What counts?

I’ve read the first three volumes in a charming little manga called Twin Spica by Kou Yaginuma in the last couple of days. I was all set to update the blog with my FIRST BOOK(S) OF THE YEAR, as you can see in the URL of this post before I changed its title. But wait. Books? Or book? Should these three volumes really count as three books out of my fifty?

I’m never quite sure how to count shorter books in terms of sheer numbers. One manga volume will take me an hour or two to read. An average YA book takes, what, eight hours to read? An average nonfiction might take double, but any really long book… Well, the sky’s the limit! I don’t worry about the differences between the time it takes me to read a short novel versus a longer novel, but when it comes to saying whether a picture book or graphic novel or manga volume should count on its own, I flounder. It just feels too easy, like I’m cheating or something.

Another similar problem is in regard to online writing, mainly webcomics and Shadow Unit. These aren’t books at all, but many of the webcomics I read have been published into volumes. Do I count these, based on how long comic collections usually are, or do I not because it is technically not a book? In the case of Shadow Unit (which I am actually way behind on), what the heck do I do even if I decide to count it in the first place? Each ‘episode’ is novella-length, culminating in a novel-length season finale. Do I count each episode separately or all together or WHAT? (I’m not talking about ebooks, of course, but about stories that were not collected into a volume when I read it.)

The first year I attempted to read fifty books in a year, I made it, counting various magazines, some manga, and Shadow Unit. I believe that with Shadow Unit, I said that the whole first season of eight episodes was “worth” three novels. With the manga, I said something like four volumes was “worth” one novel. I can’t remember what how I counted the magazines. Maybe two magazines counted as one novel?

As you can see, that’s pretty darn arbitrary. I want to be more specific and less arbitrary this year, so I need some advice. How would ya’ll count these (manga, webcomics, graphic novels, Shadow Unit, isolated short stories and novellas, etc)? Am I totally overthinking this? Should I just count a book as a book, non-books as non-books, and trust that it will all work out fairly evenly in the end? HELP ME!