Books, meet data!

Data: 2008 – 2017

So, it turns out that turning ten years of book-reading data into a 15-item line graph is..kind of anti-climatic.   Most of the items just kind of blend together, and the only things that leap out are (1) history’s uncontested place as the big kahuna;  (2) that massive spike in religion and philosophy in 2009 that was never repeated;   and (3),  science’s slow descent and then recovery. That was something of a bust, so let’s look at something more…fun.

Data: 2007-2017
In mid-2010, Star Wars had a comfortable lead over Star Trek books, something like 10 to 2. Then that year, I read thirty Trek books and it was never a contest from then on.  

Nonfiction | Fiction Breakdown

From May 2007 to the end of  2017, I read…1,749 books.     The majority (62%) of that is nonfiction.  Fiction has varied over the years, but at most it’s never been more than 53%.

2007:   36%
2008:   42%
2009    38%
2010    53%
2011   53%
2012    33%
2013    31%
2014    40%
2015    35%
2016    37%
2017    25%

How about…science reading, broken into the categories I use for my report card? 
Data: 2007-2017
You can see why I adopted the scavenger hunt approach in 2017:   there’s a lot of pooling in biology and anthropology that would be more exaggerated were “Flora and Fauna” not a separate category.  Appearing on this list but not in my report card is “General”, because there were Asimov science-essay collections that would run the gamut.

That’s probably enough fun with MS Excel for one weekend. We’ll try it again in 2027..


About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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14 Responses to Books, meet data!

  1. Mudpuddle says:

    i just had a money-making idea: you could advertise about doing the same sort of thing for other readers, print the graphs on tee-shirts and sell them back for dollars! well, maybe not so great… there's the set-up and machinery, etc. oh well… interesting info, tho… tx…

  2. Stephen says:

    I really can't account for..wanting to account for everything!

  3. Mudpuddle says:

    i think it's a fun idea: i'd do the same thing for my own reading but i'm not smart enough; and being retired i'm too lazy anyhow…

  4. Stephen says:

    The hard part for me was generating a list of labels that could apply across every year of reading. Some of the labels weren't used in the graph because they were really outliers. Health and fitness, for instance, will pop in a little burst every other year. The data entry wasn't nearly as tedious as it could have been because of autocomplete..once I'd typed in the label once, Excel would suggest it the next time I started typing, so most of the time I only had to type in a character or two. The only problem there was Science and Science Fiction, since Excel kept confusing them. I got around it by using “SF” for science fiction. It was something to do while listening to music, and was arguably more productive than playing game.

  5. Mudpuddle says:

    i went to a class on Excel once and appreciated it's possibilities, but i never got very good at using it…

  6. Elle says:

    I enjoy reading your posts on data. Part of me really wishes that I kept track of everything I read now xD Elle Inked @ Keep on Reading

  7. Stephen says:

    I'm just glad I started gabbing about my books when I did — I read a lot of interesting stuff before, but a lot of it is just lost. Keeping the blog and revisiting my reviews keeps the books somewhat alive in my head. 🙂

  8. Stephen says:

    It's a deep program.. I've been using it for work purposes for at least four years, but I don't do anything advanced with it — just arranging info and crunching numbers. I used another source (meta-chart) for the graphics.

  9. Marian H says:

    You sound kind of surprised at your line graph…did you remember your reading differently than it turned out to be? I know I tend to remember certain books (or phases of reading) more than others; everything else sort of fades out.

  10. Stephen says:

    I was mostly surprised that the data was as muddy as it is. I probably wouldn't have been if I'd ever prepared a line graph before. At the moment there are too many lines to really see anything but history and religion/philosophy. What really surprised me was how low science got at one point (4 books in 2015!) and how long it took history to really take a commanding lead. It and science were tied in the first few years, and then Star Trek hustled in.

  11. Brian Joseph says:

    Interesting that so such of your reading has stayed consistent. The Star Wars /Star Trek shift has made me realize, though I have read a bunch of Star Trek novels over the years I never read a Star Wars novel. I wish that I had detailed reading data like this going back.

  12. Stephen says:

    Do you comment on/review all the books you read, or just a few that are remarkable? I was only able to do this because 99% of the books I've read since 2007 appear here. We all have to leave something for posterity, and verbose essays about books are my contribution. 😉

  13. I wish I was this organized. Very interesting data.

  14. Stephen says:

    It's been gradual for me — first keeping a list (2011), then trying to apply labels to make end-year wrapups easier, and now moving into Excel.

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