2020 in Facts and Figures

I already posted my main 2020 in Review and Looking Ahead to 2021 posts a while ago — only on my new blog (separate post to come) –, but I held back on my 2020 reading statistics until the year was well and truly over.  And for all my good intentions when posting my mid-year summary back in early July 2020, the second half of the year continued pretty much in the same vein as the first half had begun; i.e., my statistics for the whole year are still a variation on the theme of Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, or, 17 charts showing that 2020 was a year of reading Golden Age mysteries written by women (and following other Anglo-/ UK-centric reading proclivities); i.e. comfort reading galore … it was just that kind of year, I guess.

As a result, my Golden Age Mysteries / Detection Club reading project progressed very nicely.  Luckily, as I said in my main 2020 in Review post, I also managed to add a number of new countries to my Around the World challenge, and the gender balance is solidly in favor of women authors: I read almost 2 1/2 books by women for every book written by a man — in fact, I even reread more books by women than the total number of books by men.  So there was at least some progress in other areas, too.  And I liked or even loved most of the books I read in 2020 — including most of the new-to-me books –, which of course was another huge plus; in a year where reading was my go-to source of comfort, at that: most of my ratings were 4 stars or higher and thus, above the rating that marks “average” in my personal scale (3.5 stars).

Still, in 2021 I’m going to make a fresh attempt to refocus on my Around the World reading project, in furtherance of which I’ve also created a Diversity Bingo that I’ll try to get through in the space of this one year (though if it takes longer, it takes longer); and I’ll also try to include more books from my Freedom and Future Library in my yearly reading again.

And now, without any further ado:

Greatest New Author Discoveries of 2020

Classics and LitFic
Bernardine Evaristo
Olivia Manning

Historical Fiction
Dorothy Dunnett
Jean-François Parot
Paul Doherty

Golden and Silver Age Mysteries
Josephine Bell
Moray Dalton
Molly Thynne
Christianna Brand
Anthony Gilbert
Raymond Postgate
Patricia Moyes

My Life in Book Titles

This is a meme I’ve seen on quite a few blogs towards the end of 2020; it was created by Annabel at Annabookbel.  You’re to answer the prompts, using only books you have read in 2020; without, if possible, repeating a book title.  I thought I’d include it in my yearly roundup — and to up the ante a little bit further, I decided to use only books I read for the first time in 2020.

In high school I was Unspeakable (John Bercow)

People might be surprised by (my incarnation as) Lioness Rampant (Tamora Pierce)

I will never be The Horse You Came in On (Martha Grimes), nor Resorting to Murder (Martin Edwards, ed.; Various Authors)

My life in lockdown was like (a) Tour de Force (Christianna Brand) and (a) Tragedy at Law (Cyril Hare)

My fantasy job is The Thinking Machine at Work (Jacques Futrelle)

At the end of a long day I need to be Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi) (to my) Pilgrim’s Rest (Patricia Wentworth)

I hate being (around) Serpents in Eden (Martin Edwards, ed.; Various Authors)

Wish I had The Lost Tools of Learning (Dorothy L. Sayers)

My family reunions are (often with) Thirteen Guests (J. Jefferson Farjeon)

At a party you’d find me with My Friend Mr. Campion (Margery Allingham), Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (Emmuska Orczy), and other Bodies from the Library (Tony Medawar, ed.; Various Authors)

I’ve never been to Goodwood (Holly Throsby), Cherringham (Matthew Costello, Neil Richards), or At the Villa Rose (A.E.W. Mason)

A happy day includes A Small Place (Jamaica Kincaid) (of my own): My Beloved World (Sonia Sotomayor)

Motto(s) I live by: To Love and Be Wise (Josephine Tey); and We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

On my bucket list is Shakespeare’s Local (Pete Brown)

In my next life, I want to have The Grand Tour (Matthew Pritchard, ed.; Agatha Christie)

The Stats

Number of books started: 273
Number of books finished: 271
DNF: 2
Average Rating (overall): 3.9
Average Rating w/o Favorite Annual Xmas Rereads: 3.8

Note: The above chart includes my 6 annual Christmas rereads, which have a habit of slightly skewing my overall rating figures upwards; without these books, the number of 5-star books is reduced by 5 and the number of 4.5-star books is reduced by 1.

