Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Books Like Whoa: Another Bookish Year in Review

Whew! This was officially my busiest reading year ever. By my/Firefly's fantabulous spreadsheet's count, I have read 75 new books this year and reread 3 books. By Goodreads' count, I have read 85 new books. Why 2 counts? It comes down to a difference in how we count books I gave up on and... you know what. This is getting too geeky and nuanced even for me. Bottom line? I read about 80 books this year.

Yahoo! Most of these were for school, but I completed/exceeded my goal to read at least 10 books for pleasure and I met my overall books read goal a few months ago. And now that I have another year of data, I can take a look at how my reading patterns have changed year over year. And there are graphs again. Maria and my other stats peeps, you are welcome.

So how did 2013 compare to 2012 as far as bookishness goes? Well, it was actually a pretty different year. To recap, 2012 was the year of the library for me, both because of grad school and in my pleasure reading. Consequently, it was definitely not a year of getting books out of my TBR. My ratings weren't as high in 2012 as they were in 2011 or 2013, and I was reading newer books... again, this was because I was reading more books that I hadn't paid for and therefore took more chances in trying new books. Not just new books, but new authors... in 2012, 93% of the books I read were by authors I hadn't tried before (compare 2011: 72% and 2013: 82%). 

As for 2013? Well, on paper, it was a better year of reading for me. My ratings were slightly higher for the books I read (2013: average of 4.38; 2012: average of 4.23*).

I certainly read books that I adored (see Gilead) and books that have opened up new intellectual and spiritual vistas (like Jesus Through the Centuries, The New Testament and the People of God, and Without God, Without Creed). But as I look back on the year, I can't say that I feel like it was a very good year of reading. A lot of that has to do with the constraining aspect of being in school and having a lot of my reading list dictated to me. You can definitely see that in my genre breakdown:

I read way more Christian non-fiction that I normally do, and though I liked a lot of it, few of those titles made me enjoy the reading process itself. It also way skewed my male/female author ratio to the most out of balance that it has ever been (63% male authors this year) which makes me grouchy. Ladies! Write some theology!

I also did not finish a single mystery this year (though I'm in the middle of 2 great ones right now)- that is highly unusual for me. Mysteries are my comfort reads... maybe that is part of why I have been feeling so adrift. I always have a reading agenda- a plan, a vision for where I'm heading with my reading, and a clear idea of how I'm going to get there. Lately? Not so much. I think a lot of that has to do with the constraint of school reading, and, since I'm going to be in school (hopefully) for about 5 more years, I need to figure out how to keep my own reading "voice" amidst the noise of reading for work. *End tangent*

Anyways, a few more points of interest... I read a lot more from my TBR pile this year! You can see that both in the book source (still a lot of library, but not as much) and in the pile break down:

It makes sense that I have been reading more owned books, as I try to buy the assigned books for school. That being said, my TBR grew a lot more than I would have liked. I started the year with 225 books to be read and I end it with 251. Ouch. I swear I have been culling a lot! My overall books owned ratio is going down and I'm moving a lot of them to digital. But I have been buying books for my thesis research and I haven't gotten through all of them yet. Hopefully, I'll be back down to around 200 by the end of 2014.

Also, a word on eReading - it has been slowly growing for me (2 in 2011, 12 in 2012, 15 in 2013). I have an early generation Kindle that I'm perfectly happy with and I don't mind reading for pleasure on it. However, I have found it to be very frustrating when it comes to reading for research - page citations are a nightmare and it is hard to find something unless I marked it at the time. I have an iPad now, so it will be interesting to see if/how that changes my opinion of eReading for work. 

Anyways, it has been a mixed year of reading for me. On the one hand, I read books that I now can't imagine not having read, if that makes any sense. Game changer books. On the other hand, I'm only now getting out of a 5 month reading slump in my personal life, so it's hard to feel too rosy about the year as a whole.

Tomorrow is a new year - and that means a fresh slate on the bookish front. Thank God for that!

How was your reading year in 2013?

*See ratings scale

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