January has felt very episodic as I started the year travelling around Iceland (I’ll write about it at some point, but instagram has day by day scenery porn picspam), had to take unexpected trips north and work has been fragmentary. Sadly, this hasn’t resulted in READING ALL THE BOOKS, because exploring Iceland was distracting and Lagoon took longer than expected (a sure sign I’m not enjoying something).

Another year, another crop of books read and films watched. It’s been a bumper year in books – 60 completed, and 2 more weighty tomes mostly-completed before being abandoned in disgust (well, that makes the Worst Of The Year easy). Movies have been pretty typical (12, plus the cinema presentation of the NT Frankenstein), and very typically front-loaded. Autumns are not about cinema, apparently. Again, being frugal in going means we don’t see things we don’t want to, so a high satisfaction index for the year.

I used to try to remind myself (and inflict on you) what I particularly loved and loathed each year amongst the various books and films I consumed. Since joining the circus, I've failed to do this thanks to big work-related requirements in the first week of the year. However, it seems to be a week into 2012 and I'm procrastinating about going for a run, so this seems like a good time to revive that old meme.

We managed to get to the movies a lot more often this year, with several binges between long gaps of workiness. The habit of only going to things we really want to see on a big screen mean the hit rate of enjoyment was high (needless to say, no Transformers 3 for us). Honourable mentions go to Source CodeHannaTinker Tailor Soldier SpyThe Ides of March, and Contagion, all of which were thoroughly polished and much enjoyed.

I shall barely let the leaves settle on the year before posting my thoughts on the best and worst of (what I experienced of) movies and books, because if I delay I’ll never get it done.

In spite of my feeling that we missed some great films this year (choosing to stay home and work on the house instead of going out), we managed to see 17 this year. Looking back at the last few years, this is a good crop. I also note a pattern: a solid rush in the first half of the year, followed by disinterest through the autumn and winter. My boy suggests this relates to good film releases early in the year for Oscar season; I note a reflection of early summer blockbusters, followed by meaningful movies on DVD.

Books fared less well. 2009 is the first year I haven’t passed the 50-book threshold. This reflects evenings spent working on the Grand Design, and a move to overland commutes: as the trains are often full by the time they reach my stop, I end up sardined in with no space to read.

I’ve been on the bandwagon for the past 3 years, so it seems rude to fall off now: time to look back at my reading and cinematic digestion in 2008. It was a slow year all round – just over 50 books read (I usually clear 60-70), and only 15 movies. I’m not sure what this indicates: possibly that I’ve spent more time planning renovations than reading in an evening, and had more trips to the theatre instead of the movies. Happily, this seems to be exactly what I thought would happen.

I suspect the dip in movie-going also reflects a fairly poor year at the cinema; I’m not left with the feeling that there were a lot of movies I missed out on – although I’ve been more aware this year of saying “I’d like to see that… on DVD”, which is new. But seriously: at £20 a trip for 2 people vs. £3.50 to rent the DVD in 3 months time, there’s an argument for prioritising movies that will capitalise on the big screen. Character-driven integrity holds up just fine at 26″ (yes, our TV is old. Very old).

I recently reread The Kraken Wakes, always my favourite John Wyndham book. Wyndham for me is something like comfort food, or cartoons: when I need a light, refreshing, familiar interlude I can always turn to one of his novels to tide me over to the next challenge. In this case, I had left the book I intended to read at the office, leaving me stranded over a weekend with nothing to read.

Oh, the horror.