Almost 2011?! We're Still Working on 2009

Posted by Patrick Brown on December 08, 2010
The end of the year is nearly upon us. Here in the US, the weather is getting cooler (yes, even in California), the days are getting shorter, and the holiday season is underway. One sign the season has begun is the deluge of year-end, best-of lists. The New York Times has released its 10 Best Books of 2010, and the Goodreads Choice Awards are up and running, already having received over 64,000 votes.

One of my favorite end of the year series is The Millions Year in Reading. I like it because it focuses on the best books people read in 2010, regardless of when they were published. After all, not everyone reads only the latest, newest books. Many of us are still working our way through the hot books of 2000, let alone the bestsellers from 2010. In fact, books are unique, in that a reader in 2010 might finish Eat Pray Love, a bestseller from 2006, one day and begin Pride and Prejudice, first published in 1813, the next.

With that in mind, we thought it might be fun to look at when the books people enjoyed in 2010 were published. This is a graph that shows the number of reviews posted on Goodreads in 2010 sorted by the publication date of the book being reviewed:



As you can see, Goodreads users read more books from 2009 than from 2010, with books from the past decade being quite a bit more popular than books from the decades preceding it. A few interesting notes:

  • More people read a book from 2003 this year than a book from 2004. I believe this is because The Da Vinci Code was published in 2003 and continues to be one of the more popular books on the site.
  • Books from 1985 were more widely read in 2010 than any other year in the 80s.
  • There's a sizeable falloff in readership from 2005 to the previous years. I suspect that's because Twilight was published in 2005 and continues to be very popular.


And just for kicks, take a look at the long tail of books read in 2010:



You can see that it generally follows the same pattern as the more recent years, with books from the 1960s and 1970s being more popular than books from earlier in the century, and so on, but the data is much noisier.

How do your reading habits stack up against the rest of the site? Do you tend to read newer books or do you stick to the classics?

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan Blumberg I'm reading more classics, because I can get them for free on my Kindle! I do also own a great many in hardcover or paperback - I'm less thrilled with newer books.


message 2: by Virginia (new)

Virginia Does Oprah Book Club selections have an effect? Grapes of Wrath comes to mind. It will be interesting to follow her new selection.


message 3: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Sammis I keep a list of books I've read by date and your data matches my data. 2009 was by far my most popular year for books for my 2010 reading with 2010 coming in second.


message 4: by John (new)

John Newstead noddy and big ears is illuminating.


message 5: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Do you think the preponderance of 2009 books read this year can be attributed to 2009's hardcovers coming out in paperback in 2010? Or are you counting this year's paperbacks as 2010 publications?


message 6: by Patrick, Product Manager (new)

Patrick Brown Pamela wrote: "Do you think the preponderance of 2009 books read this year can be attributed to 2009's hardcovers coming out in paperback in 2010? Or are you counting this year's paperbacks as 2010 publications?"

I think that's a big reason why 2009 is more popular than 2010. Paperbacks released in 2010 would likely have 2009 original pub dates in our system. It doesn't really account for why some years remain more popular, but I do think it's why 09 is ahead of 10. Look for 2010 to beat 2011 next year, too.


message 7: by Richard (new)

Richard Are the pre-1950 spikes accounted for largely by one or two books in each case? 1847 is Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, presumably; 1925 must be The Great Gatsby; what are 1937 and 1943? 1937 might be largely Of Mice And Men, but I can't find anything from 1943 that would make it so popular, unless everyone is reading The Glass Bead Game or Being and Nothingness, which I didn't think they were.


message 8: by Erika (new)

Erika Richard wrote: "Are the pre-1950 spikes accounted for largely by one or two books in each case? 1847 is Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, presumably; 1925 must be The Great Gatsby; what are 1937 and 1943? 1937 migh..."

Just what I was wondering. Fascinating.


message 9: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Dec 13, 2010 09:54AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 1943 - maybe The Fountainhead? Are there a lot of Ayn Rand fans here? 1937 may be The Hobbit.

ETA: 1865 is probably Alice in Wonderland.


message 10: by Dana (new)

Dana Not just a booklover, but a nerdy one at that! Love a chart that makes me crawl through my bookshelf trying to see how I compare with the masses.
I'm one of those people who generally likes to wait for the second versions of things. I guess that means I usually go paperback too. Unless it's an author I adore, like David Mitchell, and I'll do something rash like pre-order before it's even published.
My other tendency is to admire my new books, let them settle on my shelf for a bit, and then pull them out to read when I'm in the mood. I've got 145 unread books on my shelf at the moment -- give or take -- and I guess some need more ageing than others. Kind of like wine, maybe?

(now, on a completely unrelated topic, who do I need to talk to to get this site to allow halves in the star ratings? There's a massive difference between a 3 and a 4 and sometimes it really needs a 3-1/2)


message 11: by Danya (new)

Danya Bakhbakhi I read a bit of everything, and tend to focus on those books my friends recommend to me. I mean that's wut goodreads is all about right?


message 12: by Rose (last edited Jan 03, 2011 03:17PM) (new)

Rose I wanted to figure out how I could do this for my own books, so I had a play around with Excel. (Yes, I have nothing better to do, but it only took 5 minutes)

If anyone cares, here are my graphs for books read in 2010. Should you also have nothing better to do and want to know how to do it, send me a message.

All books:
Photobucket

1950-2010:

Photobucket

(It does go up to 2010, it's just not shown on the axis.)


message 13: by Amy (new)

Amy My reading habits vary greatly. Most of the books that I read are ones that I stumble upon in the bookstore, or books that have been recommended to me. Many times I will read reviews posted by other readers to get a general feel to the story especially before I go out and buy a series. (I'm one of those readers who, normally, if I want to read a series, I must get ALL of the books - or at least all that are available - prior to me starting) So generally I do not read too many "fresh off the presses" books, unless I receive them as an ARC, or I have been waiting on it as a sequel.

I have quite a few books that I bought and am waiting to read because there are just so many wonderful books to read that I may be interested in a book on week, and something else that really captures me is brought to my attention, and last week's book is put back on the shelf for a while. I do get around to them, but I must satisfy my "gotta read it now" impulses.


message 14: by Amy (new)

Amy Dana wrote: "Not just a booklover, but a nerdy one at that! Love a chart that makes me crawl through my bookshelf trying to see how I compare with the masses.
I'm one of those people who generally likes to wai..."


And I completely agree with Dana!! A half star rating option would be so much nicer to have. She is correct. There are HUGE differences between the stars, and being able to utilize a more accurate rating system would be fabulous!!


message 15: by Dana (new)

Dana Thanks for your support Amy. I've been reading threads on half stars for a number of weeks now and it seems some people are frightened of them. I reckon give us the option, and those who want it can use it, and those who don't don't have to. But that's just me...


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