It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

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2016 in reading


I’ve already done my best of the year post – see here – but until the year is actually over I never know how I’ve been reading – total number of books, by genre, by decade, by gender, etc… Well, 2016 is well and truly over, and I’ve been doing some number-crunching.

I read 144 books in 2016, just missing my Goodreads Challenge target of 150, and down from last year’s total of 152. I put this down to the fact I picked several weighty books to read during the year, although, to be fair, I don’t think I was reading as much as I did in 2015 anyway. Of those 144 books, the bulk were published this decade – 63, in fact, so slightly less than half. The rest were scattered across every decade from the 1920s onwards. The graph looks like this:


It doesn’t look much different to 2015, to be honest, although the 1970s scored a little higher then.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to keep my fiction reading split evenly between male and female writers. In 2016, men just pipped women at 34% to 32%. The remainder were anthologies, graphic novels and non-fiction:


And subject-wise, science fiction still forms the majority of my reading, although it’s less than half at 40% (down from 47% last year). Mainstream takes second place at 27% (up from 23% last year). The single Young Adult title was from my reading of the underwhelming 2016 Clarke Award shortlist.


At the end of 2015, I’d planned to read more mainstream and less sf in 2016, so that was one target met. But I also wanted to read more non-fiction, particularly criticism, space exploration and deep-sea exploration – but that I failed to do.

I also worked out my reading by nationality of the writer. I discounted anthologies, because while their contents could be from a single nation, many are not. I had expected the US to be the source for much of what I’d read, but it turned out to be the UK – 40% to the US’s 35%. I seem to recall the same happening last year. Next highest was Germany, with 4% (that’ll be those Jenny Erpenbeck books, then). Other nations include: Argentina, Canada, China, Denmark, Norway and Spain, among others.


Compared to 2015’s reading, this is a distinct improvement – not only a few more more countries, but also more titles that weren’t from the UK or US. I plan to read more translated fiction in 2017, so I expect this chart will look very different this time next year.

Reading books, however, is only, er, half the story. Books, after all, do not magically appear out of thin air – well, I guess ebooks do, but I much prefer hardbacks and paperbacks. I didn’t keep every book I purchased in 2016, however – some of those I picked up from charity shops, I donated back after I’d read them. In total, during 2016 I bought 150 books I’d not previously read… which means the To Be Read pile increased by six books, except… I got rid of a few books I’d never got around to reading, and likely never would, so the TBR actually shrank by twenty-two books. (At that rate, it’d take me about 50 years to completely read my TBR.) Of the books I purchased, it’s about a 50:50 split between bought new and bought secondhand, but only 21 were actually first published in 2016. I’ve no plans to change that in 2017 – I certainly don’t choose my reading based on the shiny new, and, to be honest, and a lot of the currently popular genre stuff doesn’t take my fancy at all. So I shall continue explore the oeuvres of those writers I like and seek out books by writers new to me, from whatever decade, whose works are more tuned to my tastes. And, hopefully, I’ll make a bigger dent in the TBR over the next twelve months…

2 thoughts on “2016 in reading

  1. Wow. Good job on your reading goals! Good luck in 2017.

  2. Pingback: 2016 in watching | It Doesn't Have To Be Right...

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