Sighs, pie charts and statistics

1: LT author cloud

Many of you booklovers may well be familiar with LibraryThing, one of many sites available for cataloguing books you’ve read or that are in your library — plus all the other interaction expected on social media sites. Most if not all have useful facilities for examining your bookish stats, and LT is no exception. I like to occasionally peruse these to see what patterns and trends, if any, seem to be emerging.

First off there are clouds for tags and authors. From mine you can see where my primary interests lie as regards writers: fantasy authors dominate. Mind you, these represent only the books I’ve actually got round to cataloguing, about 440-odd books — with about 324 reviewed — so they won’t be totally representative; but they are indicative. I am slowly getting round to more contemporary fiction, though genre of one kind or another will still be a favourite.

Secondly there are what LT term memes. LibraryThing offer a pie-chart indicating Female and Male authors. It’s clear that male-to-female proportions are roughly 2:1 for my books, though I have been trying to address that imbalance in recent months and years by upping the number of female authors read. There’s still a way to go to, at the very least, attain parity.

2: LT meme Male / Female authors

Another meme concerns whether I’ve been favouring either contemporary or deceased writers. Those I’ve read appear to be more Alive than Dead. I’ve definitely made a more determined effort to push ahead with classics (whatever that means; 20th-century books by many still-living authors seem to be acquiring this status, particularly if the writer concerned is somehow regarded as a National Treasure). Though whether this is a good thing or not I’m not entirely clear.

3: LT meme Dead / Alive authors

I come now to the writer’s country of birth, or adoption, or possibly merely residence, all subsumed under the heading Nationality. I see that UK authors dominate my reading to the tune of well over 50%, with US authors approaching 25%. Again, I’m trying to widen the spread of authors, but while the spirit is willing the flesh so far has proved weak. *Sigh* I have to keep telling myself what I’m potentially missing by sticking to Anglophone writers.

4: LT meme Nationality

The principal lessons to draw from here, I think, is that I need to cast my net wider in terms of genre, gender, period and place of origin if I want to consider myself ‘well read’. Wish me luck!

Do you find your reading inclinations lead you to a narrower band of categories than that you would ideally aim for? Or are you happy with where you are now and where you are going?

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12 thoughts on “Sighs, pie charts and statistics

  1. earthbalm

    Now that is a site I must visit. I’ll love to see how my reading habits pan out. Thanks for the ‘heads up’ Chris.

    1. You’re welcome, Dale, I know I could work some of these figures out for myself but it’s handy to have them available and at the click of a mouse.

      The other cataloguing site I used to interact a lot with until I discovered blogging is Goodreads, but to be honest I’ve never really explored if it does stats. It’s a way more popular platform than LT, more social and chatty and less nerdy, more serious, than LT which probably reflects the tastes of Tim Spalding, LT’s founder.

      1. Yup – big big nerd right here! In fact, as I was reading your post, I wondered about comparing the stats for any given set of categories for a particular reader with the stats on how much literature is available in each category. So if I was looking at my science fiction reading and I had a 75% male author to 25% female author split how would that compare to the male / female split in published science fiction works? Then I started to wonder about how to correct for the bias which results from more books in one catergory to another, and then my brain fused and I had to get a cup of tea!

  2. I guess it depends on the definition of “well read”. I read mainly for my own entertainment, not to improve social justice in the world (I have my job for that). So I don’t actively try to read more authors from this or that category. I just read what seems appealing to me.

    On the other hand, I’m all for quota & positive discrimination in the world of companies & politics, so maybe I should set some on my own blog too.

    1. I think each person’s definition of ‘well read’ is going to be different. Like you I tend to read for personal pleasure, as reflected in my free choice of reading matter; but I’m aware there’s a huge amount out there I could enjoy which I just haven’t introduced myself to. I like to think of myself a reasonably fair-minded person, so even if a book is not to my taste I try to find positives about it and understand what about it might count as appealing.

      Quotas? For myself I’m not fussed about exact figures, just general trends; and, hey, I’m reading for myself, not for an academic course. And I enjoy what you review too, precisely because it opens my eyes to what’s available, whether or not I avail myself of it!

  3. I wonder what mine would look like? Probably a bias towards American authors which is not really in line with inclination, but availability and chance. And of very recent, which is because many have been books I have been editing. I am now halfway through the process with a horror fantasy by an American author for submission to his British agent — an interesting exercise. Not as bad as a previous one, though, which was first-person with half quoting from an American diary and half from the diary of a Hungarian schooled in England.

    1. You’ll know I’m a great upholder of serendipity — mainly due to inveterate browsing in secondhand bookshops and charity shops — so often take what grabs my fancy. I don’t know how I’d feel if my choice was limited by availability to a narrow band of authors.
      I suppose the downsize of editing may be the reduced time to read anything but contemporary literature. But at least you find opportunities to write your own stuff!

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