In my final backwards looking post for last year, I’m looking at my reading stats for 2021. What was my most read genre? Who was my most read author? Read on for ABSOLUTELY NO SURPRISES.
These stats probably won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone (Alastair Reynolds, my most read author? Science fiction, my most read genre? Who’d have thunk it?!). But it’s fun to delve into them none the less.
2021 Vs 2020
73 books is fifteen books fewer than my total for 2020, but this isn’t that surprising either; I spent the whole of 2020 unemployed and was frequently unable to leave the house – like everyone else – so had a lot more time on my hands. There were also a few books that I found considerably more of a slog in 2021 than I expected, to put it bluntly. The average page count was 382, which was probably bumped up considerably by some extremely chunky titles from a certain Mr. Reynolds.
My most read genre was science fiction, which I think we all expected. Over the last year I probably specialised even more in science fiction out of the genre fiction that I read. I’m hoping to read more horror this year, and will actually probably read even less fantasy over the coming year. I know I already don’t read that much fantasy, and it’s not because I don’t like it. I just seem to have a harder time finding anything in the genre that really grabs me. I am finding that urban fantasy seems to be more to my tastes, with one of my favourite backlist titles read this year being N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became, and Gareth Hanrahan’s The Broken God making it into my top ten of 2021 list. Who knows, this year might be the year I finally try some Ben Aaronovitch (but don’t get your hopes up – I have a lot of series I’m partway through already).
This genre breakdown comes from The StoryGraph, which isn’t necessarily a totally accurate reflection. There might be some books that appear across multiple genres, for instance, meaning the actual skewing is probably even more heavily in science fiction’s favour. Lies, damned lies and statistics, am I right? From a quick count of which genre I would place them in myself, at least the top two look to be relatively accurate, with roughly twice as much science fiction read as fantasy, which is less unbalanced in favour of sci-fi than I expected.
Beating everyone else to the top spot for most read author is Alastair Reynolds, with a grand total of seven of his books read. I feel fairly confident in saying that there are only two authors whose books I have read in similar concentration in previous years, and they are Terry Pratchett and J.K. Rowling. The Alastair Reynolds books I read were all set in his Revelation Space universe, either main series entries or spinoffs, but I’m almost finished with those now. Rather excitingly, this means I will soon be reading some of his highly regarded standalones – House of Suns being the first one I’m going to dive into after Elysium Fire, followed by Terminal World, all of which are already owned.
I would have guessed at the start of the year that the top spot would be held by Jeff VanderMeer, but that was before I read the only decent Veniss Underground, the pretty unremarkable Hummingbird Salamander and the stylish yet frustrating Dead Astronauts. I’m still excited to read the rest of the Southern Reach trilogy, and to eventually start the Ambergris trilogy, but will definitely be proceeding a little more cautiously with his stuff in future.
Adrian Tchaikovsky has gone from being someone I’m only aware of to someone whose work I love over this last year, with the hilarious One Day All This Will Be Yours being my first experience of his work and the excellent Dogs of War being my most recent. The mind blowing Children of Time and high spectacle space opera of Shards of Earth nestle nicely between the two. Next up by him will be Bear Head, followed by Children of Ruin, both of which are already owned.
I read the second and third books of Tade Thompson’s Wormwood trilogy in 2021, and got quite emotional saying goodbye to some of the characters in his uniquely detailed vision of an alien invasion. My favourite of the three is probably the second, The Rosewater Insurrection, but the whole trilogy was a blast. I also really enjoyed the very pacey Far From the Light of Heaven – my interest in reading more crime meant this locked room mystery on a spaceship was just what I was in the mood for.
As previously mentioned, N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became absolutely blew me away, and is probably one of my favourite fantasy books, surpassing even the likes of Neverwhere. That, combined with the first two books of the Broken Earth trilogy, puts her at level pegging with Tade Thompson, with three books by each read last year. The City We Became is definitely my favourite of hers that I’ve read, but I’m loving the Broken Earth trilogy too. I can’t wait for the next Great Cities book – if it’s as good as the first, we’re all in for a treat.
Rounding out the list is Claire North, with two titles: Sweet Harmony and Notes From the Burning Age. I preferred Sweet Harmony to Notes From the Burning Age, which at times I found a bit slow. There were elements I absolutely loved about it though – it was just a long way from being my favourite by her (still The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, if anyone was wondering). I remain a huge fan though, as evidenced by the fact that my most recent book haul included her 2015 novel Touch, which I’m really looking forward to. You can expect both The Gameshouse and The Sudden Appearance of Hope to show up in haul posts too, no doubt.
As mentioned already, I plan to stick with science fiction as my main genre fiction specialism, with a little more horror creeping in. In my wider reading, there will be more crime and non-fiction. I might even give myself some rules, like “At least one non-fiction book a month” or something if it feels necessary. I’ve really enjoyed some of my recent non-fiction reads, particularly Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake (which I’d recommend to anyone who is entranced by the shroomy work of certain genre titans), and am currently reading Cal Flynn’s Islands of Abandonment, which is shaping up to be my favourite non-fiction book ever; it’s even better than I thought it would be, and I would urge everyone to at least give it a look – you might love it as much as I do.
Currently, of course, it’s Vintage Sci-Fi Month. I’m going to try and get at least one vintage title read and reviewed for it – something by Alfred Bester, most likely – though whether this will actually happen is anyone’s guess. Whilst I am all too aware that I have lapsed somewhat with blogging recently, I make no apologies. This is a fun hobby for me, and I refuse to feel bad for not posting to a strict schedule. That said, I do want to make more time to post fairly regularly again, as I enjoy writing reviews and features a lot. I have some time off coming up, so perhaps that will be the perfect time to get ahead of things. Or marathon sessions of Magic: The Gathering Arena. We’ll see.
Thanks for reading this stats roundup. I hope you found it vaguely entertaining, and if you’d like to make your own next year, The StoryGraph makes it really easy to do. They also actually bother updating their app, they’re independent, and their recommendations feature is pretty good. This time of year is a really good time to join too, as you’ll get an accurate roundup of your stats for the whole year without having to enter a load of new information for recent reads (unless you’re one of those people who has somehow already managed to read ten books). I’m not an affiliate or anything, I just really like The StoryGraph. Bye for now!