My 2023 Reading Stats in Great Detail: Reading Over 100 Books in 2023
here. This was a big reading year for me, and it was interesting to see how I stacked up against my early high school self who spent full days sitting there with a book. Whether you read 5 books or 400 books, if you picked up a book this year, that's a major win, and you should feel super proud of yourself! As you'll see, sometimes beating your reading goal doesn't come from a place of having a good year overall. So that's just my little caveat that reading is impacted by so many factors.
The Major Stats
This is definitely my biggest win of the post, and maybe the biggest win of all my goals personal and professional in 2023. I finished 126 books, which, as you'll see when I start comparing years past is quite the accomplishment and something I did not anticipate when I started 2023. With only setting my goal at 50 books, I managed to well exceed what I'd aimed for.
Now, for some context, here's the number of books I've read in years past so you can see just how big of an outlier my 2023 total was, especially in recent years. It was my biggest reading year yet. I will caveat this with the fact that I barely listened to audiobooks in 2017, so almost all of those books were either e-books or physical books that I had to sit down and read. This isn't to say that audiobooks aren't reading, but it is worth noting that the audiobooks allowed me to continue reading while doing other things like cleaning the house and vastly expanded my possible reading time. 2017 and 2018 me had the advantage of being in online, asynchronous high school, though, so there was infinitely more time than present me bouncing between taking 19 hours at school and a 6 day a week summer job.
2023: 126 books
2022: 37 books
2021: 39 books
2020: 74 books
2019: 88 books
2018: 116 books
2017: 119 books
The next logical questions is, sure, you read a lot of books, but what does that look like in pages? No shame in reading short books – they tend to be my personal preference – but I've found that it's interesting to compare pages read year to year because the total number of titles doesn't tell the whole story of how much reading I actually did. Take 2022 and 2021 for instance. I only read 2 more books in 2021, but I read significantly more pages too, or 2017 in pages vs 2023. This year's grand total was 40,960 pages. That's a lot of pages! I did read two over or almost 600 page books in December alone, and some of the nonfiction audiobooks I finished were hefty, so I was looking forward to a solid number here. This year, I really dropped my fear of reading big books or books that might take a while to complete, and this is the metric where I get to see that come through. Finally clearing that hurdle of fearing how long it would take me to finish a long book has opened up my reading world, and conquering that in my biggest reading year yet helped reinforce that. To compare it to page counts of years past:
2023: 40,960 pages
2022: 12,304 pages
2021: 13,760 pages
2020: 24,878 pages
2019: 30,220 pages
2018: 40,519 pages
2017: 37,626 pages
Calculating this section gives me a new gratitude that I finally learned how to do some things with a spreadsheet in the last two years. I have manually added it all up before, and let me tell you, it's a nightmare. I am a books girl, not a math girl.
The Genre Breakdown
Let's get this out of the way quickly. Most of the books I read this year fall into broadly fiction or nonfiction. I've used much more elaborate tagging schemes in years past, but this year I was lazy. I used a few special genre tags, but if I had any doubt, I just called it either fiction or nonfiction. In hindsight, it'd be fun to see how many biographies, memoirs, histories, science books, etc I'd read within nonfiction, but alas, I was not that specific. I did give out a couple specific fiction tags, so there's a bit of insight I can give you there, but this is definitely the weakest data set of the breakdown. All literary and general fiction and even some books with speculative elements all got lumped in here. Also, I know short story collections and YA aren't genres, but this is the only place it makes sense to give a breakdown of these categories.
General Umbrella "Fiction": 57
Short Stories: 3
Horror: 1 (though, thinking back, I feel like I read at least 3 books with some kind of horror element, just not enough to primarily call it this)
Mythology Retelling: 1
The results of my poor tagging are now abundantly clear. As I noted with horror, literary fiction plays with so many random genre elements without being entirely genre that they're hard to categorize, and the ones I did place in specific genres were done off Goodreads tags and vibes, so it's incredibly imprecise. I did read overall more spooky books this year, something I've shied away from in the past. Granted, I say spooky for a reason. I still cannot stomach straight up scary, and these are all pretty mild interpretations of the genres.
