I Crunch Stats!

I’ve been a bit under the weather these past couple of days so all the things I had planned for the end of year have failed to materialise. But I really must get my stats post out, given that this is the first year I have kept a reading diary and I’ve been so excited about finally having numbers to offer rather than my vague impressions. Next year I’m going to keep a reading diary again, and, in the futile hope that I might be able to control myself better, I’m keeping an acquisitions diary too.

I don’t know how many books I bought this year (and it is in any case not a figure to be put in a public realm that Mister Litlove could see) but I am pretty sure it outnumbered the books I read.  I really hate the thought of not supporting the book industry in a time when it’s in trouble. Sure, everyone will buy thrillers and romances in the supermarket, but what of those charming, quirky little books and the midlist novels and the eccentric and unusual fiction and non-fiction? If we don’t buy it, the publishers won’t publish it, and most of my buying is in slightly left of centre categories. So I worry about that. I’m permitting myself 2-4 new books a month, because let’s face it, we all know I can’t go cold turkey, and nor would I wish to. There’ll be excellent books coming out next year and I will want to own them; it’s a law of nature and not to be tangled with. But that is, ahem, less than I have been acquiring lately, and it will require some discipline. I’m doing this only because Mister Litlove despairs of the shelving problem, and because I have so many wonderful books I’d really like to read in the near future. If either of these factors should change, I’ll be back to my old, bad ways quicker than you can say ‘I still don’t want a kindle’.

So, to the stats!

This year I read 132 books. I had no idea I read so many – I thought it was around 100, and in fact this strikes me as too many. I’d like to take more time over my reading, and 2-3 books a week indicates quite a turnover.

Of these books, 75 were written by women and 57 by men. I could have predicted something like that. I always read more women authors, according to my own impressions.

Breaking down the categories I read:

55 contemporary novels

3 classics (pre-1900)

2 books of short stories

30 crime fiction novels

8 books in translation

2 books in French

32 non-fiction books

At this point I became sick to death of counting through the titles in my diary. I had thought I might count the number of turkeys and the number of really excellent books, but I couldn’t face going through the lists again. I don’t have the stamina for the maths!

Again, I would probably have guessed numbers in about the right proportions. I understand and admire people who decide they want to read more of this, that or the other, in the light of their stats. But I read books because I am, at the point I pick them up, longing to read them. I like that. It works for me. If I want to read more essays or plays or whatever in 2012, the urge will communicate itself to me in the moment, and I will happily roll with that. The only thing I’m ashamed of is that I read so few French novels. I’d like to read more French next year, and I will try to bear that in mind.

WordPress has a new thingy whereby they show you stats about your blog for the year with firework graphics, so that saved me counting up my posts. I wrote 148, apparently. Once again, I’d had the intention of counting how many of those were reviews, but couldn’t face it.

Quite a lot were reviews.

For me, this was the year of biographical writing, and I made a big effort to write more mini-biographies or to include information about authors and the conditions under which they wrote their books. I got curious about all that. I had thought I might count the number of posts that were biography based, but I didn’t.

Quite a lot of posts were based on biographical material.

Another innovation of wordpress is to confront you with a big banner every time you post that congratulates you on having reached your nth post and urges you towards your ‘next blogging goal’ which is, for example, 275 posts, if you  have written 273 or 280 posts if you have written 276. I HATE this. I’ve been blogging for over five years now and have written almost 1,000 posts; I post every other day, unless something happens, and that is how it is. I do not need to be congratulated for writing a post, nor do I need encouragement or ‘goals’. I cannot turn this stupid thing off and the patronising is doing bad things to my head.  Make it stop! Okay, rant over.

But here is a question: if next year I want to read fewer books, would it also help to write fewer posts? The sense of having a hungry blog that needs feeding does keep me trucking along. If I wrote fewer posts, could I make them of better quality? I’ve really enjoyed blogging this year and I’ve every intention of carrying on into 2012 in similar fashion. Hmmm, tricky. I suppose the answer will become apparent as the year unfolds.

