Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Year-End Tallies

Happy 2014! I hope the arrival of a new year marks health and happiness for all of us.

As I, and many of you, have done for the last few years, below I've compiled information about the books and music I consumed in the year that was.

Thirty Most Played Songs in 2013:

Mother Mother, "Bit by Bit"
Diddy with Dirty Money, "Hello Good Morning"
Dead or Alive, "Brand New Lover" (original single mix)
Deadmau5 featuring Gerard Way, "Professional Griefers"
Maroon 5, "Moves Like Jagger"
Nina Simone, "Take Care of Business" (Pilooski Remix)
Amanda Palmer, "Map of Tasmania" (featuring The Young Punx)
Azar Swan, "In My Mouth"
Muse, "Madness"
Deadmau5, "Raise Your Weapon"
Nightwish, "End of All Hope"
Firebeatz and Schella, "Dear New York"
Harlequin, "I Did It for Love"
ABBA, "Take A Chance On Me"
Honeymoon Suite, "Feel It Again"
Kate Bush, "Be Kind To My Mistakes"
Christina Aguilera featuring Redman, "Dirrty"
Jimmy Rankin, "We'll Carry On (Prelude)"
ABBA, "Summer Night City"
Dieselboy and Bare, "Beyond Thunderdome"
Exile, "Kiss You All Over"
Jenson Interceptor, "Tiny Thing"
Kim Wilde, "You Keep Me Hangin' On"
Lady Gaga, "Judas"
Linda Ronstadt, "How Do I Make You"
Seals and Croft, "Get Closer"
Siouxsie and The Banshees, "This Wheel's On Fire"
Tears for Fears, "Mad World"
Emmelie de Forest, "Only Teardrops"
Prince, "I Wonder U"

I listed thirty songs rather than twenty-five because several of the songs at the bottom of the list were tied. Once again, this year's list reflects a great deal of comfort listening (ABBA, Harlequin, Jenson Interceptor, Seals and Croft, etc.), but happily there are also some new discoveries. While my listening is perhaps less ambitious than it was when I was in my teens and twenties, I do try to maintain some currency with popular music — recognizing that the Web and digital music sites make doing so much more difficult than it used to be. There is simply SO MUCH music in the world to hear!

According to iTunes' somewhat imperfect counting system, as of today I have exactly 11,900 songs in my library. Since last January, I listened to about seventy percent of those songs at least once. Having iTunes on my laptop has really changed the way I listen to music. I now have to make a point of listening to an album as an album, rather than as a collection of random songs. I create Genius playlists almost daily, reflecting the mood I'm in or the music I want to work to, and I tend to listen to personally crafted playlists on my way to and from work. Statistically, this style of listening means that I have a handful of songs I've listened to at least twenty times, a substantial number of songs I've played five to fifteen times, and a large number of songs I've played once or twice. Still, it is always a joy to hear something I've ignored for months when it turns up in random play.

New features on the version of iTunes I've just upgraded to may affect my listening again this year. Since I've just reset my play counts to zero again, I guess we'll see in another 365 days.

Books Read in 2013: 165

Rather than list all 165 books (as other bloggers have done), I'll tell you a little about what I observe about my reading behaviour.

First I must acknowledge that I'm disappointed I didn't reach 200 books this year, as that number remains my annual goal. But given the year I've had, I'm happy to have cracked 150 books, particularly as I was sitting at 147 on November 30.

I have some rules about what I record as "read." I write down children's novels and YA novels, but I don't write down picture books and books with limited text. I also don't write down graphica (graphic novels, graphic memoirs, etc.). So, for instance, although I read Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger, it is not part of my title count, nor are Feminist Ryan Gosling: Feminist Theory (as Imagined) from Your Favorite Sensitive Movie Dude by Danielle Henderson (a humour book that compiles entries from a now famous blog and the infamous Hey, Girl meme) and I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano (a humorous collection of short poems in various forms).

I have struggled this year with how to write down books I've edited — or whether to do so. I've opted not to include several books I edited that had limited textual context, but did include the two novels I edited (mostly because I read both novels in full at least four times each during the various phases of editing). I think I could have included at least other two books I edited, but I couldn't decide on a date for recording them as "read" (for the novels, I used the publication date: not as obvious for my contract editing work).

I notice that reading brings out my compulsive completist. I've read almost the entire Dear Canada series this year after receiving one book in the series to review (incidentally, I gave the book an "E," or five-star, review). I read several children's and YA novels on the basis of finding them on an NPR list of "best" books for young readers, and will continue to pick away at this list over the next few months. I've been thinking about Laura Ingalls Wilder professionally and academically, and that has led to my reading divergently around the Little House canon, including books by Roger Lea MacBride (Rose Wilder Lane's adopted heir), memoirs by Alison Arngrim and Melissa Gilbert, and various books about LIW herself.

In a similar impulse, I tend to read back through the catalogues of writers whose books I've enjoyed — even when those experiences are of varying quality. This year's new Jaclyn Moriarty was a little uneven — not my favourite of her novels — while Louise Rennison's new entry in the Tallulah Casey series was happily better than the last one. I read another title in the Size 12 (mystery) series by Meg Cabot, and a couple more in Carole Nelson Douglas's Irene Adler series, but have no interest in reading any other series by either of these authors. But I've read everything that Gail Bowen has published, including the short Charlie D mysteries she's written for Orca's Rapid Reads series; this year, Bowen contributed two new titles to my count, and I look forward to new books from her in 2014.

A little closer to home, I was disappointed by several books by authors from my local publishing community — authors whose work I've previously enjoyed (but not authors I've worked with). Also, I did enjoy several of the NWP books I read this year but must confess that I haven't re-read many of the published books I read in manuscript: too much else to read!

I find that I'm highly responsive to the recommendations on LibraryThing, particularly for YA and children's books. I also continue to be an avid reader of reviews in various magazines and newspapers, and I buy and eventually read many books on the basis of reviews and ads. Of course, I know that doing so makes me somewhat unusual psychographically, and I'm still very interested (academically and personally) in questions of book discoverability.

Reviewing continues to add to my list — a couple of dozen title this year — and I've already received a stack of books for reviewing in January. I'd definitely like to extend my opportunities as a reviewer this year.

I am surprised that I didn't read several of the books I was initially enthusiastic to buy or receive. These include a couple of memoirs with immediate ties to my academic work and a few serious books about language and culture. I'll hope to get to these soon. Of course, like any book lover, I own far, far more books than I'm likely ever to read unless I stop buying new books and stop borrowing books from the library. Hahahahaha: that's NOT going to happen.

According to LibraryThing, my total library to date includes 3632 books. Of these, 957 are books I own but have not read completely, and 1237 are books I have read but do not own. This library is historical, capturing books I read as a child (at least those I can remember) as well as books I've read or bought as an adult reader. LibraryThing remains my favourite social-media site (although I'm not very social on it) and is one of two or three sites I visit almost every day.

So that's 2013 for me, in terms of books and music. If you have any must-read or must-hear suggestions, please leave a comment below or let me know in person.

Happy New Year!