my 2022 reading stats in review & 2023 reading goals
The good news is that is finally shifting. Oddly, that came about in the fall from doing a project on Sally Rooney's books. I was going to write an essay about how I just don't get them and how popular they are. I sat down to reread the book to pull quotes and refresh my memory, and it made me realize how much I've grown up, changed, and gained new perspective since I read it at the start of 2021. Suddenly, I related to the story even in the aspects I used to find irritating, and it made me excited to 1) start reading again after a long dry spell and 2) fully embrace the world of literary fiction. Additionally, at the same time as I wrote the paper in mid-October, I also deleted TikTok off my phone and had a huge journey with that which coincided with a lot more reading. (I still want to do a post about that in the future!) I've been having the best time reading ever since, so I'm hopeful that will continue to be a priority in the new year.
So, let's get into all the numbers...
The Major Stats
Let's get the big numbers out of the way first. My grand total clocked in at 38 books, and 8 of those I read over the last 2.5 weeks since I've been on break. This was my bleakest reading year yet. My least favorite part of writing these year in review posts is that every single year, without fail, I manage to read less than the year prior when I look back at the stats. In my defense, college can be overwhelming and difficult a lot of the time, and I had an internship for the first time on top of 2 relatively demanding jobs, so my time is split in many more directions than it was when I was knocking out 120 books a year. But I really shouldn't be making excuses. I was definitely capable of reading much more if I'd cared to prioritize it. I guess all of this is to say, it's totally okay to read less books than you'd hoped or not make it to the 100 or 200 that other bookish influencers are posting about reading this year. We all have different circumstances and paces.
I guess my single ray of hope in the totals of this year is that this was the smallest decline yet. I only read 2 books less than last year (where I made it to an even 40; if I hadn't gotten sick this past week, I think I could've made it to 40). In recent history, I've dropped by 10 or 20 books between years, so maybe I've finally leveled out. If you're curious, I compiled my total stats for each year I've tracked (since 2016) in last year's review post.
But I've always believed the mere total of books read doesn't paint the whole picture since once person could be reading super thin novels and the other could be reading massive 700 page epics, not that either one is more valid. So I like the compare the number of pages I read in a year as well. This year's total came in at 12,304 pages. Another bonus of calculating page totals is that while 38 books didn't feel like very many to me, knowing I turned that many pages feels like more of an accomplishment.
This exercise did make me realize, however, that I read shorter books overall than I did in the prior year. Those 40 books of 2021 accounted for 13,760 pages. So while there's only a 2 book discrepancy, each of those 2 books would have to be 728 pages to make up for the gap. Part of me feels like I gravitated to shorter books by happenstance or possibly my shifting age group/genre tastes, but I also think that when you're struggling to read at all, a book that feels an approachable length is simply a lot easier to pick up.
The Genre Breakdown
Here's another big change from year's past. YA is outnumbered by every other genre on my spreadsheet this year. Last year, I started weaving in the occasional book written for adults, but YA and its sub-genres still dominated. This year is the complete opposite. One funny way I've noticed the mindset shift is that I went from labeling it "Adult Fiction" in 2021 to simply "Fiction" this year, as it was my main genre.
16 of my top books were either Literary Fiction or just Contemporary fiction. This aligns with my tastes that carried over from YA as well as I stayed within a certain amount of my comfort zone. In the last few months, I've developed a real love for the deep character exploration of literary fiction. I've never really cared for plot all that much and just love watching people be people, so discovering this new genre has been incredibly fun.
This was followed up by 13 Nonfiction books in second place. Ever since I started to feel more adrift in my reading, I've gravitated to nonfiction which felt like a more approachable venue of books written for adults when I was still a younger teen. It usually clocks in around second place. Among that broad category, there's random books plucked off the bestseller list, a lot of celebrity memoire/essay, tons of books about the music industry, and some about broad topics like friendships and bodies. Probably the primary reason it ranks so high is that I only listen to nonfiction, and most of my reading at the start of the year came from audiobooks.
In third place, we have 4 Romance books. Romance was my first insight into books written for adults in the fiction realm because it felt approachable in the shared similarities (and honestly many authors) with YA. At the same time, I realized that I personally don't enjoy romance books all that much. They were never my favorite sub-genre of YA (I've always been a very down the middle contemporary girl), and I tried to talk myself into liking them more, but I'm just going to be honest with myself from here on out and admit that while I enjoy them occasionally, they're really just not my jam.
Finally, in the miscellaneous category, we have the 3 YA books that made it onto my reading list this year (Ophelia After All, And They Lived, See You Yesterday) and 1 Short Story collection. I will continue to read more YA in the coming years for sure. I think this year was just a difficult friction point of being somewhat tired and feeling disconnected from YA but not knowing where to go. This coming year, I think I'll be able to enjoy select YA books from a different lens. This world of books made me who I am, and I'll never be able to totally let it go. I'm just much more selective now. The short story collection was a fun addition since I've always felt like short stories are just an English class mainstay and it's nice to be proven wrong. I lumped these books into other categories, but I technically read 1 Sci-Fi (adjacent) book for the first time in a million years as well as essay collections, which was new.
