Having shared my lists of favourite contemporary fiction, older/classic fiction and non-fiction books read this year, I’m sitting here with a mug of rather good coffee and a notebook to think about my overall reading experience in 2012. I must admit I rather enjoy looking back and figuring out what worked for me and what didn’t. And of course it’s always fun to check out my final stats for the year!
In total, so far, I’ve read or attempted 210 books this year. (I just picked up a huge non-fiction book (a biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor) and I’m unlikely to finish it before 23:59 on the 31st. :))
Here’s what I’ve learnt or observed about my reading in 2012:
WHERE MY BOOKS CAME FROM
I was on a book buying ban in 2009, 2010 and 2011 because I had accumulated a huge number of books I’d never read (er, 500+) over the decade before and I’d stopped picking them up and actually reading them. As a way of fixing this I stopped buying new books for three years (with very rare exceptions) and concentrated on reading my own books. I got the pile down to less than 100 To Be Read books by the end of September 2011 and learnt a lot about myself as a reader but it does mean that 2012 is the first year since 2008 that I have bought books and read a mix of books I buy, borrow, request and own.
I seem to have rebelled and read almost none of my own books this year as a result!
Most of my books came from libraries – 60 books came from the public library system and another 63 came from the independent subscription library which makes up just under two thirds of my reading. 15 books came from my own shelves, 10 books came from charity shops and I got the same number of books from indie bookshops, secondhand bookshops and chain bookshops like Waterstones, Blackwells etc. I’m surprised to find I read 18 e-books this year from NetGalley (which I joined in January) but none from Project Gutenberg at all (for the first time in several years). I don’t read many books for New Books or We Love This Book (but I’ve enjoyed all I received that way), don’t request or receive many books direct from publishers and never seem to be given books as gifts – everyone seems to assume I’ve read everything already. :(
WHAT I READ
This is actually a typical year for me – 51% fiction, 48% non-fiction, about 1% each poetry and plays. I used to read more poetry but it remains a bit of a blank spot for me these days. Still I am happy with the near 50/50 split on fiction to non-fiction.
I’m less happy with the authorial split:
That’s 56.8% male authors to 38.3% female authors, the remaining books had multiple authors. I’d feel a lot more comfortable if it was closer to 50/50 so next year I’ll aim to read more female authored non-fiction and classics.
The year of publication stats are the most eye-opening this year though:
A third of the books I read this year were published in 2011 or 2012, just under another third were published in 2001 -2010. I am really surprised by this as I really don’t think of myself as a contemporary reader! Some of this is the effect of reading the Booker longlist (12 books), some is the result of using NetGalley and some from receiving review copies from publishers, New Books or We Love This Book but mostly it’s the result of being a far more frequent visitor in my libraries and picking up more books via reservation or the ‘Just In’ shelves. Picking up books because of fellow book bloggers’ recommendations is part of this too. :)
Year end updates for all the challenges and goals I had for 2012:
Classics Club – 8/50 (End Date 01JUN2017)
Century of Books – 28/100 (I read one more year since writing my update, End Date 31DEC2012)
The Guardian’s 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read – 190/1000 (no end date, just for fun)
Orange Prize for Fiction/Women’s Prize for Fiction – 4/17 (no end date, just for fun)
Booker Winners – 12/47 (no end date, just for fun)
Overall I’ve had a rather hit and miss year of reading (there were far more Did Not Finish titles this year and quite a few ‘this-is-not-for-me’ reviews), mostly because I have read so widely across many non-fiction subjects, tried many new-to-me authors, read everything from graphic novels to Anglo-Saxon poetry and the whole year has been a bit of a experiment. Looking back I’d have loved some more 10/10s and a little less magpie-like trying of everything but I’ve really enjoyed reading more novellas and short stories, finding my feet as a book blogger and keeping a proper book journal again.
I’ve got a list of reading goals for next year but mostly they centre around balancing out the contemporary fiction with classics and throwing a few more female authors into the mix. Here’s to 2013 – I’ll share my goals for the new year with you tomorrow. :)