Time to crunch some numbers on what I read and viewed during 2014. I don’t consider myself an especially fast reader, and I seem to throw away huge amounts of time I could have spent reading… There are still so many books sitting on my shelves that I really want to read but have yet to get around to… A situation not helped by buying more books that I really want to read. Likewise for films. Anyway…
During 2014, I read 149 books, which is up by 1 on 2013. Thirteen of those books were published during 2014. I alternated genders for my long fiction reading, and managed to read 50 novels/collections by women authors and 51 by men. The rest of the books I read were either anthologies, non-fiction or graphic novels (well, bandes dessinées). Twenty-three of those novels, collections or anthologies, I read to review on SF Mistressworks. Two were for Interzone, and one was for Vector. The remainder I mostly blogged about here.
I don’t normally read so much recent fiction, but during 2014 I joined the Worldcon – although I later sold my membership and didn’t attend – which allowed me to nominate works for the Hugo Award. I also managed to read a number of 2014 books during the year. I suspect the high number of fiction books published between 1961 and 1989 is a result of reading for SF Mistressworks.
The bulk of my reading was, as is usual, science fiction at 41% – which is less than half, so that’s not too bad – and closely followed by mainstream (or literary) fiction at 18%. Fantasy manages 5% and horror only 1%. I did use a number of books on science fiction criticism and spaceflight as research for Apollo Quartet 4 All That Outer Space Allows, but the only research books I actually read were biographies.
I should make more of an effort to read fiction by authors from other nations. More than three-quarters of my fiction reading was from the UK (38%) or USA (42%). But I did manage to read one or two novels/collections each from a further sixteen countries.
During 2014, I purchased – or was given, or sent for review – 217 books, of which 30 were published during 2014 and 23 were better editions of books I already owned. By the end of the year, I’d read 77 of those purchased books (although that figure does include books I’d read in earlier years but had not owned, or had purchased a better edition in 2014).
I had to munge a couple of categories together, due to the crappy chart-building website I’ve used. Even so, it’s clear that most of the books I bought were science fiction (38%), closely followed by mainstream (22%). I bought one horror book – a John Shirley collection – and, surprisingly, 11 fantasy books (most were probably freebies from Fantasycon). My book purchases by genre break down as:
It seems just over half (51%) of the fiction books I purchased in 2014 were by Brits. Less than a third were by Americans. The remainder are scattered across fourteen countries.
The relatively high number of fiction book purchases from the 1920s is a result of buying a number of DH Lawrence paperbacks. The high number for this decade is due to Hugo Award reading and my habit of buying books the moment they’re released by favourite authors who are still writing. Otherwise, it doesn’t surprise me that the 1970s is the next highest decade, although only just. That’s also likely a result of reading for SF Mistressworks.
If I’ve done my sums correctly, I bought 194 new books during 2014 but only managed to read 149. Which means the TBR has grown by 45. Some of those book purchases were for research or reference, so not really the sort of books you read from cover to cover – but still. So far I’m managing to keep the TBR manageable by dumping at charity shops books that I’ve belatedly realised I’ll never get around to reading – but I really ought to make more of an effort to get the humungous TBR down to more realistic levels. At the last count, given my average reading speed, I could probably go for a good five or six years without having to buy another book before I ran out of stuff to read.
In 2014, I started on a new viewing project: watching all the films on the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list. I’d already seen almost half, but I still had plenty of titles to track down. Mostly, I’ve been using Amazon rentals, but not every film on the list is available there so I had to buy a few of them. As a result, 2014 proved to be, well, a year of lots of film-watching. And I mean lots. By 31 December, I had seen 369 films… which is 182 more than in 2013. Basically, I watched two years’ worth of movies in twelve months. I managed this chiefly because Amazon changed my rental agreement so they sent out replacement DVDs as soon as I returned the ones I had, which pretty much meant I had three rental DVDs every weekend throughout the year (149 in total over the year, in fact).
I documented many of the films I watched in fourteen Moving Pictures posts on this blog. I still have one more – the fourteenth – to post. It should go up in a few days. Not every film I watched was any good, but several did become favourites. Around a third were rewatches (29%), and that includes several rewatches of All That Heaven Allows. Ninety-one of the films were from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list (25%), which puts my final total at 541 out of 1001.
By genre, my viewing was, unsurprisingly, not dominated by science fiction – I’m not that big a fan of sf cinema. It accounted for only 18% of the films I watched. The biggest genre was drama at 34%. The actual breakdown is:
Incidentally, the television series category doesn’t include two series I didn’t manage to complete during the year – The Jewel In The Crown (I need to read A Division Of The Spoils before I watch the last few episodes) and From the Earth to the Moon (I rewatched selected episodes as research for All That Outer Space Allows).
I’ve long been a fan of the cinema of nations other than the USA and UK – although those two nations do dominate my viewing. In my defence, most of the American films I saw in 2014 were classics. In total, I watched films from 25 different countries. Some films were actually multi-national efforts, in which case I’ve assigned them to whichever nation seemed dominant. The high number of Italian films is a surprise – I hadn’t realised I’d seen that many. Likewise for Russia… although I did rewatch several of Aleksandr Sokurov’s movies during the year. I’d expected Poland to score higher, given that I “discovered” both Piotr Szulkin and Andrzej Wajda during 2014. Denmark’s good showing will be from watching a bunch of films by von Trier and a rewatch of some Dreyer.
I mentioned earlier that the bulk of films I watched were rental DVDs – 40% of my viewing, in fact. But almost half were from own collection (48%). The actual figures break down as:
After claiming I don’t watch much twenty-first century Hollywood product, it seems most of the films I watched in 2014 were from the last four years. Oops. But at least the next highest decade was the 1950s. Altogether, I don’t think that’s too bad a spread. I could do with watching more films from the 1940s and 1970s. Likely I’ve seen most films released during the 1980s – or at least those I’d be interested in seeing from that decade. I’d like to watch more early cinema, but a lot of those films are hard to find on DVD – in the UK, anyway. In fact, the UK’s record on DVD releases is pretty poor.
I mentioned Piotr Szulkin earlier – I only got to watch his films because I ordered a DVD box set from Poland. I also bought several Region 1 DVDs, because the films had never been released in this country. And even a couple of Region A Blu-ray discs… only to discover my Blu-ray player was locked to Region B. Argh. That’s something I’ll have to address in 2015. There are even a handful of recent documentaries yet to appear in the UK that I really want to see – Jodorowskys Dune and James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge, for example. As soon as I get myself a region-free Blu-ray player, I’ll be getting Blu-rays of those from the US. There are also several favourite directors whose oeuvres are incomplete in the UK, but not in other countries – such as Douglas Sirk, Aleksandr Sokurov, Andrzej Żuławski, Miklós Jancsó or Sergei Parajanov. Having said that, much praise to the BFI and Second Run DVD for continuing to release excellent films on DVD and Blu-ray.