Note: “F / M (mixed)” refers to anthologies with contributions by both male and female authors, as well as to books jointly written by male and female authors. — “N / A” in the protagonist gender chart refers to Martha Wells’s Murderbot, who is deliberately created as gender-neutral.

Note: “Multi-ethnic” either refers to several persons (authors / protagonists) of different genders, or to one person of mixed ethnicity.

 

2017 – 2019 Three-Year Reading Stats

Three years ago I took a look at my reading stats for the then-just-finished year (2017) and decided they were off in several respects:

  • Too many rereads
  • Too many mysteries
    — i.e., too much comfort reading —
  • AND way too few books by female authors.

Also, the ratio of books read vs. new, unread additions to my “owned books” TBR was abysmal — in 2017, I added almost as many books to my shelves without ending up reading them than I actually did read.

So, the first thing I did was join a challenge created by Awogfli and put together a Women Writers challenge in response, with the aim of enhancing the percentage of female authors I’m reading.  That project went rather well, all told, so last year I added another challenge level (to be continued in 2020): Use your reading to travel around the world, to as many countries as possible (while still giving preference to female authors).  That project, too, went better than I had expected in 2019.  And, hooray, I even got my “owned TBR” additions under control.  Well, sort of — at least I reduced them by one half …

With three years of reading statistics under my belt — the initial ones from 2017 and those from the two succeeding years — I think it’s time to take a first comprehensive look at the last three years’ developments.

So here we go:

The one statistics that doesn’t look like it has greatly changed is the book format — ever since I really “discovered” audiobooks in 2016, my audiobook consumption has been vastly greater than my print book readings.  However, this is actually in large part the reason why my owned and unread TBR has gone down, because very often I’ll have both the audiobook and the print edition and I’ll switch back and forth between them.  This may mean I’ll eventually find a different way of charting these books, but so far I’ve counted them as “audio”, and for consistency’s sake I may just continue doing that.

Aaaand finally the Genre breakdown: Still plenty of mysteries (even more if you take into account that the majority of my historical fiction reading consists of mysteries and thrillers / crime fiction), but another effect of my Around the World challenge — as well as Moonlight’s 2019 “crowdsourced” project / reading list! — has been to diversify my genre chart (somewhat).  Mysteries (not counting historical mysteries) still account for a solid 50%, and that’s fine — since I’m also planning to continue my foray into the world of Detection Club /Golden Age crime fiction, it’s unlikely that this percentage is going to drop significantly. By and large I’m pretty happy with the way things have turned out so far!

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2026709/2017-2019-three-year-reading-stats

2020 Reading Plans / Expectations & 2019 in Review

24 Festive Tasks: Door 22 – New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day: Tasks 1-3 & Door 18 – Hanukkah: Task 1

2020 Reading Goals

Pretty much the same as this year: Read more books by women writers than by male authors, diversify my reading, and keep on exploring the world of Golden Age mystery fiction.

The Around the World reading challenge — which is also to be continued in 2020 — this year has taken me to places of the world that aren’t exactly part of my normal reading fare, and I think visits to 46 countries (8 in Africa, 10 in the Americas (11 if Puerto Rico were counted separately), 13 in Asia and the Middle East, 2 in Oceania, and 13 again in Europe) is a pretty decent tally for the first year. I hope things are going to continue in a similar vein next year.

My Golden Age mystery reading plans are probably going to cross the “diversifying” aims to a certain extent — they already did this year — for the simple reason that the vast majority of Golden Age mystery writers were Caucasian.  But that just can’t be helped, I suppose.

 

The 2019 Stats

Books begun: 250
Books finished: 247
Average Rating: 3,8

 Genre Breakdown by Subgenres

Mystery: 124
Golden Age: 89
Silver Age: 3
Tartan Noir: 3
Classic Noir: 2
Cozy Mystery: 2
General: 22

Thriller: 8
Espionage: 5
Humor/Satire: 1
General: 2

Historical Fiction: 31
Mystery/Crime/Thriller: 23
Mythology: 2
Magical Realism: 1
Humor/Satire: 1
General: 3

Fantasy: 11
Humor/Satire: 8
YA: 2
General: 1

Supernatural: 5
Short Fiction: 2
Historical Fiction: 2
Humor/Satire: 1

SciFi: 2
Steampunk: 1
Humor/Satire: 1

Horror: 3
Gothic: 1
Short Fiction: 2

Classics: 15
Short Fiction: 6
Anthology: 1
Espionage: 1
General: 7

LitFic: 16
Magical Realism: 1
Mythology: 2
Dystopia: 2
Mystery/Crime/Thriller: 2
ChickLit: 2
General: 7

