Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2011 Novel Analysis

I read 110 books in 2011. To some people, that may sound like a very large number, but compared to the 138 I read in 2010, it was a little disappointing. This year, though, I plan on scaling back my reading even more, aiming for more books that I know I'll love, and eliminating series' and authors that don't wow me.

Out of curiosity, I've analyzed those 110 books to see if there were any surprises, and to see where I need improvement.

Of the 110 read, I ranked (10) books as Favorites, (17) with 5*, and (24) with 4*. So (41) out of 110 read ranked 4* or above, a higher percentage than I anticipated. (Note: My 5* ranking means Exceptional, and a 4* ranking means Excellent.)

Of the ten book marked as favorites, (3) were contemporary, (2) mystery/suspense, (2) historical, and (3) speculative. Considering I only read (11) speculative, having (3) rank as favorites speaks well for the quality coming from spec authors.

I read the most books from Bethany House (13). B&H Publishing Group, Revell Books, and Tyndale House Publishers tied with (10). But, only (3) books from Bethany House merited a 4* or more, while B&H scored (7), Tyndale House (6), and Revell (4). I only read (3) books from Realms, but each of their novels ranked a 4* or higher and (2) were favorites. Faith Words scored 100%. I only read (2) of their novels, but both ranked 4*. Kregel Publications also scored 100% with a 5* and a 4*. With Multnomah, (2) out (3) books read ranked 4*.

I read the most contemporary (26), followed closely by mystery/suspense with (24), making nearly half of the books I read from those two categories. No surprise there. I don't anticipate that changing.

I read (10) books by debut authors, (2) of which I ranked as Favorite. Hopefully this year will bring the same success as I love endorsing and encouraging debut authors.

Judging by the above statistics, I'll pay closer attention to books coming out from B&H Publishing, Realms, Faith Words, Kregel, and Multnomah. Tyndale House and Zondervan also scored well.

The first bit of improvement I need to address is to add more non-fiction to my reading habits, having read only (3) last year. I've never cared for what I term Christian "self-help" books. To be honest, I learn more from fiction, which I frequently label "Applied Non-Fiction." I do need to read more books on the craft of writing. Several sit on my shelves, unread or half read.

I'm also committed to reading through the entire Bible this year again. It's been a few years since I've done so. I like to read different versions so I don't skim over the verses I know so well that their meaning becomes lost. This year I've chosen the NLT One Year Bible for Women. I'm loving the new perspective.

I'm curious, did any books surprise you last year? Has a genre surprised you with their quality? What do you anticipate reading this year?


  1. I did cut back my reading last year and have again this year so far, but the real disappointment came in not liking more novels than I liked. Surprises? Not really. Those authors I expected to deliver did so such as Steven James, Gina Holmes, Sibella Giorello, to name a few of the few.

    As you know, Bren, I rarely read historicals, so I'll be sticking with mostly contemporary, mystery/suspense/thrillers with an occasional supernatural speculative thrown in.

    I'm with you on the self-help books, and unlike you I don't aspire to read non-fiction. Ever. I usually squeeze in one or two and have Heaven is for Real waiting on deck. I've read some good writing books, but after awhile they blur with opinions.

  2. Nicole, my biggest surprise last year was that I enjoyed so many speculative novels. I don't seek them out at all, but they caught my eye somehow, & then they kept my attention.

    Other than that, as you said, Steven James, Gina Holmes, & Sibella Giorello continued to put out excellent works. I expect the same from them this year.