Can you believe that we’re over 3/4 of the way through 2020? I try to take stock of my reading life every quarter by checking in with google sheets and the pivot tables I use to track lots of variables. Even though I prefer analog methods for many things in my life (I also keep a pen and paper book list!), I adore spreadsheets. I think they’re beautiful when done well, smart once the creator knows a few tricks, and helpful for understanding personal trends.
I am having an outstanding reading year, despite how difficult the year has been overall. Please know that I don’t create these charts to push myself to read more, but to understand what I’m reading and how. They’re also to help ensure that I’m reading books and authors that reflect my own values on social justice, economic equity, and diversity. Now that I’m tracking these variables, I find that I can course-correct throughout the year, rather than getting to the end of the year and finding myself disappointed in the lack of diversity in my reading.
Now, on to the numbers!
This is simply a quick snapshot of the number of books I finished each month. It’s helpful when I’m writing posts for monthly highlights and it gives me a general idea about how my reading fluctuates. As of the end of the third quarter, I had finished 81 books! My lowest point was in April – the first full month of quarantine. My reading quantities peaked just afterwards and have now fell back to a more reasonable rate.
This a complicated graphic, but I like it because it tells me the format (audio, physical books, or kindle books) of the books I’m reading, along with their sources (Advanced Reader Copies, the library, or my own bookshelves). I also love that it’s broken down by quarter. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll just write about the third quarter:
I finished 28 books in the third quarter.
I finished one Advanced Reader Copy (ARC).
I listened to 13 audiobooks. 10 were from the library and I own 3 (via Audible).
I read 10 physical books. 9 were from the library and 1 was my from my own shelves.
I read 5 books on Kindle. 1 was the ARC, 2 were from the library, and I purchased 2.
Put another way, of the 28 books I finished this quarter: 21 books were from the library, 1 was “free” from Netgalley, and I own 6. I always try to read more from the library and was successful this quarter!
This graph compares fiction/nonfiction and author’s gender. I’ve read 69 books by women this year – 55 were fiction and 14 were nonfiction. I’ve read 12 books by men – 7 were fiction and 5 were nonfiction. I always like to make sure I’m reading more by women – especially more nonfiction – and I’m still on track with this goal! I also like to know how many nonfiction books I’ve read in general because my husband makes fun of my fiction habit. But I’ve read 19 nonfiction books so far this year, and that’s nothing to snuff at!
This a new variable I’m tracking – authors who are Black and Indigenous People of Color. I think I’m doing fairy well in this category. Overall, 18.5% of the authors I’ve read this year have been BIPOC. The second quarter was quite low (6.9%) because I was bingeing cozy murder mysteries by Elly Griffiths and Ann Cleeves. This past quarter was definitely the highest and I attribute that to all of the social unrest in the US right now.
This is another new variable that I’m tracking – LGBTQ+ authors. It looks like overall, 3.7% of the books that I’ve read this year fall into this category. Eek! Not so great, right? And to be honest, I’m making a lot of assumptions when I fill in this category. In most cases, I’m simply googling the author to figure out if they’re married/in a relationship and the name of their partner. I assume the partner’s gender identity (!!) based on the name provided, which usually tells me if the author is a yes or no in this category. Not exactly scientific!!
The author’s country of origin is another variable that I started tracking in the third quarter because I wanted to examine how US-centric my reading was. Over the last year I’ve read 36 US authors, 27 English authors, 9 Canadian authors, and a smattering of authors from around the world. This is just a reminder that it’s okay to wander out my own little bubble a bit more!
Note: One of the authors I read this quarter, Madeleine Albright, was born in the Czech Republic. I don’t think that country exists anymore – at least not by that name. I decided to still list her country of origin as the Czech Republic because that’s how she identifies it. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here!
Just another fun graphic to see the spectrum of books I’m reading – this time by publication date. I’ve read 30 books that were published in the last two years (2019 and 2020). I’ve read something from every decade since the 1900s, except for the 1920s and 1960s. How cool is that?! Maybe I should be on the hunt for books published in those decades for the next quarter so that I can complete the century+? That sounds like a fun mini-goal for the rest of the year! (Okay, I already have them both picked out: The Great Gatsby from the 20s and A Wrinkle in Time from the 60s. Planning is done; time to execute.)
These posts are wonderful for my data loving heart! I have so much fun pulling them together – I hope it wasn’t too boring for you. I’m really looking forward to writing the last one for 2020 in early January!
Do you track any variables on the books you’re reading? How do you do it? I’d love to hear about your book tracking methods in the comments!