What to do in 2016

Well this post has gone up a little later than planned! Obviously a post like this should probably go up a bit closer to the start of the year, but I’m nothing if not slightly behind the curve.

What to do in2016

For the past few years. I haven’t made New Year’s Resolutions as such. I’ve gone with the idea of cultural challenges; days out, reading books, and seeing films. Now a couple of those days out have migrated over to my vastly superior birthday list (34 Before 34 this year), and I’m left wondering what to with my New Year list.

I still want to set myself a goal for books and films, but in all honesty, the days out never work out. I see live music every year anyway, but the comedy gig, stately home and theme park have never been ticked off in all the time I’ve been doing this. So they are gone, and it’s time to have a rethink.

Beyond the books and films goals, I’m just going to have a couple of more vague goals – things that can’t be ticked off a list, but if I can get to the end of the year, and think “Yeah, I’ve definitely done more of that” then I’ll be happy.

Read 75 books
Having failed so spectacularly with this number in 2015, I deliberated over reducing it (or losing it completely) in 2016. But I’m just going to stick with it, and try harder this year.

Watch 150 new-to-me films
It seems a shame to say goodbye to the ‘52 Films in 52 Weeks’ challenge, because it just fits nicely. But with a Cineworld card, and a subscription to Netflix and Amazon Video, 52 is a stupidly small number. So I’m going big, and hoping to best 2015’s total by 10.

Watch 52 films at the cinema
Within that 150, I want at least 52 of the to be at the cinema. Obviously this works out as one a week, which is totally doable, and the exact number I saw in 2015.

Do more for others
I hate how much I moan about the little things, without taking time out to realise that I’m spectacularly lucky. So I’m going to spend some time this year doing good deeds.

Write more
I’m going to fill 2016 with words. On my blog, in my diaries and journals, on social media; just everywhere.

Make more memories
When I get to the end of a year, I love looking back at the things I’ve done. These are the things I remember, rather than the things I’ve bought. So I’m aiming to make more memories this year.

41 Books in 2015

I almost didn’t write anything for a books roundup for 2015, because I’m so annoyed with myself at how little I read last year. Having set myself a goal of 75 for the two previous years, and met or surpassed it, I was sure that I could do the same again.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. I don’t really know what happened, but between my first full-time job in a while, moving out, and just… doing other stuff, I only managed 41 books.

I know that for some people, that’s still a lot. And I also know that it doesn’t count as a failure, because it was a self-imposed target, and it matters to nobody that I didn’t reach it. In fact, I’ve been tidying up my blog, and updating various book journals that I have, and in doing so, I’ve been reflecting on some of the books I have read, and it feels even less like a failure now than it did before.

Final

I read some cracking books last year, so it’s easy to take pleasure in that – quality over quantity. Here are a few of my favourites:

  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – I read this very early in the year, and it set the bar very high! Following the story of a group of nomadic travellers in the years following the collapse of modern civilisation, Emily St. John Mandel’s novel is a masterpiece. Read my review here.
  • Under the Skin by Michel Faber – I was simultaneously disgusted and intrigued by this book, and that’s not a feeling that has gone away thinking about it with several months distance. I still haven’t seen the film adaptation, but I thought the book was excellent; Isserley is a character who will stay with me for a long time.
  • The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton – On the subject of characters who stay with you, Ruby from The Quality of Silence is ten years old, deaf, and provides a compelling voice from whom we hear this incredible story of a terrifying journey across the Alaskan landscape. Read my review here.
  • The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katrina Bivald – Books about books are my favourite. If I’m presented with a character who finds it easier to relate to the people in her favourite books than the people she encounters in real life, I’m instantly won over, and that’s exactly what happened here. Read my review here.
  • The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows – I’m rarely moved to pay full price for a brand new book; I’m usually much more inclined to wait for it to come in at the library, or pick it up in a charity shop. But I enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so much that I couldn’t wait to read Annie Barrows’ new book. I wasn’t disappointed; it’s a richly dense novel with some wonderful characters.
  • In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume – There’s no denying the power of Judy Blume; it took months and months for this book to become available at the library! When I finally got my hands on it, I absolutely loved it. Drawing on her own teenage experience of three planes crashing in her home town, Blume tells the story not only of her adolescent protagonist, but of the community at large, and does so with a skill and dexterity that I’ve admired since my own teenage years.

I also loved Jurassic Park, The Lost World, The New York Four, The Sky is Everywhere, and The Royal We amongst the 41 that I read in 2015.

So even though I’m disappointed that I didn’t hit my total in 2015, I am pleased that I took the time to write this post, because it shows that I read some great books!

140 Films in 2015

For the last few years, I have set myself a goal to watch 52 films each year. Obviously, this works out at one film a week, which, when I started doing this, felt realistic, and something that would help me watch more new-to-me films, instead of endless rewatches.

