Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 1, 2020

2019: ANZ LitLovers stats

I swore I wouldn’t do this again, I could read a whole book in the time it takes to do this analysis, but Annabookbel has done her Year in Review again and I have succumbed to her persuasion!

Which nationalities did I read? Of course there are lots more Australian authors, and again Indigenous authors make a quite respectable showing.  This year I’ve read more from the UK than from the US (which is the reverse of last year).  But still, you can see that although more than half my reading is Australian, I also read widely from around the world.

The picture is clearer in a pie graph, grouping the countries by region. You can see that apart from Australian books, I read mostly from the UK & Ireland; from New Zealand (because I went to the Auckland Writers Festival); from Europe & Russia; and from the US & Canada, but hardly any Latino or Nordic books.

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.  However, you can also see a (desultory) effort to tackle the TBR in the C20th books…

Next up was Gender: In 2019, 41% of my authors were male, 58% were female, and 1% were co-authored by male and female authors.  (One was unspecified because it credited no author/s.)  Overall, the percentages for male/female reviews over the life of this blog (i.e. since 2008) have been more or less stable, currently 53% male authors and 47% female.  All I will say about this is that if there are still people claiming that women don’t get a fair go when it comes to being reviewed, then they are choosing to ignore what’s happening online and privileging the prestige of print over digital.

This graph shows the heritage/diversity of the Australian authors I read. As I’ve said before 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 15 nationalities in this heritage category; this year there are 14, but more of them are from Asia.  Once again authors of Indigenous heritage are well-represented.

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.   Last year new and familiar were roughly equal but this year I’ve read slightly less authors new to me and there’s a steep decline in the number of debut authors I’ve reviewed.  I don’t have an explanation for this, except that I’ve read more ‘second novels’ — and perhaps also that the debut authors that are promoted to me are writing the kind of books I’m not interested in.

 

Now for non-fiction and fiction: 72% of my reading is fiction, up a little on last year.  The gender balance between male (47%) and female (53%) authors is pretty close.  ( I omitted books authored jointly by men and women).

About a third of my reading (28%) is Non-Fiction (66% female authors and 34% male).  (Again, I’m quite surprised to have read so much non fiction because I only ever read it in the daytime, whereas I read fiction until all hours of the night).

 

It’s a bit of a waste of time analysing gender patterns in Non Fiction; the numbers are too small to be significant.  (Again I omitted titles by joint M&F authors). I don’t think there’s much to see here, except that considering that I’m not keen on memoir, I read a fair bit of it this year.

 

As for last year, I didn’t bother graphing the types of fiction I read.  Almost all the fiction I read is a modern novel of one sort or another. (Of the 1500-odd reviews of fiction here on this blog,  I’ve tagged only 107 of those as short stories. There are not many reviews of classics either, because I read most of those when I was a girl. )

Then, translations: 15% of the books I read were translations, and all but six of them were all novels.  I read more from Europe than anywhere else, but that’s hardly surprising because Europe provides a lot more support to translations and there’s more variety in what’s available.  However, I’ve read more from Asia this year because I joined an Indonesian book-group, and I’ve also read two books in French without needing a translation at all.  (Though that’s not to say I didn’t need a dictionary!)

As you can see I read more female authors in translation this year than last year, and the gap between male and female translations is smaller.  But I read less in translation overall.

Last of all, where do my books come from?  27% come from my own personal library; 29% come from publishers, mainly small indie Australian publishers; 34% from my lovely local libraries, and there were a few loans and gifts or from the journals I subscribe to.

For those who worry about these things (not me!), my TBR has grown: I tallied it in May and found that I had 1158 books.  Now it’s 1171 despite reading some of them.  (I think I’ve added another 73 books to it this year but I think I’ve forgotten to enter some of the OpShopFinds in the lists.)  At about 200 books a year, I have enough to last me five years or so if libraries and publishing go entirely digital.

So (assuming my data collection and maths is all ok), there it is for 2019!  Don’t forget to visit Annabel’s version of stats for the year as well.  (Hers are much classier than mine, I’m a bit rusty with Excel now).


Responses

  1. Impressive stats! I glanced down my list of reads and many, many of them were *not* published in 2019 – which interest me, and which I would have expected! :D

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    • Well, I think we’re doing something slightly different. Australian literature has to compete both in the local market and globally with the juggernauts, and even here, more print space is devoted to reviews of books from the UK and US than Australia. So I’ve made it my project – a kind of voluntary work if you like and an unpaid contribution to our cultural capital – to prioritise new releases of Australian LitFic. To help launch those new books into the world:)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Lisa,

    Did you read books from my country? of our old (S. Y. Agnon – 1966 Nobel Prize laureate) or new writers (Amos Oz, David Grossman, Etgar Keret)? My favourite, though, is someone very different and – I dare say- ‘Murnanesque’: YOEL HOFFMANN.

    Thank you.

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  3. This must have taken you hours to produce. Do you think it was worth it? for example, will it give you any insights to help plan for 2020? I’m just looking at some of my stats and trying to keep it simple (cos I’m a simple girl at heart…)

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    • I think it’s worth it for transparency, but no, it doesn’t guide my plans because I don’t have any. My reading (except when I was at university, which I was, as a full or part-time student for the best part of 20 years) has always been haphazard. I’m like a butterfly flitting around the garden. I just read what appeals to me at the time which is why I am so bad at challenges:)

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  4. Does any of the fiction written in Australian ever get translated into English?
    :)

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    • Ha ha! I wish the American ones were!

