Ups and Downs of Reading Habits

I remembered to export my GoodReads book catalog earlier this week.  I’ve been forgetful for several months and the hot topic at work lately has been DR (disaster recovery).  So, practicing what I preach, I ‘backed up’ my book catalog to my computer.  I began reviewing the data downloaded and a thought (almost a question) popped into my head.  For the last five years, I’ve been averaging 100 books per year read.  I pushed myself this year to reach that goal early, before my birthday in early October.  My curious mind wanted to know how my reading format habits have changed over these last five years.

Reading-one-book-is-likeWhy just five years?  Because I found and joined GoodReads during 2008, but I didn’t get serious about cataloging my books until the end of that year.  Prior to that, I had to rely on my memory and my physical book library.  Strange that I’d never thought of keeping track of my reading habits prior to 2008 because I’ve always been an avid reader.  I rely too much on my memory, which has rarely failed me (my kids will always chime in with “Dumbo Drop” because I swear to this day I never saw the movie in theaters with them).  Along with my eyesight, I decided my memory might not always be there for me, so I should ‘back it up’ as well.  Reading glasses and book catalogs are now a part of my daily life. 

By format, I am referring to the media used to consume the written word.  Traditionally, since Gutenberg’s printing press, readers have consumed words via printed materials.  Today, readers have more options.

Count of Book Id Column Labels      
  Audiobooks Ebooks Print Editions Grand Total
Row Labels        
2009 5 5 83 93
2010   25 74 99
2011 2 20 52 74
2012 5 50 28 83
2013 22 49 30 101
2014 19 52 21 92
Grand Total 53 201 288 542

In 2009, over 80% of my reading came from print editions. Just five years later, having finally acquired a decent smartphone and Bluetooth headset, I’m listening to the same amount of books that I read in print, but the majority of my reading is via ebooks. 

ReadingStats2009-2014Other factors that affected my reading:  In May 2011, I received a Nook Color as a gift from my husband.  Unfortunately, in May 2013, it was stolen from me, along with my prescriptions sunglasses and all my photographic equipment, while on a whirlwind tour of Europe.  But thankfully I’d already bought a smartphone in January 2013 (which I left behind in the States when I visited Europe), so I still had a mobile device to read ebooks on and an excellent option for listening to audiobooks.  By the end of 2013, I’d also replaced the Nook Color with an Asus Transformer tablet. 

keep-calm-and-read-onThe other stat I need to review would involve a physical inventory in my house.  My goal, when I got the Nook Color, was to never buy a print edition book again.  I’ve tried to ‘stick to my guns’ but occasionally, I’ll buy a first edition at an author signing.  I still have hundreds of unread books in my house.  I also have hundreds of yet-to-read ebooks in my elibrary (but at least their not collecting dust).  Most if not all of the print editions I’ve read this year have been borrowed from local libraries.  As I replace print editions with ebook ones (usually as a result of a sale by the publisher), I donate the printed ones to library book sales.  Eventually, I hope to clear out my physical shelves, leaving only the signed first editions on display. 

Currently, I’m reading an ebook non-fiction title borrowed from a local library that I’m struggling to stay focused on.  I much prefer listening to non-fiction.  Reading non-fiction can cause my mind to wander and nod off.  I’m also blazing my way through Scalzi’s latest short science fiction novel Lock In in hardcover (also borrowed from my local library).  Sometime later today or tomorrow, when I take the dogs for a walk, I’ll start listening to A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway. 

Whatever I’m doing, if it doesn’t involve a lot of brain power and concentration, I multitask by reading whatever book is handy in the most convenient format for the moment.