Nonfiction: 32
Auto(Biography): 20
History: 3
Philosophy: 2
Science: 3
True Crime: 2
Anthology: 1
Cookbook: 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key, obviously, is in the intersection of genres and ethnicity: 25 of the 27 books by non-Caucasian authors I read were something other than mysteries; or put differently, virtually all of the 124 mysteries were by Caucasian authors (including all of the 92 Golden and Silver Age mysteries, which in themselves account for 2/3 of all my mystery intake).  I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do much about those statistics — nor do I very much want to, as long as I manage to make decent progress with my Around the World challenge and manage to get in a fair amount of non-Caucasian books in all the other genres.

Favorite books of 2019: HERE
Least favorite books of 2019: HERE

Bibliomancy

 My question: Is 2020 going to be a good reading year for me?

Miss Austen’s Collected Novels are one of the larger volumes on my shelves, so I decided to seek my answer there.

The answer: “[impor]tance in assisting the improvement of her mind, and extending its pleasures.”

That sounds rather promising, doesn’t it?

(And I’m taking it as an additional good sign that the answer is from Mansfield Park, wich was the first novel by Austen that I read — and the book that made me fall in love with her writing in the first place …)

 

Dreidel Spin for First Book of the Year

This is a pick from some of the books that my BFF, Gaby, gave me for Christmas and my birthday this year:

נ (Nun) – Craig Adams: The Six Secrets of Intelligence
ג (Gimel) – Isabel Colegate: The Shooting Party
ה (Hei) – Preet Bharara: Doing Justice
ש (Shin) – Sarah-Jane Stratford: Radio Girls

 

… and the dreidel picked:

 So, Sarah-Jane Stratford’s Radio Girls it is!

Radio Girls - Sarah-Jane Stratford

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Door 22
Task 1: Tell us: What are your reading goals for the coming year?

Task 2: The reading year in review: How did you fare – what was good, what wasn’t?

Task 3: Bibliomancy: Ask a question related to your reading plans or experience in the coming year, open one of your weightiest tomes on page 485, and find the answer to your question in line 7.

 

Door 18, Task 1: Spin the dreidel to determine which book is going to be the first one you’ll be reading in the new year.

Find a virtual dreidel here:
https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel
http://www.jewfaq.org/dreidel/play.htm
http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm

 

 

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ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2023998/24-festive-tasks-door-22-new-year-s-eve-st-sylvester-s-day-tasks-1-3-and-door-18-hanukkah-task-1

24 Festive Tasks: November Stats


I’d been planning to do weekly stats again this year, but RL intervened — so here, at least, are those for the month of November:


(Right-click on the image to see a larger version.)

As in previous years at this point in the game, the first three calendar doors we opened in November are the most popular ones overall so far, with almost equal numbers of tasks completed and points collected by the game’s participants.

I have to say, thouth, that I am very happy that not only Japanese Culture Day but also this year’s other new holidays, International Children’s Day and World Philosophy Day, are doing very well and are proving easily as popular as the other mid-month holidays.

Of the individual tasks, the most popular ones this year so far are:

* Door 1 (All Saints’ Day / Día de los Muertos) Task 3: “Write an epitaph for the book you most disliked this year”

* Door 3 (Melbourne Cup Day) Task 1: “Pick your ponies”,

and on an equal footing

* Door 2 (Japanese Culture Day) Task 4: “If you like Japanese food, treat yourself to a favorite dish”, and

* Door 3 (Melbourne Cup Day) Task 3: “Post a picture of your favorite cup or mug for your daily fix of coffee, tea or chocolate”.

Finally, of the book tasks, the most popular ones so far are:

* Door 2 (Japanese Culture Day): “Read a graphic novel, a book set in a school or academic setting, or a book set in Japan or by a Japanese author”,

* Door 1 (All Saints’ Day / Día de los Muertos): “Reread a favorite book by a deceased author or from a finished series, or read a book set in Mexico or a book that either has a primarily black and white cover or all the colors (ROYGBIV) on the cover, or a book featuring zombies”, and

* Door 4 (Guy Fawkes Night): “Read a book set in the UK, a political thriller, a book involving any monarchy or revolution, a book about arson or related to fires and burning, a book whose plot involves costumes / fancy dress, or that has masks on the cover, or that is self-published”.

