Best (and Worst) Media of the Year

I’m off in Utah, but I’ve been wanting to give an update on how 2015 went for me from a books, movies, and television perspective. As you know, I was keeping track of how many pages and minutes I read or watched over the year, as well as rating everything. So here I am to give you a Best Of/Worst Of summary for 2015.


Only a “Best Of” in books, mainly out of professional courtesy. I try to be nice to people in my professional areas, because that’s a good thing to do. I read 16,401 pages over the course of the year. The average rating I gave each of the 38 books I read was a 3.29/5, though I’ll also note that I only counted books I finished, and I generally only finish a book if I’m enjoying it. In other words, there were some books I started and didn’t love enough to finish. If I’d rated those, my average would be a fair bit lower.

The books I gave a 5/5 are:

  • Old Man’s War–Scalzi’s first. I finally got around to reading a chunk of the series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Interesting science fiction, compelling characters. 
  • Seveneves–I’m a sucker for Neal Stephenson books. This one is no different. Steep learning curve, but absolutely fascinating “what if” about how humanity would react if the moon exploded.
  • Uprooted–Naomi Novik’s Slavic-esque fantasy was a pleasure. Sort of surreal in parts, but I still loved it from start to finish.
  • The Screaming Staircase–The first book in the Lockwood and Company series was deliciously eerie and tons of fun. It kept me up late at night, not just because it had some great tension, but also because it was a great read.
  • The Cider House Rules–Decidedly different from everything else I read over the year. A beautiful, thought provoking book. Quite a a bit outside my wheelhouse, but just fantastic.


I watched 148 movies over the year. 16,477 minutes’ worth. (Look at that! About the same number of minutes as pages for the year. Interesting.) My average score was a 3.17, though again, I think that’s about right. I self select the movies I watch, basing most of them off Netflix’s algorithm. It knows me fairly well.

The movies I gave a 5/5 to (not counting movies I’d already seen before) were:

  • Touching the Void–An incredible documentary about a real life mountain climbing trip that went horribly wrong.
  • Starbuck–A French comedy about a man who discovers he’s fathered scores of children through a sperm bank. And he wants to get to know some of them. A crazy premise, but really quite heartwarming. For a French comedy.
  • Kingsman–A spy movie for the modern day. Irreverent, and a whole lot of fun.
  • The Martian–Loved the book. Loved the movie. ‘Nuff said.

The movies I gave a 0/5 to were:

  • 47 Ronin–Sorry, Keanu. This movie was an absolute stinker. Nothing redeemable about it. At all.
  • Ender’s Game–Not cool. One of my favorite books, absolutely butchered. I’ve tried to block it from my mind, honestly.
  • Amazing Spiderman 2–What a trainwreck. The epitome of everything that can go wrong in a superhero movie.
  • Cleopatra–Big. Bloated. Overrated.
  • Fast and Furious 6–Ignores the laws of physics as deftly as it ignores the need for a good plot or characters.

Funny enough, I gave out hardly any o’s in the later half of the year. Not sure why. Did I get pickier with what I watched, or luckier? And I actually even gave one movie a -1/5. Because sometimes rockbottom turns out to be not bottom enough.

  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire–The book wasn’t all that and a bag of chips. The movie upped the ante significantly. I’ve refused to watch either episode of the finale. Because life is too short.


In the TV department, I watched significantly more. 476 episodes totaling 20,822 minutes. That’s a lot of watching. I rated individual episodes, not seasons, so I’m not sure how best to present the results. Maybe just mention which shows got high marks for episodes and which didn’t?

Series in which an episode earned a 5/5:

  • Sopranos season two and three–Gritty, for sure. Still an enthralling show.
  • Agents of SHIELD season one–Some great stuff toward the end. It helped that I was binge watching it.
  • Downton Abbey season five–It was the best of times.
  • Justified season two–Some great stuff in this show. I need to start season three . . .
  • Daredevil season one–Again, some excellent episodes toward the end.
  • Game of Thrones season five–Jaw dropping now and then. I’m a fan.
  • House of Cards season two–The antithesis of West Wing. Still great, though.
  • Star Wars Rebels season one and two–Who knew? This is an awfully fun show.
  • Star Trek the Next Generation season three–Revisiting it once again. It’s been long enough that the whole show feels new, so I’m including it in the “new” category.
  • Doctor Who season eight–It took a bit to get used to Capaldi, but he came into his own.
  • Deadwood season one–An incredible finish to this first season.
  • Jessica Jones season one–The beginning was brutal, but I’m very glad Denisa and I stuck with the show. Loved the later part of the middle, even if the end wasn’t a home run.

Series in which an episode earned a 0/5:

  • Amazing Race season one–It was not an auspicious beginning to that show. It’s come a long way since, thankfully.
  • Under the Dome season two–There’s a reason I gave up halfway through that season.
  • Columbo season one–In which my Columbo experiment came to an abrupt end.
  • Downton Abbey season five–It was the worst of times.
  • Sopranos season three–Even great shows have their stinkers.
  • Doctor Who season one (of the new series)–Had an awfully rough start in places. No wonder I gave up on the show when I first tried to watch it with Denisa.

Looking back on it, I definitely began to be nice to shows and movies in the last half of the year. I’ll try to do better this year.

Anyway. There you have it. A whole year’s worth of data. It was a fun experiment, and I’ve already started up my spreadsheet for this year. I’m excited to see how it compares. (Yes. I’m a nerd.)

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