Saturday, January 2, 2021

I Read More Books Than You This Year, And I'm Sorry


     In January of 2020, I went through all the titles I read in 2019 and ran all sorts of statistics. I wrote a whole blog post reviewing and evaluating my reading in 2019 based on those numbers, and today, I would very much like to revisit that and compare my numbers from this year. Alas, I accidently deleted that post only a couple weeks after it went up. SADNESS.

     I'm going to rewind. Back in 2019, before I changed my Goodreads goal to 300 books, and subsequently read that many, Jon told me about some billionaire who reads a book a day, and I said something to the affect of, "Good for him. He's rich and brilliant and probably a speed reader, but that's impossible for a normal human who works 40 hours a week." But after I actually read 300 books in a year, 365 didn't seem so far out of reach, and by the time we hit quarantine, I officially upped my goal, and then somehow managed it.

     I read 365 books in 2020, which clocked in at a little over 121,000 pages. That averages out to about 330 pages a book, which is on the short end of average as far as books go. The typical book is between 300-400 pages. I definitely chose shorter books over longer books (most of the time) in order to complete this goal. This isn't how I want my reading life to be in general, it's just a part of how I accomplished this ridiculous goal. 

     Now, I want to be clear. I did not sit down and physically read with my eyeballs 365 books. 218 of those 365 were audiobooks. That's about 60%. On top of that, I never listened to those audiobooks on normal speed. It is impossible to read aloud as quickly as you can read with your eyeballs or follow with your brain. On top of that, audiobook narrators tend to read extra slowly for clarity of pronunciation. So depending on the book, the narrator, and the day, I made a habit of speeding audiobooks up anywhere from 1.25x to 2.5x the normal speed. 

    Even sped up, I was listening to audiobooks pretty much constantly. I listened when I got ready in the morning and while I worked out and while driving my lengthy commute and for 25-75% of my workday, depending on the day and the tasks. I listened while I cooked and cleaned and while I chilled in the evening, and basically every spare second when there wasn't another human nearby to talk to and I wasn't reading a physical book. It was fairly rare for me, in 2020, to turn on music instead of an audiobook, much less work in silence. I'm not saying that was healthy, I'm just saying that's what I did.

    So with audiobooks out of the way, that leaves 146 books that I read with my eyeballs. 30 of those were graphic novels or comics or manga, which means lots of pictures and easily completed in an hour or two. If I take those out of the equation, that still leaves 116 regular, low-end-of-average-length books that I read, physically with my eyeballs in 2020, and that's still far more than what normal humans read in a year. That's still double the average Goodreads goal for 2020, and I don't know how to account for that. I know I'm a faster-than-average reader, but I do not, contrary to popular belief, read at a superhuman or even uncommon speed. I don't skim. I don't speed-read. I regular-human read. I just do it a lot. 

    Reading is a priority in my life, and I made it an extra priority this year to hit this goal. Quarantine helped. Unlike last year, I had an actual excuse to read instead of going out and having a life. I didn't watch much TV in 2020. I read a little bit every day and a lot on weekends and nights when Jon was working. Even when he was here, I read while he played videogames, which was cozy and fun. I read on walks. I read in the bath. I even stayed up all night a couple times to see how many books I could read in a 24-hour period (6).

    I just read a lot, okay. I'm sorry. I don't know why I feel the need to apologize, but I do. I'm sure there's at least 365 things you did better than me this year, but I feel embarrassed to talk about this success even though it's a goal I spent a year putting all my available effort into hitting. And I really want to talk about it just a little bit. 

     So without further ado, here are some numbers. A lot of my reads are cross-referenced to a couple different categories, so don't try to add them up, it won't work. I read...

    40 Middle Grade books of various genres. For those who don't know, Middle Grade encompasses         books written for grade-school children. A lot of these were rereads of childhood favorites, but I also     found several recently-published gems. 

    118 YA (Young Adult) novels which divided out into 25 Contemporary, 33 Sci-fi, and 60 Fantasy. 

    21 Literary Fiction/Serious Historical Fiction. I don't read much of either of these genres because the     books tend to be hard-hitting and sad and take time to digest. They're usually quite good, but not the     sort of thing you want to read constantly.

