2018 Reading Stats

Now that December is over, it’s time to take a look at my 2018 reading stats. (For last year’s reading stats, check out this post.)

I read a total of 56 books in 2018. Or 59 books if you include the two books I wrote (and had to read over and over again during editing), plus the early draft of a book I read as a critique for an author friend. For the purposes of this post we’re going to stick with 56 books read. Whatever the “official count” is, it was more than the 50 book goal that I set for myself. Go me! 🙂

Here’s how my 2018 reading stats break down:

  • New vs. backlist: 39% of the books I read (22 total) were books published in 2018 vs. 61% (34 books) published prior to 2018.
  • Fiction vs. non-fiction: This was another big year for fiction (no surprise) with 93% (52 books) fiction books read and only 7% (4 books) non-fiction.
  • Author genders: This one is a bit complicated because some books I read had multiple authors, but 93% of the books I read had at least one female-identifying author. I only read 4 books where the only author was a male-identifying author. I feel like usually this is a more balanced split, but this year I just didn’t find very many books written by men that I wanted to read. Go figure.
  • Book format: This was a much bigger than usual year for audio because I had an eye issue earlier in the year that made it frustrating to try to read. So, I listened to 20% of the books I read this year (11 total). Ebooks made up 73% of my reading (41 books), and print was only 7% (4 books).
  • Age category: The really interesting thing here is that this year’s split is identical to last year’s split. Weird, right? 57% of the books I read this year (32 total) were “adult” vs. 39% “young adult” (22 books) and 4% (2 books) “middle grade.”
  • Genre: The majority of what I read was fantasy (41%) and sci-fi (20%). The total of these two genres is actually up a bit from last year, but there are still a good number of “realistic” books in there (18% of the total, and this includes historical and contemporary as well as those four non-fiction books I read) as well as some straight up romance books (14% of the total), and mysteries (7%). With so many genres represented, this is probably a good time to throw in a pie chart. So, here you go:

  • AOC: 43% of the books I read (24 books total) were written by an “author of color” (aka one that does not identify as “white”). I am very proud of this stat. That’s the closest to 50% that I’ve been since I started keeping track of this stuff, and I didn’t even do it on purpose this year. It just happened. I love that!
  • LGBTQA: This stat, on the other hand, was less great. I’m not doing a fantastic job of including queer representation in my reading. Please note, I’m not always sure how an author identifies, and I don’t think that I need to be. That said, I think only 13% of the books I read (7 total) were written by an author who I knew identified as something other than “straight.” This is another reason why I’m excited about the 2019 Read Harder Challenge. Several of the tasks are LQBTQA related, and I’m hoping that helps me “Read Harder” in this personal blind-spot.

Ebook buying in 2018:

Of the 56 books I read in 2018, 57% (32 total) were borrowed from the library. That might seem like a good thing, and it would be a good thing, if I’d actually managed to not purchase any books in 2018, or if I’d at least purchased fewer books than what I’d read off my backlog of purchased books.

But, alas, ebook sales are kryptonite for me, and there were a lot of 2018 new releases by authors I love. The end result was that I bought 37 books on Kindle in 2018. That’s down from pervious years (see chart below). And, I also managed to keep my cost per book down, despite those new release pre-orders.

I don’t mind spending money on books. It’s pretty much the only money I spend on entertainment. The problem is, I feel like if I’m buying them, I should read them.

In 2018, I only read 20 of the books that I’d purchased for Kindle. 10 were books I’d purchased in previous years. The other 10 were ones I’d purchased in 2018. But, remember, I purchased 37 books in 2018. So, that means I didn’t read everything I bought, and the additional purchases negated the small dent I’d managed to make in the backlog of books bought in previous years.

Keep in mind, we’re just talking about ebooks here. I also have unread print books that were given to me as gifts or ones that I’d purchased as part of a subscription box. Since I’m less inclined to run out and buy a print book that I’m not going to read right away (see comment about ebook sales, above), I don’t really track unread print books. I use my bookshelf as a visual reminder of those. The Kindle books, on the other hand, just seem to disappear onto my Kindle until I remember I bought them, or check my list.

This is why one of my reading goals for 2019 is to read more books than I buy. I’m starting 2019 with at least 124 unread books on my Kindle. I say “at least” because there are books on there that I received for free and ones that I might have missed from before I started keeping track and ones that I bought for my husband back when we were sharing a Kindle account. It’s complicated. For example, my “tbr-Kindle” shelf on Goodreads says that I have 148 books unread. That’s probably more like the actual number. But, for the purposes of this exercise, I’m going to go with 124 books because that’s what’s on the list in my book buying spreadsheet.

As I mentioned in my 2019 reading goals post, the rule this year is that for every book that I buy, at least one book has to be read so that I end the year with no more than 124 books on that list. Now, ideally I’d read at least two books for every one book that I buy (one being the book I bought, plus another book from the backlog). But, this year I’ll be satisfied as long as that number stays flat. To keep myself honest, in my monthly reading recap posts this year, I’m planning to do an accounting of books added (inbox) vs. books finished (outbox). We’ll see how it goes.

