2009 in Review (+ Lots of Stats)

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2009 was a great reading year. Although it was the first year I kept track of my reading completely, it was also a year that I found myself reading more than I ever have.

I should begin this post by saying that I read for enjoyment and learning. I don’t read for a certain number of books or pages or anything. But I certainly had fun capturing the statistics!

I am a visual learner, so I thought I’d show my year in graphs to begin with!

Genre Reading

I’m pretty satisfied with this nearly 1:1 ratio for adult fiction:nonfiction. I thought I read much more fiction, though, so it surprised me! I’m glad there is plenty of children’s literature represented too! I definitely need to read more poetry and drama, though.

Reading by Month

This just surprised me to see such a strange wave of reading. I know February 2009 I moved to my new house, September was BBAW, and December was the holidays. Each of those slowed my reading. I can’t explain June’s dip though. How strange! I must get burned out or busy, slow down for a month, and then speed up again when I’ve got my wind back! If you are curious, here are my month in review posts:

2009 Months in Review: January in Review; February in Review; March in Review; April in Review;  May in Review; June in Review; July in Review; August in Review; September in Review; October in Review;  November in Review; December in Review

Format of Reading

Um, need I say I need to read more graphic novels? I do like the ones I’ve read!

Male/Female Author Ratio

I like classics, which are more often written by males, so I guess this ratio of my reading shouldn’t surprise me. I just have not often considered the gender of the author before I picked it up. Maybe I’ll make a point to pay more attention to the female classic authors in the future.

Fiction Favorites (and Not)

Favorite books of 2009: The classics! I’m addicted! Bring me more! I especially loved the Victorian Classics, especially The Woman in White, which was incredible! North and South should be mentioned as well, although I don’t think I loved that as much as Robinson Crusoe. The Good Earth is one I hope to revisit some day because it made me think a lot. In terms of modern fiction, the only one I really enjoyed enough to reread is Baking Cakes in Kigali.

Least favorite books of 2009: My least favorite were some of the modern fiction I read: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and The Alchemist if I have to name anything. I wish I’d read something else in that time, but they were both ok, not horrible. There were others that just didn’t do much for me, but they were better than these two!

Most memorable discussion on my review: Lord of the Flies. You’ve all convinced me to reread it again someday with a new perspective, despite the fact that I essentially hated the book.

Most disappointing read (because I’d been looking forward to it):  The Hobbit. Since I enjoyed The Silmarillion, it was disappointing to read the children’s book immediately after it! I’m going to try LotR this year anyway!

Author new to me in 2009 that I now want to read the entire works of: Wilkie Collins

Worst audiobook (this via librivox.org): Dracula


I reread 23 books in 2009, and I’m hoping 2010 has a higher number! I really enjoyed the experience.

Best re-reads: Pride and Prejudice; Wit; Beloved; Jane Eyre

Most disappointing reread: Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Treasury (children’s fiction). While I enjoyed it as a child, I found it dated and inappropriate today.

Nonfiction Notables

In 2009, I tried to read something from every Dewey Decimal “Century.” If you are interested in seeing all nonfiction reviews on this site by the Dewey Decimal System, see my Nonfiction by Dewey Decimal Number page. (Yes, I am a total geek!!)

Most worthwhile read: The Discoverers

Most challenging read: The Discoverers

Absolute best nonfiction of the year: The Discoverers

(Notice a pattern?)

Best Resource for American Citizens and/or students of government: The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution

Best New Perspective of American Health Professionals for those of us who have to put up with them: Better

Best Coffee Table Book: Harlem STOMP!

Best critical analysis of a format (for everyone!): Understanding Comics

Most motivating: (tie) The Creative Family and The ABCs of Literacy

Best Biography or Memoir: The King of Inventors by Catherine Peters. I seriously am fascinated by Wilkie Collins now! Runner-up: Talmage’s Jesus the Christ. This had more flaws, but for me it met its purpose very well.

Nearly Edible Nonfiction

Most delicious memoir: A Homemade Life

Most inspiring memoir: My Life in France

Best cooking for kids: Pretend Soup

Best cookbooks for amateur cooks: Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom

Random Book Facts

Oldest book read: 800 BC, Homer’s  The Odyssey, trans. Robert Fagles (1990s). If you are interested in my balance of reading to date by century, you can review it at my By the Century archive.

Most recently published book: Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin (published in August 2009). It was a new thing for me, to have to wait for a hold to come in. Usually it’s just a matter of pulling it off the shelves!

Longest book title: Nineteenth-Century Mormon Architecture and City Planning by Mark Hamilton.

Second place longest book title: The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.

Shortest book title: We

Longest book: 906 pages of The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy (actually three books combined, reviewed part 1 and part 2 and 3), or if you insist on knowing the longest single book the 750 pages of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. Longest single adult book, that would be the 735-page biography I read in December, Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage.

Shortest book: The 35-page Aucassin et Nicolete by an anonymous author, translated by Andrew Lang (a really old classic). I also read a number of short story collections, too.

