Now that 2018 has passed, I have a full year’s worth of
fanfiction novel data to blab about. Let’s start with the basics.
- In 2018, I read a total of 46 books (I know the number on my Goodreads account disagrees, I’ll get to that later) for a total of 5,051,121 words, with an average WC of 109,807 words/book
- The longest book I read was Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson at 213,348 words. The shortest was All Systems Red, a novella by Martha Wells at 34,398 words. I’m excluding Extra Curricular Activities by Yoon Ha Lee (14,255) because it’s really more of a long short story.
- Author-wise, 26 books were written by female authors and 20 were written by male authors, for a 56/44 split. As a reader of almost exclusively SciFi/Fantasy, I’d say that’s a pretty good split considering the genre’s author demographics
- Amusingly, the only contemporary romance book I read, Crazy Rich Asians, was written by a male author, Kevin Kwan
Word Count and Page Count
- One thing that REALLY bothers me in the book community is the fact that we judge the length of a book by the number of pages. I could write a whole blog post about why this is a terrible metric, but here’s my biggest complaint: the number of pages in a book can change dramatically based on how the book is formatted and the size of the paper used. A 400-page hardback can quickly turn into an 800-page mass market paperback, and for a lot of readers, 400 pages is reasonable but 800+ pages is really intimidating.
- On the other hand, WORD COUNT NEVER CHANGES, no matter the size of the book. A lot of readers have a reasonable idea of their Words per Minute (WPM) and knowing a book’s word count gives you a much better estimation of how long a book will take to read than knowing the number of pages in a book.
- This graph compares the pages of a book (taken from Goodreads, usually the hardback copy, x-axis) and the word count of the book (y-axis). Looking just at the 500 pages, a 500-page book can be anywhere from 100K to 175K words long, almost double in length! What a terrible metric to judge a book by! /endrant
Genre and Author
I’m not going to do a traditional genre split (fantasy, science fiction, adventure, romance, mystery, etc) because that graph isn’t going to look very interesting. Instead, I’m looking at my split between Young Adult (YA)/Middle Grade (MG) and Adult novels. The line between YA and Adult is sometimes hard to determine (Is Mistborn YA? What about The Poppy War?), so I’m going with the genre publishers and authors seem to market the book as, not necessarily my gut feeling. For this spreadsheet, Mistborn is YA, Poppy War is adult.
- Despite considering myself primarily an adult SFF reader, a third of the books I read were YA/MG novels. For this, I’m largely going to blame BookCon for showering me in YA ARCs and YA Book Twitter for being very very good at promoting their books
- Previously, I talked about being proud of my author gender ratio, despite the male-dominance in the SFF genre. What I probably should have mentioned is that that male-dominance is really only seen on the adult side of the genre. In YA, it’s much the opposite, heavily skewed female.
- Controlling for those genres, the author disparity changes quite dramatically, especially in the YA genre (12/3, yikes). As mentioned, A LOT of YA SFF written these days are by female authors. Certainly, it doesn’t help that the majority of the books I’ve read were published in the last five years.
- Those three YA books by male author(s)? All Brandon Sanderson.
- On the adult side, I was pleasantly surprised that after removing YA novels, the ratio stayed pretty close (14/17). Once again, I think this is in part due to that fact that most of the books I’ve read were published in the last five years and there’s been a big push in the genre for more female authors
As a book blogger, I think one important thing to keep in mind when reading is to make sure you’re picking books you enjoy, as well as reviewing for ARCs or author requests. This is a good way to prevent the burn out that happens from reading a whole string of 2- and 3-star books. While I rate with half stars when reviewing, I’m sticking with integer units here, mostly because lazy. Rounding up/down happened at my own discretion.
- I consider myself a pretty generous reviewer, which I think is pretty evident from the number of 4- and 5-star ratings. My average, 3.91, seems about right (also the number I wish my GPA was)
- I’ve divided ratings by YA/MG and Adult again because despite reading a fair amount of YA, I find I don’t actually like a lot of the books in the genre. I was curious what the rating disparity was between the two, and once again, the numbers seem about par for the course.
