2016: The charts

I realised a couple of months ago that I have 10 years worth of reading data in one place or another. So I spent a little time over a rainy weekend splicing it all together in a single spreadsheet so that I could do some funky charts. Well funky to me, I realise there is an incredibly small niche audience for these but my motto for this post was ‘have pivot table will blog‘ I won’t be offended if you move along without looking 🙂

How many books have I read in 10 years?  1080. If there was an emoticon to represent me wishing wistfully for the halcyon days of 2011 I would insert it now. Unless I mention it my charts do not exclude unfinished books (DNFs) but I specifically exclude them for this one because it seems to matter more.


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What format do I read in? A few years ago I declared I was going to go all electronic within five years for my reading. Ha. And ha again. This chart shows I never got close. One reason is that I try not to buy through Amazon (audio books excluded and only until a viable alternative supplier appears) and eBooks in other formats are not as easy or cheap to procure and access (after giving up on my Sony eReader I now read ePub format books on my iPad, usually bought from Booktopia which is about the only reliable local source). But also I realised pretty quickly that I prefer physical books. The other kind remind me a bit too much of work. I do love my audio books though (hence my deal with the Amazon devil).


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Where do they come from? This chart shows I have always bought the majority of my books though the percentage has dropped since I started making a concerted effort not to use Amazon & Book Depository. Buy less but buy local is my motto these days. The two most notable spikes in the figures are the years when I got heavily into Book Mooch (before realising it was costing me way more than buying new books would have done) and the two years I was a judge.


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Does author gender impact my reading? This chart shows the number of books I’ve read by male and female authors expressed as a percentage of the total (and I don’t mean to be rude with my ‘other’ category but sometimes I read books by a male/female writing team or I don’t know the gender of the author). You might think that my participation in and hosting duties for the Australian Women Writers challenge would skew my reading but the year I read the highest percentage of books by female writers was 2007 (long before the AWW Challenge started). Wanna know why? I went through a phase of reading lots of cosy mysteries for a couple of years and they are almost all written by women. The only year I achieved a dead even split was in 2008 and since then it has oscillated some.


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Resisting the cultural cringe. As you can see with regards to reading books by Australian authors the only way was up from the low point of 2007 (0.36% represents a lone book that year). The chart also makes it easy to see which two years I was a judge for the Ned Kelly Awards. I don’t really know what’s a good percentage to aim for with respect to reading local authors (I want to know about the rest of the world too) but I’ll at least try to keep it above 10%.


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Old vs New: It’d be easy to read old, familiar authors only and be very happy. But then I would miss out on some fabulous reading. I seem able to average 10-15% of new authors each year but they punch above their weight given that in my favourites list for this year 14 of the 25 books highlighted were by new (to me) authors.


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Life for the woefully monolingual. I am reliant upon wonderful translators to read about people and places outside the English-speaking world. My high water mark for translated books was in 2012 (27% of total books read) and I’m a bit disappointed with this year’s 13%. I still keep an eye out for good recommendations but as I rely more on my library these days I’m a bit stymied. Will try harder on this front though.


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Virtual travelling. This one shows 24 settings for which I have read 5 or more books over the past 10 years. Not surprisingly England, America and Australia take the top 3 spots but I was a bit surprised to see Sweden coming in a clear fourth. If you’re really paying attention you’ll note that there are 26 bars not 24 in the chart. My data has ‘non-fiction’ as a setting (and yes I know it is sad I have only read 7 non-fiction books in 10 years) and then there’s ‘international’ (which covers those that take place in multiple locations or out in the middle of the ocean).


For the sake of completeness I feel the need to share an additional chart which shows the 31 settings (not counting unknown which includes imaginary places) for which I’ve read 1-4 books. That’s a total of 55 countries visited virtually at least once over the past decade. A much better record than my regular travel.

I’m still not sure there’s any point to any of this but at least the charts are more fun that the ones I do for work. That’s if for my analysis of past reading, time now to look forward. I’m already into my second book for the new year (a review of the first is proving troublesome to write).

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9 Responses to 2016: The charts

  1. KerrieS says:

    Very nice set of charts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Margot Kinberg says:

    I, for one, love these charts, Bernadette. I really think it helps one to reflect. Looking at data like that gives you information that allows you to make whatever changes you’d like to make in your reading. It’s hard to know what your reading patterns are without the data.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. tracybham says:

    I do enjoy your charts, Bernadette and your enthusiasm for reading. I will comment on two areas… E-books. I have read hardly any in the last year, and it relates mostly to my eyes and also that I have problems sleeping and reading e-books before bed can cause sleep problems. (and I like a real book in my hands) But I do hope to figure some way around this because it would help some in getting hold of books by Australian authors.

    OLD vs NEW authors: I had been cogitating on this recently. I have this ongoing battle with myself about continuing to read (and reread) authors I enjoy and reading books by new to me authors. Possibly this year I will stick to only reading new authors if I already own the books. I guess these are all nice problems to have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe the Kindle paperwhite is an excellent device in that its screen is the closest to paper as it’s possible to get for an eReader. As I too struggle with sleeping I keep pondering getting one for those times when an eBook is the only option or only affordable one…but I am loathe to give the $$ to Amazon. Sigh.

      On the issue of old vs new I think for a leisure hobby we should do what makes us happy first. There are times when I feel inundated with information about new authors and they all sound good. But so do many of my old favourites. I have found having one or two challenges – for me the USA one and the classics one – a good way to introduce some new authors without forcing me to give up on my tried and trusted ones.


  4. Jennifer says:

    I love your charts, and I’m inspired to do something similar .. perhaps. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. JJ says:

    These charts are freakin’ awesome, extremely well done! About 15 years ago I started keeping very detailed information on the books I read, and managed to keeo it up for six or so years before realising it was becoming something of an obsession and stopping. Then, upon obtaining a Kindle Paperwhite (which — your understandable aversion to Amazon notwithstanding — I can heartily and independently recommend) I wanted to see how many ebooks I was reading (as opposed to simply buying) so started up again, only for it to once again become something of a chore and packing it in about three months into 2016.

    Where I’m going with this is that these charts make me wish I’d kept it up and that I had ten years of data to plot out…there’s something about exploring the trends in one’s reading that is quite satisfying in its own way. So maybe I’ll start it up again, and seek to copy this idea at the start of 2027!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can understand the fine line between useful and obsession.

      I only started keeping a record of my books because I bought 3 or 4 duplicates of books I already had in quick succession. Back then books here were comparatively even more expensive than today and I had less money at my disposal. I started with a spreadsheet and then bought some software called Collectorz. Apart from doing these charts (which I mostly did on Boxing Day when it was super hot here and a nationally recognised day of sloth) I don’t spend much time on it these days – just enter the book when I buy or borrow it (the software has a huge database so I generally just need to enter the ISBN only and all the other data follows) and then add a few more bits of data when I’ve read it. I do find it really helpful to have all my book information in one place and did have fun putting the charts together to see the trends in things that matter to me like reading Aussie authors and so on.

      Look forward to seeing your charts in 2027 🙂


  6. Love this, as well as your bingo list. I am endlessly fascinated by other’s reading statistics. I have been recording my books read for years, and it is one thing that keeps me happy and has no downside.

    Liked by 1 person

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