But I have loved the blog this year and the wonderful book blog community that I feel so very lucky to be part of. Your comments have been utterly fantastic as ever, and I just love the conversations we have here and on other blogs. So many of my dear blogging friends are real friends now and there would be a huge hole in my life if I couldn’t hear all your news and all your thoughts on mine. May you all have a peaceful, contented, productive 2012 full of happy and engaged reading hours. And much offline fun, too. Just don’t forget to tell me all about it when you’re back online. Much love and hugs to you all and thank you for making my reading room such a special and wonderful place for me to be.



45 thoughts on “I Crunch Stats!

  1. Glad you kept track of your books this year and had a such a success of it! I don’t think you need to blog less in order to read less because, am I right, you don’t blog about every single book you read. Or maybe I’m being selfish and don’t want you to post less often. At any rate, I hate the new wordpress encouragement goals too. So stupid. I wish they would quit it or give us a way to turn it off if we don’t want it. Sorry you’ve been under the weather. I hope you feel better soon. And have a wonderful New Year!

    • Dear Stefanie, you are quite right that I don’t blog about every book. And next year, I have a sort of yen to write more personal essays and more posts about bits and pieces of literary theory. We’ll see how that goes! But really, I don’t want to blog less, either. I’m so glad it’s not just me when it comes to those wretched goals and thank you so much for your kind wishes. I am feeling much better now!

  2. Oh, I hate that motivational banner thing on WordPress, too. I read a book, and then I post about it. That’s my motivation. I don’t need or want the pep talk. I especially hate the topic ideas for a next post. If it helps, I don’t think it does it if you write a post and then schedule it to post later.

    As for counting, I use tags in LibraryThing to keep track of author nationalities, dates, book acquisitions, and such, so there’s very little actual counting to do at the end of the year. It’s just a matter of logging the books in correctly when I get them, which I do well enough that I’m not worrying about any small mistakes.

    Anyway, thanks for another year of great posts. It’s always a pleasure to visit your reading room, and I’m looking forward to many more visits in 2012!

    • Ohhhhh! So THAT’S how you do it – I’m not on LibraryThing and am rather ashamed that I never add any books on Goodreads, but yes, I can see how something like that would be a huge help when it comes to stats. So glad you agree about the wordpress banner, and I’ll try scheduling my posts to see what happens. And thank you for visiting! I do love your comments.

  3. All the best to you, Litlove, as the calendar turns into 2012 CE. I look forward to reading your posts, however few or many there are, in the year to come.

  4. I’m not one for stats, I must admit. I did count how many books I read and think it’s too much. No wonder I forget so many just a few weeks later.
    I wish you a Happy New Year, Litlove. I hope it will be wonderful.

    • Well this is just it! I feel I’d rather take my time and even reread bits and pieces again before putting the book away. I do so feel like I want to retain more of the valuable things I read. And a very happy new year to you, Caroline! So delighted to have found your blog in 2011.

  5. Mr Litlove is such a talented carpenter I am sure he could build you a nice little library/reading room attached to your house. Then you wouldn’t need to worry about shelf space (at least for a while until you fill up those new shelves too). Well, one can dream, right? I admire your wish not acquire quite so many books in the new year. I know I could never stick with that–I am very bad–I don’t even give a thought to where I’m going to put my books when I buy them (I suppose this is a purchase in haste, try to find space for them at leisure moment). At least library books go back, which is probably one of the reasons I borrow so many of them! I love hearing other people’s stats–it’s so interesting to see how the books pan out over the year, though since I’ve followed you all year I guess I’m not necessarily surprised, but still interesting to see. Lovely sentiments by the way and I heartily agree with all of them–but you say it so much nicer than I could–so ditto that back to you! 🙂 And I do hope you’ll still post as regularly as you have this year (even if you read a bit less)–I may save up several posts for one reading, but I thoroughly enjoy each and every one of them. Have a wonderful 2012, Litlove!

