Fun Facts About My Year in Jewish Books (2012 edition)

Last year, after I wrote here about “My Year in Jewish Books,” I offered a follow-up post on my “other” blog (which focuses on writing and publishing in the world beyond Jewish books), in which I analyzed the data I’d compiled about my recent reading. Out of curiosity, I decided to do something similar for this year’s Jewish reading record, which I posted on Tuesday.

Here’s a breakdown of the 33 titles mentioned in Tuesday’s post:

1) Fiction continues to dominate, with novels composing 39 percent of the books read and short-story collections making up another 21 percent. And since I continue to debate how novels and short stories are categorized, I could switch two of the books on the list – Halfon’s and Boianjiu’s – to the short-story list, in which case the numbers would shift to 33 percent for novels and 27 percent for short stories.

2) Nonfiction – whether history, essay collection, memoir, or some other form – makes up another 27 percent. That’s up about five percent from last year.

3) Poor poetry! Only two books read this year. That happens to be the same number of Jewishly-inflected poetry books that I read last year. But because my total of titles read was so much higher this year (33 up from 18), the portion of reading directed to poetry reaches only a measly six percent. Must improve there next year!

4) Another six percent for a category that may not be a category anywhere but here: books for children and graphic narratives.

5) As for books in translation, I’m slightly down percentage-wise (18 percent this year; 22 percent last year). But, again, because I nearly doubled the number of titles read, I’m not displeased with the number of books read that were translated from Hebrew, German, Spanish, or French. Last year (when I remarked that we’re all familiar with the unpleasant “three percent” figure), I also noted that I suspect that a diaspora culture – and a reader’s connection to that culture – helps propel the reading of books in translation.

6) I didn’t track how many books I read last year were in some way “about” Israel, but as I pursue my deep interest in Israel, Israeli history, and Israeli culture I sense that I’m expanding the portion of my reading in that realm.

7) Similarly, although I haven’t done the math to confirm, it seems that I’m also reading an ever-increasing number of review copies, whether I receive them in print or electronic form (for the latter, I’m indebted to NetGalley). In fact, since I now own two copies of the translation of Eduardo Halfon’s The Polish Boxer, I’m offering to give away the gently used review copy (the gift copy is signed by a member of the translating team, so that one, I’m keeping).

So those are some preliminary “findings.” As I said last year, I’d be interested to know if any of you have analyzed your own reading patterns. If so, please share a link in comments.