2016: Reading Review and Metrics

Posts in this series
  1. 2014: Reading Review
  2. 2014: Reading Metrics
  3. 2015: Reading Review and Metrics
  4. 2016: Reading Review and Metrics

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:

table-of-books

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

49 books
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.

Pages

14914 pages
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.

Genre

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.

Re-reading

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.

Series

Okay, jeez. Fourteen of the books I read this year were part of a series. That’s 28.5% of my reading. Yikes.

Format

Every book I read in 2016 was an e-book. Not one single paper book. What the actual fuck, people?

Progress Graphing

2016 Completions and Total Pages Read

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.

Year-Over-Year

The Full List of What I Read in 2016

TitleMy RatingAuthor l-fDate ReadNumber of PagesGenre
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015Skloot, Rebecca1/16/16352Science
Joe SteeleTurtledove, Harry1/23/16438Science Fiction
ZeroesWendig, Chuck2/17/16470Science Fiction
CladeBradley, James2/21/16239Science Fiction
CalvinLeavitt, Martine2/25/16181Fiction
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)Chambers, Becky3/4/16518Science Fiction
Written in Fire (Brilliance Saga, #3)Sakey, Marcus3/12/16348Science Fiction
The Last Policeman (The Last Policeman, #1)Winters, Ben H.3/26/16288Science Fiction
CTRL ALT Revolt!Cole, Nick3/30/16474Science Fiction
Shipstar (Bowl of Heaven, #2)Benford, Gregory4/18/16416Science Fiction
Me and Earl and the Dying GirlAndrews, Jesse4/22/16295Fiction
The Long Earth (The Long Earth, #1)Pratchett, Terry5/1/16336Science Fiction
The End of the World as We Knew ItCole, Nick5/9/16183Science Fiction
Remanence (Confluence, #2)Wells, Jennifer Foehner6/26/16492Science Fiction
Luke Skywalker Can't Read: And Other Geeky TruthsBritt, Ryan7/2/16208Science Fiction
Underground AirlinesWinters, Ben H.7/16/16336Science Fiction
Life Debt (Star Wars: Aftermath, #2)Wendig, Chuck7/20/16430Science Fiction
Mechanical FailureZieja, Joe7/27/16345Science Fiction
Fallout (The Hot War, #2)Turtledove, Harry7/31/16419Science Fiction
Red Hope (Red Hope, #1)Dreese, John8/1/16251Science Fiction
Beacon 23 (Beacon 23, #1-5)Howey, Hugh8/3/16254Science Fiction
Bike Tribes: A Field Guide to North American CyclistsMagnuson, Mike8/6/16224Sports/Fitness
A Feast of SnakesCrews, Harry8/9/16192Fiction
Machinations (Machinations, #1)Stone, Hayley8/11/16343Science Fiction
Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at WarRoach, Mary8/17/16285Science
InvasiveWendig, Chuck8/19/16336Science Fiction
You're My Favorite ClientMonteiro, Mike8/24/16127Business
A Little LifeYanagihara, Hanya9/8/16720Fiction
The MothBurns, Catherine9/14/16432Biography/Essays
Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines #1)Kloos, Marko9/15/16347Science Fiction
Countdown City (The Last Policeman, #2)Winters, Ben H.9/20/16316Science Fiction
CSS3 For Web DesignersCederholm, Dan9/22/16125Technology
The Perks of Being a WallflowerChbosky, Stephen9/24/16213Fiction
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime WalkFountain, Ben9/28/16447Fiction
Irregular CreaturesWendig, Chuck10/2/16138Science Fiction
Composite Materials: Fabrication Handbook #1Wanberg, John10/4/16144DIY/Maker
Blockchain: Blueprint for a New EconomySwan, Melanie10/7/16152Technology
furtlWitherspoon, Strobe10/10/16187Science Fiction
Between the World and MeCoates, Ta-Nehisi10/14/164Culture/Current Events
Twenty-First Century Science FictionHartwell, David G.10/24/16576Science Fiction
Learning to Swear in AmericaKennedy, Katie10/28/16346Science Fiction
The Forever EndeavorWendig, Chuck11/1/16130Science Fiction
Composite Materials: Fabrication Handbook #2Wanberg, John11/4/16144DIY/Maker
A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers, #2)Chambers, Becky11/12/16365Science Fiction
World of Trouble (The Last Policeman, #3)Winters, Ben H.11/30/16316Science Fiction
PHP: The "Right" WaySturgeon, Phil12/1/1646Technology
Diary Of An Oxygen Thief (The Oxygen Thief Diaries #1)Anonymous, Anonymous12/5/16143Biography/Essays
Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant ManifestoAlmond, Steve12/7/16160Sports/Fitness

Awards

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.

Conclusion

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.

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