I started writing this post intending to talk about books I've read since the beginning of the year. At some point, I slowly started adding more time to that, first going back to 2014, then I decided to go back to when I graduated college, since that seemed like a nice arbitrary life change to base my post about.
If you just want graphs and tables, just skip around until you find horrible pictures and lots of lines, otherwise, I'm going to talk about how terrible my tastes in books is. After a graph, of course, just to tease you.
I read a bunch of books, every year. Some of them are terrible, some are just bad, and every now and then, some are actually pretty good. Finding the good seems to require a lot of the bad, and a few of the terrible, though I'm convinced that is because Amazon will only recommend me good books after I slog through the rough ones. The important thing here is that almost all of the books that I have read since mid-2010 were purchased through Amazon, nearly all of them digitally for the Amazon Kindle.
When I first heard about the Kindle while I was in school, I assumed it would be a neat piece of technology that I never, ever wanted. Who would possibly want a tablet sized screen to read books on when you could just go out and buy the physical books? Apparently, I wasn't alone in thinking this, which lead to some amazing eBook deals and eventually some people being accused1 of price fixing, or collusion or something, over eBook prices. I honestly didn't (and really still don't) care about if what they were doing was of questionable legality, because suddenly, I had a college student's budget and eBooks were reasonably priced. A further convenience was that eBooks take up considerably less space than physical books, seeing as they were all in the tiny box with the dimensions of a short story, instead of 12 floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.
After I graduated, I began reading books whenever I had the time. Since I'm more of a "read a book indoors" kind of person than a "go to clubs and get ridiculous", this lead to me having just gallons of time to read. This lead to me casually challenging myself to at least 100 new books every year. No, as they say, ragrets.
Having completed several years of the "read 100 books" self-challenge, I've decided to throw some graphs and a table together to take a look at what horribleness I've subjected myself to. Thanks to a handy Amazon purchase history parser, which I absolutely cannot find now, that used some solid regex to rip apart the page's source, I was in possession of a list of all the books I had read since May 2010. Unfortunately, this list was titles and authors only, which gives you like two entire graphs, so I got down to searching for, and collecting the information of, some (at the time) 850+ books. Since then, I've bumped my total read count up to 1792, having had to recreate the entire list only once due to Windows reinstalls2...
Annnnyway, you came here for graphs and junk, not just me complaining that I read terrible books (which I absolutely do), so here are a few graphs, for fun! First, I noticed that I tend to read books that are in established series, or are establishing the series themselves, so I wondered how frequently that happened in my library. Turns out, it happens most of the time, a whopping 92.69% of my books are in series.
This is probably because I get pissed off when I read a really good book and it has the gall to end. I frequently finish books wanting to know more, so reading series may provide me with some sort of hope that I can, in fact, eventually, know more. Occasionally, though, I get roped into series that get forgotten by the authors or only put out one book every eight years3 but mostly, series are where I go for book readin', since I tend to hang around in the Science Fiction/Fantasy sections of Amazon.
That said, I think I found that I will literally read anything in English if it has a reasonably good description on Amazon. I've definitely read at least one book that had maybe eight total commas, just because the author threw down a bunch of good, interesting sounding words4,5 in what amounts to the back cover on Amazon. Some regrets, all around. (aside: I have a crappy, infrequently update Tumblr that deals entirely with back snippets entirely because I use them to scale my interest. Check it out! Or don't! I absolutely do not care either way!)
I also thought, while graphing, "is the amount that I spend on books either of WAY TOO MUCH MONEY or at all relational to the number of pages I read?" Books cost money, so yes to the first one, but you can't really graph "too much" on an x/y axis, so let us take a look at the other half of that, using the following graph!
Yes! The amount I spent on books did, frequently, correspond to the amount of pages I read in a month, more or less, usually, except for that 2-3 month period in early 2014. This is probably, I suspect, due to my joining in on the Kindle Unlimited program that Amazon offers, where you can spend $10 monthly to get a huge number of cheaper Kindle books for "free". When you read as much as I seem to do (see: graphs), this tastes pretty good. Now, only 26% of my books are Kindle Unlimited books, but considering I didn't opt into that program until early 2014, I'll allow it.
Somewhere in the whole bucket of fun that was accumulating the data for this post, one of the people I talk to things about suggested I toss together a graph of genre information, and that sounded like an AMAZING idea. It was, in retrospect, a horrifyingly impossible idea, actually. I have spent several hours trying to find a good, preeminent source for genres that would accept as input the giant monster that is my "ISBN" list... and that ISBN list is a gentle blend of ISBN-10, ISBN-13, ASIN (the Amazon Product ID), and some very incredibly mangled former ISBNs that did not quite make it into my database in pristine ISBN-10/13 format.
On top of the ISBN situation, there is no real definitive authority on genres. What I think is basic Science Fiction/Fantasy novel is actually very specifically an *Action & Adventure* book with the SUB-genre of Science Fiction. Or I thought a book was Fantasy and it turns out to be Paranormal Romance, because of something that happens in a book that I haven't gotten to yet in the series. Or I was lying to protect my imaginary honor because I have a problem with paranormal romance novels where I can't stop reading them shut up I am an adult.
The moral of the story is that I don't have any genre graphs for you. Sorry.
Here's a graph that shows I read less during the winter, I guess?
All in all, I have read some 1792 in , at something like 1.59691 cents per page. I read really beefy books in 2011, since I hit 430 average pages in only 83 books. More money fled my pockets in that first, short year of 2010, on average (per book), than in any year since. I suspect the reason I managed to read "so many books" in 2014 was because they were thinner than average, barely, if you ignore 2015. 2015 was been a weird year for books, being the year with, on average, the cheapest, thinnest books, but I still read more, page-wise and actual book-wise, than any other sub-200 book year.
Here's a handy chart to explain all that in a fancier, non-sentence format.
To close off this post/poorly written short story, please enjoy this final graph... the line graph version of the first graph on this page!
Are sudden drops to zero for future months amazing or what?
If you have any questions, like "why did you waste the time doing this?" or "is there a reason you read more in June?", ask me on Twitter. I'm @neomelonas. If you would prefer to email me things... maybe just use Twitter. No email for you.