my 2022 reading stats in review & 2023 reading goals

Happy New Year! Before I can take on 2023 and new reading goals, it's time to reflect on how 2022 went for my reading life. The stats are unfortunately not great, but that leaves plenty of room to make new goals. I think a large part of this comes from the fact that I've struggled to figure out where I belong in the split of age categories. For the last 2 or so years, I've really felt like I was growing out of feeling totally at home in the YA world, but at the same time, I didn't click with books written for adults that still felt unrelatable or out of reach. 

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:

2017: 4.2

2018: 4.24

2019: 4.24

2020: 4.27

2021: 4.29

2022: 4.11

(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

Looking at the monthly breakdown, it's pretty clear why I didn't hit my 50 book goal this year. I was shocked to see I didn't read anything in September or July. Granted, they were both busy months. July, I had a demanding internship and a long visit from family, and in September, I was adjusting to a new semester, but it's pretty pitiful to see. August and March didn't fair much better. 
January and December will always clock in high in the monthly breakdowns because I have a super long holiday break where I'm free to marathon read. They totally saved my year clocking in at 5 for January and 8 for December. 
October and November of this year are what I'm hoping my 2023 will look like, a solid 4 books a month. I accomplished that with my full school schedule and current work schedule, so it doesn't feel unrealistic to expect that from myself in the new year. If I can sneak in a month with 2 extra books, I'll hit my goal finally. 

January: 5
February: 3
March: 2 
April: 3
May: 3
June: 3
July: 0
August: 2
September: 0
October: 4
November: 4 
December: 8

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.

My Blogger Report Card

Another section that's not quite flourishing this year but will hopefully get better. In 2022, I took a step back from blogging for a while. I didn't review a good portion of the books I did finish for the first time ever. I used to review every single book I read without fail, and this year, I started to resent that. For a while, I wondered if I'd ever post again on the blog or if 6 years was as long as it would make it. 
I needed the break. I think I needed to figure out my reading relationship by myself for a while and re-evaluate how I felt about sharing that. I'm so so glad that the conclusion I came to was that I do love blogging and writing about books. Especially after shifting my priorities this past semester and really looking into what I love, I'm more committed than ever to reading, writing, and sharing about books here. It's made me sad searching for reviews of books I read and not finding anything. While it doesn't seem like it, my thoughts on books that are chronicled here feel like a diary I've kept since 2017. I'm realizing more and more that this space will always be a cherished part of my life. But I did need that time to both recover from burnout and invest more time in other endeavors. 
I'm very very grateful to all of you who have continued reading this blog in record numbers, enjoying the reviews, and hanging out on Instagram with me. I haven't been the greatest blogger this year, and I don't take for granted that I got to come back to a home that was honestly in better shape than I left it. 
So this wasn't a stellar blogging year, but I think it's laid some important groundwork for a better future.

Reviewing the Old Goals

In my 2021 review post, I set some goals for myself. I totally forgot I made these a year ago, so I figure it's a good time to recap:

Goal 1: In 2022, I want to do a better job of having an actual TBR lined up and schedule reading into my week to try to solve my main issues from this year... since I'm not taking classes on Mondays or Fridays this semester, I'm going to set aside half an hour to an hour to read at least those two days a week. 
How It Went: Unfortunately, I didn't do a great job with this one, mostly because I couldn't figure out what I wanted to read enough to compile a list. I just felt lost. I also definitely did not schedule in time to read during the spring semester like I outlined. Interestingly, even though I forgot about this prescribed reading time, I accidentally started doing this in the last few months as a part of my TikTok detox. I took away my morning and evening TikTok time and replaced it with a half hour of reading time to start and end the day, and that worked really well as I adjusted how I used my time. So goal partially complete for part of the year?
I also did make an extensive winter break TBR list and one for the start of January now that I suddenly know what direction I want to take my reading in, so I got to this goal, just delayed by a year in action. 

Goal 2: I want to keep up my general hold on book buying from 2021.
How It Went: This went pretty well for the first half of the year. My grandma did gift me a book stack in May (that I admittedly haven't gotten through), and I did indulge in a bit more book shopping towards the end of the year. I got 5 books in one trip and 2 books in the second trip to the indie bookstore. I also had to buy all 3 Sally Rooney books for my project. It wasn't the worst, and the purchases were intensional. I'm generally not mad at it, though I didn't love a lot of the books I bought sadly while there are books I loved I didn't own. 
I did buy more books towards the end of the year cause I realized how much I enjoy annotating while I read and underlining my favorite parts. I used to be so against marking in books, but again, the Sally Rooney project totally altered my perspective. So I bought physical copies to be able to mark them up as I went, so they at least served a utility. 

Goal 3: Read 50 books. 
How It Went:  We already know that...



New Goals for 2023

And now we've reached the time to look towards the future and set new goals that I may or may not meet. I didn't meet many of my personal 2022 goals either, so I approach these very openly. Whether I meet them or not will largely be dictated by a lot of other circumstances, but I still like setting my intentions. 

Goal 1: Read 50 books. I'm not backing down from that one. I will get back to reading at least 50 books, and if I can get there, I'll bump my goal up to 52 books, a book a week. I'm so much happier when I'm reading, and I do better in every aspect of my life, so it should be a priority.

Goal 2: Read some genres I haven't read in a while. I haven't read fantasy or mythology inspired books since I devoured them as I read middle grade. I think it's been long enough to integrate a few more into my life again. 

Goal 3: Don't be afraid of longer books. They intimidate me, but I know I'm missing out on some great reads!

Goal 4: Only buy books if I 1) can't get them from any library or 2) have already read and love the book. I don't need to fill my apartment up with books that don't spark joy, but I also do want to be open to growing my library. 

Goal 5: Re-read more. It's really cool to see how I evolve over time in the context of how I feel about certain books. Also, MARK UP THE PAGES! It's totally okay and actually so much fun. 

Blogger Goal: Keep joy in blogging while also maintaining consistency. I love this platform, and I want to see it thrive. I want to get back to reviewing all the books I read in whatever format feels right for how I want to discuss the story, and I want to spend more time writing posts that interest me that aren't reviews. Also, don't let numbers get in the way of making what makes me happy. 

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