I’m all about the top books of 2015 lists, favorite reads, year in review, and other kinds of posts cropping up late December and early January. It’s already starting on this blog, too! But this particular “year in review” is inspired by Hannah @ So Obsessed With‘s statistics reflection on her 2014 reads. She broke down every little detail you could possibly know about the books she read and examined the results closely to gauge her reading habits. She used this as a way to change, improve, or keep her reading habits the same for her resolutions in 2015.
The incredibly organized person that I am drooled over this. Hannah was kind enough to send me her spreadsheet and I’ve used it throughout 2015. So, as of December 22, these are the results of my reading habits!
Ratings in Review
It’s all in the numbers . . .
The majority of my reviews (20 of 66 books) were 4 stars. Seems like I’m tossing them pretty liberally, doesn’t it? When I look at the books I gave 4 stars, not once have I thought “those need to be less/more than 4 stars.” These are books I would highly recommend to other readers, series I would continue, and books that I enjoyed immensely but didn’t necessarily fall to pieces in love with/think they were phenomenal works of literature.
Those 5-star books, though. Wow. I gave more than I expected, and as I’m looking at the books they belong to, I can say maybe a handful “moved” me, and the rest were very much heightened-emotions-in-the-moment kind of books. It would be interesting to re-read those 5-star books and see if I’d still give the same ratings.
This chart is based on 2+ books I read from that particular publisher. I read from several small publishers as well, but because it was 1 book per small press, they were not included in this chart.
I’m not at all surprised by the top two publishers, Random House and HarperCollins. HC has my favorite imprint, Balzer + Bray, and I tend to gravitate to their YA books more than any other imprint or category. The number of Simon & Schuster titles — and the fact there are more of them than Penguin, and less of them than Macmillan — surprised me. I can’t exactly say why. Just that I am!
Bloomsbury may have been small in numbers, but they were knockouts in rating. Solid fives all around! Same could be said for Penguin as well. One thing I find worth noting is that, though there were few Scholastic titles read, they were solidly rated 3. Good, enjoyable reads marketed perfectly for the right readership (two MGs and two YAs, all four with great crossover appeal). You’ll never doubt Scholastic’s capabilities in targeting!
What I Held in My Hands
Hardcover, paperback, and digital, oh my!
*facepalm* I knew this would happen. Remember my mad and wild April ARC issue? Clearly shown here.
35% of the books I read I already owned. They came from my TBR of books purchased in the past, or they were purchased within the last month and read immediately. 15% of the books were borrowed in some capacity — from the library, from a friend, from a family member — and never purchased. Gifted books were presents from the last few years that I finally got around to reading, and I’m sad to say that 8% is such a dreary, low number.
But that 42%? That needs to be cut way back. Nearly half of the books I read in 2015 were meant for advance review. Galleys from BEA and editors, digital ARCs from NetGalley and Edelweiss — they kept piling up. I’m hoping to cut back on a lot of ARCs for 2016, maybe reviewing 1 or 2 a month instead of the monstrous issue I had in the spring and fall.
Similar to how I tended to read a lot of ARCs (separated into eARC and galley, here, totaling to 42%), I tended to also read anything recently published, and therefore in hardcover. The majority of my reading habits contained books published within the month read. The paperbacks, mass markets, and one audio book were published in previous years.
I plan to read more paper books in 2016. I’d like to be able to train myself to think in Work Mode when I read digitally — that is, manuscripts and samples on my ereader — and Pleasure Mode with paper. This can also reinforce the “read fewer ARCs” goal for 2016 as well, since the majority of them are sent digitally.
Meat & Bones
This book on my shelf is a __ novel.
I’m genuinely surprised at the number of standalone novels I read this year. Looking back, it feels like every book I read was the first or second in the series, but the numbers don’t lie! Quite happy that I’ve read several standalone books. Not everything needs to be a duology, trilogy, or series. (So it feels somewhat hypocritical of me to say that I have a feeling I’ll be reading a lot of books in a series in 2016. But there it is.)
While several of the books I read contained many of these main genres (parallel narratives with historical and contemporary settings, contemporary romance, historical fantasy, historical or contemporary mystery, and many more), the data reflects what I considered to be the primary focus of the story. Romance, for example, could be in a fantasy, historical, or contemporary setting. If Plot B was the romance, the other category (Plot A) was listed first.
My reading preferences are very apparent in this chart. I love all of these genres, but am incredibly picky when it comes to historical fiction, fantasy, and mystery books. I want to read historical fiction that’s well-researched, I want to read fantasy with world-building that’s not a massive pile of info-dumping, I want a mystery that keeps me guessing to the end. It needs to be well-written and convincing. Not that contemporary and romance get a free pass, but because we live in a modern world and experience romance of some capacity in our lives, it seems a bit “easier” to dive into those books than other genres.
And lastly, to no surprise, the most-read category of 2015 was YA! What I did find surprising was that the number of MG reads matched the number of adult fiction. I always feel like I don’t read enough MG or enough adult, and end up experiencing these phases through the year of reading exclusively in that category to “make up for it.”
After spending some time with the British Beau and hearing how he chooses what books to read in the following year, and using Hannah’s tactic of examining the statistics of one’s reading habits from the current/ending year, I’m starting to build up an idea of what my 2016 reads will look like. I want to read more from my shelves, read books that were gifts, read more from the library, read fewer ARCs. In short, I want to be selective. As a literary agent, I hold manuscripts up to a certain standard — and in doing so, I find pinpointing the client I want to represent an easier task. Why not hold those same standards to books I want to read, enjoy, and review?
What are some of your surprising (and not-so-surprising) reading statistics? What did you do this year that you’d like to change or stay the same for 2016?