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5 March 2021

2020 in Books

by Željko Filipin

I like to read. I’ve always liked to read. As a kid I’ve read a lot. From picture books to comics, from science fiction to encyclopedias for kids.


According to my blog, I’ve been listening to podcasts since 2006. I used to listen to a lot of podcasts. I’ve moved to audio books in the last few years, but I’m still listening to a couple of podcasts that I really like.


In 2015 I’ve stumbled upon Audible and audio books. Since then, I’ve started to listen less podcasts and more audio books. I listen to about 30 to 40 hours of audio books each month. That’s about an hour a day.


In 2016, I’ve found Goodreads. It’s a social network for people that like to read books. In Books That Have Changed My Life I’ve created a table with some Goodreads statistics. I’ve updated it to include the books I’ve read this year. (As of May 2021.)


What Is a Book?

Before I start with the statistics, I have to define what I mean by a book. I will consider a book anything that Goodreads thinks is a book. Including picture books and audio books, even some podcasts. I’ll explain podcasts later.


I’ve mentioned to a few people that I’ve read more than 200 books in 2020. It is not as impressive as it sounds. I’ve listened to a lot of audio books. I’ve also listened, or read, a lot of short books. I didn’t have any good numbers on how many regular books I have read in 2020.

Unfortunately, both Goodreads and Audible don’t have good statistics on the books I’ve read or listened. Both sites have pretty bad features for exploring and sorting your library. Goodreads doesn’t have any usable support for audio book length. To get some useful statistics, I’ve decided to export my Goodreads data and edit it in a spreadsheet.


I’ve sorted books into three categories. The first is the type of the book. Audio, paper or e-book. The second is fiction or non-fiction. The third is a special category, if the book is short or a podcast.

Podcast category might sound strange. Some podcasts are offered at Audible as books. They are also listed in Goodreads, so I’ve included them.

Short book means that an adult can read it in less than 20 minutes. If it’s an audio book, then it’s shorter than 20 minutes. Short books are mostly books for kids. I’ve read and listened to a few books that might be considered kids books, but they were of normal length so I didn’t include them in short category.

The majority of the books I’ve read were audio books. There were some paper books and a couple of e-books.


About two thirds of the books were fiction, the remaining third not-fiction.


About ten percent of the books were podcasts, less than a third were short and the remaining almost two thirds were regular books.



Goodreads has 1-5 rating, where 5 is the best. I didn’t rate any books with 1. 1 book got a 2. The vast majority of the books got a 3. A surprising amount of books got a 4. Just 4 books got a 5.


Audio Books and Podcasts

The shortest audio book I’ve listened to was 22 minutes, the longest 24 hours, the average 4:30 hours. That includes podcasts. The shortest audio book for kids was 3 minutes, the longest 17, the average 7.

Paper and E-books

The shortest book I’ve read was 48 pages, the longes 2273, the average 384. The shortest kids book was 8 pages, the longest 96, the average 29.

tags: book - photo - podcast - years