I also want to note that nonfiction and fiction look neck and neck at first glance, but all the other individual categories are all fiction titles, so really I read 69 fiction books to 57 nonfiction books. I dabbled in reading some short story collections this year, which was fun. They're so under appreciated, and as I try to write more short stories, it feels important to read them. And you'll notice a small gesture to the YA world. These reads were from favorite authors I still have a soft spot for, and most were from ARCs publishers emailed over to me. I also read less romance than in the last few years. I found romance to be a good entryway into reading books meant for adults as many of my favorite YA writers were moving there and a lot of those books have a voiceyness and pacing that is more akin to YA. The more comfortable I got with my new age category, though, the more I realized that romance just doesn't appeal to me that much just like I don't read much sci-fi or fantasy. I'll pick it up here or there, but I largely moved away from it this year.
The Ratings Are In
Now it's time to look at the ratings I've given out this year, which taps into a bit more of the book blogger side of things. Did I enjoy the books I read? My average score was a 3.68, which would round up to a 4 on the whole and half star rating system I use. This is super solid! Given the number of books that I read and that I'm a lot more likely to power through audiobooks that I just feel meh about, I think this means that I did enjoy the majority of what I read this year.
My review philosophy has generally stayed pretty consistent. I give out 5s pretty rarely, so they're weighty. There are books that I absolutely love that I give a 4.5 in the end. At that level, it's really just a vibes thing for me. 4s mean the book was good and I enjoyed it. I just didn't love it, and a 3.5 is generally where books that feel average fall. I don't give out many 3s and rarely anything below that because I'd rather DNF than finish a book I'm going to give that kind of score. If your book is a 2, I probably quit reading it long before it made the spreadsheet.
So which books got the coveted 5 stars this year? You can check out my Top 10 fiction reads for a mix of the 5s and 4.5s that I loved, but here's a list of the ultimate 5 star holders in the order I read them (there are 11 total). There are too many 4.5s to list:
Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi (reread)
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson
Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley
The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise by Colleen Oakley
If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery
Even If It Breaks Your Heart by Erin Hahn (2024 YA release)
Death Valley by Melissa Broder
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Wellness by Nathan Hill
On the more negative side of things, I gave out two 2 star ratings, both to nonfiction audiobooks. One by a prominent self-help writer and one by a popular podcaster. Since I didn't review them on the blog and can't give nuanced thoughts as to why in this space, I'll let them remain nameless. But that was my lowest rating this year. Otherwise, I gave out nineteen 3 stars, twenty-seven 3.5 stars, fifty-two 4 stars, and fifteen 4.5 stars.
To close out this section, let's see how my average ratings stack up to years past. I'm honestly shocked that this is my first year that my average rating dipped out of the 4s, but I think the audiobook factor I mentioned earlier has a lot to do with it. Also, interestingly, it started trending down last year before this steep drop. I'm not sure what to make of that.
When Were They Published
I always find it interesting to see when the books I'm reading were published. Of course, I love staying up on new releases, so they always constitute a lot of my year's reading. But, in years past, as I've started to dive into a new category, I've read more and more backlist books alongside the new releases. I really like having this mix, though, as a book blogger, I definitely feel a pressure to stay up to date on the new releases. Ultimately, 56 of the books I read were published in 2023.
As for the oldest book, I was surprised to remember that I'd read a book from 1967 this year. This was The Woman Destroyed. Though, granted, I read it because it was trendy on bookstagram. I love seeing books from the past get tons of new attention alongside newer releases. Other older books I read include The English Patient, which came out for 1992, that I read for class. And On Beauty from 2005, which I loved. There's plenty of books from the early 2000s and early 2010s sprinkled in along with plenty of somewhat new releases from the 2020s.