In 2014 I surpassed that total, ending up on 73, but I kept the goal of 52 the same, because I didn’t want to set an unrealistic target and then fail to meet it. As you can tell from the title of this post, I ended up watching nearly three times as many as I wanted to, finishing the year on 140! Even to me, that’s a fairly astonishing total, especially given that when I first started logging my films, in 2011, I finished on 30!

With so many films to consider, it was hard to make a collage that showed them all properly without it overtaking the whole post, so here’s what my 2015 in films looks like.

Final

  • In terms of how I watched the 140, it’s a pretty even split between the cinema (52) and online streaming (57). My cinema total has gone up massively due to having an Cineworld Unlimited card for the first time, and it actually works out at one a week, which is good going. The remaining films were either DVD (12), television (15), or iPlayer (3).
  • I have actually taken the time to work out which actors are my most watched this year! This has taken a fair amount of work, but it’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing. My most watched male actors were Vin Diesel and Oscar Isaac, both coming in at seven a piece. The runaway winner for the females looked like being Jordana Brewster for a while (darn that Fast and Furious marathon), but ended up being Allison Janney, with six.
  • I also worked out my most watched director (Steven Spielberg), and my most watched screenwriter (Chris Morgan – he of Fast and Furious fame).
  • I wanted to do a separate post for my favourite new releases of 2015, but it didn’t happen, so here they are, in no particular order: Inside Out, Ex Machina, The Martian, Carol and Brooklyn.
  • In terms of older releases, my favourites that I watched in 2015 were: The Way, Way Back, Spellbound, Begin Again, Chef and School of Rock (which I can’t believe it took me so long to watch in full!).
  • As always, there are very few on the list that I didn’t enjoy, as I’m pretty good by now at knowing what I will like. But the humour of Wet Hot American Summer went right over my head – I didn’t get it at all. And the worst film I watched at the cinema was The Last Witch Hunter. If I hadn’t bothered with it, Oscar Isaac would have won most-watched actor outright.

That may seem like a little bit too much work in terms of analysing my film watching. But I honestly enjoy all of this almost as much as I enjoy the films themselves!

I tried to keep up with writing a small amount on each film for the blog this year, but it didn’t work, and it won’t work any better next year, as I intend to watch more films. But I am starting to use Letterboxd more, and I’m hoping to log each film for 2016 there, along with a couple of sentences giving my thoughts on each one. If you’d like to, you can follow me here.

Do you set yourself film goals? What are you aiming for in 2016?

73 Films in 2014

As well as setting myself a yearly reading challenge, I also set a goal of one new-to-me film a week, working out at 52 films in a year. Since I started setting this goal, I have always exceeded it, but this is the first year that I have exceeded it by quite so many films. I watched 73 films in 2014, having reached 52 back in October with Silent Running. I tried really hard to get it up to 75, so I could have a matching films and books total, but it didn’t happen in the end!

I know that 73 films isn’t that many in comparison with others, but for me, it’s rather a lot. I started setting the challenge because I didn’t feel as though I was watching enough different films, but now that I have Netflix, and a little more disposable money, that’s a thing of the past. I toyed with the idea of increasing the number from 52 to 100, or 104, but I decided, for this year, to stick with 52. If I end up on a similar number to 2014, I’ll probably go for 100 in 2016! Here’s what 2015 looked like for me in films.

  • Of the 73 films, I watched nine at the cinema, which was the same as 2013 (hopefully that will be more in 2015). I watched seven on television, eight on DVD, five on iPlayer, and 42 on Netflix. Of the remaining two, I watched one at a screening at the Cinema Museum, and one on Amazon Prime.
  • Most of the films were watched alone, but I watched eight with Jen, seven with Anna, six with Hannah and five with Rob.
  • As ever, it’s hard to work out this particular statistic, but I think my most watched actors were Robert Downey Jr (in Iron Man 2, Zodiac, and Soapdish), and Jennifer Lawrence (in House at the End of the Street, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I).
  • My favourite new releases of the year were Pride, Boyhood, The Imitation Game and The Babadook.
  • My favourites of the older films I watched were Broadcast News, Ginger and Rosa, Son of Rambow, Jaws, Frances Ha, Saving Mr Banks, Infamous and Pitch Perfect.
  • My least favourite was Airplane! I only watched it because it was on the AFI 100 Laughs… list, and I knew I wasn’t going to get the humour!

What to do in 2015

Happy New Year! I hope your festive season was a good one, and that you are excited about the year ahead. I’m not really a fan of New Year’s Eve, but I love the fresh feeling of the new year, the idea that the whole year is ahead of us and the hope of achieving lots. As you may know, if you have read this blog for a while, I don’t make resolutions, but I do have a list of regular goals that I hope to achieve each year, as well as some extras that change year-on-year. I know that not everyone agrees with the idea of making resolutions or setting goals, but for me it’s another excuse to make a list (I do love a list), and they are things that are genuinely ongoing throughout the year.

