The Statistics of Literature

Did I spend an hour organizing my Goodreads books into genre-based shelves? Yes, yes I did.

I'm always trying to diversify my reading. I don't just mean reading literature from marginalized groups and international writers; I want to read ideas I don't agree with, topics I don't naturally gravitate towards, concepts I'm unfamiliar with.

It's been worth the effort. Going through my reading history is like looking through a highlight reel of the past six years of my life (when I started recording everything I read). I can pinpoint when my ideas on philosophy and religion first became malleable, or when I used novels as a way to escape reality. I look at the titles and remember, yes, I read Sharp Objects with a punnet of strawberries and glass of sweet tea on my porch in Illinois; Martin Eden was the first book my husband ever recommended to me, and I read Les Miserables right after we moved into our first apartment. I see the UX Writing books I started out with, and remember how little I knew, how I didn't even know what I didn't know.

So organizing my reads into genres felt like rummaging through a forgotten box in the attic. But it also had the benefit of showing me what types of books I lean towards; when someone asks me what I read, it's easy to shrug and just say "Well, a little bit of everything."

But looking at the results, there are some clear trends. I read more classics than contemporary, but I tend to rate newer books higher. I don't read as much international literature as I supposed, and more mystery than I would have guessed.

I have a newfound love for sci-fi, and my nonfiction reads are often based in history, religion, and space.

I love reading poetry and plays, but they make up a small percentage of my total (maybe because they're harder to find?). I gave up on audiobooks long ago, and read a bit more fiction than nonfiction.

Whether this will actually impact my habits is yet to be seen. But I always find it interesting that my perception of my own habits doesn't always align to reality. For example: the idea of reading a short story collection doesn't interest me much, but of those I've read, most have a four or five star rating.

I think it comes down to how we perceive versus the reality of who we are. I sometimes wish I read more nonfiction, but I gravitate more naturally to novels and tend to get more out of them.

All that said, moving forward: I want to challenge myself to expand my reading list, but also honor my tastes. Because as much as reading is a way to learn and grow, it's also an amazing source of enjoyment. I'm not going to sully that by reading only what I think I'm "supposed" to read.

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