Posts in this series
Holy shit am I behind schedule on this post. Like, almost 11 months behind schedule. I didn’t quite make my goal in 2016, but let’s face it: 2016 was an all-around shit-show for everyone.
Desperately Off-Pace Most of the Time
By late September of 2016, it was pretty obvious that I was insanely behind schedule with my reading. I had started to rally in August, but then I got bogged down in A Little Life, which is an amazing book, but also best read a bit at a time. I was 11 books behind schedule, with a goal of reading 60 books. Not good. So I got clever. The first thing I did was synchronize all my e-books with Goodreads. I pulled together a list of books that were unread (on the to-read shelf) and that I owned, and then exported that as a CSV file. The next step was to pare it down so that I eliminated any book under 100 pages (there are some ebooks that fit that billing). Then I eliminated any book over 1000 pages. That narrowed the pool somewhat. Then I sorted it by the average Goodreads rating, and eliminated anything with a rating of less than 3.1.
That got me down to 407 titles.
My initial calculation was on what I referred to as quality per page — I divided the number of pages in the book by the average rating. The lower the number the more efficient the read — a higher rating would likely ensure that I blew through it quickly, and the shorter page count would help, too. This weighted the list toward shorter books, admittedly — a function of having a maximum rating (5.0), but a page count in a much wider range.
I briefly considered running an analysis of reading times, comparing fiction to non-fiction, and using those to weight QPP in such a way as to favor fiction works, but decided that mucking about with the Goodreads API was probably more than a tiny bit obsessive. I was consciously aware that reading a non-fiction book generally takes me longer than a fiction work on a per-page basis, so I kept that in-mind, rather than trying to find a way to penalize the QPP value.
Attempting to Catch Back Up
Based on the nature of my metrics, I decided that the first trick was going to be catching up to my goal from a “number of titles read” perspective. Thus, I was going to hammer my way through 11 books that had low QPPs, generally as a function of high ratings. I tried to keep a mix of fiction/non-fiction and a QPP in the 40’s or lower. These were the books I felt particularly enthused about:
The book highlighted in blue (Blockchain) was notable because I had started reading it in early January and had been slowly picking away at it. (Heady concepts.)
The plan here was to sacrifice my average page count up while managing to stay on track for making my goal was the focus of this phase. Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned, 2016 was a complete dumpster fire and I never had the time to just sit and read like crazy.
Overview: Goals and Total Count
Eleven books short. Oy. So I managed to read 81.6% of the plan. That’s two years in a row of not making my goal.
This works out to about 1600 pages fewer than 2015.
For 2016, I read 40.7 pages per day1, with an average book length of 304.3 pages. I managed to finish a book every 7.46 days, which isn’t bad, but not nearly as good as previous years.
Like 2014, one of my goals was to be more balanced in what I read. The goal since 2014 has been to keep Science Fiction to half (or less) of what I read in a given year. This year I was a little over that, simply due to the wanting to make goal.
This year, I only had two re-reads, for a total of 4.0% of my reading by title. If you look at that as a by-pages percentage, it’s 4.3% of my total. So basically, two of the books that were slightly longer than average were re-reads.
Okay, jeez. Fourteen of the books I read this year were part of a series. That’s 28.5% of my reading. Yikes.
Every book I read in 2016 was an e-book. Not one single paper book. What the actual fuck, people?
There was a gap in June where I got absolutely nothing finished. I think that was partly because I was buried in A Little Life, which was heavy reading, to say the least.
There’s always a little spike in the average pages-per-day when one of these starts, but that’s an artifact of how I calculate. I can’t remember what the hell was happening in June of last year, but clearly it fucked up my productivity.
