My Year in Reading

My Year in Reading - student project

I decided that for my project, I'm chronicling the books I've read in the past year. My Year in Reading - image 1 - student project

(Sorry for the horizontal shot, this site isn't letting me set it properly)
Starting in July of 2012, I layed out what I've read, and doodled out an idea of adding hierarchy to the books. The bigger the triangle, the more impact it had on me. 

In this initial model, I went for a snake of time, but I realized that there's a funny problem. On opposing months, the time flips inverse to the prior month, reading right to left in order; which I don't think is very useful to comprehension. I'd rather have each month read the same way, so you can see the beginning of the month starting in the same place. 

I'm going to mock up a digital version with Illustrator without it being a snake, and see what I get out of it. 

Digital Iteration:

I added a few features in the digital version:
1. Year Long graph on top- After making each month's graph, I compiled them into one graph (sitting on the top of the page)

2. Day dashes- underneath each month is a dashed line that represents the days in the month. 

3. Color Coding- I chose a spectrum of color to differentiate the months. I tried to give the colors an orientation with color by making summer months warm colors, and winter months cooler colors (well, at least for the Northern Hemisphere)

Things that I think still need refining:

1. I don't like the title placement- I think having the titles floating in the rows detracts from the peaks. I want to see if I can find a more unified system to mark them. Any Suggestions on what to do with the title text?

2. I'm not sold on the right Margin's Data- I think it needs some more help, any suggestions on other data I could put in to make this more informative? The Dashes underneath the top 5 is intended to demarcate the length of the book, but it's not reading well yet. 

Any Suggestions on what to add? Initially I thought the book covers would be fun to add, but I haven't found a clever way of showcasing them. Ideas?

My Year in Reading - image 2 - student project

Version 2:

Thanks again for all the feedback, I'm still working towards refining this and would love to hear from you. 

Here's what's changed:
1. I made it a bar graph instead- 
After realizing the first version didn't convey a lot of information, I tried to find an alternative form that would contrinute more. The bar chart I generated demonstrates the length of the book, as well as how far I got into it (Some books I didn't finish, let me know if its not making sense)

2. I added more detailed info- I was aiming to add more pieces of information that give more depth to the document, so I added things like "most read author" and "Female/Male breakdown"

3. I changed the color of the type: I felt that black made the visual the second read, not the primary, so I knocked it down by making it a darker shade of the background color. 

4. I added Authors- I don't know why I hadn't thought to add it before, but the Authors deserved credit, so I added them. 

Things I'm still working on / not satisfied with:

1. You don't see the impact the books had on me: Some of these books were really meaningful to me, and I haven't figured out a way to indicate that in this new format. Before that was all you say (assuming you understood what the peaks indicated) and now it's not really portrayed. The chart on top is the same, but I don't have a legend for it. 

2. I want to fill up the right margin- I think it would make the page feel complete if I added data to the bottom right corner, I'm not sure what to add though. Any suggestions?

3. Is my Bill Bryson illustration distracting? I knocked down the color a bit, what do you think?

It's still a work in progress, but I'm liking how its coming together. Let me know what you think, your advice has been helpful thus far!
My Year in Reading - image 3 - student project

Version 3:

My Year in Reading - image 4 - student project

Here's what I changed:
1. Background color- I made it darker to make the colors pop more

2. Impact Bar- On the left is the impact that these books had on me, as well as a few words on them

3. Discovery of Books- I made another mini chart to show how I found these books. 

Let me know what you think!

Version 4:

My Year in Reading - image 5 - student project

Key Change:

I changed the ratings grid to be a sprectrum because I thought it made it clearer which books I liked more (instead of attempting to see which bar was longer, and by how much, you can see the color and length together) 

What I'm still working on:
I'm figuring out a clever way to showcase the genre's of books, there's some that could fit between categories (ex: is Happiness Hypothesis a book of Philosophy, or a Social Sciences?). 

I also need to make some adjustments to the Legend (the 100 pg length is too long now) and I preferred dots over ovals for the 10 page symbol (this happened when I condensed the bars)

Version 5:My Year in Reading - image 6 - student project

I did a dramatic revision of my infographic in an effort to incorporate more pieces of information. 
I created a new type of graphic that combines the length of the book in an abstract way (I made a pie chart with each book represented in pages) then I build a bar graph on top of it. The length of the book is represented in the number of dashes, and the impact it had on me is based in how high to bars go. 
Why do this? By making it circular, in enabled me to show the relationships that these books had to one another, and showcase common themes. 

Things I'm still working on: Theres a few kinks to work out, and I'd love some feedback. 
1. Colors- I chose the colors of the bars somwhat at random. I don't think it's complete yet, and my question is, should I try and create a system behind so many colors (type of book perhaps?) or should I just stick to 2-3 different colors in repetition? Right now, the only colors that intentionally colored are that all the Bill Bryson books are purple, and all the unread books are teal. 

2. Misplaced text- I noticed that the text in the "longest book" is accidentally shifted over. 

3. Legibility- Is the text too small? I can read it on my screen, and full size it works, but in this compression it looks a little tight. The titles of the books are in 14pt. 

4. Should I add the months I read the books? I haven't figured our a clever way to incorporate this piece of data, any suggestions are appreciated. 

Thanks! let me know what you think, I was bummed I didn't get a crit from the instructors, and I would love some feedback to help me make this the best it can be. 

Version 6

My Year in Reading - image 7 - student project

I refined the colors in an effort to make it more uniform. 
I also removed text boxes from the content in the bottom, I thought this looked more orderly. 
There's also a Legend in the top left, 
And I also added a few more catergories "Science" "Memoirs"

Version 7:

My Year in Reading - image 8 - student project

Key Changes:

I felt that the category bubbles needed more structure, so I arranged them in a evenly distributed circle. Then, I decided that the lines connecting should have some more flow to them to allow your eye to wander, so I added curves to the line. As you can tell, I'm still working on this, constantly iterating towards a little better. 

Version 8:
I tweaked the lines and switched the placement of categories "Read over Months" and "Read in 5 Days" because the lines looked like they woud flow better that way.  I also tried to clean up the content on the bottom of the page. 

My Year in Reading - image 9 - student project

Version 9:My Year in Reading - image 10 - student project

Changes I made:
1. New Data Analysis: 
I added a new segment and replaced my favorite Quote. I wanted to have the Primary Visual of the piece to have some further explanation as to what it all meant, what did I learn from making it, so I made a "Data Analysis" section to explain what I found. 

2. I changed the lines, again: 
I decided that while I liked the curved lines, they needed to be a little more structured, so I recreated ever line as a segment of a circle, which made each line look smoother. 
I'd really like a crit from the instructors about how I might enhance this. Anyone else is also welcome to share their thoughts. 

I hope that if anything, this project shows that it takes many interations to try and pull out the best expression for design. I've put in some solid hours of work to try and make this the best it can be, and I'd love to hear feedback on how to take it even further.