Sunday, January 05, 2014

Sunday Salon: 2013 in review

Before I get started on my review of 2013, I have a major oversight to rectify. Last week when I listed my favourite reads for the year I neglected to include one of my absolute favourite reads for the year, and it was even one that I wrote a big review for as well! That book was:

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I was the same age as the protagonists in this novel so most of the cultural references were very familiar. As fantastic as that was, it was really the strength of the writing, the development of the relationship between two people who don't quite fit into their world and the emotions that the author invoked that really made this book work for me in a big way.

Okay, now that I have that out of the way, and before I start doing the analysis for the whole year, here are the books that I read in December. For me this is a really, really small reading month which kind of follows a downward trend for the whole year

Love a Little Sideways  by Shannon Stacey 4/5
Fables Vol 12: The Dark Ages  by Bill Willingham 4/5
A Divided Inheritance by Deborah Swift 3/5
The Sigh by Marjane Satrapi 4/5
The Night Before Christmas by Kelly Hunter 3/5
What the Bride Didn't Know by Kelly Hunter 4/5
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman by 4
The Girl in the Yellow Vest by Loretta Hill 4/5
The Kissing Season by Rachael Johns  3.5/5
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel 4.5/5 (audiobook)
The highlight of the month was Wolf Hall. I bought it when it first came out but then I heard such mixed reports about it. I never quite got around to reading it when someone said that the audio was awesome and it was! I highly recommend the audio version if you haven't read the book yet, or if you want to revisit it!

In terms of challenges, the Kelly Hunter books, The Girl in the Yellow vest and The Kissing Season were all by Australian women authors so round out my participation in the Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2013. I will be participating in the challenge again this year.

So let's get stuck into some stats.

After my record breaking year in 2012 where I read 291 books, this year was comparatively low given that I ended up reading 219 books in total. Whilst some of these books were shorter than others, there were also some monster books in there including the first three Game of Thrones books plus Les Miserables so there is more than 4000 pages just in those books! All up, I read 67242 pages. Obviously this is a big drop from last year. Of these, 77 authors were new to me.

I mentioned before that my reading has decreased and you can quite clearly see that reduction when you look at the total month by month. My best month was February when I read 30 books and the worst December where I only read 10.

There is probably one major factor that has caused this reduction. Back in May I started driving to work. Initially it was only going to be for a few days, and then only certain days of the week but the reality is that I have probably only caught the train maybe half a dozen times since then. Given that the train is basically 45 minutes of reading time each way that is more than 7 hours a week in reading time lost. It makes a difference.

What I have been doing whilst I have been doing the drive to and from work is listening to audio books. Last year I listened to just two audiobooks, although one of those was a big one, but this year it was more than 20. This does take into consideration the fact that I listened to Richard Armitage narrate Venetia by Georgette Heyer at least three times, On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta twice, and The Piper's Son, also by Melina Marchetta, three times too. What can I say? They were all very good aural experiences!

The other thing in terms of formats is that I am actually now pretty close to reading equal amounts of ebooks and paper books.

So, I have talked about the number of books read and the formats I read them in, so lets have a look at the graphical representation of the grades of the books that I read. Overall, it was a pretty good year. As usual, my go to grade is 4/5 but there was a pleasing number of grades higher than that.

One of the things that I look at each year is the gender balance of my reading. My natural tendency is definitely towards female authors and this year was no different. I am not sure whether I should be bothered by the fact that only 14% of my reading is by male authors or just let it go!

My genre reading stayed pretty consistent with previous years. Romance tends to dominate with general fiction, historical fiction and YA tend to dominate. Within romance, contemporary titles continue to dominate my reading, followed by historical fiction. My paranormal romance reading has dropped right down with only one title in this category. This is a distinct change from a few years ago.

A few other little stats.

My participation in the Australian Women Writers Challenge continues to influence my reading in a big way. This year, 66 of the books I read were by Australian authors, with the vast majority of those being by female authors. It is hard to believe that it is only a couple of years since I was happy to just read 10 books by Aussie authors!

This year I reread 9 books. As mentioned some of this was listening to a couple of audio books more than once.

Every year one of the goals that I include for the year is to read more of the books that I already owned as at the beginning of the year. This year I managed 11 books which is a lot less than I actually acquired, but nothing new there.

Next week I will talk about my reading resolutions for 2014 including the challenges that I will be participating in!

Currently reading

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, For Your Eyes Only by Sandra Antonelli and listening to Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta.

Up Next

Delicious by Nicky Pellegrino


  1. I've requested Wolf Hall on audio from my library--hope to start that one this month!

    1. I am sure you will enjoy listening to it Beth.

  2. Interesting to read your stats Marg - you sure are a fast reader - thanks for sharing - I have the Signature of All Things on my list to read in the next few months so will be keen to read your thoughts on that.

  3. Wow, I'm impressed by all this analysis. I have been really slack this year and not written a 'year in review', but I've enjoyed reading yours:)

  4. Interesting to see your statistics. Your mention of Wolf Hall reminds me that I hope to read it this year.
    Book Dilettante

  5. haha, I wish I had read 219 books. I remember when I used to read a lot... Last year was definitely not one of those years! I hope to finally read Wolf Hall this year. I also have owned it forever. I am thinking maybe I will do the audio, but I have a few other books to listen to first. If I hadn't started listening to audiobooks last year I never would have read anything.

  6. Love all your stats. My reading took a hit when I quit commuting -- time on the train was underappreciated when I had it!

    I devoured The Signature of All Things in order to get it back to the library before it started accumulating fines. Really enjoyed it.

  7. I don't know. Whenever a person says he/she has read over 200 books, I'm impressed. I guess it doesn't take much for me. :)

  8. I just bought Eleanor and Park, and absolutely cannot wait to read it!

  9. Ooh, maybe before the third book in the series comes out, I will do Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies on audio! I also will add Marchetta to my audiobook queue. Thanks for the recommendation!

  10. I love stats with graphs! You had an excellent reading year. I now have a physical copy AND an e-copy of Wolf Hall but am still quite daunted by the idea of beginning it, despite totally trusting that it is fantastic.

  11. Our gender split is about the same and like you I read about the same amount of print and ebooks. You had a great year- I hope this year is as successful!

  12. Nice graphs you have. I need to read Eleanor & Park. And I'll be interested to hear what you think of Elizabeth Gilbert's book. Cheers! Looking forward to watching the Aussie Open Tennis this month.