Reading Habits of 2023

So an interesting thing happened with my star ratings this year, but before we go there, lets look at some of the highlights of what I’ve read this past year.

Cover image for The Country of the Blind

In the non-fiction category was a memoir by Andrew Leland called The Country of the Blind. It follows his grappling with slowly losing his sight over a few decades due to retinitis pigmentosa. Along the way he covers a bit of history of how blindness has been treated in the USA.

Cover image for Delta-V

The two books in the Delta-v series by Daniel Suarez were solid entries in the science fiction genre about asteroid mining and building infrastructure for space exploration.

Finally the third entry in the Judi Westerholme series by Sherryl Clark, Mad, Bad and Dead was solid. I don’t know why, but even though this book Cover image for Mad, Bad and Dead followed a lot of mundane detail of Judi’s life, like the minutia of running an Australian pub, I found it an engaging read regardless.

I’ve also launched into the Armand Gamache series about a Chief Inspector investigating crimes that keep drawing him to the small Québécois village of Three Pines. There was a short-lived TV series based on the books which is what got me into them. Five books out of eighteen read so far and will definitely pick up some more in 2024.

Other notable mentions are The Midsolar Murders by Mur Lafferty and the usual perennial favourites by Craig Johnson, Harlan Coben, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Robert Sawyer and Steve Cavanagh. I also worked though the back-catalogue of books I hadn’t read by Sally Hepworth.

On to numbers! A whopping count of 11 audiobooks this year, plus 51 ebooks for a total of 62, not including the two I did not finish. Although I read one less ebook this year compared to last year, I read about 1,500 more pages. So fewer but longer books.

Graph of books read per year.

Took a little longer to read each book, 7.2 days compared to an even 7 last year, but was reading four more pages per day at 53.

Graphs of days per book and pages per day by year.

The number of articles I’ve read this year is not terribly interesting. Less than last year at 318 compared to 342, but a higher total word count with articles being some 170 words longer on average.

But then we look at my star ratings:

Graphs showing my book ratings.

It looks like this year I read a lot of good books. With 84% of them rated three stars or above, compared to 70% over the last ten years. My average star rating of 3.51 was also a lot closer to the Goodreads average of 4.05. For the last ten years I’ve tended to rate books about 0.88 stars less then the Goodreads community, but this year was a narrow 0.54 stars.

Looking at the numbers it seems I’ve either had my best year ever as far and enjoyable book reading goes, or I’ve been a lot less grumpy and rated books more favourably. A little of both?

The Black List

I enjoy reading The Black List which is an annual posting of favoured unproduced screenplays based on a survey of Hollywood film industry executives.

Films like Slumdog Millionaire, Argo, The King’s Speech and Passengers are movies that have appeared in a Black List and gone on to be produced.

From these, I have listed the ones from the last few years that have appealed to me in some way. From what I’ve picked it looks like those involving time travel, aliens, or Daniel Radcliffe tickle me. Perhaps next year they’ll combine all three! What appeals to you?


Bad Boy
Travis Braun
A rescue dog suspects his loving new owner is a serial killer.

The Getaway
Mario Kyprianou and Becky Leigh
A couple on the brink of divorce sets off on a romantic getaway to save their marriage, but when they find they have inexplicably travelled back in time, they decide to team up to stop their younger selves from ever getting married.

Andrew Nunnelly
The classic story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl… boy forms unexpected bromance with girl’s cat, who may actually be an intergalactic emissary sent to save humanity from itself.

Adam Yorke
After a botched bank heist leaves nineteen people locked inside a state-of-the-art vault, the FBI recruits the world’s foremost box-man from federal prison so he can break them out before they suffocate inside.


Julian Wayser
In 1518, a dancing plague overtook the city of Strasbourg in the holy Roman empire. Hundreds of people danced themselves to death over the course of a summer and no one knows why. Encircling medieval medicine, the uncanny, and the origins of mass hysteria, Vitus is a wildly visual exploration of a crucial (but little-known) moment of European history.

Better Luck Next Time
Kristen Tepper
Two best friends run a successful underground service taking womens’ toxic ex’s on humiliating dates, but their friendship is put to the ultimate test when an old mark plots his revenge.