The Full List of What I Read in 2016
|Title||My Rating||Author l-f||Date Read||Number of Pages||Genre|
|The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015||Skloot, Rebecca||1/16/16||352||Science|
|Joe Steele||Turtledove, Harry||1/23/16||438||Science Fiction|
|Zeroes||Wendig, Chuck||2/17/16||470||Science Fiction|
|Clade||Bradley, James||2/21/16||239||Science Fiction|
|The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)||Chambers, Becky||3/4/16||518||Science Fiction|
|Written in Fire (Brilliance Saga, #3)||Sakey, Marcus||3/12/16||348||Science Fiction|
|The Last Policeman (The Last Policeman, #1)||Winters, Ben H.||3/26/16||288||Science Fiction|
|CTRL ALT Revolt!||Cole, Nick||3/30/16||474||Science Fiction|
|Shipstar (Bowl of Heaven, #2)||Benford, Gregory||4/18/16||416||Science Fiction|
|Me and Earl and the Dying Girl||Andrews, Jesse||4/22/16||295||Fiction|
|The Long Earth (The Long Earth, #1)||Pratchett, Terry||5/1/16||336||Science Fiction|
|The End of the World as We Knew It||Cole, Nick||5/9/16||183||Science Fiction|
|Remanence (Confluence, #2)||Wells, Jennifer Foehner||6/26/16||492||Science Fiction|
|Luke Skywalker Can't Read: And Other Geeky Truths||Britt, Ryan||7/2/16||208||Science Fiction|
|Underground Airlines||Winters, Ben H.||7/16/16||336||Science Fiction|
|Life Debt (Star Wars: Aftermath, #2)||Wendig, Chuck||7/20/16||430||Science Fiction|
|Mechanical Failure||Zieja, Joe||7/27/16||345||Science Fiction|
|Fallout (The Hot War, #2)||Turtledove, Harry||7/31/16||419||Science Fiction|
|Red Hope (Red Hope, #1)||Dreese, John||8/1/16||251||Science Fiction|
|Beacon 23 (Beacon 23, #1-5)||Howey, Hugh||8/3/16||254||Science Fiction|
|Bike Tribes: A Field Guide to North American Cyclists||Magnuson, Mike||8/6/16||224||Sports/Fitness|
|A Feast of Snakes||Crews, Harry||8/9/16||192||Fiction|
|Machinations (Machinations, #1)||Stone, Hayley||8/11/16||343||Science Fiction|
|Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War||Roach, Mary||8/17/16||285||Science|
|Invasive||Wendig, Chuck||8/19/16||336||Science Fiction|
|You're My Favorite Client||Monteiro, Mike||8/24/16||127||Business|
|A Little Life||Yanagihara, Hanya||9/8/16||720||Fiction|
|The Moth||Burns, Catherine||9/14/16||432||Biography/Essays|
|Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines #1)||Kloos, Marko||9/15/16||347||Science Fiction|
|Countdown City (The Last Policeman, #2)||Winters, Ben H.||9/20/16||316||Science Fiction|
|CSS3 For Web Designers||Cederholm, Dan||9/22/16||125||Technology|
|The Perks of Being a Wallflower||Chbosky, Stephen||9/24/16||213||Fiction|
|Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk||Fountain, Ben||9/28/16||447||Fiction|
|Irregular Creatures||Wendig, Chuck||10/2/16||138||Science Fiction|
|Composite Materials: Fabrication Handbook #1||Wanberg, John||10/4/16||144||DIY/Maker|
|Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy||Swan, Melanie||10/7/16||152||Technology|
|furtl||Witherspoon, Strobe||10/10/16||187||Science Fiction|
|Between the World and Me||Coates, Ta-Nehisi||10/14/16||4||Culture/Current Events|
|Twenty-First Century Science Fiction||Hartwell, David G.||10/24/16||576||Science Fiction|
|Learning to Swear in America||Kennedy, Katie||10/28/16||346||Science Fiction|
|The Forever Endeavor||Wendig, Chuck||11/1/16||130||Science Fiction|
|Composite Materials: Fabrication Handbook #2||Wanberg, John||11/4/16||144||DIY/Maker|
|A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers, #2)||Chambers, Becky||11/12/16||365||Science Fiction|
|World of Trouble (The Last Policeman, #3)||Winters, Ben H.||11/30/16||316||Science Fiction|
|PHP: The "Right" Way||Sturgeon, Phil||12/1/16||46||Technology|
|Diary Of An Oxygen Thief (The Oxygen Thief Diaries #1)||Anonymous, Anonymous||12/5/16||143||Biography/Essays|
|Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto||Almond, Steve||12/7/16||160||Sports/Fitness|
Only genres in which I read four or more books are eligible for an award.
Fiction: A Little Life. Beautifully written, and utterly heartbreaking, this is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I’ll never read it again.
Science Fiction: This is a tough category for me. I was hoping that A Closed and Common Orbit would be a follow-up as great as its first installment (The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which was a masterpiece), but it wasn’t quiiiiite there. I read a lot of great science fiction in 2016, but I’m going to narrow it down to World of Trouble, which was the conclusion of the Last Policeman series — it’s finally paragraph was perhaps the most perfect conclusion to a trilogy I’ve ever read. Emotional, final, and so beautifully written that it took my breath away.
Not a great year for reading. Read some amazing books — and also read a few dogs (see: Red Hope). Also, I need to get more timely with my posts. The 2015 post was like 6 months late, the 2016 post was 11 months late. Yeesh.
It was a leap year — 366 days, der.↩