2018 Sarah’s Book Shelves Reader Survey Results

Sarah's Book Shelves Reader Survey Results

First of all, a huge thank you to the 148 of you who took the time to complete the First Annual Sarah’s Book Shelves Reader Survey! It wasn’t the shortest survey in the world and I appreciate you taking the time to tell me about yourselves and provide feedback about the blog. And because of y’all, we now know all kinds of fun stuff about who reads this blog!

I had so much fun reading the results and getting to know you better…and I was even completely surprised by a few things! I hope you enjoy getting to know each other as much as I have…

Getting to Know You

  • Almost all (97%) of you are women.
  • Almost half of you are between 45 and 64 years old and another almost half are between 25 and 44.
  • Just over 70% of you do not have your own blogs. This doesn’t surprise me quite as much as the other items on this list, but it’s important for me to keep in mind when I’m writing posts. The readers I hear from most in the comments section generally do have their own blogs. And, please please don’t feel like you have to have your own blog to comment here…I’d especially love to hear from all the “regular readers” out there!
  • Y’all like to cook / bake, run / walk (and exercise in general), watch TV / movies, write, travel, and garden. What do most of these activites have in common? They can all be solitary activities…am I detecting some Introverts out there?
  • Your favorite TV show is This is Us. Your favorite magazine / website is Real Simple. Your favorite podcast is What Should I Read Next? (Modern Mrs. Darcy‘s podcast), but the overall category winner was people who don’t listen to podcasts at all (y’all should try them…I’m getting so many great books recommendations from podcasts these days!).

A Few Surprises

  • Over 75% of you do not have children at home (either because you don’t have children at all or have grown children). This absolutely floored me…maybe because I have young children at home and wrongly assumed many of my readers had a similar family situations.
  • Y’all read a TON, which I knew, but I didn’t realize quite how high your numbers would be! 2/3 of you read more than 50 books a year and 1/4 of you read more than 100 books a year. Of course, I’m sure the super heavy readers are also the ones who would find it fun to complete this survey, so that could have skewed the numbers!
  • When I asked you why you keep visiting Sarah’s Book Shelves, 84% of you said the book reviews! I’m so shocked because book reviews tend to get less traffic than other types of posts. But, you love them, so they’ll stick around. Glad I learned this in the survey because I’d been toying with cutting back on reviews.
  • Despite the volume of cat pictures you see on #bookstagram, not a single one of you mentioned your cat when I asked what you liked to do other than read. On the contrary, some of you mentioned your dogs! So, who would’ve thought…bookworms can be dog people too!

Your General Reading Habits

  • More than 50% of you like to read hard copy books (hardcover or paperback).
  • You love using your local library (75% of you). And, over 50% of you buy books from Amazon.
  • Your favorite genres are serious literary fiction (66%), mysteries / thrillers (65%), historical fiction (64%), and lighter fiction (56%).
  • 90% (WOW!) of you get your best book recommendations from book blogs, followed by social media and friends.
  • Most of you (67%) track your reading on Goodreads, followed by 28% in a paper journal and 20% in a spreadsheet (if you’re one of these readers, check out my “Rock Your Reading” Tracker!). Personally, I use Goodreads and the “Rock Your Reading” Tracker (because it gives you way more stats than Goodreads does).

Favorite Books You Read in 2017

The Heart’s Invisible Furies  14
Little Fires Everywhere 12
Beartown 11
This Is How It Always Is 8
A Gentleman in Moscow
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
The Alice Network
Dear Fahrenheit 451
Best Day Ever

I’m not surprised by the first four, as I loved them all and three of them made my Best Books of 2017 list. Given you like to read this blog, it’s not surprising we have similar taste!

Then, it gets interesting. I didn’t particularly like A Gentleman in Moscow (my review) or Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (my review) and wrote contrarian reviews of both. We can’t agree on everything and that’s what makes talking books so much fun!

Least Favorite Books You Read in 2017

Idaho 4
Never Let Me Go
Lincoln in the Bardo
A Gentleman in Moscow
Final Girls
Little Fires Everywhere
Exit West
My Absolute Darling
Sing, Unburied, Sing
White Fur
Behind Her Eyes
The Woman in Cabin 10
A Man Called Ove

There are a number of critical darlings / award winners on this list (IdahoNever Let Me GoLincoln in the BardoSing, Unburied, SingExit West). I also didn’t like some of these. Interestingly, Little Fires Everywhere (my review) popped up on both lists! For more about my issues with critical darlings last year, check out my post on the Best Books of 2017 Lists I Agree With…and the Ones I Don’t.

