What I’ve Been Reading: Year End Recap

I’ve never been much of a consistent reader. I usually have short spurts where I burn myself out, and then I go on without reading for a while. When I write “reading,” I don’t mean reading the news or the blogosphere, but usually either academic articles or non-fiction books (I’m not much of a fiction reader; I’m not sure what was the last fiction book I read after high school). So, starting in June, I decided to record my reading to see how much of it I got done, and to motivate me to improve those numbers. I wish I would have gathered statistics for the entire year, but that’ll have to wait for the end of 2013. Even though there’s technically three days left in the year, I doubt I’ll get that much reading done over the weekend, so I’ll publish the “statistics” early.

I actually have done better than I thought I would. I used an Excel spreadsheet to record the number of pages I read, then going back to classify whatever I read based on four categories (economics, political science, journal article, and book [the latter of which includes monographs]). When deciding the amount of pages, I left out numbered pages that nobody reads (indexes, bibliographies, and sometimes notes, if I didn’t really read through them), but I included prefaces (usually numbered with roman numerals) and the like — basically, what I’d read. It’s not perfect (some half pages count as full pages, including pages with figures and tables), but it’s what I have.

I admit that a lot of the reading was “forced:” for class. This includes countless academic articles and a number of the books I read. I’m not sure I’d get this much reading done otherwise, but I guess we’ll have 2013 to test this prediction.

In total, between June and December 2012, I read 5,574 pages, including 17 books and 71 scholarly articles. Of the 17 books, 2 are related to political science and the rest to economics. Of the articles, 36 are related to political science and 35 to economics. 299 pages (which is surprisingly low) correspond to my literature review on identity and nationalism in Cataluña. Of the 5,574 pages I read, 2,474 — or, approximately 44 percent — was for class. If I were to maintain this pace (34 books per year), it would take about 6 years to finish all the books in my personal “library.” In other words, I’ll have to pick up that pace.

Coincidentally, a Facebook friend posted a status on reading, and one woman wrote that she reads an estimated 200–300 books per year (which is “[n]ot nearly as much as [she] used to”). I’m sure many of my readers have similar accomplishments. I just can’t keep up with that pace, so I’ll be happy with 50 (in my defense, non-fiction books tend to be a bit more difficult to read than fiction books — although, ironically, probably not as well written —, and warrant more meticulous reading to remember what you’ve read).

Here is my reading, broken down by category,

2012 Reading

  • Jeffrey Friedman

    the fourth bar is too low….

  • Stadius

    300 a year? I’m pretty skeptical of your friend’s claim there. Let’s say they take every Sunday off; that’s still about a book per day. I reckon that’s only possible if they’re reading books for five-year-olds; do they not have jobs? Truthfully, I’ve read only 4 books cover-to-cover this year; those have been on advanced micro, advanced macro, mathematical economics and econometrics. I more often tend to read specific chapters. Journal articles, though, are another story …

  • http://economicthought.net/blog JCatalan

    I really do have to read more that’d fall under “political science.”

    Stadius, I think that she probably reads mostly fiction, and a lot of fiction books are written with really simple prose and don’t really convey the complex ideas that a lot of non-fiction books (or, better fiction books) do. I didn’t include my textbooks in the above stats, although I don’t think I read any of them cover-to-cover (maybe specific chapters). But, I mean, those textbooks you read should probably be weighted to represent more than one book, because they’re difficult and they usually contain much more information.

    • http://www.facebook.com/LexAlexander10 Lex Alexander

      Jon, at one point all I was reading was Poli Sci and Econ. Luckily, I’ve finally diversified my palette. I rarely read textbooks cover to cover. Too damn to dry. Only time I’ve come close to reading a textbook cover to cover was when it was required for tests or when I was a TA.

      • http://economicthought.net/blog JCatalan

        I’m always afraid that I expand beyond my subject areas then I’ll be sacrificing crucial time to educate myself (on the topics I hope my career allows me to research).

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