As it’s the end of the calendar year I wantto assess my reading for the twelve months just ended. I have seen comments on social media telling me that people aren’t interested in how many books I read in 2021 and if that is the case with you please feel free to stop reading this blog. If, like me, you find other people’s reading lives of interest then please continue.
I read 335 books in 2021. This is not the most I have read in a year and nor is it the fewest. It’s a good, easy to achieve figure which would be higher had I not been diverted by social media to which I pay more attention than it probably deserves. I’ve been keeping records of my reading now for 22 years and the average number of books I read in a year is in or around 330. I accept that this is higher than most people’s total and in answer to that I will just say two things :
- It’s not a competition. There are no prizes. I am not morally better than someone who has read 30 books in a year. I really believe this.
- I have few other hobbies. I don’t watch much television, I am retired and I don’t have a busy social life – this is all my choice and I am very happy but it does mean that I have more time to read.
I have been trying to read more books than I buy during the year in order to reduce the ridiculous size of my to-be-read pile. In this I failed and I now have more books waiting to be read than I did at the beginning of year. I must curb my habit of browsing in charity shops and be more disciplined (I say that every year).
I also wanted to read more non-fiction and for a number of years have set a target of 25% of books read. Last year the figure achieved was 17% and this year it has fallen to 11%. It’s still something I aim for though as I love non-fiction, particularly history and biography. Those books take longer to read though and more concentration so I am not always in the mood to be serious.
I have always wanted the majority of the books I read to be written by women (this is mainly to make up for a childhood when I read almost exclusively books written by men because I couldn’t source anything else at the time). This year the figure is 71% and while it is a couple of percentage points lower than last year it is still a very acceptable level. I would like to read more books written by people from ethic minorities and in translation but I haven’t yet set a target for that and I anticipate difficulties in trying to make assumptions as to which books or authors fall into that category. I would also like to read more books from independent publishers but I think that also is something for the future.
Physical books were 64% of the overall total which is good as I want to read through my physical to-be-read piles which take up too much room – my Kindle books are neatly stored somewhere in a cloud and I don’t often trip over them and nor do they attract the same amount of dust ! Audio books were only 4% of the total because I mainly listen to them when I drive and I have had little reason to travel lately because of retirement and Covid.
I was amazed to discover that 44% of the books I read can be classified as crime, suspense and thrillers. Of course, that description covers a vast variety of titles including spy novels, romantic suspense, police procedurals, physiological thrillers and cosy crime. The next largest category is fantasy and science fiction which is followed by romance and history. I also read literary fiction, classics, biography, true crime, travel, women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, drama, poetry and historical novels. I still don’t read horror and avoid family sagas but I’ll have a go at most other things. I abandoned 19 books during the course of the year which is about the same as last year – I have a fair idea of what I’ll enjoy but not every book suits every reader and it’s better to give up on something that you are not enjoying than to keep on struggling when it’s not a book that makes you happy.
However many books you’ve read I hope that you’ve enjoyed them as much as I have enjoyed mine. I love reading, thinking about books, writing about what I think and sharing recommendations. I also adore finding new authors and trying books that soon become new favourites. There are so many good books out there and so little time !
Keep reading ….