Friday, December 31, 2021

Chasing Books: 2021 By the Numbers

2021 turned out to be a strange year, didn't it? There for a few months it was looking like the country may have finally turned the COVID-19 corner and was moving in the right direction. For several months during the second half of the year it really looked that way, but then we ended the year with a new covid outbreak that leaves us wondering if this will ever end. Frankly, I was more optimistic a person this time last year than I am today.

That's not going to stop me, though, from my annual crunching of the Book Chase reading stats (my inner-accountant's favorite post of the year): 

Number of Books Read - 130 

Fiction - 105:   
  • Novels - 98   
  • Short Story Collections - 7  


Nonfiction - 25:
  • Memoirs - 5
  • Biographies - 3 
  • Books on Books - 3
  • True Crime- 1
  • History - 6
  • Science - 2
  • Entertainment - 1
  • Politics -  1
  • Travel -  3

Total books are up 10 from 2020, and I seem to have settled comfortably into a 120-130 book per year range for the last several years. (Strange, though, that I don't feel very that optimistic about hitting those numbers in 2022).

  • Books Written by Men - 70
  • Books Written by Women - 55
  • Books Written by Both - 5

This is the second year in a row that I've read almost as many books authored by women as by men. Until last year, my male-to-female author ratio always ran 2-1 in favor of male authors.

  • Audiobooks - 24
  • E-Books - 32
  • Library Books - 85 
  • Review Copies - 25
  • From My Shelves - 21 
  • Abandoned/DNF - 16
  • Average Pages Read per Day: 120
  • Total Pages Read: 43,700 

The source-mix of my books is very similar to last year's mix, but I'm seriously considering a change of plan for 2022. I find myself getting a little burned out on chasing so many new books all the time, so I may concentrate more on older stuff and a lot of "catch-up" reading that I never seem to get around to. That would mean even fewer review copies than ever...a number that has been dropping from year-to-year already. I'll see how that works out. 

My goals coming into the year were simple ones: read more in translation, more from my own shelves, more literary classics, more from the years 1920-1979, more foreign authors from countries other than the UK and Canada, and catch up on a few of the detective series I follow. Let's just say I did better on some of the goals than on others:

  • 12 translated works (happy enough)
  • 21 from my own shelves (satisfied)
  • 1 literary classic (embarrassed)
  • 11 from 1920-1979 (frustrated)
  • 14 early books from my favorite series (happy enough)
  • 13 foreign authors not from the UK or Canada (happy)
  • 30 books by UK and Canadian authors (happy)

I am feeling a little frustrated to see how heavily I depended on newish books for my reading material again this year. Thirty-nine of the books I read in 2021 were published in 2021, another five will be published in 2022, and nineteen were published in 2020. Numbers like that make me wonder if I'll ever make the time to figure out what I missed during all those years I was way too busy living life to read more than twenty or thirty books a year. I suppose I'll never know unless I finally find enough willpower to better resist all the bright and shiny new ones that keep getting dangled before my eyes. Maybe 2022 will be the year it finally happens.

All in all, I feel blessed to be a committed reader because I think the last two years would surely have been a lot tougher if not for books, my local library, and all of the reading friends I've made via Book Chase. Thank you all for being there and sharing the year with me. 


  1. I wouldn't have made it through these last two years without good books to read! They are my anodyne for stress and anxiety. And while 2021 wasn't the year we all hoped it would be, at least it was filled with lots of good reading. Hope you have a Happy New Year, Sam! :D

    1. It's gotten to the point that I feel sorrier than ever for those who don't know the joys and benefits of reading, Lark. Have a great 2022!

  2. Like Lark, I don't know what I would've done without books over the last two years. And I share your frustration that we're still trying to get through this pandemic. But perhaps I spy a light at the end of the tunnel now. We'll see.

    I think, by and large, most men read more male authors than female. My husband definitely used to, but not so much now perhaps. My own ratio tends to be 50-50, I must check to see what it is this year.

    Yes! Thank goodness for friends made via bookblogging! I'm so thankful for you all. Happy New Year, Sam.

    1. My own unofficial observations convince me that you are right: men tend to read men, and vice versa. In my case, that's changed a lot over the years because most book bloggers are female and I'm learning about the authors they favor...usually women. Have a great year, Cath.

    2. Well, it turns out I read 51 books by female authors this year and 37 male. So not quite as equal as I thought but not that far apart either.

