Reading Statistics for the First Half of 2020, Including Where My Books Came From

Almost halfway through the year: how am I doing on the reading goals I set for myself? Pretty well!

  • It might not look like it from the statistics below, but I have drastically cut down on the number of review copies I’m requesting or accepting from publishers. (This time last year they made up 43% of my reading.)
  • I’ve reread nine books so far, which is more than I can remember doing in any other year – and I intend to continue prioritizing rereads in the remaining months.
  • Thanks to COVID-19, over the past few months I have been reading a lot less from the libraries I use and, consequently, more from my own shelves. This might continue into next month but thereafter, when libraries reopen, my borrowing will increase.
  • I’ve also bought many more new books than is usual for me, to directly support authors and independent bookshops.
  • I’m not managing one doorstopper per month (I’ve only done May so far, though I have a few lined up for June‒August), but I am averaging at least one classic per month (I only missed January, but made up for it with multiple in two other months).
  • On literature in translation, I’m doing better: it’s made up 9.7% of my reading, versus 8.1% in 2019.


The breakdown:

Fiction: 57.6%

Nonfiction: 36.3%

Poetry: 6.1%

(This time last year I’d read exactly equal numbers of fiction and nonfiction books. Fiction seems to be winning this year. Poetry is down massively: last June it was at 15.4%.)


Male author: 34.7%

Female author: 63.5%

Anthologies with pieces by authors of multiple genders: 1.8%

(No non-binary authors so far this year. Even more female-dominated than last year.)


E-books: 12.7%

Print books: 87.3%

(E-books have crept up a bit since last year due to some publishers only offering PDF review copies during the pandemic, but I have still been picking up many more print books.)


I always find it interesting to look back at where my books come from. Here are the statistics for the year so far, in percentages (not including the books I’m currently reading, DNFs or books I only skimmed):

  • Free print or e-copy from the publisher: 25.5%
  • Public library: 21.2%
  • Free, e.g. from Book Thing of Baltimore, local swap shop or free mall bookshop: 16.4%
  • Secondhand purchase: 10.3%
  • Downloaded from NetGalley or Edelweiss: 8.5%
  • New purchase: 7.3%
  • Gifts: 5.4%
  • University library: 5.4%


How are you doing on any reading goals you set for yourself?

Where do you get most of your books from?

24 responses

  1. Somehow, I’m reading less than usual and I find it hard to pin down why. Lack of concentration?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of people are saying that this year. You’re certainly not alone!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know. Odd isn’t it? Luckily, it’s not hit you it seems.


    2. Not particularly, no. I don’t know if it explains me reading more fiction this year, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m reading less than in previous years and spending more time walking which I suspect is a need to be out in the world more since the pandemic confinement rules eased. Lockdown is a word I superstitiously steer clear of as we’ve yet to experience a proper lockdown and I hope we won’t!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Walking is a wonderful way to combat the feeling of being stuck at home and unable to travel. Though perhaps we will manage a UK break later in the summer. How about you? Let’s hope a second wave doesn’t put paid to the welcome reopening.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’re cautiously thinking about rebooking the Ghent break we were due to go on in March for September. Everything crossed that we avoid a second wave although I suspect that local surges are inevitable.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Darn, this and one other of your comments went to the spam folder! Luckily I trawl through it every once in a while to check. We went ahead and booked a weekend on the Dorset/Devon border in August. The Airbnb cancellation policy is very generous in case the regulations change. I hope you’ll manage to get away!


      1. Me, too, and I hope your weekend away is a lovely one. I think we all need something to look forward to.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The one thing you haven’t said is how many books you’ve read to put the % in perspective! I suspect it is a lot more than me – I’ve been very distracted by binge-watching box sets (currently on series 5 of 10 of The Walking Dead which I’m loving), so my reading is about the same rather than more as I’d hoped.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tend not to put absolute numbers anymore, except perhaps obliquely at the end of the year, to avoid any potential aggro (people not believing me, or thinking I’m boasting, or saying I should get a life). But that would mostly be the response from randoms, whereas you fellow bloggers are a nice bunch. So, since you asked, I’m on 165 as of today and the percentages are based on 167, as I expect to have finished two more by the 30th. This is on par for last year for me, or perhaps a bit less.


  4. I think I’ve read less this year than usual – I haven’t been able to focus much during lockdown.
    My books come from my own shelves, the library and Netgalley – lockdown hasn’t changed this because although I couldn’t borrow print books from my library, I’ve still had access to their e-book collection.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never investigated borrowing e-books from my libraries, as I have plenty from NetGalley to be getting on with, but I know that’s been a popular option for a lot of people and I’m glad it’s available.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting Rebecca. I’m reading way more, but that’s a consequence of lockdown for sure and the fact that I’ve only been out of the house a handful of times in the past three months. It could slow down once I go back to work at the end of July.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not surprised. Have you been able to run any online events during lockdown?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, we did a series of 6 readings online early on, which were great, but there’s so much now, I think people are losing interest a bit.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Im also buying way more, at full price, from my local indie but even from chains (for the kids). Feels like the right thing to do! But my reading is so slow, I think my stats should be way off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I’ve been pleased to be able to support my local indie plus one in London, but I might go back to shopping at Waterstones (a chain) before the end of the year. Supporting bookshops in general is a noble thing.


  7. I’ve picked up on my reading even though I don’t have more time in my days as such – I’ve been careful to carve out reading time. I’m down on non-fiction this year due to having a hard time picking up anything except light novels at the start of lockdown but am doing a bit more balanced reading now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to build in relaxation time.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. buriedinprint | Reply

    Congrats on keeping up with your stat’s. I’ve been neglecting my quarterly reviews (which I often only keep for myself but lately I’ve not only not been sharing them but haven’t been checking them either). The only one I’ve checked is the F/NF, because I’d been at 50/50 before the protective measures for Covid-19 resulted in the libraries’ closures, but then veered almost 100% into fiction once more. And while it’s true that I do own more fiction, I certainly had some fine non-fiction selections, which I simply avoided, and not consciously, so I guess it’s just a matter of paying attention to other things and old habits resurfacing.

    It seems like you’re mostly on track compared to your previous year(s) too. For me, I’m down compared to last year at this point, in terms of number of books read, but so far I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve been trying to read more long books than I have done in recent years, or if it’s an overall slowing. Depending on the day, each possibility seems like it could be true, y’know?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s really interesting. I’ve heard a couple of other bloggers say they’ve struggled with nonfiction during the pandemic and have been almost exclusively reading fiction. I’m surprised that fiction was at nearly 60% for me, and wonder if by the end of the year the balance will look different; a lot of the books that have been drawing me recently have been nonfiction, and when I drew up my list of most anticipated 2020-second-half reads it was 2/3 NF.


      1. buriedinprint

        Sometimes the idea of choosing a January-December arc, in which to measure, seems/feels very arbitrary. Maybe if your reading year for 2020 could stretch another two or three months you would naturally return to your 50/50 balance in that time. Maybe you will anyway, with the 2/3 stat you’ve mentioned.

        There have been some readers, too, who have moved entirely to NF, in the same time period though, as if driven to explore the world from a different angle than offered by the newscasts. I did read the NF I’d already borrowed from the library, so it wasn’t like I was refusing carte blanche…maybe if I’d had several volumes on the Influenza epidemic on my shelves, I’d’ve been one of those readers.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I’ve resisted rereading Quammen’s Spillover. Maybe next year when everything has calmed down?!

      Liked by 1 person

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