And, many of you mentioned DNFing books you weren’t enjoying, which I’m a huge fan of! Why waste time reading a book you don’t like?! We’re not in school anymore, after all.

Your Biggest Reading Problems

  • Time (40)
    Me too…no matter how much time I get to read, I always want more! And, I’m not surprised you feel the same. I did write a post about how to fit in more reading time and one about types of books that work well when you’re super busy. Cheers to hoping we all get more reading time!
  • Finding the Right Books for Your Taste (22)
    I struggle with this one too! It’s hard to get a good sense of your reading taste, but also remain open to new types of books. I’ve recently been focusing less on the book selections themselves and more on who the recommendation comes from (my “Rock Your Reading Tracker” is helping me keep track of my best recommendation sources!) and it’s helping!
  • Finding People to Talk Books With (21)
    This is one of my favorite things about blogging about books. And, I’m working on creating a Facebook Group for Sarah’s Book Shelves readers to talk books with each other in a more informal setting! The Facebook Group will be open to all Patreon supporters (coming later this year) and anyone who participated in the Free Trial of my Personalized Book Recommendations service last Spring.
  • Avoiding getting distracted by social media/phone/TV (10)
    A sign of the times, right? I’ve heard of people setting their phone’s timer to help them read for certain periods of time. The Offtime app filters and blocks distracting communications. Personally, I don’t use social media notifications…and I sometimes put my phone on airplane mode.

Your Questions and Feedback

Thank you for the many great questions and comments you had for me! I had originally planned to answer them in this post, but it got to be too dang long. 

Don’t worry, I’ll respond to all your questions and comments in a separate post tomorrow!

What do you think about all these awesome blog readers? Are you surprised by anything?

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  1. Cori wrote:

    Thanks for sharing these fun results! I know I need to try podcasts but they will take away from my Audiobook listening time!! Decisions! I enjoyed filling the survey out!

    Posted 2.22.18 Reply
  2. Angela wrote:

    Interesting results! It doesn’t surprise me that most of the readers are women, but it is kind of surprising that most of the survey takers don’t have children at home!

    Posted 2.22.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I was super surprised too! But, when I think more about it, it makes sense in a way. If you don’t have children at home, you probably have a lot more time to read…and fill out surveys about reading!

      Posted 2.22.18 Reply
  3. Renee wrote:

    This was so fun to read Sarah! I’m really surprised by the 90% of readers getting their best book recommendations from book blogs statistic!! Great news for blogs! I would’ve thought most people would’ve said Goodreads or Instagram. I also don’t have notifications turned on on my phone…I tried it once and it was SO disruptive, I’m ok with not being notified all the time!

    Posted 2.22.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Me too! But, the survey responders are a self-selected group, so I’m sure that skewed the results a bit. I’m sure if we surveyed the broader population, there would be more Goodreads and Instagram answers.

      And, God, having social media notifications on my phone would drive me insane! Sometimes text notifications even drive me insane if too many start coming in.

      Posted 2.22.18 Reply
  4. Really fun information you gathered, Sarah. It’s heartening to hear that so many people come to your blog for the book reviews. When numbers are lower on reviews, it can feel like they’re not as important sometimes. I’m happy to know reviews are appreciated. I’m a little surprised that so many still prefer reading hardbacks. I guess I’m such a firm Kindle user that I don’t see the other side. This is all seriously great info!

    Posted 2.22.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I feel that way about reviews too…and it’s esp disheartening since they’re the type of post I have the hardest time writing…if they also get lower pageviews then why do I do them? Well, now I know why. And, I guess certain types of reviews are some of my all-time top performing posts (either spoiler discussions or reviews of bestselling/hyped books that I didn’t like…weird).

      Posted 2.22.18 Reply
  5. Thanks for sharing the results! Your surprises aren’t too surprising for me. I don’t have kids, I read over 100 books a year, I love your reviews, and I have several dogs (and no cats).

    Posted 2.22.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Haha – well you’re my archetypal reader, then! I can see it though, b/c not having kids in the house probably means you have more time to read and peruse blogs!

      Posted 2.22.18 Reply
  6. Kay wrote:

    Thanks for sharing this with us! Loved it. Podcasts – yes, but like Cori, it would take away from my audiobook time. Which I love. And which keep me out there walking, walking, walking, instead of sitting.

    Posted 2.22.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I totally get it! And podcasts do cut into my audiobook time…but I love them so much that it’s worth it to me. It does mean, however, that I only get through about 2 audiobooks a month.

