Y’all know I love my stats…about books, the blog, and the podcast! A couple of my biggest takeaways from this year…
- Though I read less than I did last year (turns out running a podcast eats into your reading time!), I’m incredibly happy with my reading year! I read twelve 5 star books (compared to 8 last year) and a lot of the books publishers hyped actually panned out!
- Tracking my best recommendation sources continues to be the single biggest factor in improving my reading quality. And, after tracking my recommendation sources and publishers for 2 years now, I’m noticing some consistency in both recommendation sources and publishers.
- In 2020, I’m going to experiment with breaking down my successful recommendation sources further into specific types of books I should look to each source for.
Putting this post together was a breeze compared to two year’s ago because my Rock Your Reading Tracker had been automatically compiling these stats for me throughout the year (it’s available for purchase for $14.99 here).
Let’s dig into the numbers…
Quality and Quantity
2019 Quality Goal (% Successful Books)
I personally view a “successful” book as a 3.5 rating or higher. 69% (79 of 114 books attempted, which includes DNFs) of my 2019 books were “successful.” Last year, this number was 69% and my goal was to break 65%…so, I’m happy with that! I feel like this is a solid number and anything I get above this is gravy!
I also tracked my % of Successful Books I Finished which removes the DNF’s from the equation…and ended up with 89% successful books finished (compared to 86% last year)!
My 2020 Goal
Again, I’m not setting a quantity goal for 2020 and am going to focus solely on a quality goal, which will be 65% Successful Books Attempted and 85% Successful Books Read (the same as last year…it feels like it’s my sweet spot).
2019 Reading Quantity
For the first time ever, I didn’t set a reading quantity goal and I didn’t miss it at all. I did track how many books I read (89), but didn’t have a set target I was trying to reach. I read 7 fewer books than last year, which doesn’t surprise me since my reading time was slashed this year because of the podcast. I’m actually surprised I got that close to last year’s # of books read!
Picking Better Books
Over the past few years, I’ve been tracking my best and worst recommendation sources as well as my top publisher imprints. Knowing my best recommendation sources and top publishers helps me know who to pay attention to when looking for books that best fit my reading taste. There is so much clutter out there, so knowing which voices speak to my particular taste helped me improve my reading quality 43% since before I started tracking these things! My 2020 Reading Tracker can help you track your recommendation sources and publishers / imprints and is available for purchase for $14.99!
- My recommendation sources are fairly consistent with last year. Annie Jones, Susie from Novel Visits, and Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy and What Should I Read Next? are all still in the top 3. Read it Forward moved into the top 4…I love their monthly favorites lists!
- One thing about this list surprises me…I’d always kind of thought Anne Bogel and I were reading anti-twins (meaning our tastes don’t align super well). She loves quiet books and I like a bit more action. She’s a HSP (highly sensitive person) and I don’t mind going super dark and demented. So, I was surprised to discover I netted 14 successful recommendations from her this year! I think I’m figuring out the types of books where our tastes will probably align and the types where they won’t.
- I’ve also started doing this for other recommendation sources and I’m looking forward to experimenting more with this in 2020. Maybe I’ll even be able to build something into next year’s Reading Tracker to help see these kinds of patterns.
Publishers / Imprints
- Random House was barely my top imprint this year (with 8 books)…a return to the top spot after falling to #3 last year.
Favorite Books: Save Me the Plums, The Age of Miracles, Fleishman is in Trouble, American Royals
- William Morrow (7 books) was a close second to Random House and is making an appearance in my top imprints list for the first time!
Favorite Books: The Last Romantics, Beyond the Point, Mystic River, Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy
- Knopf and Putnam tied for 3rd with 5 books each…Knopf fell from the #1 spot last year and Putnam is making its first appearance.
Favorite Books (Knopf): Inheritance, The Secrets We Kept, The Year of Magical Thinking, Notes from a Young Black Chef
Favorite Books (Putnam): Talk to Me, The Editor, After the End
- After tracking my most successful publishers / imprints over the past 3 years, I’ve noticed that Random House, Knopf, St. Martin’s Press, and Simon & Schuster tend to consistently be among my top publishers. Other than that, my top publishers change from year to year. For example, Riverhead is already out to a lead for 2020 with 2 successful books in January alone!
The only real change in my genre breakdown from last year is that my nonfiction was more heavily weighted towards memoir / essays (I read less general nonfiction). I’d like to read more general nonfiction in 2020 (especially investigative journalism).
I listened to 19 audiobooks this year, 21% of my overall reading. This is about the same as last year. I still love my podcasts, so audiobooks will always have to fight for listening time.
I read 18 backlist books (20% of my reading) this year…down from 25 last year and 32 in 2017.