Geoff Tock and Greg Weidman
Fresh out of a spell in prison, a man attempts to set his life right by working a mysterious job that requires him to seek out life forms hidden amongst us.


Sophie Dawson
A high-functioning cannibal selects his victims based on their Instagram popularity, but finds his habits shaken by a man who wants to be eaten.

The Boy Who Died
Monisha Dadlani
A young girl creates a robot version of Harry Potter while her father simultaneously is treating Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe for a terminal disease.

Cosmic Sunday
MacMillan Hedges
A small percentage of the population is stuck in a time loop and have had to create a society that functions within the same day, repeated day in and day out. One man struggles to find himself for the first time in ages amidst a society clinging to a sense of normalcy.

High Society
Noga Pnueli
A depressed, progressive woman stuck in a conservative small Texas town starts micro-dosing the entire town with marijuana to make them all get along.

Gabe Hobson
A father and daughter living in remote isolation must fight for survival after aliens arrive seeking revenge for killing one of their own.


The Repossession
Megan Amram
Twenty years after a failed exorcism, a meek young woman becomes unlikely friends with the foul-mouthed demon that possessed her as a child.


Harry’s All Night Hamburgers
Steve Desmond, Michael Anthony Sherman
A down-on-his luck high school senior discovers that the old roadside diner outside of town is secretly a hangout for parallel universe travellers. He sets off on a mind-bending adventure across the multiverse that takes him beyond his wildest dreams.

Kill the Leopard
Mattson Tomlin
A henchman-turned-terrorist has a bone to pick with an idolised vigilante. When he takes control of a city skyscraper, the hero known as the Leopard comes to the rescue - but when both the terrorist and the Leopard are overtaken by the hostages, a kangaroo court evolves as the hostages navigate their complex histories with the vigilante.


Where I End
Imran Zaidi
In a world where your life can be saved, uploaded to a computer, and restarted in the case of your untimely demise, a husband returns from the dead, suspecting his wife may have been involved in his death.


Contingency Protocol
Mark Townend
When futuristic technology renders the Federal Witness Protection Program obsolete, the U.S. Government begins using time travel to hide high-profile witnesses in the past. When a security breach occurs, a U.S. Marshal and her witness struggle to find their way back to the present day while evading assassins.


Pale Blue Dot
Brian C Brown, Elliott DiGuiseppi
Twelve months after returning from a space mission, decorated astronaut Laura Pepper is arrested for the attempted murder of a fellow astronaut.

The Shave
Thomas White, Miles Hubley
A dirty cop, exonerated in the murder of a high school honour student, visits the boy’s father at his barbershop and, while receiving a straight razor shave, listens to him recount the story of his son’s life.

The Wretched Emily Erringer
Chris Thomas Devlin
Gleefully terrifying her small town as a serial killer known as “The Misfit Butcher,” 13-year-old Emily Derringer becomes annoyed when a new killer comes to town and residents begin attributing his sloppy murders to the Misfit Butcher. In a macabre coming of age story, Emily must deal with her competition while also taking on the other trials and tribulations of junior high school life.

David Birke
The war is over. A bitter and uneasy truce has been reached with an invading alien race, and a new cold war has begun. Fuelled by suspicions of an alien spy in their ranks, the United Nations Intelligence Division entrusts their top agent, Martin Webber, with finding the mole.

Great Falls
Andy Friedhof
After negligently killing a hunter with their patrol car, an alcoholic Sheriff’s Deputy and her superior officer must decide what to do with the only witness to their crime - a death row inmate only days from execution.


Erin’s Voice
Greg Sullivan
A deaf computer genius’ world is thrown into turmoil when he meets a troubled coffee shop waitress whose voice turns out to be the only thing he can miraculously hear.


Geoff Tock, Greg Weidman
A man goes to space to destroy the ship that, upon going sentient, killed his wife.

Ian Shorr
A young man’s life is turned upside down when he mysteriously begins to receive metallic capsules containing messages from his future self.

Reading Habits of the Last Few Years

So I’m several years overdue on blog posts of my riveting reading habits, but to make up for it, I have graphs!

