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.