2016: my year in books, unnecessarily graphed

This year I started 90 books (this fact is untrue. For example, last night I started two books and stopped them within three chapters. I didn’t add them to this count. And I bet I read a couple more books before the end of the year) and finished 84 of them. Here is a picture of each of those piles of books.


If you would like to know which ones were best, you could read about my favourite books of the year.

Twenty-one of those books were published this year; 40 more were published since 2010. There was one book each from 2009, 2005, 2002, 1999, 1989 and 1973. I read two 19th century novellas: one from 1853 and one from 1898 (win a free book if you guess what they were. You don’t get to choose the book).

I had my usual ‘read more sheilas than blokes’ kind of year.


Next year I am going to do something about the geographic distribution of the authors I read. I will only read books from Ireland (more on that later), Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.


Libraries are so good. Thank you so much to Footscray Library and Melbourne City Library for keeping me in books this year. If you don’t have a library card, you should get one. They let you read books for free. My book-buying dollars went mostly to indies this year – I didn’t break it down but that would primarily be Readings (online and in-store), Avid Reader (online), Paperback Books (the closest real-world bookshop to my office), Hill of Content (my second-closest real-world bookshop), Sun Bookshop (my neighbourhood bookshop) and some overseas small publishers whose books aren’t available here yet. The ‘Booktopia/Amazon’ figure is for hard-copy books; Kindles from Amazon are listed separately. Second-hand is mostly from my defacto neighbourhood bookshop, Savers Footscray (thanks for all the random $3 books, Savers).


I keep tabs of why I chose to read a book (if I can figure it out: it’s often random) in a (still-failed) attempt to figure out whether any of these fields matches ‘books I liked best’. I can reveal that liking someone’s twitter feed is no guarantee you will love their book. None of these categories guarantees anything, in fact, and I think I’ll stop logging them.


Most of the books I read this year I didn’t mind: they were quite nice and not in any way a waste of my time. As for books I didn’t like, it seemed I had a particularly bad run of slightly-speculative commercial fiction this year (authors from the US also rated quite badly). It seems this is a genre (is it a genre?) I don’t like.

I tried correlating ‘books I loved’ with other criteria and discovered that there was a 30% chance I’d love any given book, a 40% chance if that book had some hot buzz around it, 50% if the author was queer, 60% if the book was sci-fi or fantasy (both these stats were heavily influenced by my huge love for the three ‘Captive Prince’ books) and 100% if the book’s author was Irish: that was thanks to BeatleboneSolar Bones and Pond (OK, the author isn’t strictly Irish but she lives there and the book’s set there). If anyone can recommend some queer Irish sci-fi, that would be great.


And now here are some categories that bear little or no relationship to one another and should never be grouped in a chart:



20 thoughts on “2016: my year in books, unnecessarily graphed

  1. Gosh, I am impressed. I bet you did this with Excel? (Not at work, of course).
    I can’t guess what those novellas were, so you’ll have to tell us in due course!

  2. What a fun thing to do – I feel like doing my own now, though I’m not sure if 40 or so books would come up with such impressive stats, and I’d find it hard to pin down my reasons for reading a book, often I have several.

  3. Never mind the books, I just love your bar charts. You won me with the first – finished va gave up- such elegant simplicity. I admire your choice of colours and how they are vertical for up to 5 bars, horizontal for more than 5. But what’s that pie chart doing in there? Pies and bars don’t mix.

    Looking forward to more detailed multivariate analysis, e.g. male/female vs loved/hated, source vs genre, etc. And more colours please!

    Season’s greetings,


  4. I’m impressed by everything about this post—how many books you read, how many of them were Australian, how many of them were by female authors, how many stats you kept, and how interesting you’ve managed to make the graphs! 🙂

  5. Fantastic, love the graphs, love the analysis. Please don’t give up any of them, eg the ‘why you read the book’ one, because recommended by friend, twitter persona ok etc. It’s fascinating.

    Your end of year post is one of the favourites I wait for, so good.

  6. I love this Jane, but I’m appalled you would do it before December 31. I’m holding out.

    Book spreadsheets are so great. I like that you keep track of where you purchase things – I might add that to my spreadsheet. Do you keep track of how much you spend? I’ve started doing that (although it’s a bit off, because they only go in the spreadsheet when they’re finished). I also think I want to expand to a love/like/didn’t like score – at the moment I’m just thumbs up vs thumbs down.

    Is one of the novellas Bartleby the Scrivener?

    1. I’m going overseas before the end of the year, so if I don’t do it now it won’t get done til February, and who cares then? I do keep track of what I spend because apparently I can claim it on tax, but that’s in a different spreadsheet (and it’s much less accurate than my reading one, which is a bit silly now I think about it – I forget to add things to it all the time).
      And YES you are correct! That’s one down, and a book for you. If you twitter DM me your address I’ll post you a random book you’ll probably regret owning…

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