Another thing that is making me very happy is that almost 60% of all participants are doing more than one task for every square they’re completing!

We will shortly be revealing the non-book tasks for the final eight holidays of the game: We’re planning to synchronize them so as to more or less all post together, so they may not be in perfect sequence; please refer to their respective door numbers to double check the proper order.

With those tasks and the ones for the three remaining, as-yet unopened December doors, I hope the game still has many tasks and great fun for everybody to offer in its second month.

Enjoy, everybody!

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2003048/24-festive-tasks-nobember-stats

24 Festive Tasks: Stats for the First 10 Days

 

Well, the first 10 days of the game are in, and we’re off to a great start yet again!  I hope everybody is enjoying the game — both the tasks and holidays we’ve brought back and the new ones.

The most popular tasks so far have been Día de los Muertos task 3 (epitaph for your most disliked book) and, of course, Melbourne Cup Day “pick your ponies” — even though we had fewer winners (and hence, bonus points collectors) this year than in previous years.

More generally speaking, for the first four holidays every single task has been completed by one or more of the participants, and we’re also beginning to see the first books being read for the final holidays of the game.

Which is probably just as well … we’ll have another seven calendar door openings in November yet to come!  (Plus four in the first two weeks of December — in addition to the remaining tasks for the final eight holidays, which we’ll be revealing on December 1.)

Continue to have fun, everybody!

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1989592/24-festive-tasks-stats-for-the-first-10-days

2018 in Reading Review, or, The Year of Listening to Mystery Audiobooks by Women Writers

24 Festive Tasks: Door 22 – New Year’s Eve, Task 2

2018 Statistics

Total number of books read in 2018: 225
Number of as-yet unread books added to “owned books” TBR in 2018: 240

— plus the 100 or so Audible downloads that I haven’t even added to my BookLikes shelves yet.

So the ratio of buying vs. reading is seriously off this year.  (Last year, I read almost 40 books more than remained unread on my “owned books” TBR of the books added over the course of the year.)

Nevertheless, I am very happy with my reading year: very few of my reads were 3 stars or less, I didn’t expect I’d even make it to 200 books (so I actually read more than expected), I finished my Women Writers project, and compared to last year, my stats have come out on the “right” side in every aspect I primarily looked at — I read more women authors than men, and more new books than rereads:

In summary, I guess you can call this my year of listening to mystery audiobooks chiefly written by women writers … which is fine, though, and in a way even what I expected this year to be.

In fact, I’m expecting to continue reading many more mysteries in 2019 as well — I’d like to complete my “inofficial” Detection Club Bingo reads for one thing, I’m planning to read more Golden Age mysteries republished as part of the British Library Crime Classics and Collins Crime club series, and I’m likely going to join Wanda and Moonlight at least for parts of “A Study in Sherlock” / “Summer of Sherlock“.  But I’m also planning to reprise my Women Writers challenge, however with a twist along the lines of the “Around the World in 80 Books” group on Goodreads.

All in all, if 2019 turns out even half as good as 2018 has been (even against the odds in some respects), I’ll color myself extremely lucky.

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1824626/24-festive-tasks-door-22-new-year-s-eve-task-2-2018-in-reading-review-or-the-year-of-listening-to-mystery-audiobooks-by-women-writers

 

24 Festive Tasks: Mid-December Stats

Only two more weeks to go, and tomorrow we’ll be revealing the tasks for the remaining seven holidays / doors!

 

So, here’s the status quo as we are going into the final stretch of the game:

 

Current overall total is just shy of 700 points, which equals roughly 130% of the sum total of points collected in the entire game last year.  Woohoo!

 

The most popular square remains Melbourne Cup Day with an unbeatable 68 points, followed by Penance Day (58), Día de los Muertos (55), Guy Fawkes Night and Diwali (both 53), Mawlid (52) and Thanksgiving (51).

 

Now that the Hogswatch group / buddy read has kicked in, we have no square left without any points at all.

