My Reading Year in Review: 2008

[Warning: I’ve got a reading database, and I’m not afraid to use it. Skip ahead to the next section if you’re allergic to meaningless statistical trivia.]

Another year, another 300 books read. The real number may be less than a half-dozen titles under or above (A few titles read in 2007 or 2009 may have been lumped with 2008), but it’s close enough to the truth to allow me to round off. Volume-wise, 2008 looked a lot like 2007 which make sense given the lack of major lifestyle changes, and the consistency of my book-recording (which now includes skimmed reference books and thin comic/humor books that I didn’t record before 2007.) 2007 was the year during which I automated my library and altered my commute; no such changes in 2008.

This being said, some things did change, and comparing results with last year’s numbers, I see a dramatic difference in the kind of physical books I read: Thanks to various factors, Mass-market paperbacks only made up only 26% of my reading in 2008, a major drop from last year’s 44%. Hardcovers went up 5% to 32%, but trade paperback ended up becoming the dominant form at 39%, up from 21%. Oversized “Folio” books made up the rest at 3%.

In terms of what type of books I read, I’m not terribly pleased to notice that Science Fiction took up, once again, a disproportionate fraction at 36%. Combining SF with Fantasy and Horror gets us to 51%, and all fiction totaled gave us an even 200 books, or 66.7% of the total, though this does not include the 13% of comics/graphic novels, a good proportion of which was fiction. The rest is all non-fiction, though about 7% of all books could be considered SF&F-related non-fiction (art books, SF essays, etc.) Clearly, it’s time to read other things.

With such an SF-heavy reading diet, it’s not surprising that Tor once again comes up at the most-read publisher, with 34 titles in 2008. Can I get a subscription…?

300 books totaled up 98,032 pages, with an average of 327 pages and a median of 320. The year’s biggest book was the omnibus edition of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, at 944 pages.

I ended up reading 53 books published in 2008 during 2008. 44 of those were first published in 2008; the rest were reprints of previous years. If you’re wondering how meaningless my statistics can become, consider this: In 2008, I read books that were, on average, first published in 2002 (median: 2005) and reprinted in 2004 (median: 2006).

Statistics go well with discussions of money, and so, if you really insist, gasp at the fact that my 300 books had a total list price of C$6,365 (Average C$21,22, median C$19.95) but that thanks to sales and savvy shopping, they only cost me $3,859 (Average: C$12.86, median C$10.00) That’s not even a typical weekend in Vegas: don’t let anyone tell you that reading a lot is expensive!

I ended up purchasing 281 books out of 300. Of the rest, eight were picked up freely at conventions, six were personal gifts, two were received as review copies, one was borrowed from the office library and I can’t remember how I ended up with the last two. (Probably used book sales.)

I reviewed 97 books out of 300.

Serial reading projects explained why I ended up reading a lot of Michael Connelly (6 books), Alastair Reynolds (6), Lee Child (5), Carl Hiaasen (5), Kim Stanley Robinson (5) and Charles Stross (5).

Looking at my ratings, this seems to have been a solid but unspectacular year. Only four books ranked at or above my own “four-stars” rating, but there was quite a crowd at the 3.5 stars level. If you want a top-20, here’s what I could generally recommend: (Sorted alphabetically, links go to my reviews)

And now, on to 2009!