My Landscape of Literature : Trois

Using data to unlock my history of reading, and now, the future

This article marks the third part of me exploring various aspects of my reading history through different lenses. If you've come directly to this article, I recommend you read Part 1 and Part 2 first, so it makes your journey here a whole lot better.

I've always loved reading and visualising data, and so I wrote these articles over the last few years in an attempt to decode & visualise my entire literary history. It was eye opening and fascinating, because not only did I explore new ways of visualising what I've read, but also gained a new perspective into my interests and biases. I now had the ability to ask questions of myself and get answers.

Here's a quick recap of everything below. The three spirals correspond to all the books I've read, starting with the oldest in the center. The height of the bars correspond to the length of the book, and each of the spirals correspond to different data - Genre, Pace, and Protagonist Gender. Feel free to interact with each of the spirals for some interesting revelations!

Mystery Sci-Fi Other Horror Thriller
Short-Stories Fantasy Science
Medium Slow
Protagonist Gender
Male Female Ensemble
Non-Binary N/A

Part 3: The Future

Since my previous articles have been a blast (of data) from the past, I now want to compare it with my reading list. While writing Part 2, I realised that my reading choices had barely been influenced by authors from around the world. This led me to curate my Around the World Challenge, which is now a reading list of 180 books, and a basis for Part 3 of this series.

Since it was geography that kickstarted my ATW challenge, let's start there.


My first challenge was to figure out how many countries. The number of countries differs basis the source of your data. To top it off, I knew there were regions which were not countries but had a strong enough identity to be treated as an independent country, and to warrant reading a book from there (Hawai'i).

The second, and the tougher challenge with geography was how to classify books. My initial idea was to read books by the author of that country, but as I started my research I came across a lot of authors who were born in the country but now reside somewhere else. How do I categorise such books? The more I thought about it, the more complicated it got. So I altered the goal of my ATW challenge and began looking for books that are as authentic to that country as possible. Keeping that in mind, here's the updated map!

Countries that are coloured green are books I've read from. Countries marked blue are books on my reading list. The ones that are not coloured yet, are books I haven't found for those countries (you could help me pick by recommending books from these countries! Tweet me or find me on story graph!)

It’s been exciting to see my Around the World reading list shape up the way it has so far, and I’m thrilled to read some of these books. Mia Manansala's Arsenic and Adobo combines cooking, romance AND mystery! Hamid Ismailov's The Railway looks at people living in a small town in Uzbekistan watching the people come and go, Niviaq Korneliussen's Last Night in Nuuk is a coming of age story in Greenland, Évelyne Trouillot’s Memory at Bay is a historical psychological thriller account of two women in Haiti’s dictator regime, Alejandro Zambra’s Multiple Choice defies genres, Andrus Kivirähk's The Man Who Spoke Snakish deals with an Estonian man tasked with preserving ancient traditions in the face of modernity, Africanfuturism is an anthology of Sci-Fi stories exploring African sciences and philosophies, Zeina Abirached's A Game for Swallows is a graphic novel that explores one day in the life of a child amidst Lebanon's civil war, Ha Seong-Nan's Flowers of Mold is a collection of creepy horror stories, and Epeli Hauʻofa's We Are the Ocean is a collection of essays, stories, and poems surrounding the Oceania region. In all there's already stories from 50 new countries to look forward to!

Past & Future

The next thing I wanted to do is chart moods of a book and so I first identified common moods of books ranging from light-hearted & funny to dark & mysterious. What better way to chart them than to use colours to associate moods with? To make this visualisation easier to read, I grouped certain similar emotions under a single colour.

Lighter colours relate to/are associated with lighter emotions like "funny", "light-hearted", "hopeful" and darker colours relate to darker emotions. Pensive emotions like “reflective” and “informative” are given soft colours like blue and green since they sit between the spectrum of light and dark emotions.

Funny Lighthearted Hopeful
Inspiring Informative
Reflective Emotional
Tense Challenging


Now that I’ve mapped colours to moods of books, I extended that to understand the moods of the books I've read against those that I want to read. Since I’ve had a history of reading darker books, I wanted to begin reading lighter ones.

As we can see, my reading list isn't the light haven I was hoping it to be, but at least it's a little lighter. I'm surprised reflective and emotional books have made such a huge jump but I'm guessing it's a product of going through existential crises? I'm happy adventurous is still on top though!

Past & Future


Fantasy still remains my top genre, unapologetically so. They’ve always been my great escape! Or maybe using past data to generate algorithmic recommendations may not be the best thing to change your PoV, habits or opinions.

I absolutely LOVE that Science has made the jump it has. I've always loved science but I haven’t gotten around to reading as much about it as I’d like. I’m thrilled to tackle that from my reading list. It also makes me happy to see Short Stories take the leap. I've read a lot of short stories in my school days (O Henry, Guy De Maupassant, Roald Dahl etc.) and I think I started looking down on them when I got older. How idiotic I was! Short story books are wonderful! They could tackle multiple genres in a single book, are quick to read, you can put the books aside once you’ve read a story and you can allow yourself to marinate in them.


Next up for comparison are authors! I wanted to see if my top authors are changing and how.
Row One below: My top authors by number of books read;
Row Two: My top rated authors, &
Row Three: Top authors from my ATW reading list based on the number of books added.

I’ve also mapped a few more things indicated by the peculiarity & colour you see on the flowers. The type of flower indicates the genre of books written by these authors, the colours signify moods, the number of petals correspond to the no. of books, and the size of flower shows the average rating of the books. This idea and design was taken from the brilliant Shirley Wu who did this for summer blockbusters!

Top Authors by No. of Books Read
My Top Rated Authors
Top Authors by No. of Books in Reading List

Straight up, I can see more Indian authors in the list already. Also not surprised to see Roald Dahl in the future list, he's hands down one of my favourite authors and there's a lot of books he's written that I hadn't explored. I got hooked to the story of Henry Sugar and that began my life long admiration for Dahl. It also worries me that Ashok Banker's books don't seem to be rated too highly. I was looking forward to his modern take on the Ramayana and was hoping it was as good as Irawati Karve's Yuganta.

I’m still psyched to take on my ATW challenge and hopefully discover something more about my Landscape of Literature! Until then, this wraps up my 3-year endeavour to make sense of my literary history! I've already seen plenty of changes in my reading habits since I started this and would highly recommend you to look at your own patterns to uncover and challenge any biases you may have. As promised in Part 1, I am working on a dashboard à la Letterboxd which apart from looking cool, will also keep me on track with my goals. Thank you for coming on this journey with me!

Happy reading!