Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Book Slut's Statistics

I’m one of those sluts (speaking of favorites, of all the blog posts I wrote in 2008, that’s my favorite. You know how, every so often, you write something and just can’t believe you wrote it? That’s how I feel about that one) who keeps track of her conquests. That means you're stuck with my statistics (and a bit of analysis) today. If stats bore you, you can skip this one and go read something more interesting.

Last year, someone asked me about picking my favorites for each category, so I’ve decided to give that a go this year. It’s been incredibly difficult. I mean, how does one decide who's truly the best in bed (or in the grass or on an airplane or on a couch or at the kitchen table...), and there are so many things to consider (I promise you, length doesn't matter). Technically, I ought to have overlap in some of the categories I've chosen, but since having no overlap allows me to choose more books, I’ve decided that each category is to have a favorite that is not already in some other category (a fine example of how to distort statistics to meet one’s own needs).

I’ve always found it very difficult to pick favorites (it’s like choosing a best friend, isn’t it?). First of all, I’m moody. Today I might tell you I can’t think of any better book than Sophie’s World. Tomorrow, Sophie’s World tossed carelessly in a far corner of my brain somewhere, I’ll tell you that if you read nothing else this year, you absolutely must read Robinson Crusoe. And then I find myself feeling sorry for Eustace and Hilda who is standing off by himself, tears forming in his eyes, because he was so sure he was my favorite, so then I have to give him a quick kiss, so he doesn't feel neglected. (Spenser was so right,

" louing howre

For many years of sorrow can dispence.")

All references to sluttery aside, there are lots of areas here for me to challenge myself in 2009. I’m glad I have that official drama challenge to get me reading some plays this year. I'm still not real keen on that male to female ratio (I am such a product of an "old school" education). Those isolationist tendencies of mine that I mentioned the other day shine through in my American to non-American ratio (I'm hoping the fact that I have only one American-American pen pal will help me in that category). I’m still reading way too many 21st-century books for someone who is constantly bemoaning the state of contemporary offerings. And my pre-20th-century accomplishments are pathetic. Suggestions for filling in any of the gaps will be welcomed.

Total number of books read = 71 (favorite: Eustace and Hilda)

Total number of pages = 17163

Fiction = 47 (favorite: The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett)

Nonfiction = 18 (favorite: Ross Macdonald – Tom Nolan)

Female authors = 34 (favorite: Marghanita Laski)

Male authors = 37 (favorite: James Agee)

American authors = 45 (favorite: David Sedaris)

Non-American authors = 25 (favorite: Josteen Gaarder)

Children’s/YA = 5 (favorite: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith)

Audio = 6 (favorite: A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon)

21st-Century: 26 (favorite: The Book of Lost Things -- John Connolly)

1950 – 1999: 23 (favorite: I See By My Outfit – Peter S. Beagle)

1900 – 1949: 17 (favorite: The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown – G.K. Chesterton)

19th-Century: 3 (favorite: A Study in Scarlet – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

18th-century: 1 (favorite: Robinson Crusoe. It would have been my favorite, I’m sure, even if it weren’t the only one)

16th and 17th-century: 0

Pre-16th century: 1 (favorite: Myths of Ancient Mesopotamia. Quite sure it wouldn’t have been my favorite if I’d read more than one)

Drama = 0

Poetry = 6 (favorite = Poems: First and Second Series – Emily Dickinson)

Short Story Collections = 4 (favorite: Tales of Horror and the Supernatural – Arthur Machen)

Multiple author collections = 2 (favorite: Rereadings – Anne Fadiman, ed.)

Graphic = 3 (favorite = Fun Home – Allison Bechdel)

Unfinished = 6 (however, a few of these will be finished in 2009)

And a couple of other favorites in some different categories:

Favorite mystery: Sweet Danger – Margery Allingham

Favorite re-read: Tales of an Antiquary – M. R. James

Favorite cookbook: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook – Ina Garten

Favorite memoir: My Thirteenth Winter – Samantha Abeel

Favorite I’ve been meaning to read for years: The Double Helix – James Watson

Favorite I wouldn’t have discovered if it weren’t for blogs: Hearts and Minds – Rosie Thornton

That’s it. Time to get back to cruising the shelves for my next conquest...


Charlotte said...

Good stats, Emily. I've just finished A Tree Grows ... I absolutely loved it. Beautiful, crystal clear, unsentimental writing.

Anonymous said...

Awesome thanks we're looking for book club books and i haven't even heard of some of these!

Rebecca H. said...

I like your list of favorites -- you can include so many doing it this way, which is definitely a good thing! I also like the way you count the total number of pages. I'm keeping track of how long each book is this year, because I'm curious about the average number of pages, and the number of "chunksters" I'll read. Yes, I'm a bit of a math geek! :)

ZoesMom said...

Impressive stats! Your reading is a lot more varied than mine, but I also really enjoyed The Uncommon Reader too.

Emily Barton said...

Charlotte, "Beautiful, crystal clear, unsentimental writing." I can't think of a better way to describe it!

Ms. HPH, James Agee's A Death in the Family would make an awesome book discussion book. So would Eustace and Hilda. And I'd also recommend An Uncommon Reader (a novella just PACKED with discussion material).

Dorr, from one math geek to another, I'd love to see your page count as well.

ZM, so glad someone thinks they're impressive! I look at people like Eva and Becky and think I'm pretty lame. The Uncommon Reader was surprising great fun, wasn't it? And varied or not, you're reading tastes are exemplified, of course, by your love of David Sedaris (I'm still jealous you went to see him in '09).

Anonymous said...

Loved the Uncommon Reader, Dickinson, Haddon. Impressive stats and analysis.

knitseashore said...

Dorothy just recommended the Uncommon Reader to me -- looking forward to getting a copy from Book Mooch. I told her how you have introduced me to some great books and so I'm looking forward to even more of your recommendations this year!

Mr. Suitcase does like the M.R. James, which you also praised here. :)

Emily Barton said...

Pete, yeah, they were all great, weren't they? And another one who thinks I'm impressive? Wow!

Ms. Knits, oh you will LOVE The Uncommon Reader for many different reasons. And I'm glad to hear Mr. Suitcase likes the James.