If you stuck with this post all the way to the end then you must be a kindred spirit who loves to geek out on data! Or you’re my mom. Either way, hi, friend! Thanks for reading and appreciating the annual combination of my love of reading with my love of spreadsheets and data.

If somehow you got this far and are not already tracking your own reading but think you might want to start, I highly recommend using a spreadsheet like the one provided in this post on Book Riot. It’s pretty thorough, and they set up all the formulas and charts for you. So, if you don’t love spreadsheets and formulas as much as I do, you don’t have to worry about that part.

Okay, data geek-out is over. Time to get back to working on writing and editing my books! Happy reading!

Reading List: Powell’s Books staff’s best books of 2018

Powell’s just released their Staff Top 5 Picks of 2018! As I did last year (and in 2016, and 2015), I’ve crunched the numbers* in order to calculate which books were most mentioned and determine a “consensus” top ten list.

Presented in order of most to least total points, the top ten highest rated books of 2018 according to the staff at Powell’s Books (in Portland, Oregon) are:

(Links below take you to Powell’s, because that seemed appropriate.)

  1. The Alehouse at the End of the World by Stevan Allred (fantasy) — This was the clear winner with 18 total points and was mentioned by five of the staff in their lists, but somehow I never heard of it before I saw it here. I immediately clicked over to my library to reserve a copy, but they don’t have it. I have library cards at three different libraries, and none of them had it (or at least not on digital). So, I requested they go buy it, and I moved on to the next on the list.
  2. Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot (memoir) — I don’t usually read memoirs. But, when I read the description and saw that it was about a woman growing up on Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest, I read the glowing reviews and saw it was a really short book. So, I looked it up and found out that my local library had this one available for digital loan. Then I borrowed it. It’s now on my Kindle.
  3. Educated by Tara Westover (memoir) — This wasn’t only a popular staff pick, but it was also included on their “picks of the season” gift buying list. Again, this is a memoir, so not my usual jam. But…the description intrigued me. A woman who was born in rural Idaho with no birth certificate but then later left that life. I was interested enough to go add this to my holds list as well.
  4. There There by Tommy Orange (lit fic) — This is a novel written by a Native man and takes place in Oakland. The sheer amount of glowing reviews, blurbs, and best of lists that are mentioned on the page for this book make it hard to find the book description. Apparently, it’s really good. So, I decided I’d better check it out (from the library) and added it to my hold list.
  5. Circe by Madeline Miller (fantasy) — Finally! One that was already on my “to-read” list. I haven’t read her Achilles book. I’ve heard enough good stuff about this book that I decided I’m just going to read this first. Since I already had my library Overdrive open, I clicked over and added this to my hold list as well.
  6. Red Clocks by Leni Zumas (spec fic) — This is a near-future speculative fiction book that sounds like it would be a big hit with fans of Margaret Atwood, especially the ones who enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale. That includes me, so I figured I should probably add it to my hold list as well. I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t heard of this book, but I think it may be due to the fact that, assuming I saw it at my local bookstore, the cover and title gave no clue about what this book is about. Marketing fail.
  7. Heavy by Kiese Laymon (memoir) — It seems that the staff at Powells like memoirs. I thought I’d finally found one that maybe I wasn’t interested in reading. But, this is one of those books written by and about a life and experience very unlike my own. So of course I had to add it to my holds list.
  8. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (true crime) — This is one of those serial killer true crime books that should never ever end up on my to-read list. Even the reviews say it’s super scary. But, by this point in the list, I’d committed myself to reading all of them. So, now it’s on my Kindle (there wasn’t a wait list for the hold at my library). I’m going to need to read this alongside something a lot fluffier. And in daylight, surrounded by other people.
  9. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (lit fic) — The description of this book sounded almost like a cross between The Signature of All Things and Homegoing. I really enjoyed both of those books, so this got added to my holds list as well.
  10. The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg (lit fic) — This one’s a novel with an interesting premise. Grieving widow goes to Havana after her husband dies in a car accident, then she sees him at a museum. See? Interesting, right? By the time I’d got to this book, I’d already maxed out the available holds at my local library. So I had to put this one on hold at a different library.

When I started crunching the numbers for this post, I definitely did not think I was going to walk away with ten new books on my library hold list. The only thing I can attribute this to is the fact that I haven’t been reading much “lit fic” or non-fiction, lately. I think maybe my brain is searching for new material to chew on. Whatever it is, I’m going to go with it and see where it leads.

I try to avoid trash talking the publishing industry, but I have to say that nothing about the covers (or titles) for any of these books would have made me pick them up in a bookstore. I wander through my local bookstore almost weekly, and I’ve probably walked past most, if not all, of these books *many* times. Maybe I’ve spent too long immersed in the romance and sci-fi / fantasy genres where everyone is all about the covers and the titles. But, it seems like the non-fiction and lit fic folks have never heard of #bookstagram.

Seriously, if these books are really as good as the staff at Powells thinks they are, then I think maybe the non-fiction and literary fiction arms of the publishing houses may need to up their marketing game. I have Goodreads friends (and IRL friends) who read these sorts of books more than I do and only half (five) of these books had been added to any of their shelves. And only two of those books (Educated and Circe) had actually been read by any of my Goodreads friends. That’s really unfortunate for these authors.