So without further ado, and with a brief roundup as to how I did with last year’s goals, here is my list.

Go to a music concert/gig: I love seeing and hearing live music, so this is on the list to make sure that I do it at least once. In 2014, I was lucky enough to see a lot of live music, for me at least! I went to the Classical Spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall with my dad, I saw The Shires twice, the second time they were co-touring with Ward Thomas, who I had also seen at Radio 2 in Hyde Park! I also went to The Big Gig, a Guiding event, where I saw lots of people, but most excitingly, Little Mix. And I saw The Gaslight Anthem in November at Alexandra Palace. I don’t know if 2015 will be quite so full, but I’m definitely hoping to see Ward Thomas again, at the very least!

Go to the theatre: When I made my list last year, I knew that I was going to see Derren Brown, and I said that as it was taking place in the theatre, I was going to count it. I am counting it as crossed off, but I know really that it’s a bit of a cheat, because although obviously I loved it, when I wrote ‘Go to the theatre’, I meant to see a play or a musical. I would love to cross it off properly next year, because I do so love the theatre. I have a £35 Ticketmaster voucher that I’ve never used, so maybe I’ll just go ahead and book something!

Go to a comedy gig: This has been on my lists for years, and I’ve never actually done it! It shouldn’t be that hard, and maybe I’ll use the aforementioned voucher for this one instead!

Go to a theme park: I think I had been to a theme park every year for about five, right up until I started making these new year’s lists, and since then, I haven’t been to one! I am definitely going to try and do this one next year. All I have to do is get Anna on board, and that’s easy.

Go to a stately home:  Still one that I haven’t managed since I started making the lists. I already know where I want to go (Audley End, which is local, and Chatsworth, which is not), but I won’t be surprised if I don’t end up doing it.

Read 75 books: I haven’t had a chance to round up the results of my 2014 books, but I’m really pleased that I managed it, just! I finished my 75th book on 30th December, so look out for the round up in the next couple of days. I’m sticking with 75 again this year, because I know that I can do it, and I know that I shouldn’t make it such a chore by leaving it until the end of the year to read a fifth of the books!

Watch 52 films: When I first starting setting myself a film goal, I chose 52 because I thought it was easily achievable – one a week. As it turns out, now, it’s a goal that I surpass every year, and in 2014 I went way over, watching 73. The temptation is obviously to up the total, and aim for 75, or 100, but I’m reluctant to do that, because I don’t want to fail. So I’ll stick to 52, and see what happens this year, and then I’ll reassess next year! My 2014 film round up will be coming soon.

So there you have my main seven goals for 2015; these are the goals that stick around every year, because they are the things that I always want to have as part of my year. But every year there are a few that I like to throw in as extras. Last year, I wanted to take more photographs, blog more, spread the blog love, declutter, and keep a diary. I didn’t keep a diary (I never do), I didn’t declutter (but that goal has made it onto my 33 Before 33 list), and I didn’t spread the blog love as much as I could have. I think I probably did blog more, I feel at least that my blogging was more organised and had a better structure to it. I did take more photographs as well, as I completed a Project 365 for the first time ever! (Of course, I’ll be doing a post to round up all my photos from the year, too.)

For 2015, there are just a few more things to add to my list.

  • Have a meat-free day a week: I work with a lot of vegetarians and vegans, and while I am under no pressure to change my diet, I thought I would give it a go. I don’t want to be a vegetarian, but I do like the idea of experimenting with my meals, and changing up what I eat. It can only be healthier too, because I’m much more likely to cook something yummy than shove something in the oven. We’ll see how it goes!
  • Keep a diary/journal: I know what I said up there, it never happens. But I do so love the idea of diaries, and I love reading back on ones that I have managed to write in the past, so I’m going to give it another go. I’m also planning on resurrecting my journal, which is where I keep photos, articles, tickets and the suchlike. I love reading back on old journals too, so it’s definitely worth my while doing it.
  • Organise my photographs: This extends to sorting out (and backing up) digital files, and getting some photos printed and into albums. I know it’s a cliché to say it, but I do hate that there is a dearth of printed photographs from recent years in my family collection, especially when there are so, so many from years gone by.
  • Explore Essex: I know that if you aren’t from Essex, you might be scoffing right now, thinking that there’s no more to this county than Brentwood high street and the Sugar Hut, but that’s just not true. There’s some beautiful villages in Essex, and I’d love to see more of them. I’m going to spend some time looking around and taking some photographs of them.

In lieu of resolutions, these are the things I want to do throughout the year, things that bring me joy and fun and just make my life a little more fun! Do you make resolutions?