Graph of books read per year.

My reading rate seems to have gone down. This is peculiar given with COVID lockdowns in Melbourne I would have thought I would have read more books in 2020 and 2021. However I seem to have gone from between 60 to 70 books read, to around 50 for the last few years.

The number of audiobooks has been pretty healthy though. I did spend some of 2020/21 working through the Dune series from the first, Dune, through to the eighth, Sandworms of Dune.

Looking at days per book and pages per day, I don’t think the slowdown was because I was reading longer books!

Graphs of days per book and pages per day by year.

Taking a gander over what I’ve read in the last five years, there have been a lot of good books and series. The Rosie Effect and The Rosie Result were good follow-ups to Graeme Simsion’s charming The Rosie Project. Cover image for The Rosie Result The Xandri Corelel series by Kaia Sønderby was set in the far future, featuring one of the few remaining autistics in the human race, I found quite captivating and wish there were more books following this character. I also got my hands on a copy of The Tripod Trilogy, which is a young adult series by John Christopher I’d read several times in my youth. It was a delight to have these and read them again.

There were also a couple of stand-out autobiographies. There was Becoming Superman by Joe Michael Straczynski, who I’ve always thought was a terribly interesting human ever since he created the Babylon 5 television series. Cover image for Ten Steps to Nanette And more recently Ten Steps to Nanette, Hannah Gadsby’s story of life from growing up in rural Tasmania, becoming a comedian, and the journey that lead to the titular stage show. Watch Nanette, and then watch their follow-up, Douglas which I believe are both available on Netflix. Then listen to them narrate the audiobook of Ten Steps.

Looking at ratings I’ve given, perhaps I’ve gone for quality over quantity with 2020 being a standout year with almost 80% of the books I read rated three starts or better.

Graphs showing my book ratings

In the last five years my average rating was 3.04 versus Goodreads of 3.94. I seem to hover round one star difference to Goodreads ratings, 2020 again being the exception where it narrowed to 0.7 starts.

Graph showing articles read per year

The number of articles I’ve read in a year has also dropped a bit, and just about halved in the last year. Don’t know why.

Cover image for The House of Styx

Other good readings were The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, and of course, Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. The House of Styx by Derek Künsken I found a bit difficult to get into at the start, but it must have drawn me in as it got a solid four stars from me. True Biz by Sara Nović, another good four star book, is a young adult entry set in a school for the deaf.

Cover image for The Lost Man

Lastly, I’ve been reading a lot of Australian authors more recently. Anything by Jane Harper goes to the front of the queue when it is released. The Caleb Zelic series by Emma Viskic is also a good read. As is the Judi Westerholme series by Sherryl Clark. Simon Rowell and Chris Hammer are worth your time. And I’m working my way through the catalogue of Sally Hepworth’s musing.

With over 300 books in my mountain of to-be-read, I might have to lift my game.

Mini Movie Reviews

Over the years I’ve posted various brief movie reviews on social media. Decided to trawl back through and collect the bulk of them for my own amusement. Starting at the most recent.


Recently watched The Menu, a treatise on perfect being the enemy of good and the forces both internal and external that drive you there. Set in the world of haute cuisine with lavish servings of pretentiousness and homicide, I’ll never hear the word degustation again without a shiver running up my occipital.

Jan 08, 2023

So just watched Violent Night and it’s a great Christmas movie. Maybe even better than Die Hard.

Dec 27, 2022

So I thought Nope was pretty good right up until the final act when a… creative decision… in the visuals had me going, “What the? Did I miss something?” which of course totally distracted me from the end of the movie. Looking at discussion online, it appears I didn’t miss anything, it was a total non sequitur. There were one or two story points along the way that didn’t quite make sense to me, but they were minor in an otherwise quite enjoyable movie. This sudden visual change (that I’m talking around to avoid spoilers) had, “Nope,” become more of a, “Yeah, Nah.”

Aug 27, 2022

Movie poster for Come From Away

Just finished watching Come from Away which was excellent. If I ever get the chance to see it live I will. Very cleverly uses twelve cast members to tell the stories of hundreds with humour and poignancy.

