2018: Tired, Wired & Ready

Is anyone else just really, really tired? Closing out 2018 feels like finishing a marathon while also watching the world go up in flames. Last year, I told myself that focusing on the good parts of my life was a means to keep going when the headlines just seem to keep getting worse. In 2018, that also carried me through — so I’m tired, yes, but I’m also wired and ready to go as we head into 2019.

Earlier blog posts chronicle some of the major moments of this year regarding my career. If you want to keep up with what I’m writing elsewhere, you can check out the front page of The Verbal Thing or follow me on Twitter. However, as per tradition, I’ve got a few photos and some picks for my favorite 2018 media, including books, comics, music, TV and movies!

In 2018…

  • I visited New York City a whopping five times, mostly on trips for work (!). Prior to this year, I’d only been there once, so it’s a little surreal to think about the fact that I know where certain places are now and even have a bagel shop, falafel truck, and restaurant that are my go-tos each time I’m in the city. It’s honestly kind of weird! But also awesome.
  • I met so many people who have been online friends and Twitter mutuals for what feels like eons. Take me back to Flame Con immediately, please. I’d 100% tackle New York Comic Con again, too!
  • Reed’s BFF and I totally knocked their birthday out of the park. Who says I can’t keep a secret?! WHO???
  • We made some big plans for the future. I’m not going to talk about them in detail, but 2019 is going to be hella exciting. I’m so stoked.

2018 was a year of big changes; I accomplished so many goals and set so many new ones, but I also honed my craft, deepened old relationships and established new ones, walked the walk and talked the talk. It was hard, but also completely worth the struggle. Sometimes, it feels like the last year has been a dream that I’m bound to wake up from any moment now.

Since that probably won’t happen, let’s talk about media I got into this year!

Books

For years, I’ve aimed to read at least 100 books in a calendar year. The closest I ever came — until this year! — was in 2012, when I read 71 books. (Actually, I think I read more, but it was before GoodReads implemented its “repeat reads” feature, so they aren’t chronicled. Oh well.) In 2018, I finally met my 100-book goal. In fact, I exceeded it, and diversified my reading list quite a bit. FEELS GOOD, Y’ALL.

I read quite a few new books in 2018, so here are a few of my favorites that were published this year:

Dead Girls: Essays On Surviving An American Obsession by Alice Bolin

As a person who frequently consumes media about dead girls (after all, it’s hard not to, as noted by Alice Bolin in this impeccable essay collection), Dead Girls really fucked me up. I read it right after reading and then watching Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, so it was especially striking. Why are we so obsessed with dead girls, from Laura Palmer to Lilly Kane? How does this obsession shape us and the stories we consume, not to mention the stories we tell? If you have any interest in sharp, poignant pop culture criticism, I highly recommend this book.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I already wrote a full review of Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood, but here’s the gist: “I devoured The Hazel Wood because I absolutely did not want to put it down. I loved the fast pace, high stakes, and ethereal quality of the timeline. … Since I finished The Hazel Wood last week, I’ve thought about it frequently. It’s the first book I’ve read in months that kept me up well into the night, desperate to find out what happened next and loathe to reach the end all at the same time.”

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

GODDAMN, THIS BOOK. I read The Cruel Prince for book club and then immediately read the ARC of its sequel, The Wicked King, which comes out in January. This series combines several elements from Holly Black’s other works and it’s arguably her best to date. I really love the plot structure and the characters and the pacing, which is so breakneck that I devoured each of these books in one sitting apiece. If you’re into faeries and political machinations, check out this series.

You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar

Virgie Tovar is phenomenal and this book is an absolutely stellar achievement. You can read my full review here for Fatventure Mag, but here’s the gist: “Tovar’s candor packs a punch. As a fat woman reading You Have the Right to Remain Fat, I felt equal parts enraged, empowered, and supported by her words. Tovar’s knowledge of diet culture and fatphobia is extensive, and she puts it on full display in this book without being unapproachable or pedantic.”

As for books I read this year that were not published in 2018, my favorites included Catherynne M. Valente’s Deathless, Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, and Kelly Barnill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

To see everything I read in 2018 (and chronicled on GoodReads), click here.

Comics and Graphic Novels

I read so many comic books this year! I actually already listed and reviewed my top five published in 2018 for The Beat, which you can check out with the rest of the staff’s picks right here. However, since I also read so many comics that were not published during 2018 this year, I’d like to call out a few of my favorites.

Faith Vol. 1: Hollywood & Vine, written by Jody Houser and illustrated by Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage, and Joe Quinones

I’ve written about Faith Herbert three times over: once, in exploring the need for more fat superheroes in comics over at The Mary Sue; again, in a blog post about why everyone should read her multiple (!) comics series; and a third time, in a piece about how she gives me hope for more pop culture fat-positivity, also at The Mary Sue, this time including interviews with Jody Houser and Jen Ponton.

X-Men: Season One, written by Dennis Hopeless and illustrated by Jamie McKelvie

There was a time when Reed and I would wander through our local comics store and Reed would say, “I really want to get into X-Men,” and I would say, “It just seems so daunting. Where do you start?” Then they started listening to Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men and, lo and behold, with Reed’s gentle urging and amazing recommendations, I, too, started reading X-Men comics. (I even cosplayed Polaris at Flame Con!) I read a lot of mutant books this year, but one that stands out is X-Men: Season One because it’s such a solid introduction to the team dynamics of the original team. It also doesn’t require any background knowledge, other than a basic understanding of who the characters are. It’s a fun, quick read with gorgeous, colorful art and an easy-to-follow but still dynamic story. A+.

