I recently did a Tumblr meme where I shared six of my best selfies from 2016 and realized, as I searched through my photos, that although this year has been honestly horrible in a lot of Big Picture ways, on a personal level, it’s been pretty fantastic. I’ve done so much in 2016, most of it stuff I never would have predicted this time last year. I also made it through in one piece and I feel like I’m much more emotionally stable now than I was twelve months ago. That’s got to count for something, right?
Some quick highlights:
- I got engaged! (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER. NOT JUST IN 2016, BUT EVER. IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING!)
- I published pieces on Skillcrush and Rogues Portal about vastly different topics and had an absolute blast with every single one. I’m super pumped to write even more in 2017 and to delve back into academic writing as I start preparing my applications for grad school (!!!).
- I started playing the “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” competitive card game and got into video games, all of which has been more fun than I ever could have anticipated.
- I got more tattoos and piercings, started dying my hair again, and made conscious decisions to purchase clothing and other products that make me feel good about myself and my body! Learning to love myself is such a slow journey and sometimes it’s so arduous, but the more I work at it, the better I feel.
- I went out and made new friends and did a lot of cool shit! Reed and I went to some incredible concerts, saw Maggie Stiefvater speak and talked to her while she signed our Raven Cycle books, biked a bunch, and wandered into Cambridge for amazing vegan food and card games with friends.
This year has honestly brought me a lot of joy and a lot of personal growth. Now, let’s talk about recommendations!
Books & Comics
I didn’t read nearly as many comics this year as I did in 2015, nor did I meet my original goal of 50 books read. For the second year in a row, I read just 35, but I really enjoyed everything that I read this year (with a few stand-out exceptions). My favorite reads in 2016 were these:
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell (Pub. 2013)
This book is so cute. I have every intention of re-reading it because it made me feel warm and fuzzy and happy the way that the best fanfiction does — which is appropriate, given that the book is all about fanfiction and relationships and things I never would have expected to read about in an actual published novel when I was a teenager diving head-first into online fandom. I devoured this book and loved every page, full stop.
The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater (Pub. 2013)
I wasn’t a “horse girl” growing up (I was a “dolphin girl”, which I’m not entirely sure is a thing), but I’ve read my fair share of books about girls and their horses. The Scorpio Races is nothing like those books; it’s a super creepy story about sea-made, people-eating horses that also happens to be a romance. And a book about family. And a coming of age story. It’s honestly terrifying, but there’s so much genuine joy in this novel and also so much humor and affection and emotion. I cried when I finished for a dozen reasons, not least of which the simple fact that it was over. I read this book after seeing Maggie Stiefvater speak in the spring and I wish I would have read it sooner so that I could ask her about it at the event.
Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo (Pub. 2013)
This book is the first in the Grisha trilogy and it flies by. I didn’t know what to expect going into this story but once I put it down, I immediately wanted to dive into the next one. I recently did — I’ve got the second book on my nightstand now — and the story has somehow gotten even more intense as the trilogy’s moved forward. This book wasn’t overly popular among the friend group that I rely on for recs, but Reed loved it and I loved it and I fully intend to write a more coherent review once I’ve read the whole series.
I also deeply loved Emery Lord’s When We Collided, which I reviewed here, and I read the first book in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series which was super enjoyable. There’s a ton of books in that one, so it’ll take me a while to get through it, but if they’re anywhere near as good as the first book, I can’t wait to read every last word.
According to Spotify, my most-played song in 2016 was “Feeling Myself” by Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé, which makes sense. I listened to that song a lot this year, both when I felt incredible and when I felt like crap, knowing it would make me feel incredible. Amazing reasoning, right? I thought so.
I didn’t listen to a ton of music released in 2016, but I did listen to PUP’s The Dream Is Over a whole bunch in preparation for seeing them in concert (twice!), then fell completely in love with the album when I saw it performed live. Reed and I saw PUP open for The Menzingers in 2014 and they killed it. Seeing them twice this year only made me want to see them more often, because they give such an explosive performance every time.
Plus, when we saw them in October, we helped physically pull lead singer Stefan Babcock onto the mezzanine at The Sinclair in Cambridge after he crowd-surfed over everyone to climb up. It was ridiculous and also one of my favorite concert memories ever. How could it not be?
Movies & Television
As usual, I only made it to the movies once or twice this year. We saw Captain America: Civil War which was approximately half what I wanted it to be (a proper reunion between Steve and Bucky!!!) and half the Robert Downey, Jr. Show (blech). We also saw The Secret Life of Pets, which was super cute.
Our tattoo artist put on Zootopia on Netflix while he worked on my sleeve one night and we watched the Netflix original Mascots after I saw the trailer on my Facebook feed — the former was more plot-driven than I expected and the latter was hilarious, though not as good as Best In Show. Mostly, I didn’t feel motivated to hit the theater very much this year! Expensive tickets and snacks aside, not very many movies really drew me in. (I’ve yet to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which I might before the year is out, but since the holidays are always way too busy, I’m not counting on it.)
In regards to television, I was also terrible at keeping up with things this year. Aside from religiously watching “The 100″* (which was difficult, for the majority of season three — I actually haven’t watched the season finale or a handful of other episodes because I value my mental wellbeing), I didn’t watch much else this year. In 2017, I need to catch up, especially on Netflix series. I’m probably the only person in my friend group who hasn’t watched “Stranger Things”. Oops?
OH. I did binge-watch “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life”. Then I wrote about it for Rogues Portal. Spoiler alert: I hated a major character arc. Sorry.
2016 has been a whirlwind and I don’t know how I feel about the year coming to an end. The world has gotten a lot scarier and I’m nervous about what the future holds, but I’m also really grateful to be surrounded by so much love and light and goodness. Whatever’s coming, I’m as ready as I can be. Bring it, 2017.
* “The 100” season four trailer has me all kinds of messed up. I linked it and a bunch of other things in this month’s newsletter. If you want to see and get more stuff from me in your inbox every few weeks, you can subscribe to my TinyLetter by clicking here!