in years…

  • January 26, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Oh, did you read “The Moving Toyshop”? A book recommended by my tutor in trusts, and remembered for its description of altos “hooting morosely” – as an alto, how I spluttered!

  • January 26, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Well, I am so interested in seeing your list, Simon. You read about the same number of books per year as I do, but I do FAR MORE REREADING. Every year I say, I MUST read more new-to-me books than rereads, but it always ends up around 33%.

    Hmm, I’ll take a look at the animals in titles….
    Five Little Pigs (Agatha Christie)
    Fish Nets, the 2nd Guppy Anthology (ed. Ramona deFelice)
    The Silkworm (Robert Galbraith)
    Bird’s Eye View (Elinor Florence)
    The Moon by Whale Light (Diane Ackerman)
    The Nature of the Beast (Louise Penny) – okay, perhaps a stretch

    Somehow, I travelled to Dawson, in the Yukon, five times in memoirs or mysteries.

    Here’s the full breakdown:
    memoirs 22
    mystery 34
    novel 30
    play 1
    romance 1
    social/natural history 9
    short stories 6
    Grand Total 103

  • February 11, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    You had a terrific year for books Stacy – lot’s of variety as well. Hoping that 2017 is just as good and diverse.

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