2015 Roundup

“Scars are memory. Like sutures. They stitch the past to me.”

China Mieville

Happy New Year, Constant Reader!

2015’s been an eventful year, starting in January with my penultimate term of university, spending six weeks on a dissertation on Gormenghast and Rebecca (such fun!), studying like mad for my final exams in May, having two long and eventually rather boring months off in June and July, and moving away from home for my first real job in July, after which point my time was rather tightly circumscribed. In 2015, I started watching Firefly with the Circumlocutor; Sir Terry Pratchett died; Stephen Moffat finally, unarguably ruined Doctor Who; the Hugos got broken, and then sort-of half-mended again; Star Wars came out and made more money than any other film ever; and I failed to enjoy my reading as much as last year (though I still reached my reading challenge target).

The English Student’s Favourite Things of 2015

As ever, these are things I reviewed or wrote about in 2015, not necessarily things released or published in 2015.)

TV: Firefly: Serenity. For clarity: not the fan-made film, but the first episode of the TV show. It’s a flawless, glorious hour and a half of spacey fun, less banal than most television entries in the genre, with more interesting and more relatable characters, and certainly better dialogue.

Film: Bridge to Terabithia. I still haven’t read the book, but I just thought this film was a beautiful piece of storytelling: bittersweet, layered and complex, with a deeply interesting refusal to distinguish between fantasy and reality. It wasn’t at all what I expected from this children’s classic.

Book: The Scar – China Mieville. A baggy, absorbing and intelligent novel about the sea and about possibility. It’s grown on me since I read it in January – possibly because nothing I’ve read this year has yet been layered and complex enough to challenge this particular behemoth.

Misc.: Philip Pullman at the Oxford Literary Festival. Pullman wasn’t, it has to be said, very forthcoming about, well, anything; but it was a great chance to see the fantasy author in the flesh, as it were, and he does have a lovely reading voice.

2016 Reading Stats

  •  In 2016 I read 72 books – one more than I read last year.
  • The longest was Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass, at a frankly unnecessary 845 pages; the shortest was The Library of Unrequited Love, by Sophie Divry, at a short and sweet 92 pages. Overall, I read fewer pages than last year: 27,390, compared to 28,105.
  • My average rating in 2015 was 3.5, exactly the same as last year, which just goes to show that star ratings for books are absolutely meaningless.
  • The oldest book I read this year – the one published longest ago – was Fanny Burney’s Evelina, a re-read, published in 1778. The average age of the books I read this year was just 25 – significantly lower than last year.
  • Genre: I read 35 fantasy novels in 2015 (49%), 11 non-fiction books (15%), 10 SF novels (14%) and five contemporaries (7%). I also read a couple of historicals, a couple of horror novels, three classics, an animal book (Cat Stories), a drama (A Game at Chess) and a thriller (Zero Sum Game). Though I’ve read considerably more fantasy than I read last year, my non-fantasy reading has been considerably broader.
  • I’ve read just 11 YA novels this year (15%, compared to 31% last year), with the rest, 89%, being adult works; I read no MG novels, compared to four last year.
  •  Again, I bought about half of the books I read this year.
  • I managed to do less re-reading this year; just 19% of 2015’s reads were re-reads, compared to 25% last year.
  • I also managed to read more books by women this year: 40%, compared to last year’s 31%. In 2016, I’d like to get that percentage up to 50%.

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