A Year of Reading by Schilling Data Studio

In the Fall of 2021, I decided that I wanted to do a personal data visualization for the year. Perhaps it was a bit late in the year to make that decision, but with the help of my online library account and Instagram account, where I'd posted the briefest reviews of books, I was able to put together a Google sheet with a list of books I read each month. I have always loved to read, but I've never been one to track my reading (apart from grade school summer reading programs and the Pizza Hut Book It! program - that was the best - pizza + reading, sign me up!).

The inspiration for the visualization came from a bookmark I received with one of the books from Literati (a subscription book club). This is also where I got the idea to fill each book's rectangle with it's spine color. Week 46 of Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec was on books and inspired me to use genre for the fill of each book's rectangle.

I selected the colors I used for each genre from a watercolor palette sample image. Choosing colors for my data visualizations is one of the hardest steps for me. If I were to recreate this color palette, I would adjust it a bit to make it more accessible. After the fact, I ran it through some color blind image tests, and it does not perform as well as it should.

I think my husband suggested spine decoration as a way to show different characteristics of the book, so inspired by him and Dear Data (again) I added the dots, lines, and star that would indicate different data points about each book.

I spent a good part of New Year's Eve writing code in R to create my data visualization. As my parents and husband watched the ball drop, I was figuring out how to get the {patchwork} library to stop aligning the y-axes of the plots in the right-hand column of the final visual. After midnight, I put my mostly complete data visualization to bed for the night, and on the morning of New Year's Day, I finalized some of the wording and created slides of the visual that I could post on Instagram.

I'm really happy with the final data visualization, and I learned some things about my reading patterns throughout the year. For example, I read the most books in October, and I mostly read books published in the last few years. It's also really neat to see all the books I read visualized.