storytimewithbuffy

Reading Habits

In Currently Reading... on February 8, 2015 at 11:02 am

Hello there! It’s been a long time. I know. But now, after an extended break, I feel like I’m ready to rejoin the world of blogging.

This year, I’ve done some analysis on the books I read last year. I follow a lot of bookish pages on Facebook and one of the pages had a really interesting article on it written by a woman who wanted to read more diversely and what she did about it. Here’s the link if you’re interested: http://bookriot.com/2014/09/18/track-reading-ultimate-reading-spreadsheet/

When I first saw this, I thought that it would be pointless for me because I keep track of all of my reading on Goodreads. But as I read on I realised why she was doing it and it made me want to do it too. Goodreads doesn’t give stats. I’ve been wanting to diversify my reading experience for a while but until I created my own spreadsheet, I didn’t realise how much I really needed to do it.

Unsurprisingly, I read A LOT of books written by white males from the UK or the US. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve read some amazing books and I’m certainly not going to NOT read a book based on someone’s ethnicity, gender or country of origin. But looking at my reading habits this way made me realise how many different points of view I’m missing out on.

I’d like to share the results with you. Below is a portion of what my spreadsheet looks like. I’ve altered mine from the one in the article referenced above. A few things on my reporting: Where there were two authors, I chose one to make it easier. If one of them is an ethnicity other than white, I chose that person to show that there is a bit of diversity in what I’m reading. I’m not sure if that’s cheating or not, but since this isn’t an official report and it’s pretty much for my own edification I’m just going to go with it. I’ve also grouped anyone from the UK together, so the books in that category are written by people from England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. (I haven’t forgotten about you, Wales! I just didn’t read anything by a Welsh author last year.)

Also, the spreadsheet from the article I linked had a column designated as PoC to designate whether or not the book was written by a person of colour. I decided to record everyone’s ethnicity instead because I don’t really like that terminology for people who aren’t white and I’m a bit unsure of its acceptability. I wince when I hear people say it because it’s a little too close to calling someone ‘coloured’. There’s also the implication that white is ‘normal’ and anyone else is ‘other’.

(Please note that I’m not suggesting in any way that the woman who wrote the original article is racist. These thoughts about terminology are mine and not meant as a judgement.)

I kind of love spreadsheets. I'm not ashamed.

I kind of love spreadsheets. I’m not ashamed.

So, here’s what the results were. (All stats have to do with author and not characters or setting in the books.)

Last year I read 52 books with a total of 15,077 pages.

Here is a lovely pie chart which is split by gender. So, yes. I need to read more books by women.

2014 Gender Split

 

Books I’ve read by country:

2014  by Country

 

And by ethnicity:

2014  by Ethnicity

 

In the country and ethnicity charts above, there are two entries you might question. USA/Canada denotes an author who has dual citenzenship. White/Japanese denotes an author who has a white parent and a Japanese parent. (Although, now I’m realising that I should have put ‘White/Asian’ instead.) Anyway, I didn’t want to take away from anyone’s identity as I was doing this, so I put both.

So that’s my 2014. I think that 2015 will look a lot different. I’ll be interested to see what it will look like.

I would interested to know if anyone else is doing something similar, so if you are please let me know. Happy Reading!

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  1. Interesting idea. I keep track of the countries of the books I read, though not ethnicity or gender. I read a lot of books by white men, though. Not intentionally, just the books I chose.

    • Ah, I know a lot of people who keep track of the countries. That seems like a really interesting thing to do and I might try it one year. There are quite a few groups on Goodreads who do book tours around the world where each book they read is from a different country. Do you do something like that? And is it the country of the author or of the book setting?

      • I’d love to do something like that, but it’ll have to wait until I’ve reduced my backlog to nothing. Then I can buy books again. I’d actually like to do both, though my main focus is on writers who are from each country.

  2. What a good idea! I think I may do something like this, too!

  3. Welcome back! Now I’m pondering something similar, as if I didn’t have enough side-projects to do. *shakes fist*

  4. I really appreciate the focus on the diversifying reading and especially love your charts! I seriously doubt there’s a lot of author diversity in my own reading, although I’m pretty sure I read more female authors last year than male. As much as I’m tempted to try to read more variety, I’m afraid it will add too much pressure. You see, I’m finally at the point where I’ve eliminated obligations out of my reading and it has been wonderful. Just the same, I really looking forward to seeing what your charts look like next year! Also, welcome back. 🙂

    • Thanks! It’s good to be excited about my blog again. I totally understand what you mean. I don’t think that i would have been receptive to trying this last year as I just wanted to read whatever I wanted. I’m hoping that this will introduce me to new authors or new ways of finding new authors so that I’ll eventually find more diverse books naturally and it won’t feel like such an effort. I feel like more and more people want to start reading books from all types of people so hopefully we’ll start seeing more diversity in the mainstream.

      • I know what you mean – sometimes you just need a break to make it fun again, right? It looks like you’re approaching it in a way that won’t drive you crazy. I imagine you’ll probably find a ton of amazing authors you wouldn’t have read otherwise. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what you discover. 🙂

  5. Wow! Thats interesting. Thanks for sharing this. I want to do this for 2015!!

  6. I’m trying to read more diversely this year, but I’m only keeping track of countries if I’ve never read anything from them before. I’d love to see you read some Australian authors… There are some great ones out there, but they don’t seem to be represented on your graphs!

    • Now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t think that I’ve ever read anything by an Australian author. Recommendations are always welcome. What are your favourites?

      • I just realised that most of the books that I’ve read by Australian authors recently-ish have been set in other countries… “The Book Thief” (Marcus Zusak) is in Germany, “Burial Rites” (Hannah Kent) is in Iceland, and “Eon”/”Eona” (Alison Goodman) are kind of Japanese (?).

        I try to keep a balance between male/female authors in my reading, but I inevitably read more novels by male authors… Definitely keen to expand my reading scope in terms of country/ethnicity though, so might give this a try!

      • I didn’t realise that Marcus Zuzak is Australian. I’m going to have to check my spreadsheet because his book is on it. I wonder if it auto-corrected to Austria… Ugh. Thanks for the recommendations!

      • It depends what genres you like. Peter Carey and Bryce Courtenay are good for general fiction. Kerry Greenwood has written two crime series – one set in the 1920s and one set in a modern day bakery… There are stacks more, but these three were the first to pop into my head!

      • Ah, interesting. Thanks for the recommendations!

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