Books from the library? 109. Three books were special ILL. Also, 8 were free via librivox.org or Project Gutenberg. 45 were ones I owned or borrowed. Two of those books (I think) were bought in 2009.

Non-English language books/in translation: 21

On to 2010 stats keeping!

Reviewed on January 9, 2010

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • This was very interesting! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 I loved all the stats and graphs. It’s fascinating to see a year of reading broken down in all those categories… I didn’t think to do that, but I did post a wrap up post with some stats.

  • I love you for making all those graphs! I had the same experience as you: the first year I was really keeping track of and publicly reacting to my reading, I also read more than ever. Interesting, since one might think that all that posting and recording would take time away from actual reading. Very nice post, and I look forward to another year of sharing your virtual reads. 🙂

  • LOL I can see why this post took you a long time to put together. 😀

    Baking Cakes in Kigali made my top reads, too. I loved it. Infact, there were a lot of modern books from other countries that made my list. I was suprised how much modern fiction made it. I was also surprised by my male/female ratio. I never deliberately chose one sort of author over another, and I ended up reading much more by female authors.

  • I bet my reading graph would oscillate as well. I know I go through ‘cycles’ like what you’ve described. 🙂 There are a bunch of classic women authors out there-sometimes you just have to search a touch harder for them!

    OMG, I totally want to organise my nonfiction reviews via the Dewey Decimal system now. hehe AND I want to add a chronological review list!

    I’ve been hesitatating about reading Baking Cakes in Kigali (I’m always hesitant when an author is a different race than the character they’re portraying), but now that you’ve given it such a stamp of approval, I might end up picking it up.

  • I love how you broke down the months by number of pages and number of works read. It’s pretty clear that you read some long books. And I find it interesting that you managed to read almost the same amount of nonfiction as fiction. As you said, it didn’t appear that way.

    I didn’t like The Hobbit either when I read in eighth grade and it killed Lord of the Rings for me. My younger brother loves the books and my whole family enjoys watching the movies, but I avoided doing both because of The Hobbit.

    I am glad you’re willing to give Lord of the Flies another chance because I loved the book when I read it for school. My Life in France and Jane Eyre are all on my radar for this year, and I’m sure as you read and review more Wilkie Collins’ novels something of her’s will wind up in my stack.

  • I love seeing statistics! I found your graph of books read the most interesting – the way it keeps waving. Mine has the odd peak, but overall I seem to read a similar number of books each month. Do you know why yours fluctuates so much?

  • I love your graphics and stats, Rebecca! And I’m so with you on Wilkie Collins. I’m not sure if I ever thanked you for inspiring me (and other bloggers) to read more classics – so thank you 😀

  • Well, Rebecca, it should come as no surprise that I loved your graphs and reading all your stats wrapping up 2009! I actually found your post really inspiring, and your post has given me a lot to think about… I hope, for one, that I can re-read more books this year! Already one down, so I’m tied with 2009! 😉

  • Sarah, thanks, it’s been fun!

    Emily, I hate to think how much MORE reading I’d get done if I didn’t blog 😉

    Amanda, yeah…I did have a lot of the stats, but not all of them, so calculating was a bit fun!

    Baking Cakes wasn’t an all time favorite but one of the best modern fiction I read this year!

    Eva, I started the Dewey Decimal page back at the beginning of the year when it had been less than a year of blogging, but even then it took forever! It’s not so bad keeping up every month.

    As for Baking Cakes, I did also love No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and this reminded me of it very much. (I know you didn’t like that one at all!) I found it an interesting new perspective on life in Africa (since I know little about it). But it doesn’t quite compare to Wilkie Collins of course.

    JoAnn, Thanks!

    Christina, I think it’s 1:1 because I separate plays and poetry and children’s fiction in the calculation. But I also tended to combine nonfiction posts more often!

    Jackie, Like i say, maybe I go through “burn out” stages. But also, I count a book in the month I finish it, so if I finish a 700-page book in one month, but I’ve been reading it for three, that might make it skewed.

    Nymeth, I’m so glad it’s been fun for people! I’m enjoying it and I’m looking forward to the coming year so much.

    Steph, I think you’re graphs were the ones that prompted me to do it too! Yeay for rereads!

  • I love the charts! And totally support your not loving of Lord of the Flies, but if you reread it and find it good, I’ll be interested to see why. (I hated it.)

  • Dumb question-did you get the Dewey Decimal numbers simply by looking them up in your library catalogue? Or is there a site out there that gives them to you?

  • Jenny, I know: I hated it too. But my post questioned why it was a high school reading assignment and some people had some great points, so if I ever reread it, I have new ideas to keep in mind. Not like I’m looking forward to rereading it or anything…

    rhapsodyinbooks, I love charts 🙂

    Ladytink, graphs are fun! Now I know what stats I want to track each year!

    Stefanie, yeah! More graphs for next year! I’ll support that.

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