    • Danielle, you are spooky. Mister Litlove is currently constructing new shelves, and believe you me, I have several projects lined up for him once he’s finished! And we’ll see how I go with the buying less – I have serious doubts about my capability for restraint! 😉 I always enjoy reading people’s stats, and it was fun to put these together. You know, I probably will end up posting just as much as normal, because once you get used to a rhythm it feels odd to break it, doesn’t it? I am always so happy to have you drop by, and I would miss you dreadfully if you didn’t post. We are such old blogging buddies you and I – and I mean that in terms of experience! We are still spring chickens really…..

  6. Isn’t keeping track fun? I’ve been using LibraryThing to track my reading, and the tagging it allows me to do of each book I read helps crunch the numbers at the end of the year. Looking through the list over and over does get tiring! I’m so glad you enjoyed blogging so much this year. Even though I’m posting less often, I can’t quite give it up because the people are so wonderful! Thank you so much for your wonderful posts and comments. Happy New Year!

    • Aha! I see that Librarything is the answer to the tracking issue. Hmmmm. Now the question is whether I could be disciplined enough to use it. I am so glad you are managing to keep posting, Rebecca. The book blog world just wouldn’t be the same without you in it! I would miss you dreadfully!

    • Aren’t stats great? I am always so curious to see everyone else’s. And the firework summary was a surprise but a very pleasant one. Happy New Year to you, too!

  7. I love your reading room too. It is an essential part of the blog world for me. If it ever disappeared, then I think Charlotte’s Web would gently disintegrate. Wishing you a wonderful 2012, full of reading, reviews and good conversations!

    • Oh no – Charlotte’s Web just HAS to keep going, so I will certainly continue to post to keep you company! We’ve been together since the early days, my friend, and I would miss you dreadfully if I couldn’t keep up with you online. Do hope your New Year has begun in a very, very good way!

  8. Wow, your stats are quite impressive! I wish you all the best (in books, blog and life) for 2012. I join your rant about the stupid banner (I don’t know what went through WP’s mind). The quality of your posts and your reviews challenges me to discover new books and to keep on blogging about them (and that’s more effective than a bl… banner for sure). If you want to read more French this year, I would recommend Maylis de Kerangal, her novel was awesome.

    • Thank you so much for that recommendation! I love to get French ones because I have no idea what to read out of the recent publications lately. And bless you for your kind words. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you over the years, Ms Smithereens, and we have many more years of blogging left in us, I hope! Perhaps we should petition to get rid of the ghastly banner? Why can’t techies just leave well alone and stop fiddling with things??

  9. I so love your blog, Litlove, and the way you analyze literature and authors! I am very glad I found you this year, and I have gotten so many wonderful suggestions from you this past year as I went back over your old posts. You have encouraged my interest in “shrink” literature, and I found myself enjoying novels and nonfiction written about the world of psychoanalysis–no matter how marginally or tangentially invoved the shrink piece in relation to the whole story. And wow, have you read a lot of books! And even more wow if you can contain yourself to purchasing only 2-4 books each month. Happy New Year!

    • I am so glad we found each other, Ali! It’s been a real treat getting to know you and I look forward to reading alongside you in 2012. I am always thrilled to find someone else keen on my favourite genre of shrink lit – and it seems to me that a little shrink can go a long way in a novel. 🙂 As for buying fewer books, well, we’ll see how that goes. It will indeed be worth a wow or two if I actually manage it!

  10. That’s a huge number, 132 books! The 30 crime fiction pique my curiosity. I remember you’ve read Capote’s In Cold Blood, but, are the other 29 all literary crime fiction or the popular ones. I know, it’s arbitrary for me to distinguish them this way. Maybe my Q. ought to be, who are some of the literary crime fiction writers? My personal ‘guilty pleasure’ is Michael Connelly’s Detective Harry Bosch novels, but I only consider them ‘popular, mass market books but not literary works. Also, Never thought of an an acquisitions diary, guess it’s only reasonable to do so. I’ll definitely keep a record this year. As for WordPress’s ‘gimmicks’, I agree with you. I can do without them.