Jun 05, 2022

So The Batman was quite disappointing. Slowly paced in an attempt to be moody. A police procedural with lots of police, but light on the procedural. For me, it adds little to the body of work around this character – and its worst sin: it’s boring.

Apr 24, 2022

“Why do I want to know about your son? Because he killed mine.” Mass is a movie that doesn’t try and give answers, but instead explores the spaces left afterwards. I suspect I will need a second viewing to better appreciate its nuances.

Apr 14, 2022

The Outfit is a wonderful, twisty little slow-burn of a movie.

Apr 12, 2022

Really enjoyed this musical take on the well known Cinderella story. Fun song choices, a fabulous godmother, and just a bit of snark made it stand out.

“Why we are spending money on catapults when we have so many already? It really just benefits the catapult makers.”

Sep 19, 2021

So I decided to watch Interstellar again and enjoyed it more than I ever did previously. I think I’ve gained sufficient distance from the experience of watching it in the theatre with my ears being blasted out, combined with inaudible dialogue. Yes the soundtrack is very mediocre (to put it kindly, it could have been so much better) but services the movie well enough, and subtitles fix the dialogue problem (although I’m wondering if I have a remixed version as it was a lot clearer this time around.) Good movie despite some flaws.

Dec 20, 2020

In Tenet, Christopher Nolan continued the penchant he started with Interstellar for terrible sound design, including dialogue so muddy it was not comprehensible a lot of the time. At least the music score was better. But inaudible dialogue did make it hard to follow a complex movie with complex ideas about time travel. Overall it was very good. I will need to watch it again with subtitles (although it is entirely possible I already have.)

Nov 29, 2020

Just watched and enjoyed The Old Guard. Good fun if you don’t ask too many questions like, “Would they die if you dropped them through a wood-chipper?” or, “Would she have to stab her earrings though her ear lobe every time?” Kind of like the perennial, “How does Superman shave?”

The only spot where I really lost my suspension of disbelief was during a big gunfight in a lab. They are ducking around all these cylinders labelled flammable and such and nothing went boom.

Jul 12, 2020

Movie poster for Togo

Togo is a surprisingly good movie about a sled dog run to retrieve serum for an diphtheria outbreak in an isolated Alaskan town in the middle of a huge storm. From what I’ve read, hues closely to the true story upon which it is based.

Jan 12, 2020

If Frozen had been written by an Australian, the main anthem wouldn’t have been called, “Let it go,” it would have been, “Build a bridge and get over it.”

Dec 04, 2019

So Rambo: Last Blood was every bit as bad as I expected it to be, which made it gruesomely enjoyable in an odd sort of way.

Dec 02, 2019

Okay, so just saw the new version of The Lion King and I thought visually it was excellent. A lot of the criticism I read was that in going for the visual realism the characters just didn’t emote like the animated version. I thought they emoted fine. My issue? The voice cast just wasn’t a patch on the original. Where was the evil relish of Jeremy Irons as Scar? Or the wonderful full-throated baboon cachinnations of Rafiki as portrayed by Robert Guillaume? This performance was… restrained. Flat. The only one that even came close was the guy who voiced Mufasa. And how could they cut the line, “They call me ‘MR. PIG’!”? I think the tonal changes lost a lot of the humour beats and cherished significant moments. I want the visuals of 2019 with the performance of 1994.

Oct 11, 2019

So John Wick 3 (Parabellum) was a lot better than the second movie. I’d say the first movie was the best, at the very least by the virtue of being the first. The third movie is a close second though, with the second movie a distant third speck on the horizon.

Aug 25, 2019

Really like the movie, The Martian (and if you did too, you should absolutely read the book it was based on) but one thing irritates the hell out of me every time. He is supposedly on starvation rations, but every third scene he is eating something. Honestly he should weigh as much as me by the end of the movie. End rant.

May 12, 2019

If you have not seen the previous movies, then Glass will be opaque. Overall, I liked it.

Jan 25, 2019

“What’s the plan?”

“Cause a distraction, break your people out, and save the fucking planet. That’s the plan.”

Occupation wasn’t a bad little Australian alien invasion movie, but a weak ending and an overall struggle to find its tone made it ultimately unsatisfying.