    3. No, that's not a bad ratio at all. I think we get into the habit of reading authors of our own gender very early on in our reading lives. It makes perfect sense that we feel most comfortable reading that way. These days, though, I find very little difference between books in the genres I read no matter which gender wrote them.

  3. My statistics won't be up for a week or two, although I have started crunching the numbers. Like you, I have a tendency to be a magpie, gathering all the bright, shiny, new books and leaving most of the older ones on the vine. It bothers me, but (evidently) not enough to do something substantive about it.

    Happy New Year, Sam!

    1. I'm not confident that I will resist them for an entire year, Cathy...or anything close, but I figure if not now, when am I ever going to read some of the books I've been eyeing for so many years. Happy New Year!

  4. Impressive stats Sam; you stats are so detailed. Do you use a spreadsheet to crunch all those stats? I find it a bit overwhelming to try and crunch by genres, debuts, etc when I wait until the end of the year. Like you the latest, shiny new, heavily publicized books are hard to resist.

    Hope 2022 is another great year for you and yes, thank goodness for good books and laying low especially these last (2) years. Happy New Year Sam.

    I don't think I posted my male/female ratio but, for me it's typically 75% female - 25% male - same true in 2021.

    1. Thanks, Diane. I don't do a spreadsheet as such, just keep a running tab in a reading journal during the year. That way, the numbers are pretty much all there at the end of the year and all I need to do is polish them and recombine them a bit for the post.

      I hope you have a great year; it was nice getting better acquainted with you this year.

  5. Those are some very impressive numbers and a very diverse selection of books. 2022 shapes up as another challenging year. Books will see us through. Happy New Year.

    1. Happy New Year, Dorothy. I'm hoping for a much better 2022 when it comes to the virus, but I do have my doubts. I just want to go to a real, live book festival sometime this year. That alone would just about make my year, I think.

  6. In your first sentence you meant 2021 being a strange year right? Albeit both years were strange. Congrats on your fantastic reading year. So many novels, yay! I like how you had a good variety ... Happy 2022!

    1. I did mean 2021; thanks for catching that slip for me. Kind of like putting the wrong year on checks for a week or two, I just haven't gotten my mind around the fact that it is actually 2022 yet. Have a great year.

  7. Replies
    1. Thanks for that. It was a good reading year...luckily.

  8. Sounds like you had a good reading year, Sam. Like the rest of you, I'm pretty grateful that books have made the year bearable (more or less). I haven't done my stats yet, but I think I have read more off my own shelves this year- didn't do quite as many library visits as usual.

    1. It was a pretty good year, all considered, Jeane. I'll look forward to reading your 2021 recap. I'm hoping to read more of my own shelves this year, too, and lots from the library. It will be hard to get my hands on some of the older books I've been considering.

  9. I totally agree with you on reading being even more important to me during the last two years. My actual blogging may have suffered some, but my reading was consistent, except I think I read more outside of the crime fiction area than usual.

    Your comments on reading newish books were interesting. I have never read many newish books but I tended more that way in 2021, I think. New books are enticing. But a mix is good. I am trying to cut back on buying books though. We will see how that goes and how it affects my reading.

    I have never done this kind of evaluation of my reading year before, but I am thinking about it for this year ... even it it takes me until the end of January. I think it is valuable in seeing what worked and what didn't and where I might want to go in 2022.

    1. My blogging suffered, too. I posted considerably fewer times in 2021 than the year before, and I think my down mood was the reason for that. Seems as if I have to work extra hard to maintain my enthusiasm about anything long enough to sit down and put my thoughts on paper.

      I've been meaning to read more books from the past for a long time, but it just never seems to have gotten done as I look backward at the end of each year. And since I'm going to turn 74 this coming summer, I figure if I'm ever going to get some of that reading done, I'd best get started.

      I find the annual look-back posts to be a lot of fun, and they almost always tell me something interesting about the year's reading that I would never have realized otherwise. It definitely helps me set more constructive goals for the coming year.

  10. It's hard not to get distracted by the shiny and new! I definitely fall victim to that every year. I know there are a lot of older books I've completely missed out on, so I love that many of the bloggers I follow review older books as well.

    I'm impressed that you're so balanced between male and female writers. I've always got more of the latter. I guess that's who mostly writes the genres I like, but I do feel like I need to branch out a little.

    Congrats on a great reading year! Here's to another one in 2022.

    1. Thanks, Susan. I look forward to seeing where 2022 takes you. I always enjoy your reviews...even though they often change my reading plans. :-)