Books: I posted the full list of books I read last year earlier this week. I was surprised by how long the list looks -- I certainly didn't feel like I was doing a whole lot of reading this year. I don't feel like I can pick a "top ten" this year, but here are some notes about ones I particularly enjoyed.
The Passage by Justin Cronin: Listened to this one -- devoted most of my driving time from October through December to it. Post apocalyptic, with characters I ended up really caring for, though it could have been much shorter and been just fine.
Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain Is it that he's getting mellower, or that I'm getting grumpier? Either way, he's growing on me, and I really enjoyed his rants on food culture. Made me want to eat at much better restaurants much more often.
The Girl With... trilogy by Stieg Larsson: Not sure what all the fuss is about, though I found them absorbing and would like to discuss with someone else what they think about what they have to say about societal attitudes on violence toward women. There are other, better thrillers out there, or maybe something just gets lost in the language translation.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: This one, however is worth the fuss. Still think The Hunger Games is the best of the series, but of all I've read this year, this is the one I'd most enthusiastically recommend.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett: If you haven't read this one yet, don't put it off any longer. You just don't get too many reading experiences like this one in a lifetime.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender: The weirdest, and most poignant book I read all year. Imagine being able to literally taste the emotions of the person who made any food you ate. A sweet, sad story that lingered with me long after I finished it.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead: This came highly recommended, and I don't think it was quite as good as I'd hoped it would be, but it was written for a younger audience. If you have any love for A Wrinkle in Time, as I most certainly do, you really have to read this book.
Podcasts: When I wasn't listening to a massive audiobook, I was driving to and from school drop offs with one earbud in, taking in a podcast or two. I've already written about my great love for This American Life and The Splendid Table, but there are few more podcasts I subscribe to that I think are well worth checking out if you're looking for something new to share your commute.
Spilled Milk : Matthew Amster-Burton and Molly Wizenberg, both blog and cookbook writers I admire and enjoy (Orangette -- Molly; Roots and Grubs -- Matthew (lately focused on his trip to Japan with his daughter)), get together and goof around mostly, but talk about and make a dish or two focused on a particular theme. Say, ham, or tomatoes, or fudge. They also occasionally do a taste test of sorts with something like crackers or cereal. Always funny and down to earth -- I love the way they crack each other up, and occasionally I learn something.
The Moth: Selections from an open mike storytelling series that occurs at different locations around the country. These are usually funny, but sometimes really touching stories told by people from all sorts of backgrounds. Each one is usually only 10 to 20 minutes long, so it's a perfect way to spend a short trip to Target or what have you.
Radiolab: This is a sort of science-y series, with each show focused around a theme. Some are not that interesting to me, but others have been really fascinating. Molly Wizenberg, also a fan, wrote a post much more eloquent than I about it. I'm not sure I can link directly to it, but go here and look for the one from September 18.
Moments: It was a year of wonderful big moments, and also amazing small memories I want to make sure I don't forget. That's the whole point of this blog, after all. I don't capture them all, but I'm glad I keep trying to crystallize at least a few.
- Endless piles of craft projects, papers, stickers and yarn bits
- O. swimming across the whole pool.
- N. jumping off the diving board at the lake.
- The kids' first trip to Kings Island.
- O.'s first day of kindergarten.
- N.'s first day of preschool.
- L.'s birth
- O. and N. meeting L. for the first time
- L.'s first smile
- N.'s excited recounting of what she did at school
- Swinging O's hand walking back from the bus stop each morning
- Sitting on a stool in N.'s bedroom for the daily debate over her outfit; constantly trying to figure out which articles of twenty she's worn in a given day are actually dirty.
- O. and N. really playing together, becoming true friends over block castles, animal habitats, and pillow piles, even if it means they sometimes conspire against me.
- N.'s devotion to her female cousins, and the generous way those two older girls share with her.
- Watching our nephew, the eldest grandchild on J.'s side, become godfather to L., the youngest grandchild.
- Trip to Chicago with just J., eating in lovely restaurants and walking all over the darn city, seven months pregnant.
- O. becoming a zoo camper for a week
- O. and N. deciding to wrap up some of their own things to give to their dad for Christmas.
- O. insisting that the first gift of Christmas morning be the stuffed Perry the Platypus he and N. gave to L.
- N., finding my lap anytime it is absent baby, leaning into me, holding my face in both hands and kissing me full on the mouth, saying "You are my best Mommy."
- O. hugging me in front of his whole kindergarten class when I come to volunteer in his classroom.
- L.'s eyes, always seeking me out from across the room or in someone else's arms, lit from within, saying I am his entire universe.