    45 Adult Sci-fi/Fantasy. One of these was Dune. I finally got around to reading Dune, and I am super     excited for the movie!

    19 Mystery/Thriller/Horror. 

    34 Nonfiction. 

    98 Romance Novels: 28 Historical and 70 Contemporary. This was a revelation this year: I don't just enjoy the Romance genre, I prefer it. It's light, it's heartfelt, it deals in pretty much the entirety of the human experience, and a happy ending is guaranteed. I'll talk about this more in a later post.

    41 Classics. 

    27 Poetry Collections/Novellas/Plays.

    29 Rereads.

    128 books by an author who was new to me. 

     My average rating out of five stars was 4.1, which was a bit surprising to me, because I felt like I read a ton of books this year that I didn't like or were just okay. Here's how it breaks out:

    164 Five Stars (Loved-Adored).

    119 Four Stars (Really Liked).

    58 Three Stars (Just Liked).

    23 Two Stars (Not a Fan).

    1 One Star (Hated).

    My one-star list would be higher, but after one at the very beginning of the year, I resolved to just put down something that was that bad. I wish I kept count of the books I DNFed (did not finish), but I didn't. I'm estimating between 5 and 10. 

    I completed 32 series, and I decided 40 times to not continue with a series I had started. I think that's the main reason why I didn't feel like this was a very successful reading year by standards other than volume. I started a lot of things I thought I would like and was willing to invest the time in that turned out to be not worth it after all. Those false starts still felt like wastes even when I rated them three stars, and they added to my total.

    To that end, I'd like to wrap this post up with several bookish resolutions for 2021:

    1. I never want to read 365 books in a year again. It was fun. I'm proud of myself, but I never feel like I need to top it or replicate it or even come close again. This year my resolution is to read less. I resolve to read ONLY 200 books in 2021. I resolve to read longer books and slower books, and give myself more space to absorb and digest and maybe try doing other things with my time. 

    2. I resolve to read fewer books under four stars. So much of what I read this year, I read on recommendation from strangers. I chose a lot of books that were hyped on Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, and more, and ended up reading more from a sense of obligation and peer pressure than from my own tastes and interests and needs. I think I know myself well enough that if I'm actually reading what I think I'll like, then I won't end up rating so many books 3 stars and below. 

    3. I started the year with 22 active book series, series I had begun but not yet completed. Over the course of the year, even though I started (and finished) several more, I made a conscious effort to shrink that number. Right now I have 10 active series, and I resolve to narrow that to 5 first thing this year, and then keep it steady there moving forward.

    4. I resolve to read less YA. I love YA, and I have since middle school, but Adult genre fiction has so much to offer that I'm missing because I'm spending so much time with YA. And besides, I'm not sixteen anymore and trying to decide which boy I like better while I lead a rebellion against the government is not really my stage of life anymore. 

    5. I resolve to explore more of the genres that I'm intimidated by: particularly Mystery/Thriller, Adult SFF, and Nonfiction. 

    6. I currently have 38 books on my To Be Read Shelf. I intend to get that shelf down to zero at some point this year, preferably in the first half. After a year like 2020, I think a hard reset would be really  nice. 

    7. I resolve to blog again. Every weekend. This year was so weird. I posted a handful of times before summer came, but eventually ran out of a desire to speak. Everyone had opinions about everything and it felt like everyone was yelling, and I realized I just wanted to take some time to be quiet and listen and learn. And now that I'm back, I'm officially dedicating this blog to bookish and bookish-adjacent lifestyle content only. No politics and no thorny Church issues. Just books.

    Okay, wow. Thank you for making it through this long, boring post. 

What about you? What do you think of a ridiculous goal like this? Any bookish resolutions for 2021? Any suggestions for blog content? Books/Authors you think I should try? 

See you next time!

Coming soon: 

My favorite books of 2020. 



  1. That's cool that you did that, it does sound rather hectic. I like to savor my books, but have been trying to read more but not that much. XD
    It's quite an accomplishment though.

    1. Honestly it was crazy and my retention suffered. I love that you savor books! I need to learn to take my time and stop rushing is much.