Jul 21, 2018

I was really on the fence about watching Annihilation, but thought it was pretty good in the end. My reluctance was because I really hated almost everything about the book, from the style of writing, to not giving the characters names, to being all mysterious with no reveal at all by the end. Reading a review of the movie that mentioned it was only loosely based on the book, and took things in a different direction, I decided to give it a go - and all the things I disliked about the book were absent from the movie. You understood the broad strokes of what was going on from the very start, the visual style was very well done and the acting was excellent (with the notable exception of Jennifer Jason Leigh. I don’t know what she was going for, but if it was wooden to the point of ossification, she nailed it.) Overall, a solid, understated, watchable film.

Mar 16, 2018

So overall The Cloverfield Paradox was pretty good. It would have been a lot better if it had stayed as a stand-alone movie (as originally scripted as “The God Particle”). The expectations put on it for being part of the franchise did it a disservice. Also, the dumbest parts of the movie were the ham-fisted bits trying to tie it in to the Cloverfield mythology.

Feb 05, 2018

So even with the whole Statesman plot thread, the new Kingsman: The Golden Circle movie was pretty good. Mercifully it turned out Channing Tatum only had a small role.

Oct 07, 2017

So Atomic Blonde was really good. The plot is a little convoluted in places so you need to pay attention. There was one fight scene that went for almost ten minutes in what looked like one take - which ended up distracting me as I started looking for cuts. Turns out it was over forty takes with bits of CGI to stitch them together. I tell you this now as a public service so you can just enjoy it without getting distracted like I did.

Aug 11, 2017

So War for the Planet of the Apes was really good. Read just about any review and they will tell you. Two things, however, drove me to distraction throughout the entire movie. (Potential spoilers ahead, read at your own peril.)

Woody Harrelson’s character, The Colonel, is so bad-ass he can wear his sunglasses at night without walking into things. Kids, do not try that at home except in a well lit room. Shaving his head with a straight razor in front of hundreds of his men during reveille, without a mirror, yeah very manly. Sure, he was a little cuckoo, but he had to make some horrible decisions in the past that pretty much broke him, so that made sense. But wearing sunglasses in the dark? Utter insanity.

The other thing, and this was what really distracted me throughout the movie, was that Caesar almost exclusively spoke instead of signing (except in situations where the noise would likely get him killed), whereas all the other apes of his community signed almost exclusively, eschewing speech even if it was more practical, such as communicating with someone who didn’t know sign language. There was even one scene where Caesar was looking off into the distance through binoculars, and the ape next to him signed something and he responded. (Verbally of course.)

In the second movie it was handled much more rationally where all the apes, including Caesar, mostly preferred to sign, but would speak, sometimes even just a word or two, for emphasis or because it was impractical to sign (like if you had your hands full or the other person wasn’t looking at you). The change in the third movie was stupid and internally inconsistent and distracted me the whole time.

So yes, definitely recommend seeing the movie if you enjoyed the previous ones or you think you’ll like this one. And if now these above quibbles distract you too, at least they don’t have the little black circles in the top right corner to signal a reel change any more. That distracted me for years after someone pointed it out to me.

Jul 29, 2017

Watching The Belko Experiment has totally put me off working in an office cubicle ever again.

Jun 09, 2017

So chapter two of John Wick was fairly disappointing. Whereas the first movie had extremely well choreographed and unique fight scenes, the second movie had the same three fight scenes repeated several times throughout the movie. Though I do still like his predilection for head shots just to make sure. The plot also just had no drive to it, and was sharply nonsensical in a few places. Less of both style and substance than chapter one.

May 25, 2017

Logan was brutal and pretty awesome.

Apr 02, 2017

The Girl with All the Gifts is not another mindless zombie movie. (See what I did there?) Lots of well regarded actors such as Paddy Considine, Gemma Arterton, and Glenn Close give nuanced performances without having to chew on the scenery.

Jan 23, 2017

I seem to be enjoying a run of, if not outright horror movies, then some thrillers that skate very close, lately. Just finished watching The Invitation, which had a really good, small budget, slow-burn build up of paranoia.