If you want to add these books to your TBR (and maybe read some along with me), I’ve added them to a Goodreads shelf called PowellsBestof2018. If you do add any to your TBR, let me know in the comments which you plan to read. Alternatively, if you have already read any of these, let me know what you think/recommend in the comments, and maybe add me as a Goodreads friend. 🙂


* In case you’re interested, here’s how I came up with the total points… I did some good old “copying and pasting” of all the lists into a spreadsheet. Then I assigned points to each mention of each book based on where it appeared in each list (5 points for first place, 4 points for second place, etc.). Then I made a pivot table and sorted the results by total number of points in descending order. There was an obvious cut-off after the first ten books. So I capped the list at ten books.

Setting up my #BuJo for the New Year

It’s the last week of December, so it’s time for me to get my bullet journal set up for January 2018. Since it’s not only a new month, but also a new year, that means I also need to re-do my future log and start thinking about my 2018 goals.

You may remember from a previous post that I’ve been on the fence about the future log. It wasn’t really working for me. But, I came up with a new layout that I think might make it a little more useful. Plus, I have a lot of travel coming up this year that may make this view something I refer to more often.

I love the little mini month-at-a-glance calendars. I’ve started by highlighting birthdays and other important days. Next up, I’m going to start adding in the travel I have planned. But first, I have to nail down a bunch of trip planning.

With my future log sorted, I moved on to my January month-at-a-glance spread. It’s pretty standard. Unfortunately, I started filling it in with stuff before I remembered to take the picture. So, I resorted to creative use of card stock and my snitch necklace to obscure my calendar and goals.

There are two things I want to point out on my monthly spread… one is the Boho Berry Challenge prompts for January, and the other is the section I added to track my January reading.

This month, I started using the Boho Berry Challenge prompts for December as a daily journaling exercise. It’s been pretty fun and useful to reflect on 2017 in a slightly more organized fashion. So, I thought I’d try to keep up this practice in January. I’m not posting these publicly anywhere, which is (I think) how you’re supposed to be participating. But, lots of people are. So, if you’re interested in seeing how others are doing their prompts in their journals, definitely check out #BohoBerryChallenge on Instagram.

I’m going to do a whole post on my reading wrap-up for December and reading goals for 2018. So, I won’t spend much time talking about that here except to say that “what I’m reading in January” box was left blank on purpose. The little vertical bars are the start of boxes that I plan to draw around titles that will be written down as I start reading them in January. I know. No TBR. Shocking. Again…more on this later.

Then, I remembered that I had some “bigger than just January” goals for 2018, and I probably should have put that in before I jumped into my January month-at-a-glance. Oh well. I guess that’s what the index is for… So, I added this spread next:

When I took this photo the page on the right was still blank, but I’ve since started adding my 2018 goals on that page. The page on the left is a running training log.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that swimming is my main sport. However, due to travel plans and other life stuff going on, I’m not planning to have regular access to a pool for much of 2018. That means it’s time to get back into running shape. However, “walk” days will probably become swim days if I have access to a pool.

I haven’t been running regularly for about seven or eight years. So, I’m being smart about it and using a beginner running guide from Runner’s World. Even though I’m in pretty decent shape for swimming, swimming doesn’t translate well to running, and running doesn’t translate well to swimming. This is why (IMO) it’s pretty rare to see folks who are really good at both running and swimming. So, I’m going to take it slow, but I will say that one of my goals that I wrote on the right side of this page is “run a 10k” in 2018. But, I probably won’t be ready to tackle that until late spring at this rate.

I think that’s all the high-level planning I need to get started in the New Year. So, the next spread is my first weekly spread for January, and it looks like this:

I’ve been using this layout for a couple of weeks now, and it seems to be working for me. I can fill the boxes with day-specific events and tasks. When I’m not busy (like the last two weeks), all my “to-dos” fit nicely inside the boxes, and I don’t even need to break things down to daily spreads.

I’ve left a space in the upper right for my top goals and/or things I want to accomplish by the end of the week to keep it in my face. And, I’m working on adapting my habit tracker to this format. I’m not 100% sure which habits I want to track in January. I already have the running plan spread on the previous page where I’ll be tracking my exercise. So, I don’t think I’ll add exercise here. As I discovered during November’s NaNoWriMo tracking, I hate having to check things off in multiple places. So far, I know I’m tracking reading and writing days. I’ll probably also add “healthy eating” and meditation.

We’ll see how this format adapts to post-vacation life and if it keeps working or if I need to adapt it again.

By the way, if you’re thinking of getting started with your own bullet journal, my local bookstore had a copy of Dot Journaling, so I picked it up to get some inspiration. It’s a pretty great introduction to the expanded world of the original bullet journaling idea and has a ton of great ideas for layouts. Definitely check it out. (PSA: I am in no way affiliated with either of those links and get nothing for recommending them to you. I’m just a fan.)

Happy planning! And happy (almost) New Year!