2018: The reading year in numbers

by Sunita

For the last few years I’ve maintained a file of spreadsheets that track my reading challenges and overall reading for the year, categorizing books by obvious and maybe not so obvious characteristics.

Total books read: 120. This is the most I’ve read since … well, at least since I was mainlining Betty Neels, Mary Burchell, and other Harlequins quite a while ago.

Total books written by women: 60/120. Reading half women pleased me because I was afraid that reading more lit fic would mean reading far fewer women. Obviously it’s fewer than when I read primarily romance, but it’s still a good number. My non-romance TBR is probably skewed toward men, but my romance TBR is overwhelmingly by women, so this proportion shouldn’t change much in 2019.

Total books written by new-to-me authors: 74/120. This is more than I expected. It’s probably a consequence of reading awards longlists and also “it” books, since they’re often by authors I’ve heard of but not read. I’m glad to have found a lot of new authors, and my TBR has grown as a result (of course!).

Own voices authors: 30/120. This is OK but not great. I struggled with this category in terms of how to define it. Last year I used AOC, but I wanted to capture how many authors I read who were writing about their own cultures and experiences. I only had a handful of non-white authors writing about non-white cultures that were not their own, and I didn’t include those; it would have raised the number by a few but not significantly. I also had a handful (more than a handful, maybe?) of white authors writing POC, and breaking out own voices allowed me to get a better handle on that distinction.

LGBT content: 26/120. This was a low number and surprised me a bit, but again, there aren’t as many LGBT-featuring books (or books written by publicly LGBT authors) in the awards lists as I would like. It’s always a tricky category to define, because you get straight (or non-defined) authors writing LGBT characters, which I included, and you also get non-MC characters who are LGBT. I included the latter if they were a significant part of the storyline. I hope to read more from this category in 2019.

Translated Fiction: 18/120. This number surprised me too. I thought I’d read more translated novels, but I guess going from hardly any to 15 percent of the total isn’t bad. I’m not sure how different this category will be in 2019, probably not much since a lot of my TBR books are English-origin. But I am more aware of presses that published translated fiction and pay more attention to reviews of those books, so you never know.

Provenance: 24/120 Purchased/gift/etc., TBR 32/120, Library 64/120. Yes, I made excellent use of the libraries this year. I’m fortunate to have access to three public libraries and one academic library (with accompanying regional and ILL privileges), so impulse borrowing was super easy, as was putting books on hold and then of course having them all come in at once. I was able to get most of the TOB, Booker, and Goldsmiths books that way, as well as a bunch of NBA and Giller books. I can’t believe how many years I didn’t use my libraries (apart from the university ones), after an adolescence and early adulthood of basically living in them. The ratio of library to TBR reading should go down in 2019, but I’ll still have plenty since I’m doing the virtual TBR challenge.

Format: Audiobooks 4/120, Ebooks 99/120, Print 17/120. Wow. I thought I had read more print books than this, but obviously not. I often go to my brick-and-mortar libraries, but I clearly spend way more time clicking on Overdrive titles. I read print mostly for classics and non-US books. I imagine I’ll be reading a lot more from my print TBR, but my Harlequin TBR is all ebooks, so who knows what 2019’s ratio will be. I also have fallen off listening to audiobooks, more than I realized. I think it’s because I’ve been listening to music more frequently, but it may also be because if I’m reading a lot I need down time to process what I’ve read and audiobooks cut into that.


  • Children/YA: 2/120
  • Classics/General Fiction: 7/120
  • Graphic Novels/Manga: 4/120
  • Literary Fiction: 59/120
  • Mysteries: 18/120
  • Nonfiction: 3/120
  • Poetry: 2/120
  • Romance: 18/120
  • SFF: 2/120
  • Women’s Fiction: 5/120

A few more surprises here. I’m glad to see that my genre reading is still pretty robust despite all the lit fic, but I can’t believe I only read two SFF novels! That will change in 2019, given my TBR. It’s time to catch up on my Banks and Gibson and Harkaway, if nothing else. My poetry reading is still abysmal. I do subscribe to the Poem of the Day blog, so I read those, but still. I have plenty in my TBR, so it’s not as if I don’t have options staring me in the face. So there you have it. On to 2019, when I’ll do two challenges to help me work my way through books I already own or have already decided to read: The long-running Mt. TBR Challenge and the new Virtual TBR Challenge. I’ve signed up at the GR groups connected to each challenge, but I’ll report here regularly as well. Reading has really helped me maintain my equilibrium this year, so I don’t see any reason to change things up much otherwise. Thank heavens for books and their authors, and for readers to talk about them with.

Happy New Year!