Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 2, 2022

2021: ANZ LitLovers stats

Yes, you knew I would, I have succumbed to the lure of analysing my stats….

I’ve read 211 books this year.  Some of them were very short novellas but seven were chunksters which helped to make up a total of 58,400 pages (according to Goodreads, that is).


Reading by nationality, region and diverse heritage

Which nationalities did I read?   More Australian authors (109 books), and 6 from NZ. Europe & Russia (27 + 8 respectively) edge out books from the UK & Ireland (19 +1 (N. Ireland)+6 Ireland), followed by the US & Canada (7 & 8 respectively). It felt like I had read more than 13 books from African countries but that was because some of the UK books were from authors with African heritage.  There was only one from Asia and SE Asia, well down from when I was an active member of the Indonesian book club.  There were none from the Indian subcontinent and the others are negligible.

One of the strengths of Australian literature is the diversity of our authors.  We are an immigrant nation, and increasingly, our literature reflects it.  Excel plots this data on a map, which gives an approximate indication of the heritage of the authors I read in 2021.  The colours indicate the numbers so blue shows that I read 10 Indigenous Australian authors, followed by 4 from the UK (actually from Scotland, England and Wales but Excel doesn’t play nice if they’re not combined), and 2 from Swaziland (which is hard to see).  Other countries shaded green represent one author: from Canada, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Ukraine and Vietnam.

And as always, plotting the diversity of the authors I read is always a matter of intelligent guesswork using whatever is in the public domain.  I have no doubt that there are others not represented here and if you visit my Diversity page and find errors or omissions, please let me know.

New releases vs the TBR

I do my best to keep up with new Australian releases and (up from 76 in 2020), I read 87 books published in 2021 and 65 of those were AustralianHowever, you can also see that I made progress with the TBR for C20th books , but progress with 1001 Books was a measly 7 books and I think I will probably die well before I get anywhere near 1001!

Gender

This looks pretty much like last year’s results.

In 2021, 48% of my authors were male, 55% were female, and 2% were co-authored by male and female authors (mostly anthologies).  Overall, the percentages for male/female reviews over the life of this blog (i.e. since 2008) remain stable, currently 52% male authors, 48% female and 2% M&F co-authored. I’ll repeat what I’ve said in previous years— 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.  (Which also means that they are privileging the authority of male reviewers over female ones because male reviewers dominate the print media.) 

Exploring new horizons

Tracking whether one is reading familiar authors or venturing into new territory is an idea that comes from Annabel Queen of Reading Stats, but this year I have tracked it separately for Fiction and Non Fiction.  Authorship tends not to matter so much to me with NF because I’m more interested in the subject matter.  Though the graph doesn’t show it, I read 19 Australian authors who had their debut in 2021.

 

Fiction vs NF

Now for non-fiction and fiction: the graph looks almost the same as 2020. 21% of my reading is non fiction (a little less than last year) and 78% is fiction, (conversely, up a little.) This year I also charted anthologies (Griffith Reviews) which are a mixture of both.

 

I don’t bother to analyse patterns in the NF genres I read. I like to read history and current affairs (mainly journals), but I also read biography — though in 2021 *gasp!* I didn’t read any literary bios, a deficiency I shall be rectifying this year.  I’m not keen on memoir, so I only read four of them.

Translations

19% of the books I read were translations, all but one fiction.  As usual I read more from Europe than anywhere else, but as I’ve said before that’s hardly surprising because Europe provides a lot more support to translations and there’s more variety in what’s available.  I’ve also read four books in French this year.

 

29% of the translations I read were by female authors compared to 71% of males, an improvement on my starting point in 2018 i.e. 25% / 75% respectively, and better than the oft-quoted norm of under 15% women writers in translation.  I read less in translation overall because my priority during the pandemic has been to support the local writing and publishing community.

Sources

Where did all these books come from?  45% came from my own personal library (print & eBook); 36% came from publishers (all Australian except for Glagoslav, Bonnier UK & QC Canada); 20% from my local libraries.


 
Once again, a shout-out to these publishers who’ve kept the books coming in 2021.  Melbourne is a City of Literature and its publishers and publicists were hard hit by what seemed like endless lockdowns.  Interstate publishers battled with state border controls affecting freight, while the federal government abandoned its responsibility to support our cultural industries. Nevertheless an amazing team of authors, publicists and publishers managed to keep me busy with 75 books to read and that’s not counting the ones in my pile of books to review.  Thank you to all of them.
 

