My Reading in 2014

9 01 2015

As every year, I would like to take look at my reading in the past year and analyze the data to come up with some interesting facts. In 2014, I read a a total of 51 books. Almost all of them are in English, except two. I feel that I have read more for pleasure than anything else in 2014. I also feel glad about the selection of the non-fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed them and look forward to incorporate more of non-fiction into my future reading endeavors.

R1

For the first time this year, I’ve listened to a book, actually two of them – Revenge Wears Prada and The Last Lecture. I haven’t taken to it immediately but I have started to appreciate them.Though I would not like to do too much listening, I think that they will help me become less finicky trying to re-read sentences and passages, trying to cover up for even momentary lapse in concentration, as I move along the book.I realize that this is one of the instances where my “maximizing” self comes into play – the need to grasp and understand each sentence, if not each word.

The average rating being 3.8, I liked more books than I did not.

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R2

I can also see from the pie chart above that I have read very few e-books.I strongly suspect that the number will increase in 2015. Unlike last year(2013), most of the books I read are not my own as you can see below:

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Looking at the selection of my books, I’ve read more female authors than male in 2014. I didn’t consciously chose so, and it’s interesting to note the fact.

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R5I take as much pleasure in the selection of books as in reading them, if not more and when I look at how I chose various books in 2014, I realize that I’m more of a person who sticks to a few authors whom I like and less of a person who picks books impulsively. Though I like tothink that I relish both ways and anything in between, when I look at the average rating for these criteria, I don’t like the ones chosen spontaneously as much as I do the carefully planned or even the tried and approved authors. I have started being part of a few book clubs towards the end of 2014 and it’s good sign that I loved both the selection. Good reason to look forward to more fun meetings in 2015.

How many authors did I read in the last year?

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Wow, I read 41 authors in 2014. It  follows that most of the authors, I read only once. But Agatha Christie is clearly an outlier with 6 books. When I look at the average ratings I gave these authors, there is no clear pattern except that those I have read more than once definitely have higher ratings.

What kinds of books did I read? This is a typical question that a reader faces all the time. I somehow find it very difficult to come up with an accurate and satisfying answer. I read several types of books and I’m not really sure which ones I favor, if at all I do. So, I have finally decided to look into the data for the answer.

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Apart from the catch-all category – General, Mystery had been my favorite kind in 2014. I also like Short-stories. Hmm..!

Finally, let’s look at the distribution of books across the nations that the plots happen. (For those with no plot or general stuff, the country where the book is published is considered.)

R8

These plots are made using R programming language.Been learning it lately and just thought it would be a cool idea to try some stuff on my own. I wish I could do more with R – Bubble charts, Treemaps, and Maps. To publish the R markdown in WordPress proved to be a bigger ordeal. (Credit goes to Yihui. But I couldn’t get  the plots published  directly.) Glad I learned something through this endeavor.

I used Tableau Public last year, which is really a great tool to come up with many fabulous visualizations fairly easily (Of course, I made only a few basic plots, given its potential).

And now is  the time for “Best” picks for 2014:

Among fiction, it’s a close call between Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Suzanne  Collins’  Hunger Games. Chinua’s masterpiece is  just that – very remarkable. Suzanne Collins’ imagination blew  me away.  I also immensely enjoyed  the two China-based novels  – The Valley  of Amazement and China Dolls.

I could finally read “Exploring Social Psychology’ last  year and it was an absolute treat. It’s  actually  a textbook. The much delayed “The Last Lecture” struck me as honest and inspiring. Allie Brosh’s comic memoir  – Hyperbole  and a Half  – had been  a uniquely gratifying. Self-help books – Introduction to NLP and Power of Habit were good too.

I read two collections of mystery short stories, both of them fabulous and as different from each other as possible. The one by Edogawa Rampo, the father  of Japanese mystery writing, is the  clear  winner for me though. Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives edited by Sarah Weinman had been a  surprising treat.

  • Best Fiction:   Things Fall Apart (Chinua  Achebe)
  • Best Non-Fiction: Exploring Social Psychology (David Meyers)
  • Best  Short-Stories: Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Edogawa Rampo)

I know that this post is pretty lousy and is in need of much improvement. What with a lot of time spent on coding the plots and other technical stuff, I decided to call the thing off at this point and just put it out there. Next time, I promise, I’ll be better.

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