Reading Milestones, Attention Spans, And Cool Charts

Today marks a special occasion. According to my knowledge, I have read more books in 2022 than in any other single year of my life. Better yet, the previous three years are a high-water mark over most of the previous decade.

A chart from the iOS App Book Track depicting books read per year. 2022 is the highest.

Charts via the excellent app Booktrack for iOS/macOS

As a kid I considered myself an average reader. In fact book reading was one of the very few homework assignments I occasionally completed. In high school I read a fairly significant amount of Science Fiction and Fantasy as well as the occasional book of Physics or Philosophy. Once I got to college though, my recreational reading slowly went by the wayside until the end of my senior year and the year that followed. Over the intervening years I've slowly recovered my habit of reading regularly. However, as you can see something changed in 2020 (something quite obvious to everyone).

With significantly more idle time during the early COVID lockdowns, my recreational reading skyrocketed. I was reading at a pace my adult self had never known. In fact, until recently I'd assumed that 2020 would likely be a personal record, and one that would stay unbroken for a while. That turned out to not be the case!

Tracking My Reading

I recently described how I've tracked my steps for over eight years, but until recently I'd never thought about tracking my reading habits. I tried using Goodreads for a while, but the whole social-network component of it never sat well with me. Additionally, I'd always wanted to have more access to statistics about which books I've purchased and which of those I've actually read. Goodreads can do this, but I never liked the feel of it. Enter Booktrack!

More charts A chart from the iOS App Book Track depicting a summary of my reading lately. A chart from the iOS App Book Track depicting books read per day this week.

Booktrack is a really cool indie app that lets you keep track of your entire book collection. Importantly it is available for both iOS and macOS, and it provides me with some oh-so-lovely charts and statistics. I don't really have much more to say about the app other than it's great and you should try it, but yeah. It's great, and you should try it. What's more you'd be supporting an indie developer by doing so.

Deliberate Acts of Reading

Since graduating high school over a decade ago, my reading preferences have largely pivoted away from Sci-Fi and Fantasy and toward Non-Fiction, especially history, politics, and public policy. That said my love of Fantasy never died, I just stopped reading it; instead I listened to it.

Now, I consider listening to audiobooks to be fundamentally equivalent to reading physical books in almost every way. For me though, the act of sitting down to read a book, as opposed to listening while doing something else, is a much more conscious and deliberate act. I've recently gone back to reading Fiction again. I've done this partly to give myself a break from Non-Fiction, and partially to rediscover the joy of actually reading fiction with my eyeballs.

I still love listening to books and I will of course continue to do so, but sitting down with a book is a fundamentally different activity than listening to one. Like many people I've found my own attention span shrinking as I spend more and more time online. I think that's a bad thing, and I think sitting down with a book helps me re-expand that attention span where listening to a book doesn't (for me at least). These past three years then have been not just a personal milestone for me in terms of my ability to read more books, but they've also been a conscious exercise in expanding my own attention span and improving my ability to think. Both of those are important metrics to track in this distraction-filled time we live in.


I know many people might look at my reading statistics and laugh. Nineteen books might not seem like a lot to some, but it's a ton for me, and while I'll never truly be able to recover my book-reading numbers from before 2020 — and especially not from a decade ago — I am fairly confident that I'm correct when I say 2022 has truly been a great year for my reading habits. Let's hope the trend continues and I don't fall of the train anytime soon.

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