Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 3, 2019

2018: ANZ LitLovers stats

I got this idea from Annabookbel, who does a very comprehensive series called Year in Review  and I tried it for the first time last year.  It was quite a lot of work, (and my graphs are not as smart-looking as hers!) but I decided to do it again this year in the interests of transparency. (Could it be that I miss analysing data like I used to do at work? Surely not! But I do like playing in the Excel Sandpit…)

Once again (as you’d expect!) there are lots more Australian authors, and again Indigenous authors make a quite respectable showing.  This year I’ve read more from the US than from the UK (which surprised me too).  But still, you can see that I read widely from around the world.

The picture is clearer in a pie graph, grouping the countries by region. You can see that I read more books from Africa this year but hardly any from the Middle East or Latin America:

Once again there were no surprises when I came to look at the Year of Publication.  My focus is mainly contemporary literature: I read a lot of new releases especially Australian ones, but I also try to keep up with some of the books nominated for international prizes, even if I don’t quite get to them in the year of the award.  However, you can also see a (feeble) effort to tackle the TBR in the C20th books…

Next up was Gender, and although I can’t get the graph to label it that way, what it shows is that in 2018 45% of my authors were male, 51% were female, and 3% were co-authored by male and female authors.  (One was unspecified because it credited no author/s.)  Overall, the percentages for male/female reviews on this blog over ten years have this year inched a little closer to equity at 54%/46%.  (Up till now, over the years I’ve been monitoring gender, it stayed steady at 55%/45%.)

This graph shows the heritage/diversity of the Australian authors I read. As I’ve said on my Diversity page the potential for getting this wrong is obvious: please let me know if there are any errors or omissions there.  (I know from my own untidy heritage just how messy it can be).  Last year there were twelve nationalities in this heritage category; this year there are 15, but although it seems to me that Australian publishing is more diverse than it was, it might just be that it’s the books I’ve come across and chosen to read that are more diverse.  Note BTW that authors of Indigenous heritage make a fine showing here!

It was Annabel’s idea to track whether one is reading familiar authors or venturing into new territory… I track this just with Australian authors and including those authors that who were making a debut in 2018.   Last year new and familiar were roughly equal but this year I’ve read a lot more authors new to me and I’ve doubled the number of debut authors I’ve reviewed.

Now for non-fiction and fiction: 69% of my reading is fiction, a smidgeon less than last year.  What’s interesting is that the gender balance between male and female authors is pretty close, and much better than I had expected for non fiction.  (I’m actually quite surprised to have read so much non fiction.)

 

I decided to analyse gender patterns in Non Fiction.  (I omitted titles by joint M&F authors). I’m not sure what conclusions, if any, can be drawn from this, but still, it’s interesting.  It’s often said that male authors dominate the history genre and maybe they do, but I read a dozen histories this year, and the gender balance was 50/50.  (Purely by accident, I should add, not by design.  My choices are entirely haphazard).

 

There was no point in graphing the types of fiction I read.  Apart from a dozen classics, a couple of speculative fiction novels, half a dozen short story collections, everything else I read was a modern novel of one sort or another.

Then, translations: 17% of the books I read were translations, and all but two of them were all novels.  I read more from France, Germany and Russia/USSR than anywhere else, which means my translations are Eurocentric, but that’s hardly surprising because Europe provides a lot more support to translations and there’s more variety in what’s available.

As you can see I read fewer female authors in translation this year…

Last of all, where do my books come from?  38% come from my own personal library, a mixture of books I’ve bought this year and in previous years; 31% come from publishers, mainly small indie Australian publishers; 28% from my lovely local libraries, and there were a few on loan from friends or from the journals I subscribe to.

So (assuming my data collection and maths is all ok), there it is for 2018!  Don’t forget to visit Annabel’s version of stats for the year as well.


Responses

  1. Very comprehensive indeed Lisa – and good for you drilling down into the data – I spotted you read no travel books by male authors but several by women, which I guess is quite unusual ! Thank you for linking – that’s much appreciated. On your last chart – I’m hoping that my local library will make its first appearance this year – I finally got a library card! Happy New Year.

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    • LOL Annabel, watch out for the effects on the TBR when you join the library! It’s like going into a bookshop and not having to pay… out we come with armsful of books which of course we must read by the due date!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such work Lisa, but interesting. For myself, I like seeing my own trends over the years (though I don’t “map” as many parameters as you do – partly out of laziness and partly because I don’t read enough each year I think to make doing some of your more specialist breakdowns worthwhile.)

    I could though think about the familiar vs new to me vs debut breakdown. That would be interesting.

    The gender difference in the non-fiction is interesting to see, but overall not particularly surprising.

    Anyhow, well done.

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    • I don’t think it matters how we do it, but I think that reflecting on what we do in some way is part of mindfulness about what we read.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, good point. It’s the reflection that’s interesting if not valuable.

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  3. Wow, you have been busy in the Excel sandpit! Impressive stats. And interesting to see the trends

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    • I don’t find it hard to do because I’ve kept an Excel file of every book I read since 1997 when I started keeping a journal. It was easy enough to add another column or two once I saw Annabel’s analysis last year: my columns now are date of reading, year of reading (which makes gathering up a year’s data really easy), title, author, gender, translator’s name and gender, F or NF, genre, source and the number of its reading journal so that I can find my thoughts about it.
      And, a-hem, I’ve had years of practice in the Excel sandpit. I was only a Leading Teacher (with a library to run and 16 classes a week) but as Director of Curriculum it became my job (instead of the principal’s job as it was supposed to be) to analyse academic results and all kinds of other stuff for the whole school and compare it to statewide and local norms and those analyses formed the basis of our forward planning. It was a complete waste of time of course. Because of the nature of our school population, we knew before we began that our focus needed to stay firmly on three things: literacy, numeracy and Getting Along With Other People. But we always had to justify that to Those On High…

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  4. Seriously impressive – I wish my reading stats were so organised! :D

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    • I wish my *reading* were organised instead of being so haphazard! Every year I see people making plans and whatnot and I am seriously tempted to join in, but I know I can’t keep to plans…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m gobsmacked by your Excel skillz! And fascinated by the stats.