    • Oh I will have to try Michael Connelly! Crime is my way of relaxing – and it always makes me laugh to think I find stories of people killing one another far more relaxing than stories about them falling in love. 🙂 I tend to be a Golden Age fan on the whole, and last year I was hoping to reread all of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books. In the end I read about 10 out of the 12. I also discovered Ross Macdonald and Peter Lovesey this year, both of whom I think of as genre, but really good genre. I’ve read more Lee Child as, again, I like his thrillers. And then I read a few others who were okay-ish, Laura Lippman and Henry Porter. Not sure I’d read them again. I do think that literary crime is quite hard to find, and I’d have to think hard about who would write it. Umberto Eco, I guess, and Donna Tartt. I’d like to try Michael Innes, as I’ve heard he’s good. And I’m currently reading The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller that is, I suppose, crime fiction, but reads more like a literary novel about the aftermath of World War One. It’s really good!

  11. Happy New Year, Litlove. I also find the wordpress thing quite irritating. Especially since it removes the dashboard men from the left side of the screen. Enjoy your reading in 2012.

    • Happy New Year to you, too, Kinna! I’m glad you agree with me about the wordpress banner. I’ll let everyone know if Lokesh’s link works to get it removed.

  12. Happy 2012, Litlove! I’ll read your posts whether they’re more or less frequent. I just finished Momo because you wrote about it and it’s one of the best books I’ve read in ages. I’m so excited about it that I’m making my h read it (and I think he’ll like it!).

    • Oh I’m SO pleased, Lillian! I do hope you’ll post a review as I’d love to read your thoughts. I expect I’ll end up posting just like normal – I always toy with these options and then carry on regardless! 🙂

  13. Happy new year litlove (belatedly!), I hope that Christmas was good. I have no idea how you manage to read so many books, write so many thoughtful reviews and visit so many blogs and leave nice comments. But perhaps ‘litlove’ is actually five people…

    Michael Innes is great fun; you might also like ‘The Moving Toyshop’, by Edmund Crispin, and books by Sarah Cauldwell if you haven’t already read them.

    Did you dare eat your beautiful cake house?

    • Lol! There is only one little me, but I do spend as much time as possible either reading or in the blogworld….. You should hear my family on the subject! 🙂 I LOVE Sarah Caudwell so you are right on track there. Mmmm, must get to Michael Innes soon, and Edmund Crispin too.

      My son has made valiant attempts to eat (all) the cake, but it is getting rather dry now! We cut it open on Christmas Day in a very ceremonial moment. There’ll be more cakes to come, never fear.

  14. RE: “but what of those charming, quirky little books?” I love this category. May I suggest a post someday about your favorites that would fit this?

    I can’t debate if LibraryThing has better statistics but I do love my categories in goodreads.com. I’m ‘there’ every day and so it is not too much of a sorting issue at the end of the year. This is the time of year I want to give it serious thought and commitment.

    I don’t often attempt to read books to fit my stats goals – I just like to see how it compares to prior years. I am still in amazement that no matter how many books I read, I tend to hit exactly 17% as the best-of-the-best.

    Off to go protest/turn-off/discover the scoop on that WP banner we all seem to dislike.

    • Ooh that’s a wonderful idea, Care! I love my charming quirky books and I’ll think about that. I feel a bit guilty that I never put my books up on goodreads as I do enjoy the emails that come round with other people’s choices on them. It’s a really good way to keep track of reading, I can see. And yes! Lokesh’s link really does tell you how to turn the banner off and it works! I’m delighted!

  15. Oh my gosh, I agree about wanting WordPress to stop that foolishness about numbering every damn post. I don’t want to know! It makes me feel weird and awkward! I wish it would stop.

    But I’m so glad that you blog, and I’m glad you’re carrying on. I love reading your posts.

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