Wednesday 16 January 2019

A Year of Reading by Claire Fayers

It’s the time of year for looking forward, so I’m going to look back.

As an author, you’re supposed to know your readers, and the one reader I know better than anyone is myself. That is why, at the start of 2018, I decided to keep a reading list and track my habits for the whole year.

Here are the results.

Total Books Read: 100

That’s bad for me. 2018 was a stressful year and my reading list showed gaps of several weeks at a time when I didn't read anything. June was my worst month with only 2 books read. Maybe that's not surprising as my own book, Mirror Magic, came out mid-June and I was tied up with publicity. I made up for it in July with a rush of 13 books. For the rest of the year, I ranged from 6 books to 11 per month.

What Did I Read?

This is where I bring out the fancy pie charts.

Unsurprisingly, middle grade was by far the biggest category with a total of 49 books. Languishing at the bottom is a single book of poetry (a verse rendition of the Mabinogi), but I only counted entire books. If I’d included all the poems I read, the total would be a lot more. Folk tales gets its own category as I often search folk and fairy tales for writing inspiration. Again, I generally pick out individual tales rather than readying whole books, so it’s a small category – but important in terms of what I write. 

The main surprise was to see adult fiction overtake YA. My book club is partly to blame, and I'm also more likely to abandon adult fiction - I failed to finish four books in the year and they were all adult.

Where Did I Read?

No surprises here, either. My prime reading spot is at home, followed by reading when on holiday or travelling. If anyone has read in unusual places, I'd like to know.

What Format?

The choice of book formats leads to much discussion. What's better - hard copy or e-book? Does listening to an audio book count as reading? (My answer is yes.)

I’ve been making a real effort to use my local library and I’m glad to see it’s working. I still buy far more books than I borrow but I try to check the library before running to the bookshop. I can also see that I buy too many books on my kindle. I’ve always told myself I use the kindle for reading whilst travelling, but in fact, of 28 kindle books, 14 were read at home. I need to do better.

Only one audio book, which I borrowed after discovering my library offers e-book and audio book loans that can be downloaded to your phone. Very useful – I’ll be using this service again.

Why Did I Read It?

This is the big question – what makes a reader choose your book? Being a member of a book club has small but significant effect – 7 books in the year. I like being in a book club because it makes me read books I may never have chosen myself. By far the biggest influence though is personal connection. Either I know the author or illustrator, have met them online or in person, or I’ve seen the book recommended. A total of 45 books chosen.

Awards also have a small but significant effect – 10 books were read because they’d won an award or appeared on a shortlist.

One thing is missing off this list – reviews. Good reviews may make me more likely to notice a book, but they don’t make me rush out and buy it.

What Did I Learn?

Libraries are wonderful and we should do everything we can to support them.

Kindle is too convenient. I’m going to pause before hitting ‘buy’ and ask myself if I really need that book right now, or can I wait a few days and get it from my local bookshop instead.

The people who recommend books online are priceless. I have discovered many new favourite authors because of them.

Reviews and prizes are nice to have but they don't necessarily bring in new readers. 

And now, of course, having completed 2018, I need book recommendations for this year? Which books are you looking forward to in 2019?

1 comment:

Tracy Darnton said...

LOVING the pie charts Claire. I'm going to keep a list this year written in fountain pen on fine paper of all the books I read.