My Best Months
So let's take a closer look at these 126 books together and start breaking down exactly how my year of reading played out. Here's a look at how many books I read each month:
January: 5 books
February: 7 books
March: 13 books
April: 11 books
May: 7 books
June: 8 books
July: 5 books
August: 5 books
September: 15 books
October: 17 books
November: 17 books
December: 16 books
You can see the year got off to a pretty average start. Well, better than my typical averages, but nothing crazy. In March, we see our first double digit uptick in books read. That is honestly because the Spring 2023 semester was a really tough one for me. I didn't enjoy most of my classes, I started to feel really isolated and unhappy in LA, and I desperately needed an escape. Reading got me through a childhood of always feeling out of place, and I decided to recommit myself to that kind of turn inward as a coping mechanism. This is to say, as happy as I am that I spent the time reading and as proud as I am of the total, sometimes there's some less happy motivations propelling these huge numbers of books forward.
You'll notice in the summer months, I clocked relatively low numbers for the year as a whole. I went home this summer, worked full time at a place I loved being at, and was surrounded by family. It was a much healthier situation, and I managed to still read a book a week or a bit more, which I think is great. In future years, I'd probably like to see most months look like this because I was busy and living a full life. Just as long as it doesn't signal a reading slump. Then, in the fall, there's a major spike again. I had a hard transition back to LA, but I'd also already figured out my coping strategy of throwing myself into books entirely. Also, in the fall, to combat the silence in my apartment, I dove deep into audiobooks, replacing a lot of the podcast listening I was doing before. Leaning into audiobooks as well as a commitment to being on my phone as little as possible and therefore reading on the train and in any random downtime boosted my fall semester numbers. It's funny to see that in December with a full two weeks to just read I didn't have a record month, but that's likely to do with being home and not really listening to audiobooks for as much of the day.
While I was super excited to see the final total this year, breaking it down by month and analyzing the why has made me realize that this isn't something I necessarily want to repeat. I want to keep being an active and engaged reader. It's one of my favorite hobbies. And I want to keep replacing social media time with books as well. I just hope that in future years my reading isn't motivated from a sad place. Thankfully, my time in LA is almost over, so hopefully I'll be able to pack in the books till early May, give myself a nice head start, and then see where things take me for the rest of the year.
All The Formats
Last year, I talked about how I was moving away from ARCs and no longer requesting them. I felt like I was reading too inconsistently to take on a responsibility like that. Having found my reading flow again, though, I did request and was granted a couple ARCs this year, which was a lot of fun. I love getting to read advanced books as a book blogger, and I'd missed that perk of the job for a while. While I still want to keep my ARC consumption low, I'm excited to get into reading more of them in 2024 and hopefully bring you my thoughts on the latest books faster than the interminable library hold lines allow.
That leads me to talking about all the different formats I read books in this year. Obviously, audiobooks were a new major player. Primarily, I read on my Kindle because it's so much easier to take back and forth to school with me. At home over winter break, I've gotten to indulge in a lot more print books, so I think there should be a quality spread this year:
I really think if you're reading a high number of books each year and living a normal life that audiobooks probably play a key role in that final total. Or at least that's true for me. There's nothing better than getting to read while doing things where you normally couldn't read. Over the course of this year, I fell out of love with a lot of the podcasts I was listening to. There are still a couple that I check in with, but when I really started to curate my social media feeds and be intentional about what I was consuming, I realized a lot of the podcasts I listened to were funneling the same ideas I was trying to get away from online. Still, I spent a lot of time alone in an apartment just craving voices around me, so over the course of a few months, I transitioned to doing almost all my listening through audiobooks. Realizing Libby offered audiobooks was also a game changer since I've always enjoyed them but services like Audible are so expensive. It's really fun to read more nonfiction, learn about a ton of random things in a focused way, and get to utilize the library in a new way. Libby has powered basically all my reading this year, as you'll see in a second.
It's also worth accounting for where I got my books. The vast majority are library loans. I would not read like I do without the library. I definitely did some book shopping this winter, which factored in, and like I mentioned earlier, I was lucky enough to be granted a few ARCs as well. Here's a breakdown of where the books I read this year came from.
