Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014: My year in books

I have a room in my house devoted to books and comic books. Boxes and boxes of the damn things. They've been sitting there for a few months, ever since we moved from Maine to Oregon. Some day soon I'll start to buy some new bookcases, un-box the books and spread them around the house, but for now they'll just have to sit there where the movers dumped them this past August.

Hopefully it won't take too long to dig into those boxes, because I own hundreds (if not thousands) of books and comics that I haven't had a chance to read yet. I read an average of a book or two a week, but there's never enough time to truly catch up, is there? This year's move -- not to mention my excessive work schedule and the terrible health problems that plagued my family -- also served to slow down my reading.

I know you're waiting for the total, so here it is: I read 100 books this year. That's a lot, but it's quite a bit below the 119 books that I read in 2013 and the 115 that I read in 2012. It's also a much lower number of pages: I read more short books (primarily graphic novels) than anything else this year. That's an adaptation that I needed to make. With everything going on this past year, I just didn't have the luxury of focusing on longer, more involved novels as much as I wanted to.

I did read some damned good books, though. Top of the list, "Cabinet of Curiosities" by Guillermo del Toro. If you want to read something that will inspire you and kickstart your creativity, pick this one up.

Worst book? Well, I think the most disappointing one was "To Hell You Ride," a graphic novel by actor Lance Henriksen, whose extreme right-wing politics and conspiracy theories destroy a story that had a lot of potential.

Now, looking at books alone hardly captures the true depth of my reading in 2014. I read a LOT of articles, short stories, individual comic books and essays that could never be tallied in a way like this.

Looking ahead, I'm going to work hard to get back to reading novels this year. I have a few boxes of them ready and waiting for me, after all.

2014 in Articles

New Year's Day is good for three things: sleeping in, looking back and looking ahead.

I already slept in. I'll look ahead later today. For now I'm looking back.

This was a busy, busy year. In addition to moving all the way across the country -- no small endeavor, let me tell you -- I worked my tail off. Well, more specifically my fingers. I published 286 articles last year, ranging from short news posts to massive magazine features. That averages to about one article per work day, although some of the articles took months of work to pull together.

This is actually the lowest number of articles I have published in years (I published 392 in 2013 and more than 400 in 2012), but I concentrated on more involved work that had a greater impact. I also dramatically increased my per-article fee as a result (something freelancers always need to focus on achieving).

My favorite article of the year wasn't really an article -- it was an essay celebrating 10 years of my Extinction Countdown blog/column over at Scientific American. It's one of the most emotional things that I have ever written.

I have a lot of other favorites from this past year -- they're all my babies -- but I think for the purposes of this post I'll narrow it down to two, one more for SA and another for TakePart:

Found: A Snake Species No One Believed Existed

Cheetahs are Being Wiped Out, and Selfies are to Blame

You can find links to the other 283 articles from 2014 here.

With that out of the way, let's go ahead and look ahead: I look forward to filling 2015 with more amazing articles. Thank you for reading. I couldn't do this without you.