My backlist reading continues to fall and I’m not happy about it. I know this is because I’m always susceptible to shiny new releases (and I have to read a certain number of them to produce the content I want for the blog and podcast), but I also want to make some more room for backlist. So, stay tuned for something new I’ll be starting in January that will give me an incentive to read more backlist (and will give you some additional bonus podcast episodes!).
I read 35 debuts…39% of my overall reading (up from 32% last year). And, 2019 was a particularly fantastic year for debuts!
I DNF’d 25 books this year…22% of the books I attempted to read. This is down from 34 books (28%) last year. I’m surprised and thrilled that I DNF’d less books this year because that means I’m picking better books!
Longest Book Read
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo (532 pages)…and I did “feel” it’s length a bit more than I would’ve liked.
Shortest Book Read
The Body in Question by Jill Ciment (192 pages)…a weird little book about a jury.
I don’t set particular diversity goals, but I am interested in seeing where my reading naturally falls…
75% of my 2019 reading was by female authors (down slightly from 78% last year) and 91% of my Best Books of 2019 were by female authors.
12% of my 2019 reading was by POC authors, compared to 11% last year. 25% of my books read were diverse books (i.e. about diverse topics and/or people).
Since 2019 was the first year of the Sarah’s Book Shelves Live podcast, I don’t have any comparison data other than the podcast’s growth from Episode 1 through the end of 2019.
However, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the podcast’s growth. Honestly, I never imagined it would be where it is now. I did notice per episode downloads spiked in the summer and fell slightly in the Fall months, which is interesting. I’m not sure why that is. Episodes were only airing bi-weekly this summer, while they aired weekly in the Fall…and the Fall brought the mini episodes.
(from episode drop date)
Ep. 1 – Top Episode of 2019
|1 Day||590% increase|
|7 Day||369% increase|
|30 Day||210% increase|
Your Favorites (via Instagram and Facebook votes):
1) Ep. 25: Siobhan Jones (Editorial Director of Book of the Month)
2) Quarterly Book Previews (Fall 2019 Book Preview)
3) Ep. 34: Books in the Classroom with Sara from Fiction Matters and Ep. 38: Garrett M. Graff (author of The Only Plane in the Sky)
4) Ep. 16: Meredith & Kaytee from Currently Reading podcast and Ep. 22: Angie Kim (author of Miracle Creek)
5) Ep. 28: Annie Jones
My Personal Favorites (in no particular order):
- Ep. 25: Siobhan Jones (Editorial Director of Book of the Month)
- Ep. 34: Books in the Classroom with Sara from Fiction Matters
- Ep. 38: Garrett M. Graff (author of The Only Plane in the Sky)
- Ep. 28: Annie Jones
- MINI Ep. 37: Elizabeth Chapman from @samandscout
My blog traffic grew much faster this year (last year, pageviews grew 17% from 2017) despite posting less frequently. I’m guessing this is because I acquired some new readers from the podcast.
- Pageviews increased 28% over 2018.
- My best months (by pageviews) were December, May, and July (in that order). December did better for me this year and May and July have always been good months for me. The Fall (when many big books are published) continues to not be a great time on the blog for me…while the summer is peak season.
Overall Blog Traffic Source Comparison (Sessions):
|Top 5 Sources||2019
|Google Organic Search||42%||48%|
Social Media Network Traffic Source Comparison (Sessions):
Best Performing Posts/Pages of 2019 (regardless of publication date)
Like previous years, evergreen book lists (that I continually update) and spoiler discussion posts continue to do well. And, I’m thrilled that my Summer Reading Guide finally made my top 5 posts of the year (surprisingly, this is the first time this has happened!).
- Book Club Recommendations (“evergreen” book list) – 6% of traffic (mostly Google search)
- 2019 Summer Reading Guide – 3% of traffic (Google search, email, and Pinterest)
- Page Turner Books (“evergreen” book list) – 2.5% of traffic (mostly Google search)
- Behind Her Eyes and THAT Ending: Spoiler Discussion – 2% of traffic (mostly Google search)
- An Anonymous Girl Spoiler Discussion – 1.7% of traffic (mostly Google search)
Best Performing Posts/Pages Published in 2019
- 2019 Summer Reading Guide – Google search, email, and Pinterest
- Best Books of 2019 – Email and Pinterest
- 2019 Holiday Gift Guide – Email and Instagram
- Eight 2019 Books That Deserved the Hype…and 5 That Didn’t – mostly Pinterest
- Best Books of 2019 (so far) – mostly Email
Best Performing Book Reviews of 2019 (all mostly Google search)
- Behind Her Eyes and THAT Ending: Spoiler Discussion (2017 post)
- An Anonymous Girl Spoiler Discussion (2019 post)
- Am I the Only One Who Didn’t Love Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine? (2017 post)
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- Why I Didn’t Like Circe by Madeline Miller (2018 post)
What interesting things did you learn from your reading and blogging stats? Who were your most successful recommendation sources and publishers?