Watched Hush a couple of weeks ago, which is definitely in the horror genre about a deaf women trapped in her home, which was pretty good apart from one stupid bit in the middle.

May 09, 2016

So finally caught up with Batman v[sic] Superman. I think the kindest word for it is contrived. Pretty good action scenes, but pretty scattershot with everything else. Weird dream sequences that made me wonder if Batman snorts cocaine didn’t help. If, like me, you’re not an avid follower of DC comics, I suspect a lot of stuff in the movie is lost on you. Judging by reactions of avid followers of DC comics, that may have been a blessing.

Apr 25, 2016

So Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny was not bad as sequels go. Amused that the first movie was in Mandarin but the sequel was in English. Funny thing was there was a few Aussie actors in it, and there was no real effort made to match their accent to the other actors, which was a bit jarring.

Mar 25, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane was a fun, tense little movie (that had no relation whatsoever to its titular predecessor).

Mar 13, 2016

Movie poster for Interstellar

I’m beginning to wonder if Christopher Nolan peaked with Batman Begins and The Prestige. His movies since seem to have lost something (although Inception came close). Interstellar was a great concept, and for the most part enjoyable, but there were two things that really detracted from it greatly. First, Matthew McConaughey’s drawl has become so thick in his recent work that I can barely understand him. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s had a stroke and nobody noticed. Second, the music score in this was awful. It was so loud it drowned out dialogue at times, and had all the subtlety of a televangelist.

Nov 15, 2014

Enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy. It reminded me a lot of Serenity (Firefly) but more light-hearted and less acerbic. Okay, maybe not so much like Serenity, but it did remind me of it. Honest.

Aug 09, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was only okay when it could have been great. They jettisoned almost all character development, world building or subtlety in favour of throwing as many caricature bad-guys in as they could. The previous series waited until the third movie to go that route. Honestly, it was like something out of a comic book.

Apr 20, 2014

Captain America 2 was pretty good, although they did their best to try and ruin it with choppy camera work during the fight scenes.

Apr 11, 2014

There was one point during Man of Steel where I thought, “Yep, Edna Mode was right.” But overall very enjoyable.

Jul 10, 2013

Showed the kids one of the fight scenes from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Never seen their little eyes bulge so far out of their heads. They reckon it beats Ninja Turtles, hands down.

Oct 08, 2010

Just saw Avatar. Very good - no Ewoks! 9/10

Dec 28, 2009

Saw Wolverine, which made the cut (sorry). Only thing that threw me is they go though all this carnage yet their cloths remain immaculate.

May 16, 2009

Just watched the new The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) It is both good and original, but the parts that were original were not good, and the parts that were good were not original.

Apr 28, 2009

Reading Habits of 2017

The annual blog post of my reading stats for the year.

I read 65 books in 2017 which is a bit more than last year. A total of 21,650 pages, a respectable 2,672 over last year. This works out to 59 pages per day, or a book every five and a half days on average.

Of the 65 books, I read 63 in ebook format and two were physical books. I also listened to Artemis as an audiobook which isn’t counted above. I listen to a few audiobooks a year, but they are usually books I have already read previously so I don’t track them. In this case, the expert narration by Rosario Dawson made ‘reading’ for the first time as an audiobook a no-brainer.

My average rating was 2.94 compared to Goodreads of 4.00 which seems a bit harsh. There were five books I didn’t finish, which is a high number compared to previous years so perhaps that indicates I was taking more risks with my reading selections than previous years, and that is showing in my ratings.

I also read 875 articles and blog entries which is the most I’ve read since I started tracking in 2014. A word count of 1.16 million.

Cover image for We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

There were a lot of good book series this year. The biggest surprise would be the Bobiverse trilogy which kicks off with We Are Legion (We Are Bob). I was a bit dubious with it at first, but ended up quite engrossed.

Cover image for The Rosie Project

The Intrepid Saga and Orion Wars series, following the adventures of Tanis Richards are a consistently good read. While I’ve enjoyed that character and the world around her, I haven’t been tempted to read the other offshoots of the Aeon14 universe yet.

Finally, The Rosie Project was such a completely charming surprise I ended up reading it straight through in one night.