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2013 in numbers


If I had to pick a favourite year out of the last ten, it wouldn’t be 2013 – and that’s despite winning the BSFA Award, being a finalist for the Sidewise Award, and publishing books 2 and 3 of the Apollo Quartet, both of which were well-received. I’ve already posted my favourites in books, films and albums of the year – see here – and even a tiny little pimpish post about what I had published in 2013 – see here. This post, however, is going to be all numbers and graphs, showing exactly how much culture I consumed, and in what media.

In 2013, I read a total of 148 books, which is slightly down on my previous year’s total of 153. In fact, the number of books I read in a year has been dropping steadily each year since 2008’s high of 220. There are actually a few books I dipped into for research, but since I didn’t actually read them, I didn’t record them as read. The books I read in 2013 break down by genre as follows:


Science fiction still forms the majority of my reading, though I suspect reading for SF Mistressworks has kept this higher than it would have been otherwise. Most of the biographies I read were research for Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above, as were several of the space books.

The books I read break down by author’s gender as:


While some graphic novels, particularly bandes desinées, might be by a single writer/artist, many are collaborative – so I’ve lumped them in with the non-fiction. Also, four of the seven anthologies were women-only, but given that anthologies more often contain fiction by both genders I thought it best to record them as a separate category.

In 2013, I bought, was given, or was sent for review 231 books. I read only 72 of them (but some purchases were actually first editions, or better copies, of books I’d read previously, so I’ve counted them as read). So that’s a net gain on the To Be Read massif of 78 books… which is not the proper way to do it. I should be buying less books than I read. By genre, my book purchases break down as follows:


I had to munge a couple of categories together due to the crappy online chart-making website I was using. As for “Weird”… I couldn’t think of a better name for a category which contains a book by Velikovsky and a book on the Bermuda Triangle (the latter was research for Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above). The two photography books are books of photographs by photographers rather than books about photography. The one travel book is by, of course, Lawrence Durrell.

By gender – for fiction only – it looks like this (again, I’ve separated out anthologies, even though most of those I bought during the year were women-only):


In 2012, I watched 180 films and 8 seasons of television programmes. Of those, 142 were for the first time and 44 were re-watches. These charts don’t include those television series I watched which were broadcast, only those I watched on DVD. By genre, they break down as:


It seems my favourite film genre is drama – that’ll be because I watch so many world cinema/art house films. I’m surprised at science fiction’s strong showing, though I suspect they’re all either rewatches or recently-released sf films I got on rental DVD. Five of the anime films were Studio Ghibli, the romance films were the result of a lazy Sunday spent watching Movies24, and the single horror film I saw was on one of those two-films-on-one-disc DVDs and it was the other film I bought the DVD for.

Speaking of DVDs, I also recorded on what format and where I watched each of the films – as follows:


Around two-thirds of the way through the year, Lovefilm changed my rental package, and instead of allowing me only 6 discs a month, they started sending out new discs as soon as they’d received the ones I’d returned. I’m not complaining. I run three rental lists at Lovefilm – one for Hollywood films, one for classics, and one for world/art house cinema. I’m sent one from each list in a single envelope. Which partly explains why my most-watched directors in 2013 were Aleksandr Sokurov, Fritz Lang and Otto Preminger. They were closely followed by Alfred Hitchcock, Douglas Sirk, Michael Haneke and Werner Herzog, most of which, I think, were actually rewatches. Sokurov is… well, his films are beautifully photographed but many of them make Tarkovsky’s films look like they were edited for the MTV generation. It’s a shame so few of them are available in the UK.

Those three rental lists also mean the films I’ve watched are spread quite well by decade, if not by nationality:



Yes, that’s a lot of American films – but they do produce a lot of films. It’s all those classic movies, you see. Great Britain comes second, followed by France, Germany, Russia, Japan and then Italy. I think in 2014 I’ll try to watch less US films. That sounds like a resolution worth keeping.

I will also, of course, try to read more books and buy less. And write more. And I’m sure there are plenty of other good intentions I can persuade myself I might be able to keep up for a whole twelve months, but for now I think I’ll just stick to the easy ones…

2 thoughts on “2013 in numbers

  1. Frighteningly efficient breakdown and an impressive reading and viewing list. But once the writing is added to the equation, I fear you don’t have time to leave the house!

    • Unfortunately, I don’t think I actually achieved as much last year as I have in some earlier years – I didn’t read as much, I didn’t write as much, and I have a backlog of reviews for Daughters of Prometheus that I never managed to finish. While I may have published two books of the Apollo Quartet, book 2 was actually written during 2012, so pretty much all I wrote during 2013 was book 3 (which, to be fair, did require a lot of research), and about 3 short stories. Oh, and a bunch of non-fiction contributions to various other blogs.

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