State of the TBR

For those who worry about these things (not me!), my TBR has grown again:  At the end of 2020 I had 1012 in fiction and 209 in NF; and at the end of 2021 I have 1061 in fiction and 242 in NF, enough to last me five years or so if libraries and publishing go entirely digital.

Readership Stats

Of course, without you, my readers, none of this would matter a scrap.  So what do the stats say about my readership?

In October 2021 I passed another milestone: 1,500,000 hits on the blog.   I didn’t notice it at the time, but I took a screenshot 3516 hits later when I saw the numbers, and I Tweeted it.  Thank you to everybody who visits, I’m very grateful to you all.

***

However…

In the process of amassing my readership stats for 2021, I discovered that I made a major error last year.  Instead of graphing the total of views for the year, I used the total only for December.  So I’m going to have to go back and fix that…

In the meantime. Here’s the average views per day from 2008 to 2021…

I’m expecting it to drop when the pandemic eases, but right now, with so many of us in Do-It-Yourself Lockdown, more people seem to be reading my little blog and I expect that they are reading books too!

Where do these readers come from?

 

This is the WordPress map for 2021.  It looks pretty much the same for most other years, and for all time since 2008.  Of course most of my readers come from Australia but there are plenty of visitors from the US, not so many from the UK but an audience from India that surprised me until I checked and realised I’d reviewed 34 books from there.  I’m still surprised by the reach of this blog: when I began, I assumed that many of the random hits were from people Googling something else, but no… those visitors from the Philippines and Kenya are reading reviews of their most iconic authors: José Rizal and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. I’ve even got two readers in the Falkland Islands!

What’s popular? This year I did a separate post about my Top Twenty-Five Posts, you can see it here if so minded.

So (assuming my data collection and maths is all ok), there it is for 2020!  Don’t forget to visit Annabel’s version of stats for the year as well.  (Hers are much classier than mine!)


Responses

  1. I’m so impressed! Congratulations on your wonderful contribution to Australian literary life.

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  2. “…….if libraries and publishing go entirely digital.” please no!

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    • There was a time when they were forecasting the end of the book as we know it!

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      • I am a hand bookbinder after an apprenticeship I completed in 1980. I stopped being one within a few years of becoming a journeyman due to the demise of ledger books and the advent of computers. But I have remained in the printing industry all my life at various levels. My sources do tell me that printed book sales are very good at the moment. The death of print is a long way off in book printing, praise be. Much like all of us here, I love books and the printed word.

        1061 in fiction and 242 in NF? Where so you keep them? I have about 550, and they are tucked in so many nooks and crannies. My wife is very tolerant.

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        • I have a library. It’s the size of a second bedroom, with floor to ceiling shelves…

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  3. My accountant heart loves these posts ❤❤. A very impressive reading year for you. Really interesting to see the wide reach of your blog. Thank you for sharing.

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    • The process is surprisingly seductive once I get started. And it’s getting easier because I can reuse the Excel data from the previous year as a template.

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      • I think it’s great to reflect on what you have read from year to year – it helps to clarify where you want to focus in the following year

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        • Ah, if only I were better at sticking to plans…

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  4. Congratulations on a great year of reading! I’m impressed with all the stats you’ve been keeping track of. I’m inspired to be more proactive in that department this time around

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    • Hi Mallika… it’s a combination of an Excel file that records title, nationality, gender etc, and the way I categorise things on the blog. the thing to do is to decide what’s worth tracking before you get started.

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      • Thanks :) Let me see if I can switch to Excel properly this time; I’m sort of lazy about it, so while I start, my ultimate list and notes turn out to be paper and pen ones, supplemented by what Goodreads and WordPress tell me :)

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        • I tend to neglect it on and off, and then do catch ups. Being consistent and well-organised is not something I have to be now that I’m retired.

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  5. This is amazing Lisa, I’m so impressed both by all you’ve done and your tracking of it!

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  6. Hi Lisa, what an impressive year of reading, so many books. I love your graphs. I always look forward to reading your blogs, and you have led me to read some good translations that I would not have considered without them..

