2018 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

Well, friends, I have officially completed my big New Years resolution from 2018!

At the start of this year, I launched an ambitious challenge to take careful statistics of all the books I read. Along with recording information for all the books I finished, I published a series of twelve recaps, creating an index with my thoughts on each title.

In 2017, I read more books than I ever had before (over 220), but I wanted to know more. How many pages do I read in a year? What formats do I usually read? Of everything I cover in a year, how many are rereads? What about quality vs. quantity? If I read a bunch of short, easy books in one month, does that mean I’m more productive than a month where I read less, longer ones? Are there any trends that emerge?

Because I’m a total nerd, these are the things I think about. This year, I was determined to find answers. Plus, setting a “read X amount of books this year” goal is just too easy.

Throughout the year, I recorded in a notebook everything I read including title, author, a very subjective rating on a five-star scale, and some quick thoughts. At the end of each month, I pulled my stats together, noted emerging trends and observations, and wrote a mini-review for each book. (The reviews got more elaborate as the project went on.)

Part of my motivation for the month-by-month approach was to stop periodically and think critically about what I was reading. I certainly didn’t read much highbrow literature this year (don’t worry, Tolstoy, once I’ve recovered from grad school I am coming for you), but that’s no reason to turn my brain off completely. When noting my thoughts, characteristics like writing quality, character development, world building, themes, etc. were at the forefront of my mind. These were so helpful! For books that weren’t great, I could always find something to appreciate. For the best books, I was able to express WHY I found them so enjoyable. This was integral in helping me understand why I enjoyed certain books over others.

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Reading Recap: December 2018

It’s finally here, the last recap of this year’s reading challenge.

December was a mixed month for books.  Life has been absolutely insane for the past few months and, as a result, I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like.  Since my job transition and grad school semester ended, I’ve slowly been getting back into the swing of things.

My main take-away this month is I’ve rediscovered my trick for getting myself to go to the gym: designating a book on my Kindle that I’m only allowed to read while working out.  I’ve explained this to a few people recently and they keep looking at me like I’m crazy.  But it actually works!  I’ve been tearing through Sarah Dessen’s older novels and they are keeping me on the cardio equipment longer and longer each time.  So I’m not only working out, I’m actually enjoying it!  It’s a win-win!

Dec 2018 Reading Recap.jpg


Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 7
  • Number of pages read: 2,470
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 0
  • Number of rereads: 2
  • Longest book: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
  • Shortest book: The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns
  • Highest rating:
    • The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns (4.75 stars)
    • Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (4.75 stars)
  • Lowest rating:
    • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Screenplay by J.K. Rowling (3 stars and that is being generous)

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Reading Recap: November 2018

November has come and gone and, with it, it’s time for another recap.  It’s weird to think this is my second-to-last one before my year-long index is complete.

I have been another painfully slow reading month.  I’m making it through less than half the books per month as the beginning of the year.  I’m definitely frustrated with myself, but life has been so busy and when I sit town to read, it has been so hard to focus.

Still, this month’s list has a lot of high ratings.  I may not have finished many books, but I loved almost everything.  I got to revisit one of my all-time favorites in Pride and Prejudice, delighted in the epic finale of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, and enjoyed some quality poetry by Lin Manuel Miranda.

Nov 2018 Reading Recap


Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 5
  • Number of pages read: 2,120
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 1
  • Number of rereads: 1
  • Longest book: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
  • Shortest book: G’Morning, G’Night by Lin Manuel Miranda
  • Highest rating: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Lowest rating: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurine Goo

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Reading Recap: October 2018

Wow, I’m running behind on my reading recaps.  Also wow, my reading has slowed down so much this fall!  With all the craziness on my plate, I’m less likely to be found reading and more likely to while away the evening hours screwing around on my phone and going to bed early.

This month, I unintentionally read only female writers.  I also read primarily YA.  Considering I haven’t been following new releases in the genre that closely this year, this took me by surprise.  Looking at the list, there’s a lot of fluff here.  But it was enjoyable fluff that distracted me from a hectic fall.  For that, I’m grateful.

Oct 2018 Reading Recap


Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 5
  • Number of pages read: 1,975
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 1
  • Number of rereads: 1
  • Longest book: Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
  • Shortest book: The Path Between Us by Susan Stabile
  • Highest rating: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
  • Lowest rating: Wildcard by Marie Lu

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Reading Recap: June 2018

One of my motivations behind carefully recording my reading statistics this year is that I hoped to identify certain trends that emerge.  I’m into my seventh month of record-keeping and have started to notice some interesting things.

The most notable detail for me is that, even though I finished less books than May, I read almost 1,000 more pages.  It’s interesting to think about quantity vs. length.

Looking at this month’s finished titles, it has also become apparent that, when I am busy and stressed, I turn to old favorites.  Even when I’m exhausted and don’t have the energy to read, I don’t stop reading.  I just revisit what I’ve loved in the past.  As C.S. Lewis puts it, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”  Some books are just as good as I remember, some grow and change with me, and others lose their shine.

Do you ever reread books?  Do they get old or are you always noticing new things?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

BeFunky-collage

Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 8
  • Number of pages read: 3,974
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 2
  • Number of rereads: 4
  • Longest book: Cress by Marissa Meyer
  • Shortest book: I’m Still Here by Austin Channing-Brown
  • Highest ratings:
    • Paper Towns by John Green (5 stars)
    • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (4.75 stars)
  • Lowest rating: Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver (2.5 stars)

Some notes on my stats:

  • Audiobooks are included in total page count.  It takes me longer to listen to a book than read it, so I count them
  • My ratings are on a 5-star system and are ridiculously subjective

If you want more information about each book, follow the links embedded in the titles.  That will bring you to the book’s Goodreads page.

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