Library (digital): 106
Books I Own: 13
Library (physical): 4
This year was a very digital reading year. I read a couple books I bought for school, fun, or were already on my shelf, but largely, my Kindle did the heavy lifting whether from the library or ARCs. I never pay for e-books because Libby is such a fantastic resource, and it makes reading on the go so so easy. Please get a library card and download their app if you haven't! Reading mostly digital books meant that every time I left the house, my book was in my hand, and I worked hard to choose reading before looking at my phone. I've found reading digitally also helps me read more because it's easier to read in the dark, while eating, or while lying down than with a physical book. When I'm reading a physical book, I tend to sit down and read
I also thought it would be fun to calculate how much I saved by using the library. My hometown library used to print the amount saved on the bottom of your check-out receipt, and I thought that was the coolest thing, so I decided I'd try to calculate it for myself. While there's price variability in format and there's always a range on what's charged, most of the books I bought this year were around $28 for a new copy. To keep it simple, I used that figure multiplied by the 110 books I read from the library this year which meant I saved a staggering $3,080 by using the library. Like I said, I wouldn't read nearly as much as I do without the library access.
The Longest & The Shortest
We touched on pages a bit earlier, but I thought it'd be fun to talk about the longest and shortest books I read this year. The longest goes to The Bee Sting, which shouldn't surprise anyone that reads this blog. That book is very very long at 645 pages. Actually, that's a lie. The longest book I read this year was Empire of Pain, but it was an audiobook, and I didn't know how long it was until I recorded it in my spreadsheet, so it doesn't feel the same. But that book clocked in at 560 pages. I read 12 books total that I consider long (400 pages or longer). The competition for the shortest book I read this year is much tighter. It ultimately goes to Mouth to Mouth at 179 pages, which is the only book I read that dipped under 200 pages. Going through my spreadsheet, I was shocked at the number of books I read that were 240 pages exactly. There were 4. I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but there was no other page count that exactly matched across multiple books.
My Blogger Report Card
The second half of this year, I really fell back in love with book blogging and got much more serious about it once again. Reading a ton, I think, naturally spills into my enthusiasm for talking about books and wanting to see growth on the blog. I wrote tons of reviews this year, so many that I still have ten waiting to be published from 2023. Which leads me to my big blogger slump of the year. I wrote every review right after I finished reading the book, but sometimes, it would take me weeks to post the reviews. Sometimes even months. I was bad at remembering to post and even worse at making the accompanying Insta post. This is something I tried to put a much more concerted effort into in the second half the year, and I even upped my photo game and creativity along with it.
This fall, I also tried to get off my personal social media, and while I filled that void in a lot of ways, spending more time on my Bookstagram was definitely a byproduct. I figured that if I was using my book blogger account I was "working", building a network, talking to other readers, seeing what tags and popular posts were out there. Those were all good things, right? Regardless of whether I was harming the spirits of my original ban or not, the more time I devoted to it, the more growth I saw, which was really gratifying. I'd let my bookish platforms fall by the wayside in recent years, and it was fun to see how much they flourished once again when I gave them a bit of water and tried to let them bloom. It didn't take much effort to see a great return (though, that's in my very limited view and not like, actually impressive viral numbers. My corner of the bookish internet has always been pretty small and always will be). Though my Instagram community isn't huge, I am constantly amazed that over 10,000 of you read my posts every month. And while the new ones get love, it's even cooler to see how reviews I wrote years ago for books and authors I really cared about like Kathleen Glasgow's work still gets so much attention on the blog. That's always a good reminder that the work I do now doesn't just disappear in a day or two when it's no longer at the top of someone's feed. A post I write tomorrow could help someone find their new favorite read five years from now, and that's pretty awesome.
I'm really proud of how I was able to give a new life to the blog and start to settle in this new age category. Now that I've rediscovered my footing in this world, I'm excited to see what will come next. And more than anything, I'm really really glad that when I was in a slump with the bookish world, I didn't leave this site behind. It means just as much if not more to me now as an almost 21 year old as it did at 14. Let's make 2024 another great reading year! And thanks to all of you for sticking around.
More End of Year Posts: