I’ve been keeping a reading spreadsheet for a while now, but exactly what data I collect changes each year. I am a spreadsheet nerd and obsessed with lists, so I track my reading mostly for my own enjoyment. But I’ve also found my spreadsheet useful for dozens of other reasons. It helps me discover patterns in my reading I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. It helps me stick to my reading goals (like reading more diverse authors). It’s super useful when my friends ask for book recommendations. And it allows me to analyze how my reading changes from year to year.
Here are the four stats from 2017 that I found the most interesting, useful, and/or fun.
Days to Finish
2017 was the first year I tracked this, and it completely fascinated me. The shortest amount of time it took me to read a book was 1 day, and the longest was 45 days. There were about 10 books in the 20-30 range, and 50 in the 6-15 range, but the majority (180) fell in the 2-5 day range.
Why do I care about this? I read A LOT this year, and this stat explains why. I read a ton of books in under 5 days, and most of them were comics, romance, or fast-paced YA and SFF. I love all of these genres and I will never stop reading them. But this stat helped me realized that when I become used to (and, let’s face it, addicted to) finishing books in 1-3 days, it gets harder to pick up books I know might take me a week or three to finish.
It’s something I’ll keep in mind for 2018. If my “days to finish” column starts filling up with ones and twos, I’ll remind myself to slow down, take a breath, and finally dig into Anna Karenina.
This is perhaps the most important stat I track, and also the hardest to pinpoint exactly. Entries in my “why” column range from the specific (I wanted an audiobook to listen to while doing a puzzle), to the vague (the internet told me to). Common reasons included Book Riot, Goodreads, word of mouth (sometimes with the actual person who recommended the book), and Read Harder. The top three reasons: known author, known comic, and known series.
It’s hard to track exactly why I read the books I do, and doing a better job is one of my goals for next year. For example, this year I read a ton of books because of Read Harder (awesome!) but I never noted where I’d heard about those books or who recommended them. Mostly because by the time I got around to reading them, they’d been sitting on my TBR for months and I’d forgotten why I put them there. I’ve already started addressing this problem by adding a note about why I’m adding it every time a book goes on my TBR.
I’d like to figure out if there’s a correlation between the best books I read and why I read them. I’m also interested in an objective analysis of where I hear about books. Am I really paying attention to all the non-white dominated blogs, reviewers, and publishers that I think I am?
Nationality of Author
This is mostly useful because reading more books in translation has been one of my reading goals for the past several years. This year, of the ~300 books I’ve read, ~90 were written by non-US authors. That includes other books written in English, of course (UK, Australia, etc.), and it also includes authors who grew up in a different country but now live in the US. But it’s a good overall indicator of how much non-English/non-US reading I’m doing.
I’ve found that the act of tracking something is one of the simplest ways to broaden and deepen my reading. Now that I track nationality, I actively seek out authors from around the globe; before I started tracking it, I only read books in translation when I stumbled upon them by accident. Fun fact: I read books by authors from every continent this year. Well, except Antartica. As far as I know, no penguin has ever written a book.
Mostly, I just like being able to geek out on how many hours I spend listening to audiobooks, i.e. magical bonus reading time. My total this year is around 28 days, but I’m pretty sure it’ll increase by a day or two when I go into full holiday baking mode.
Bragging rights aside, this stat is surprisingly useful when recommending books. For audiobooks especially, I can sort my spreadsheet by book length and then recommend awesome audiobooks for car trips of every length, weekly or daily commutes, afternoons on the beach, etc. Being able to sort by pages is also useful in December when my bookish friends are scrambling to meet their Goodreads goals—I can compile a list of my favorite books under 150 pages in minutes.
Do you track your own reading? What stats do you find the most useful?
Check out the reading spreadsheet beloved by many Book Riot contributors and staff.