I read a lot. I can relate to what Zadie Smith says in her piece on being addicted to reading:
Can I really not manage a brief subway ride without textual support? Is that normal? Are there other people who, when watching a documentary set in a prison, secretly think, as I have, Wish I had all that time to read?
Like in previous years, I kept track of the books I read in my calendar. This doesn’t only satisfy my need for collecting data but also helps whenever I’m looking for a book to include on a syllabus, or when people ask me whether I’ve read ‘anything good lately’. This year my boyfriend
used my list of books to visualize what I read by means of a number of infographics.
Compared to previous years, 2015 was a pretty standard year book-wise. I read 83 books in total (not including academic books/secondary literature), with a total of 29,078 pages. Apparently, I read about 80 pages a day. Since I usually read around an hour to 1 1/2 hours a day, that sounds about right.
Since I keep track of when I finish a book, I can also tell when I read a lot. Looks like December was an especially good month. Surprisingly, I don’t read that much on vacation. I had brought along Amitav Ghosh’s Flood of Fire
on vacation in June. It took me relatively long to finish – which has less to do with the book, which I loved, and more with all the fun I had on road trips and sightseeing.
Sometimes, my book-average is low in a certain month because I spent my time reading a very long book. That’s the case in April, as the infographic below (interactive version
) shows. I reread Middlemarch
which I enjoyed, but it took a lot of time. Whenever I’m especially busy with teaching or research, I don’t get a lot of time to read, and when I do, it’s usually related to research or teaching.
The infographic below
also shows which books I read for pleasure, for teaching or for research. Pleasure and research tend to overlap: as a contemporary literature scholar, basically everything contemporary I read is also a way of keeping up to date with my field. I decided to mark as ‘research’ only those books that were explicitly tied in with a paper, chapter or research project.
That I read more contemporary books than books published before 2000 shows as well. From the infographic below (interactive version
), it becomes clear that the vast majority of what I’ve read in 2015 was also published in 2015.
I was also curious about the gender balance of the books I read. Following a book-club read (Ann Morgan’s Reading the World
) I wanted to see the countries of origin of the books. My hunch was that I had started to read more nonfiction in 2015, so the books are also split into ‘genre’ – being in this case either fiction or nonfiction.
Click the image for an interactive infographic.The size of the bubbles reflects the number of pages per book.
I read mostly British authors, followed by American authors. I didn’t read anything in translation in 2015, which means that I read primarily English books written in English, and a few German and Dutch books in the original. It surprised me that the gender balance is pretty equal: I’ve read slightly more books by female authors, but the difference is slim. This wasn’t a conscious decision, but a pleasant surprise nonetheless. Books read for pleasure far outrank those rank for teaching research (although there’s some overlap, as I discussed above). Fitting with my interest in an research on post-2000 literature, the majority of books I read in 2015 were also published in 2015.
The full list of books I read in 2015 is here. I’m also keeping track on this site what I’m reading in 2016.