Friday, January 01, 2016

The textual year in review: 2015

As has become my tradition, this post is a reflection on my reading and listening over the last 365 days. In brief, 2015 wasn't a great year for reading: I did much more writing than reading. It was, however, a good year for music, both recorded and live, and — surprisingly — a good year for catching up with television.

Music — Top Thirty Plays
Exile, "Kiss You All Over"
LP, "Someday"
Rosanne Cash, "Seven Year Ache"
The Lovin' Spoonful, "Summer in the City"
Duran Duran, "Hungry like the Wolf"
Brandi Carlile, "Dreams"
Queen, "You're My Best Friend"
Dead or Alive, "Brand New Lover" (single)
Joy Williams, "Woman (Oh Mama)"
Bonnie Pointer, "The Beast in Me"
Deep Purple, "Hush"
Jenson Interceptor, "Tiny Thing"
Sophie B. Hawkins, "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover"
Brandi Carlile, "The Eye"
Beyoncé, "Run the World (Girls)"
Nightwish, "End of All Hope"
Andy Gibb, "Shadow Dancing"
Max Webster, "Let Go the Line"
ABBA, "Summer Night City"
Klaatu, "The Love of a Woman"
Over the Rhine, "When I Go"
Sonic Youth, "Superstar"
The Doobie Brothers, "Long Train Runnin'"
Michael Andrews featuring Gary Jules, "Mad World"
ABBA, "Take a Chance on Me"
Diddy with Dirty Money, "Hello Good Morning" (remix)
One Republic, "Love Runs Out"
Siouxsie and the Banshees, "This Wheel's on Fire"
Sufjan Stevens, "Once in Royal David's City"
Rage Against the Machine, "Renegades of Funk"

What I see in this list is a continuing trend of comfort listening — not surprising, considering the year that's been. I am happy to see a few new-ish songs in the top thirty, however. I also note an overall reduction in the number of repeat plays in my top thirty: no fewer than 25, but no more than 55. These play counts are lower than in the past, which translated into higher play counts in iTunes overall. My iTunes library includes more than 13,900 tracks; of these, 3,268 remained as "new" (play count 0) at the end of the year, meaning I listened to more than three-quarters of my library at least once. I listened to nearly 1,500 songs at least 5 times each.

Now my play counts have been reset and I'm tracking for 2016.

Although I got nowhere near my goal of 200 books this year, I did tally more than 150: 157, to be exact, or an average of three books a week.

Here were some of my favourite books in 2015:

• Michael Crummy, Sweetland
• Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
• Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes
• Peter Mendelsund, What We See When We Read
• Maria Nikolajeva, Power, Voice and Subjectivity in Literature for Young Readers
• Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places
• Mary Norris, Between You and Me
• Mallory Ortberg, Texts from Jane Eyre
• Andrew Steeves, Smoke Proofs

... as well as two books I was responsible for editing, but it seems biased to mention them (and perhaps unfair to the other authors I edited whose books weren't among my favourites).

According to LibraryThing, I have catalogued 4,217 books to date, although more than 1,500 of those are tagged "Read but not owned." Book ownership remains a "problem" for me: I love books and reading, but keep running out of shelves. I also have a weakness for books that need rescuing. Even living on the boat hasn't completely tamed my collecting. Maybe in 2016?

TV, by which I mean series on DVD and Netflix, has become a fun way to turn my mind off in the evening. Since May I've watched more television than I have in the preceding five years. When my evenings are once again overtaken by marking and prepping, my TV watching will presumably drop, but right now it's fun.

Series watched (all available seasons):

Gilmore Girls
Grace and Frankie
The West Wing
The News Room
The Tudors

Also bits and pieces of The Muppets and Black Books, as well as numerous movies. I'm also looking forward to new episodes of Downton Abbey in the new year.

So that's my year in textual consumption. Looking forward now to comparing lists and numbers with friends. Happy New Year!

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