Overall, I'm quite pleased with the spread across genres, topics, and worlds. It's really invigorating to finally feel ready to have every released book be part of my oyster to choose from, and I think that excitement might propel my 2023 reading like first finding and feeling ready for YA did for me in 2017.
The Ratings Are In
As a book reviewer, it only seems right to look back on the ratings I've given over the year, and now that I've learned to add columns in Numbers, let's compare how much I'm enjoying my reads to years past.
Not reading as many books means that I'm super selective with which books I read, and beyond that, which books I finish. If I'm not vibing with a book from the start, 99% of the time I put it down before I get too far into it. I am a no questions asked DNFer. I don't have time to slog through a book I'm not enjoying at this rate, and that's reflected in my ratings. This year, my average rating was a 4.1 which feels pretty accurate.
My reviewer philosophy hinges around a 3.5 being an average feeling book that I did enjoy but either had elements I didn't like or just didn't deliver what I felt was promised as fully as it could have. A 4 means that the books was great, and it succeeded on its mission. A 4.5 means there was something that went above and beyond and really connected with my heart, and a coveted 5, which I give out fairly sparingly, comes from some kind of feeling for the book I can't describe. They're the top tier. This has adjusted a fair amount over the years, and I give out a lot more .5 points than I ever did in years past, though I've always used them, and I did get rid of the 5+++ tier to distinguish my ultimate favorites. Now I'm just more discerning about what gets a 5.
To check out my top tier, precious 5 star reads across YA, fiction, and nonfiction, you can read my most recent post recapping why I loved them. As for the lowest, I only gave out 2 3s this year. One was Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, which was the last book I finished this year. I loved the first 50 pages, but the middle and end were an intense let down. I also really did not like how the author handled the character's mental illness. My second 3, which honestly should've been a 2 looking back was NSFW by Isabel Kaplan. I was so so excited for this book. I even bought a hardcover copy from the bookstore, but this book was just not good. It really poorly handled very serious, important topics, and I didn't particularly like the prose either. If I hadn't purchased it, I probably would've DNF'd.
Average Rating Over the Years:
(I'm honestly shocked that this was my lowest year yet, but I'm also realizing that by not using the +++ method, a lot of what I would've called a 5 in years past is now a 4.5 or a 4).
When Were They Published?
I always find it interesting to look back on when the books I read were published. When I break into a new age category, I find I read more books from years past as I take in the wealth of books suddenly open to me, and when I've been reading a category for a while, it's mostly new releases. This year, I read 19 books published in 2022.
Here's a quick preview of the oldest books I read this year: How Music Got Free (2015), Hunger by Roxanne Gay (2017), The Idiot by Elif Batuman (2017), Normal People by Sally Rooney *reread* (2018), Severance by Ling Ma (2018).
I also did more re-reading this year than ever before. I'd always been so against it!
My Best Months
All The Formats
Formats also shows a definite shift both in my blogging and in my reading. I didn't read a single ARC this year. I have a few that I need to finish and post about in 2023, but in my genre uncertainty and also my mixed feelings about continuing this blog in the middle of last year, I didn't really request anything. For the longest time, ARCs were my primary reading tool and the only form of payment I got for the blog. But they were also a large part of what I felt turned my hobby into a job.
So with no ARCs to account for, I read 18 Hardcover books, 6 Paperbacks, 10 Audiobooks, and 4 e-books this year. My e-book total came down drastically with my lack of e-ARCs to fuel it, but in 2023, I'm predicting I'll read many more e-books since they're the easiest library books for me to access in LA. To commit to that, I bought a new (albeit refurbished) Kindle for the first time since I started this blog! My old one hasn't died, but it is super scratched up, and it felt nice to gift myself an upgrade.
As you'll see, the Hardcover books mostly came from the library, but I did buy some books this year. I discovered the joy of living near an indie bookstore, and that came with buying a handful of hardcover and paperback books. I destroy paperbacks, but the hardcovers destroy my wrist, which is another reason I'll likely be reading more e-books. I just wished they looked as pretty in photos for you.
Audiobooks are a game changer. When I run out of podcasts, I find an audiobook from the Libby app to download, and that greatly boosted my reading numbers. I also briefly subscribed to audible again this year to get some of the exclusives, but I've since ended that subscription.
Most importantly, 19 of the books I read came from the library, either physically or virtually. I love, love, love libraries, and I will always be eternally grateful for them. They're what enables me to read as much as I do, and I will always be so grateful. I love getting to check out massive piles of physical books in my hometown, and when I'm in LA, Libby has been a total game changer. The app lets you pool together all of your library cards in order to make use of as many catalogues as possible to locate ebooks and audiobooks.
The Longest & The Shortest
This goes with the page count stat to a certain degree, but I figured it'd be fun to see what my longest and shortest reads of the year were. On average, each book was 332 pages, but the longest book at 448 pages (and many, many, many hours as an audiobook) was Rap Capital by one of my favorite music writers, Joe Coscarelli. I mostly listened to this one over break as I fell asleep at night just to be able to get through it in time. I'm grateful for the sleep timer feature! I did manage to finish 4 books over 400 pages. The shortest book I read was also nonfiction, Girls Can Kiss Now which clocked in at 240 pages. This year I read a surprising number of books that didn't make it to 300 pages.