- To be fair, a fair number of the YA novels I’ve read were intentionally because I’d heard of the criticisms and was curious (see all SJM books). Naturally, this would drive the average rating down. Why I do this to myself? Because I’m probably a masochist
- Some YA novels I did like this year (Sanderson non-included): Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
- On the other hand, a lot of the adult fantasy I read is a mix between established SFF authors I’m catching up on and recommendations from people who know my tastes, so I think that rating is skewed somewhat high
- I tried audiobooks this year! Only three of them because I borrow them on OverDrive but it’s a pretty good format. Highly recommend!
- I don’t really have a preference between eBooks and Print book, but I find that carrying a book around on my Kindle or my phone is just more convenient on a day-to-day basis than lugging around a physical book, which means a lot more reading ends up getting done with eBooks
- Another reason I read so many more eBooks is that the majority of my ARCs come in eBook format
- Finally, I’m a lazy person and the library is far from my dorm, so the only print books I get are ones I buy and it’s just simply so much cheaper to throw a dollar or two away during Amazon’s Kindle sales than to spend $10-$20 on a physical book
- Between ARCs/Review Copies and books I read for my own reasons, I’m pretty happy with my current ratio (20/26). Personally, I would never want to surpass the 50/50 mark for burnout reasons, so I think my current pace is pretty good.
- As mentioned before, the vast majority of the books I read are published from the last 5 years. Part of this is due to ARCs, another part is probably due to recency bias. I find that I’m more likely to see recommendations for books published recently, likely because the recommender has read that book recently, and so the effect compounds until the most common book titles that get passed around are books that have been published recently.
Reading (The Activity)
- A lot of people track the hours it takes for them to read, but since I so often read in spurts of 10-15 minutes, that’s hard for me to track accurately/a pain in the ass. Instead, I track by days between my start and stop time.
- I consider myself a pretty fast reader, so the 1-3 days column is no surprise to me. As for the 10-15 days and 15+ days columns, those were either because I started a book and put it down/forgot about it or because I decided to start and finished another book as I read the first one
- Some dates to keep in mind, Spring Semester ends in May, BookCon happened in June, and the Fall Semester starts in August.
- There’s definitely a reason why January – April look so empty. Trust me, I’m still reading during that time, it’s a matter of what lol. We’ll talk about that soon
- I found it kinda funny that I’ve read almost double the number of books from Macmillan than from any other publisher. Of course, when I say Macmillan, I really mean Tor and their offshoots. I think a lot of my favorite works come from Tor and I find them the most willing to publish out-of-the-box SFF.
- The N/A stands for both self-published works (7) and books from smaller publishers (5). Technically, Disney-Hyperion falls under this category and it makes me so uncomfortable to label any part of Disney ‘small’.
Other Stuff I’ve Read
Now for the fun part! Did you know that besides novels, I also aggressively read both web serials and fanfiction? In fact, here are some stats! (Ao3 refers the website ArchiveOfOurOwn.org, fanfiction repository of the internet)
- In the year 2018, I’ve read 1500 works of fanfiction and followed 13 web serials
- Yes, the (vast) majority of fanfic I read is fluffy 1K-5K fics, but 42 of those were over 100K! As a reminder, the average WC of the novels I read was 110K. The longest fic I read? 478K words and that was part of a series.
- Yes I inputted 1500 entries manually. Yes I hate myself.
- What fandoms you ask? Let’s not talk about that
- Getting back to the question of why I read so few books in the first four months of 2018, well here’s your answer
- I’d like to emphasize that the blue line is the 0.1*, not just
- I’m contradicting myself here by using <# of works and not going by word count but this graph was prettier and better states my point
- I’m not including web serials in here with the assumption that since they update regularly, I’m reading the same quantity every month. This isn’t entirely true since I only discovered the treasure trove of Chinese web novels that is novelupdates.com December of Finals week, so just visualize that last upwards tick with a larger slope and the graph remains the same
Accounting for all the other works I read, what are my total counts?
- Total word count: 29,560,613 words
- Total “equivalent book” count: 269.21 books
- “equivalent book” meaning total # of works read divided by the average word count of books read this year (109,807)
Kinda terrifying if you ask me
Goals for 2019
- Read more male-authored YA
- Find YA books I like
- Read more books published before 2013
- Read 50 books and 300 “equivalent books”