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    • Yes, but why can’t I get them to look nice like Annabel’s?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Very interesting- it must have taken a large amount of time to process data. Have you discovered which areas of both fact and fiction which you want to concentrate upon in future?

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    • Uh, no. I might wander down the literary bio path this year because I have so many of my shelves, but that’s as far as any planning goes.

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  7. You are certainly not kidding when you say this takes a lot of work. I dont think I have the energy to do anywhere near this level of analysis. I might get as far as looking at the new to me/familiar author split though

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    • Yes, that’s an interesting one. There’s a blog called Shiny New Books, the name of which exemplifies the problem. Publishers are always tempting us with the Shiny and New, but what happens to the familiar authors that we love, if we only tread that path? I realised this year when I chanced on a Fay Weldon at the library that there’s a decade of her books that I haven’t read…
      OTOH I quite pleased with myself that I have given so many debut Australian authors a place in the sun. 40 of them have had their book reviewed and that’s exposed them to my readers from all over the world. It’s publicity that can’t be bought: the only way they can get it is if they write a book that entices me to read it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thats always the dilemma – if you read just newly published books, you neglect gems from the past. But if you read from previous years you could miss out on something new and exciting.
        Australia’s publishing industry and authors should give you an award for your determination to spotlight local writers. We hear very little about them here so if it wasn’t for your blog I would be in ignorance of people like Elizabeth Jolley….

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        • LOL That’s the plan, to capture the international publishing industry by stealth…

          Liked by 1 person

  8. This is very impressive!

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    • AH well, I don’t do all the challenges that are around!

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  9. I write down the books I read, that will do me. What I really need is to write down the books I give. I have become notorious for giving the same book twice in consecutive years.

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    • What’s even worse is when you can’t remember who you gave presents to, and then they have a present for you, and you don’t have one for them… ouch!
      I’ve been pruning my gift list for years, and giving the money to Oxfam and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre instead, (because let’s face it, a lot of gift-giving of the scented candle variety, is just a waste of money) but to avoid embarrassment I do need to keep a record of the people who still get a present. ‘Oh, I bought you a water purifier in Cambodia, did I forget to tell you?’ just doesn’t cut it…

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      • Haha Lisa. I give money to those too, but I do also keep records of what I give. I have a spreadsheet with tabs for each year going back to 2003. It’s very useful. Another record to maintain though.

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        • Yes, it was better when we could just remember things without these aids!

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Very impressive, Lisa! I used to do these data drilldowns in early days of blogging but stopped doing it when it became too much like hard work/real work. Interesting to see you’ve read so many indigenous authors!

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    • I think there’s been a real shift in Indigenous writing. There are still plenty of memoirs (which are, necessarily, grim reading) but now there are also novels written from an Indigenous perspective, which are good, entertaining, thoughtful (and often funny) reading irrespective of their authorship. I’ll read anything by Marie Munkara, Alexis Wright and Melissa Lucashenko or Kim Scott, Bruce Pascoe and Tony Birch and others too numerous to mention.
      And Tara June Winch has a new one coming out in 2019, yay!

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  11. Wonderful analysis, bravo! I did a pretty basic analysis but didn’t do the graphs this year, it was already late putting together the text, but I do enjoy seeing how the stats pan out, and comparing that to where my favourites tend to hail from, which tells me I need to explore more diversely and not be tempted by the proliferation of reviews coming from readers of UK/US publishers, as that’s rarely where my favourite reads come from. It’s hard to avoid the bias out there though.

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    • I know what you mean. I mostly don’t find reviews in the press helpful these days. Most of the reviews these days are not written by professional critics as they used to be, but by other writers and they are not always as bracing as they could be because (in the small Australian writing community) their loyalties are divided between the reader and the author/publisher whether friend or rival. I have heard them admit to this: some of them just don’t review the book to avoid being critical which is kind-hearted but no use to the reader with a hard-earned dollar to spend on a book.

      Overall, the LitBlogs I read have helped me become more discerning because their loyalty is unambiguously to the reader and because they expose me to more translations, diversity, unrecognised women etc. (With spectacular exceptions, some of the remaining professional critics are a bit old and crusty now and their tastes are a bit old-fashioned and/or dismissive of these new agendas in reading).

      And (although this might sound unkind or perverse, but it’s happened to me too) I like it when LitBloggers fall victim to an overhyped book and write a honest review of it so that I don’t fall victim too….

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow, this must a lot of work.

    I think you’re missing a graph, though: the language pie, ie the repartition between books read in English and the ones read i French. :-)

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    • LOL that would be a tiny slice of pie: 262 in English and one in French.
      I am slowly making my way through La Mare Au Diable (George Sand) but I haven’t applied myself to it properly so it’s slow progress.

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  13. awesome! I have something similar for several years: https://wordsandpeace.com/2019/01/02/year-of-reading-2018-part-2-statistics/

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    • Off to inspect it now:)
      (I love these stats pages, even if I am jealous of how much nicer your graphs look than mine).

      Like

  14. Such a beautiful, amazing post, Lisa! So inspiring! You inspire us all everyday! Would love to see your favourites list too!

    Like


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