Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 Reading Statistics

I wasn't going to post this until tomorrow or the next day, but since I can't sleep due to anxiety over graduate school applications, I compiled all the data as the sun came up. Each month I post a list of the books I completed over the previous one, so there is no need to recap that here. Yet this does give me the opportunity to reflect upon how I spent my reading time, and perhaps how I could better spend it in the future.

This year I completed 240 books, plays, and graphic novels, surpassing my previous high last year of 230. Since statistics are fun for everyone, or at least me, here is how it all breaks down:
  • 35 novels (14.6%)
  • 17 short story collections (7.1%)
  • 42 works of nonfiction (17.5%)
  • 144 graphic novels (60%)
  • 2 plays (0.8%)
With an overwhelming majority of my reading coming from graphic novels, the overall total here appears greatly inflated. And while I enjoyed making my way through series like Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming's Powers series, I wasted a lot of time reading things like Ultimate X-Men & Spiderman. I doubt that will be happening again in 2010.

The biggest reason for the shift in these demographics is due to the economy, at least indirectly. I was out of work for a period at the end of 2008, and as a result things got a bit tight. In order to save money, I switched from buying books frequently to utilizing my public library on a weekly basis, if not more. Fortunately, I live in a large enough town to have a better than average library system. The huge numbers of graphic novels are directly due to my ability not only to easily read pretty much any comic I wanted on a whim, it also took what would have cost maybe $1000, even at a used book store, and made it free.

I'm also very surprised that the number of novels I read fell by almost 50% from last year, something I am at a loss to explain. Both nonfiction and short story collections remained relatively even, but I suppose the ebb in my interest in fiction, which I touched on early this evening, has been more protracted than I had originally believed.

For 2010, I predict that these numbers will go down for a number of reasons. The first, I have exhausted much of the library's supply of graphic novels, at least ones that I am interested in, and there isn't much on the horizon that I really want to read. But more importantly, as I apply to another graduate program, I plan on being incredibly busy (and happy) come the fall semester, assuming someone lets me in and greases the financial wheels. As a result, I'll have less time to read, at least casually, but I think I am finding real satisfaction with my academic work, so it is a trade I will happily make.

I used to come up with a list of my top five books of the year, but this year I think I'll pass. However, here are some authors I read this year that I hope you will check out: Dan Chaon, Aleksandar Hemon, Joshua Cooper Ramo, Stieg Larsson, Tom Bissell, & Maile Meloy.


Steve said...

Like you, I think I've inflated my reading numbers via comics-- but I don't regret it. I think reading things like Green Arrow keeps me sane and grounded in between all my Victorian literature and postcolonial drama. Graduate school certainly does strange things to your reading habits, though!

Good luck with your applications!

Gregory Plantamura said...

You'll get a LOT more out of reading Moore's Swamp Thing by reading the annotations with them. They explain all kinds of hidden references. Swamp Thing annotations are online at