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  7. Very impressive stats, Lisa.

    Thanks for your blog and your enthusiasm about books.

    I bet 2022 will be another amazing reading year.

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  8. My goodness such an enormous reading total, well done. Your reading stats are detailed and impressive too with such a wide range of writers. Here’s to an equally successful 2022.

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  9. Really good point about diversity in reviewing. Though I don’t see those stats trotted out as much anymore, do they still do a VIDA count I wonder?

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    • Well, I do wonder about that. A very well-funded prize that’s assertive about its need to exist because of gender bias, the Stella Award still hasn’t published on its website The Stella Count from 2019 or 2020. And an interview last year about bias in the print media had not a word to say about digital reviews.

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  10. Great insight Lisa

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  11. Wow, Lisa! So many books, so thoughtfully read, and then these amazing stats! Congratulations, and thank you

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  12. Thanks Jonathan!

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  13. “(Which also means that they are privileging the authority of male reviewers over female ones because male reviewers dominate the print media.)”

    It also means men continue to do the paid work and women the unpaid. The only reviews I read now outside of blogs is Australian Literary Studies where there doesn’t seem to be any gender imbalance.

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    • I think you are not alone, Bill. Newspaper readership is declining, and one can’t assume that those who do read newspapers are reading the reviews. Since the advent of paywalls, non subscribers definitely aren’t reading them. Yet, as we all know from our stats and the conversations we have online, there is an appetite for book reviews: books are expensive in Australia and readers want help to decide what they’ll invest in.
      So bleating about gender bias in reviewing without acknowledging online reviewing as if it doesn’t exist, is inane.

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  14. I think because readers generally love a list, it’s fair to assume we also love blogging stats! I’m always fascinated to see these for other blogs (and impressed by the inclusion of graphs).

    Over 200 books – you’re amazing. I flirted with the idea of setting myself a target of 100 this year (on the basis that I’m not studying) but figured I’ve had enough pressure the last two years, and instead I’ll take it easy and perhaps get to some of my much longer books.

    Lastly, for whatever reason, I NEVER get email alerts when you post. A glitch in the WordPress system I think. Anyway, I have tried to remedy that by resubscribing via email. Hopefully it works!

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    • I think you are wise re the target. I always told myself I did not care about the Goodreads target, but the year I set myself 200 I found myself feeling angsty about it and choosing to read shorter books so that I wouldn’t ‘fail’. How can anyone fail reading books for pleasure, it’s crazy.
      So now I set myself a target of 100, which I reach some time during the year and then I forget about it.
      But studying or not, it’s a different life when you are working. Over the course of my career although my pattern of reading for about an hour at night remained the same, there are years where I read heaps, because the books were undemanding, and other years when I read much fewer. Raw numbers don’t reflect that at all. So for me, what’s interesting about my stats is not the numbers of books I read, but the tracking of the way my horizons continue to broaden. I owe that to the other bloggers I read, including you!

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  15. You’ve made me curious with your graphs and maps. How many other Hungary-based readers do you have?! I can tell you that, for me, it’s been 50 from Australia last year.
    I like your categories. I wouldn’t be so disciplined as to use my excel file for those kind of stats, but I’m sure I’d learn something interesting from applying your categories to my reading habits (not all visible on the blog).
    Wishing you a very productive and most importantly pleasurable reading year!

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    • To answer your question first, I’ve had 1136 visitors from Hungary. But I have a suspicion about why… if someone searched Hungarian literature, Google might perhaps bring them to my posts about Gerald Murnane, our Nobel nominee who famously taught himself Hungarian so that he could pursue a certain line of thought that he had. (He’s never been to Hungary, he’s never been out of Australia.)
      I learned to play Excel at work, where I diligently charted and plotted and graphed student performance for The Powers That Be, but they never did acknowledge what a brilliant job our teachers did with our disadvantaged students, and they never did give us the extra money that we needed to help every kid achieve his/her potential. (Money=teachers=individual help).
      But as to being disciplined…I was half way through doing this when I discovered I’d counted books I’d abandoned, and even worse, left one book out of the data altogether!