      Posted 2.22.18 Reply
  7. Madeline wrote:

    Some interesting results! You obviously have a lot of lurkers out there (those who follow but don’t comment). I tried getting into audio books but it just hasn’t worked for me. It’s a hassle to download the library book to iTunes and then transfer it to my iPod or phone. Already have all that to get library ebooks to my reader. My longest commute is 15 minutes and I usually walk/hike with a buddy so my opportunities for listening are more limited.

    I used to read 100% electronically but with some new books I can get them faster in hardcover (I can place a library hold on the book when they’ve ordered it) and now I enjoy going back and forth between the formats. Each has their pros and cons.

    I used to purchase all my books but I’ve moved to 100% library use. My library is 7 blocks away, or a computer click in the case of ebooks. And I can set/manage all my holds from my couch 🙂 — at midnight 🙂

    I have a cat!

    Posted 2.23.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      We have a cat person!! I knew there had to be one out there!

      And – yes, lots of lurkers…which I totally get. I was a lurker before I had my own blog and even the first year or so of having my blog I never felt comfortable commenting on others’. That was a huge mistake 🙂

      Have you ever tried the Overdrive app for audiobooks from the library? That’s what I use and it bypasses iTunes. You can listen to them directly from the app on your phone.

      And, I used to be the reverse of you…100% hard copy books. Then, I got the Kindle and I’m always reading in weird places (I have young kids so I squeeze in my reading wherever I can) that the Kindle is much more convenient! And how wonderful to have the library so close to you!

      Posted 2.27.18 Reply
  8. What surprised me is that so many don’t have blogs! How do they all resist not telling everyone what they think of what they read? 🙂

    Posted 2.23.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I think many people who comment do have their own blogs, so that group is just more vocal…tricking us into thinking there more of them than there actually are. Glad I now have evidence to the contrary b/c it’s good for me to keep in mind as I write.

      Posted 2.27.18 Reply
  9. Tracie S wrote:

    Love reading these results. I was one of those lurkers without a blog who stumbled onto your blog some some ago. I got hooked and get lots of my TBRs from you. I then got hooked on What will I read Next podcast (as a reading nerd who loves to research ideas on what to read this is my dream podcast) and now follow about four other blogs (most from your referrals). Keep up the great work. Thanks for showing me the brilliance great blogs and podcasts can add to our reading lives. Lol.

    Posted 2.23.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I love hearing this and thank you so much for speaking up! Believe me, before I had my own blog, I NEVER commented on other peoples’ blogs, but I’m so glad I do now!

      Isn’t WSIRN great?! I’ve gotten some great recs from there as well and love the discussions about reading life in general. And thrilled you’re finding other blogs as well!

      Posted 2.27.18 Reply
  10. Fun stats! I should really do one of these too. I’m definitely surprised by how few of your readers have blogs and wonder if I my reader demographics are similar. Given that, I’m especially interested to see that so many of your readers are getting their recommendations from blogs. I’ve always wondered if people who aren’t bloggers pay any attention to blogger recommendations.

    Posted 2.24.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I bet they are! I think we get lulled into thinking our audience is mostly other bloggers b/c they’re the most vocal in comments. And – I do think the getting recommendations from blogs number is probably a bit skewed…after all, they found the survey on a blog. People who don’t get recommendations from blogs probably would never have found my survey 🙂

      Posted 2.27.18 Reply
      • Haha, good point! Not necessarily a representative sample of all readers 🙂

        Posted 3.2.18 Reply
  11. Gwen wrote:

    What is stunning me is that 75% do not have kids in the household. I always feel like the world is full of mommies and especially bloggers in one genre or another and therefore that I’m an outsider or outlier. While the age demographics of the rest of your survey sort of explain that I’m still an outlier in that the younger set do not have kids yet and the older group of my peers have already been there, done that, it is comforting in an odd way.

    Thanks for your survey and thanks so much for posting the very interesting results.

    Posted 2.27.18 Reply
  12. Tara wrote:

    Sorry, Sarah…I’m way behind on commenting this week – ha! I just have to say that I feel very validated about my unfavorable blog post on Idaho – hahaha!

    Posted 2.28.18 Reply
  13. Naomi wrote:

    Hi Sarah! I know I’m really late to the conversation, but I wanted to chime in to say how happy I am to hear that most people reading your blog don’t have blogs of their own, AND that most of them are here for your reviews! I’m hoping this is the case for most of us. Despite knowing how many followers I have, I often wonder how many are reading my posts that I don’t know about. And I am one of the ones who love reading book reviews. But I get that they are often the kind of post that you just want to read, but don’t necessarily have anything to say. Especially if you haven’t read the book yet yourself.
    Great summary of your survey!

    Posted 3.9.18 Reply

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