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      • Lol, I can help you with that if needed!

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        • I remember reading something once, by Annie Proulx I think, and coming across the term panhandle. I couldn’t work it out from context, so I consulted my dictionary and of course it explained that it was the handle of a pan. This was before the internet, and I was flummoxed but The Spouse came to the rescue: he’d been to the US (which I never have) and knew that it was a geographical term for a region of Texas!

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          • It’s also a term for the northeast of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico as that geographic area looms like the hand,e of a pan.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Lisa, that was a lot of hard work, I hope it was satisfying in the end. I like it when you give reviews of translated works, and have discovered some good reads. I have a spreadsheet, but not as complex as the one you have shown. This year I will have a column for translations.

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    • Thanks, Meg. I do have a lovely pile of translated works right beside me as I write this: I culled them from the shelves for the 2019 #WITMonth, and I want to read some of the longer ones before long:)

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  6. I’ve not kept stats before but I’m going to take your categories and put them in my journal to try for this year. You read a lot more books than I do. I’m a tortoise whennit comes to reading. I love charts, lists and graphs so will try this, hopefully for 2020.

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    • Just as a matter of curiosity, Pam, how do you keep track of all your lovely photos, so that you can find a particular one when you want to?

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      • I store them by year, month and keyword in folders or by year/key word on a hard drive and in the cloud. I have a subscription for extra cloud space.

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        • Which program do you use to do that? Microsoft used to have a beaut program called Windows Essentials that meant you could tag, caption, and describe images, but now they don’t. I was able to reinstall it onto my Windows 10 desktop but not my laptop and it drives me crazy.

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  7. Hi Lisa, I enjoy looking at your graphs and reading your commentary. I was inspired by your review from last year to start keeping some stats for my own reading and it has produced some very interesting data on my own reading trends. While it probably won’t lead to a blog post with pretty graphs (I’m not that technological!), it does help to identify some gaps in trying to read a diverse range of books. Funny how the TBR is always growing, but I see that as a good thing, evidence of a flourishing publishing industry.

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    • *smile* You’ve made my day, referring to my graphs as pretty, I wish I could get mine to look like Annabel’s, but I’ve never had a lesson on Excel in my life so I am entirely self-taught. One thing I’ve noticed with the latest update from Microsoft is that they have a button to select which recommends the best kind of graph for your data, and of course I followed that slavishly:)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m afraid you haven’t inspired me to do stats, spreadsheets or camembert charts, no not camembert, apricot pie with whipped cream charts.

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    • Oh cruel man, reminding me about camembert when you know I can’t eat it till my digestive system recovers!

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  9. Great report as always Lisa, though there’s too much for me there to digest and make a sensible response. I can see why you’d got behind in maintaining your spreadsheet, given all the data your collect. I don’t collect much at all – the only useful categorisation I store in the spreadsheet (besides author, title, publisher) is original date of publication, a broad form/genre, and year/month read. I don’t record things like author origins, or translated works, or debut, or TBR there. Hence my annual report relies to some degree on my blog categories alongside the spreadsheet, and is therefore a bit looser! You’ve done well to learn all that graphing. I played a little with it at times – with my son’s cricket team stats for example – but not frequently enough to feel confident. Go you.

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    • Cricket stats!
      LOL Now I know I was a bad mother, I never did that. or the rugby, the ice hockey, the baseball, the swimming… it’s a wonder he’s ever forgiven me.

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      • Haha Lisa. Only cricket. Fortunately he didn’t play anything else – well, he played piano and guitar and I didn’t need spreadsheets for that!!

        Funnily, at grandson’s 1st birthday, one of my son’s cricket team friends was there with his first child (a couple of months younger) and said he’s love to see the stats! I went to get them but I can’t read them as that was mid to late 1990s and the spreadsheet program I used was different. I keep googling for something that will open them but no luck. (I think we talked about this issue of migration just a little while ago – I/we (Mr Gums and I) dropped the ball on this one.)

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        • What did you use Sue, I had a Lotus clone … and now its name has popped into my head, VP Planner. If you can still get it to fire up you might export your files in csv format, which is universal.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks Bill. It was Claris Works/Apple Works and we can’t open it with anything. All the old text files can be opened … But not the spreadsheet.

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  10. Yes, migration to new programs is apparently one of the prime causes of losing precious digital stuff. I went to a workshop about it and was totally overwhelmed by what you need to do to protect things that are ‘born-digital’. I came to the conclusion long ago that if I had anything that really mattered to me then I would have hard copies of it, e.g. all my travel blog (and more) is all now safely in beautiful scrapbooks.
    Well, of course they could get lost or damaged too, but they are much nicer to look at than on a computer…

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  11. I love the look of these graphs, but not enough to actually generate any for myself!
    I’m cheered by your tbr numbers. Mine is well over 1000 too!

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  12. Oh, how I love stats posts!! Well done for being such a brilliant voice for modern Australian literature. I don’t think I managed to read any Australian writers this year, but can try to do better next year…

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    • Thank you Simon, and thanks for your entertaining posts throughout the year!
      #Musing … will have to find a book to tempt you with for 2020:)

      Like

  13. Wow! I don’t keep enough statistics to attempt that kind of analysis, and I am resisting the temptation (for I love generating graphs) to start. :-)

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    • LOL This gives me a much-need laugh. It’s exactly what I said when I saw Annabel’s graphs… and look at me now!

      Like


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