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  16. Hi Lisa

    Firstly thanks for your continuing work with one if the world’s best book and reading blogs! You have single-handedly made coping with Covid, lockdowns and isolation more bearable and certainly have enriched my life. Thank you very much.

    I used to keep a reading diary which lasted about 20 years, but I stopped about 10 years ago… not sure why I stopped. I am now tempted to go back to look at the records, which I still have as an excel spreadsheet to do an analysis along the lines of yours.

    I do sincerely wish you all the best for 2022 and many happy hours of discovering new reading treasures and pleasures, as well as revisiting old friends. If the 1001 is too hard, have a look at Anthony Burgess’s list of 99 best novels… I have read them all and it took me about two years to do it, as I recall. The list is very English-centric and a bit out of date now, but still worth looking at.

    Best wishes in great admiration.
    Chris

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    • *blush* Thank you Chris!
      That list of 99 is interesting. Yes, English-centric: I think he probably included our Patrick White because PW was born in England. Plus gender… oh dear, only eleven novels by women worthy of his notice!
      I have read 27 of them, but he must have been having a laugh when he chose Finnegans Wake and not Ulysses, eh?
      And then, three by Aldous Huxley, but not the ones I’ve read. There are a lot of authors familiar to me, listed with a title I’ve never heard of. But then, I suppose it wouldn’t have been an interesting list if it was just all the novels that a well-read person has read anyway!

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  17. I love looking at these stats posts. Hope 2022 is even better!

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  18. […] hit and miss, being rather more miss than hit.  But I have been inspired by book bloggers like Lisa from ANZ Litlovers and Annabel from Annabookbel to take a far more serious approach to the […]

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  19. Fascinating stuff. I need to start keeping that new to me / familiar to me stat this year while the figures aren’t so high. My stats and books of 2021 are here if you’re interested https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2021/12/31/book-stats-and-best-books-of-2021/

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    • Hi Liz, it’s lovely to see you here:)
      Keeping track of ‘new to me’ is something that grew out of my childhood habit of bingeing on familiar authors. I did it as an adult too, reading everything by Dickens, Hardy, Fay Weldon, Nevil Shute, I could list dozens more, but will spare you. Eventually I realised that I was reading some dross because it was really indiscriminate reading, and I was missing out on far better books because of the time spent on the comfort zone.
      But I did find it hard to find the kind of books I liked, which is where 1001 Books You Must Read was helpful, and then litblogging emerged and now I have no trouble at all finding out about the books I like!

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  20. What fun! I especially enjoyed the ‘by region’ graphic. And I particularly admire the amount of translation reading you’ve enjoyed. It’s funny how setting a lower goal can turn out unexpectedly; I set a goal lower last year than I had to several years prior and outread myself in a way I would never have predicted. OTOH, if I don’t set some sort of goal for myself, I wander off into other activities entirely read much less and then mumble and complain about how I’ll never live long enough to read all the books I’m currently excited about reading. And you raise an excellent point about how Australian Lit does not equate to settler lit: true in Canada too, but it’s easy to forget.

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    • O, how we torture ourselves!
      Did you know that the Latin verb for ‘I read” also means ‘I choose’? I think that’s very significant, no one can actually make anybody read. (I don’t mean the barking at print that little kids have to do when they’re learning.) I mean the process that goes on in the brain is not something that anyone can make us do. We choose it.
      And don’t forget, Goodreads wants us to set goals because it increases book sales!

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      • Either i didn’t know that, or I forgot it, but that’s a lovely thing to ponder. I only studied half of Latin and dropped the final year because the prof was quite mad-very entertaining but it would have been deadly for my average grade. Is there a Latin word for “good torture”? I know I’m a little obsessive about books, but I think it’s a “good obsession.” (Except for last year, which was a bit much for me, mostly pandemic related, and likely a better coping mechanism than it could have been. LOL) I’ve kept reading goals for several decades now, of various sorts, and I’ve participated in the GR “choose a number” part of that for awhile, but since the Amaz*n buyout, have become increasingly concerned about even my limited participation there. How do you see the goal there as contributing to increased sales? to Amaz*n’s particularly? or in general? This is the first year that I haven’t input a goal for that challenge (and I’m not sure whether I’ll continue to post my reading stat’s for 2022 either) and I’ve been debating on all that, in quiet moments here and there.

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