All-New Wolverine Vol. 3: Enemy of the State II, written by Tom Taylor and illustrated by David Lopez, Nik Virella, and Djibril Morrissette-Phan

The first X-Men comics I read this year featured Laura Kinney, who has rapidly become one of my favorite characters in the franchise. Tom Taylor’s full run of All-New Wolverine is great, but this TPB in particular features one of the heaviest, most well-executed storylines of the series. I love Laura’s journey in these issues, and the strength she exudes as she fights to move past years of conditioning that made her into the weapon known as X-23.

For a look at more comics I’ve read and to see my current pull list, follow me on League of Comic Geeks.

Music

This is the part where I confess that I primarily listened to Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before playlist pretty much non-stop after the movie came out in August. However, I also got super into a couple other albums that were released this year, too — including two other soundtracks.

Ariana Grande, Sweetener

Goddamn, this album is good. Perfect for any mood, any moment, any situation (at least, in my opinion). My favorite track is easily “God Is a Woman,” but in all the times I’ve listened to Sweetener, I haven’t felt the need to skip any song. I’m so looking forward to thank u, next — and frankly, I’m continuously impressed by how Ariana Grande perseveres after everything she’s been through, especially over the course of the last year.

Hayley Kiyoko, Expectations

Hayley Kiyoko has been labeled Lesbian Jesus by her legion of fans, which certainly isn’t wrongfull album review. Her debut album made 20GAYteen especially enjoyable; the vulnerability is amazing, the beats are amazing, and the guest spots are amazing —  especially Kehlani’s bits on “What I Need,” which has made it into almost all of my playlists this year. I wrote a for BANSHEE if you want to read!

Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer

There’s very little I can say about this album that hasn’t already been said, but if you somehow haven’t listened to Dirty Computer yet, you are seriously missing out. Every time Janelle Monáe puts out new music, it feels innovative and fresh and incredible. This record is no exception; in fact, I think it’s her best effort yet, and I’m so excited to see how she raises the bar again with her next one.

Various Artists feat. Kendrick Lamar, Black Panther The Album: Music From and Inspired By

This soundtrack is incredible. Kendrick Lamar curated it, which gives it an especially cohesive sound, and the major moments of the film are highlighted beautifully through the songs included. Obviously this album picked up a handful of Grammy nominations, which are all well-deserved; I don’t think I went anywhere this year without hearing “All the Stars” at least once on the radio.

Various Artists, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Soundtrack From & Inspired By the Motion Picture)

Everything about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is utterly delightful, including the soundtrack. While there are a few songs I’m not into, the soundtrack captures the essence of the film (especially Miles’ attempts to sing along to a song he doesn’t know the words to, which is a Big Mood) and it’s a fun listen. I only wish an accused abuser wasn’t featured on one of the best tracks from the film, because it totally soured me when I saw the artists listed.

For a look at more of what I listened to in 2018, visit me on last.fm.

TV

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

I’ve written a bit about CAOS for Bustle and The Beatincluding an essay about how this new series depicts Sabrina’s power and girlhood so beautifully. I totally get why this version of her isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I love the first season of this show so much that I’ve already watched it multiple times — and I recommended the Solstice special in my most recent newsletter.

The Good Place

I HAVEN’T WATCHED ANY OF THE GOOD PLACE S3 YET, however, this show is forking delightful. It’s been a while since I so thoroughly enjoyed a live-action sitcom, but this series is perfect. It’s philosophical without being too weighty and the twists are good every single time. I caught up on the first couple seasons for a piece I wrote, and it was some of the most fun I think I’ve ever had watching TV. In my entire life. For real.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

I’ve written a lot about Noelle Stevenson’s new Netflix animated series, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, including a full review and an essay on its sometimes too-subtle queer representation. I got really into this series, especially after seeing clips at the New York Comic Con panel in October — it’s fun, fast, and beautifully rendered.

Movies

Ant-Man & The Wasp

I haven’t seen the first Ant-Man movie, but Ant-Man & The Wasp so thoroughly surprised me with how much I enjoyed watching it that the first one has been added to my watch list! Evangeline Lilly is so good and the comedy interspersed throughout is absolutely delightful. I also really loved Hannah John-Kamen’s performance as Ava, A.K.A. Ghost.

A Wrinkle In Time

I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried my way through most of Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time. The way the film explores family connection, friendship and inner strength hit me hard, especially because of how it dealt with emotional abuse. Visually stunning and impeccably acted.

Black Panther

We saw Black Panther in theaters twice and I would have been down to go back a third, fourth and fifth time, too. This is hands down the best movie in the MCU so far; the cast is incredible, the sets are stunning, and the plot is fantastic. There’s also a killer soundtrack, as mentioned above, which just serves to enhance all the other amazing components of this film.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

What can I say about Spider-Verse that hasn’t already been said by people far more articulate than me? This film totally redefines the limits of animation and brings some of my favorite Marvel characters to life, including Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen. It flawlessly demonstrates how the multi-verse works, introduces new characters to Marvel fans who haven’t read the comics, and reminds viewers that, given the right circumstances, anyone can be a savior — not just Peter Parker.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

I’ve gushed about this movie a lot since I first saw it in August. I am stoked beyond reason for the sequel (and so ready to find out who they cast as John Ambrose) but also totally content to just keep rewatching this masterpiece again and again. I’m such a sucker for a good romantic comedy, and this one is easily in the top three best of all time. Lana Condor and Noah Centineo are great. Anna Cathcart is great. After I saw the movie, I devoured Jenny Han’s YA trilogy and fell even more in love. Whatever your opinion on rom-coms, this movie was a breath of fresh air this year, and it’s quickly made its way into my self-care regimen for especially tough days.

In 2019…

I have some lofty aspirations for next year. Some of them are chronicled here and others are chronicled in my Passion Planner. Mainly, I’d like to keep working on my book(s), continue to grow Fatventure Mag, and read even more than I did this year.


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