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  • Megan Johanson

Books, Books Everywhere

In 2019 I “completed” 66 books. I say “completed” rather than read because many of them were audiobooks that I listened to on my work commute. However, when looking at all the books I completed, I was surprised that the largest portion were actually real hard copy books.

Below I show you how I analyzed and visualized my 2019 book data using pivot tables and a variety of chart types.

Gathering the Data

First, I compiled all of my data. Nearly all of my books came from the library, but there were a few I was gifted or purchased myself so I had to make sure those were included. The categories of information I tracked were Book Type (Audiobook, Book, eBook, or eAudiobook), whether I completed it (Completed, In Progress, Not Completed), whether it was Fiction or Nonfiction, Genre, Author Name, and Author Gender.

For Genre, I faced two challenges: 1) I couldn’t find a consistent list of all possible genres that made sense for my reading, 2) books were often not self-identified in a certain genre. Therefore, I made personal judgment calls when categorizing books’ genres.

Here is how my data sheet was set up:

Part of the data table tracking books I read in 2019.

The Analysis

To analyze the data, I clicked in the table of data and inserted a Pivot Chart. This enabled me to do quick cross-tabulations on the different types of data I had.

Here is the pivot table I used to start exploring my data. First, I looked at the intersection of book type and whether I completed it. On the right you can see the list of variables in my data table and how I used them to structure the pivot table.

Pivot table used to analyze book data.

Here is a close-up of the book type by completion data. In order to use the data in a chart with maximum customization, I like to copy the data from the pivot table and "Paste as Values" below it. Then the data are no longer linked to the pivot table and won’t change if I alter the variables in the pivot table.

Pivot table of book type by completion.

Using this method, I created the first chart below, which I put in my Annual Report. Then, by swapping out the variables in the rows and columns of my pivot table, I explored other interactions of my data categories, also visualized below.

Book Type by Completion

Stacked bar chart showing book type by completion.

Most books that I read were hard copies, but there were a substantial number of Audiobooks and eAudiobooks as well. Combined, the two categories of audiobooks contained almost as many books as I read in hard copy. I often listen to audiobooks in my car as I drive to and from work so I was actually expecting there to be more audiobooks than hard copies.

Book Genre and Completion

Stacked bar chart showing book genre by completion.

The books I read fell into 14 genres and an “other” category. The genre with the most completed books was Romance, which didn’t surprise me because I often listened to them as audiobooks during my commute, which was at least an hour per day. Romance books are also often shorter than other genres, particularly non-fiction ones, enabling me to go through them more quickly.

I completed less than half of the Business and Self-Help books I started, with the Data and Parenting books revealing similar rations. I believe this is due to the genres lending themselves to reading only relevant sections rather than cover-to-cover.

Book Genre and Author Gender

Table with conditional formatting showing book genre by author's gender.

I was surprised that 73% of the books I read had female authors as that was not an intentional goal. This is largely due to the Romance genre books, but not exclusively. I read more books by female authors in many other genres as well, such as Autobiographies, Data, and Self-Help.

There were also six books that had authors of both genders, so technically female authors claimed an even larger majority of the books I read than my initial estimate (79%).

Fiction/Nonfiction by Book Type

Slopegraph showing book type by fiction/nonfiction.

This also was not an intentional reading strategy but it makes sense to me that I often chose nonfiction books in hard copy because I like to be able to skip around to different sections, reread pieces, and spend time processing information that just isn’t as easy to do when listening to an audiobook.


Analyzing my book data in pivot tables uncovered several surprising results: 1. Most of the books I read were written by women 2. Most of the books I completed were hard copies 3. Most non-fiction books I read were hard copies


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