Friday, January 1, 2016

How I Read My Way Through 2015


First things first...

One of my favorite gifts from blogging is that it has prompted me to really examine my reading.  It's always illuminating looking for patterns and it's become an exercise I really enjoy.  It gives me all sorts of ideas about habits I might want to adjust or new reading adventures I'd like to embark upon.

This was the year of the audio book and re-reading. And media tie-ins. Over half of the books (66 or 57%) I read this year were in audio format.  Reading more audio books has really helped me to increase the number of books I read in a year and was a key factor in being able to blow past my goal of reading 100 books in 2015 despite it being a rather ambitious goal for me and one I'd been working up to for a few years.  I ended up reading 115 books!  Since we only have so many books we can read in a lifetime and my TBR is a veritable tower, it pleases me to be able to get to more books.  I'm greedy.

In regards to re-reads, I had gotten out of the habit of revisiting favorite books but I made a point of doing so in 2015 by re-reading the Harry Potter Series and The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis.   I, of course, did my re-reading by audio:).  Anyway, it was highly rewarding so I will definitely be making a point of making time for it in the years to come.

And media-tie ins?  I hadn't really explored this world too much but with the publication of two Veronica Mars books and then really getting into a bunch of Doctor Who books on audio, I am officially a fan.  Next adventure - Star Wars tie ins!

Goodreads put together a nice little graphic this year which summarizes the primary stats.

As it displays, my average rating was 3.5 which is higher than my overall average rating for all years on Goodreads which would seem to indicate a very good reading year.  What it really means, I think, is that I'm getting more forgiving of books because the reading year did not feel particularly dazzling, just so-so.

In addition to Goodreads I used a tracking spreadsheet borrowed from River City Reading (I think), to help pay attention to a few stats Goodreads doesn't do a great job with.  It was kind of fun but also kind of a pain in the neck so not sure I will do it again.  It confirmed that I mostly read books written by women; 63% (72) female authors vs. 37% (43) male.  A little less than 1/3 of the books I read were Young Adult.  I read overwhelmingly the most in the Fantasy genre with Mystery, Romance and Sci-Fi also in double digits.  I am a genre reader and true.

And because it will feature heavily in one of my resolutions for 2016, all but 20 of the 115 books I read this year were part of a series. *blink* Wow.  I truly do have a series addiction problem... a wonderful, wonderful addiction.

For the rest of my year's review I will check in with the 7 book-related resolutions I made at the start of 2015.

1) Read 100 Books 
First one is a Yes!  I read 115. 
2) Read 25 books off my 100 Books Project list 
No, Not even close.  As you will see with number three, the challenges were all a bust this year after an initially strong start.  I read only three books from my 100 books project list which is the worst year I've ever had on this 5 year project and it  has likely put the nail in its coffin.  It's still a good list to work from but considering my reading habits I don't think there is any way I will be able to complete this challenge by the end of 2017.
3) Participate in and complete Book'd Out's Eclectic Reader Challenge and the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.

As with the above I started out pretty strong in the first half of the year and then completely flew off the rails.  I got closest with the Eclectic Reader Challenge, reading books from 9 of the 12 categories. The 3 categories I missed were Epistolary Fiction, Sports, and Fiction from a Country that Starts with an 'S'.  For Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge I read in 15 of the 24 categories. I'm glad I did the challenges and I do think they helped me diversify my reading somewhat but I don't think I'll be doing any challenges this year. 
4) Track Diversity 
This was part of the purpose for the spreadsheet and it did an okay job.  I know for instance that I only read books by authors from 6 different countries, all but one, English speaking (Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, U.K., and U.S.A.).  The vast majority (all but 10) were from U.K./U.S.A. authors.  It gives me a place to grow from.  My goal is to read more books from and about people with substantially different life experiences than I (country of origin/setting, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status etc...) so that I continue to broaden rather than narrow my perspective of the world.
5) Read the books I own 

Of the 115 books I read, only 17 were books that I already owned so I don't think I really embraced this resolution very well.  The vast majority of what I read came from the dear library.  Oh well...It's nice to be surrounded by books even if I take them for granted and don't read them.
6) MOUNT TBR, I will tackle thee! 

So I didn't even track this but looking over my list for the year, I would say I didn't do too hot on this resolution either.
7) Find some time for Re-reading 

I did this one!! Woot!  I re-read Harry Potter and it was so great.  Audio books made it possible for this to happen - they are my heroes!

It was an okay reading year but it does bring up one dilemma for me.  Because I am such a mood reader, I find it very hard to stick to challenges that dictate the kind of books you should read.  This suggests I should stay away from such challenges.  However, I also don't want to let myself get too comfortable and in a reading rut, which is why I am so drawn to challenges that push my reading boundaries in the first place.  I think it's telling, though, that even with three challenges this year, I think it was a pretty rutty year - I read very few books that really knocked my socks off or that I felt were truly special or different.  It's a balance I need to work on in 2016, I suppose.

So how was your reading year?  Any stats that surprised you?

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