 

The most popular individual tasks to date are Melbourne Cup Day / pick your ponies (36 points), Día de los Muertos / favorite epitaph (18), Guy Fawkes Night / crimes against books and Diwali / “girls with flowers” book covers (both 16), Guy Fawkes Night / burn a book in effigy (15), and a trio with 14 points each: Penance Day / book habits, Penance Day / favorite sports teams, and Thanksgiving / favorite books of this year.

 

And finally, the holidays for which the most books have been read so far are Día de los Muertos (13), Guy Fawkes Night (12), Veterans’ / Armistice Day and International Day for Tolerance (both 11), and Mawlid (10).

 

Have fun during the final 2 weeks of the game!

 

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1818931/24-festive-tasks-mid-december-stats

24 Festive Tasks: First Month Facts and Figures

So, the first month of the game is over, and collectively we almost blew the lid off last year’s total results in the first month alone!  Go us!!

 

A few fun facts:

 

The single most popular task remains (of course) Melbourne Cup Task 1 — “pick your ponies”.  Hard to argue with that one: horses and gambling … result: 22 participants and 36 points total collected!  That said, next in line are:

 

16 points / participants each:

Día de los Muertos, Task 2 (your favorite epitaph)

Guy Fawkes Night, Task 2 (book crimes)

Diwali, Task 4 (the infamous “women holding flowers” book covers)

 

15 points / participants:

Guy Fawkes Night, Task 1 (burn a book in effigy)

 

13 points / participants each:

Diwali, Task 1 (favorite light display)

Penance Day, Task 1 (book habits / comfort reads)

Penance Day, Task 2 (favorite sports teams and pennants)

 

* Average number of points jointly accrued for the 4 tasks pertaining to each of the 12 doors opened in November: 33.1.

 

Books have been read or claimed by more than one participant for every single square for which we’ve released the corresponding book task — including the first two December squares, Advent and Hanukkah!  Hooray!

 

Highest score for a “book task” so far:

Día de los Muertos (book by deceased author / from terminated series) — 11 points / participants

 

Of the seven final holidays where we’ve already revealed the book tasks, five have so far seen more takers than the “regular” November squares with the lowest number of book takers (Thanksgiving, Bon Om Touk, and Russian Mother’s Day):

 

Winter Solstice / Yuletide, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve — 5 points / participants each

Epiphany — 4 points / participants

Festivus — 3 points / participants

 

Other than Hogswatch (where everybody just seems to be waiting for the right moment to get to Hogfather), of all books and other tasks revealed through November 30, only one single task so far has not seen any takers at all: Russian Mother’s Day, task 4 — make a traditional Russian dish.  (C’me on, all the cooks out there … I remember this one being extremely popular in previous incarnations of the game!)

 

* Average number of book points accrued, including the final 7 holidays: 4.6

* Average number of book points accrued, without the final 7 holidays: 5.5

 

And finally:

 

The overall most popular square in November was, of course, also Melboune Cup Day (cue “pick your ponies” — 68 points collected for all tasks and books so far).  But outside that spike, with 52 points each, Guy Fawkes Night and Penance Day are actually not so far behind.

 

* Average number of points accrued for each of the 12 doors opened in November (books and tasks together): 39.3

 

That’s almost as much as the single most popular square in last year’s game in the entire 2 month-period of the game (Guy Fawkes Night / Bon Om Touk, 45 points).

 

Go us!!

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1814558/24-festive-tasks-first-month-facts-and-figures

24 Festive Tasks: Third Week Stats

A bit late once again, but that allowed me to include the first results for Russian Mother’s Day.  We had a busy week last week … not only in terms of doors being opened but also tasks being completed!  I continue to be blown away by this year’s activity — we’re now less than 100 points away from reaching last year’s total number of points for the entire game.  You guys are rocking this one!

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1812186/24-festive-tasks-third-week-stats

24 Festive Tasks: Second Week Stats

Admittedly a bit late (work and kitty adoption got in the way), but since we’ve got a busy schedule for the rest of this week with a total of four doors to be opened — the first one of which is today’s for Mawlid — I at least wanted to get the 2d week stats out before everyone gets busy on this week’s tasks and books.

 

And just as a “by the way” … as of the end of last week, the sum total of all points accrued was just short of 250 — which is almost half the total number of points accrued last year in the entire two-month game!  Woohoo!  How cool is that?? 

 

Keep ’em coming … and please remember to report your progress in the bingo group!

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1810296/24-festive-tasks-second-week-stats