Best of 2017

These are the best things I discovered in 2017 – many of them have existed for much longer than that, but the world is too large and I am too small.


I really like podcasts, but all the ones I listen to regularly [1] are “2-3 men conversing about semi-random topics”, and I was craving women’s voices. I had no idea how to find a similar podcast hosted by women, so I tried a few feminine-coded words and downloaded a bunch of episodes. The one that’s stuck has been Feminist Killjoys, PhD.

Their focus on self-care and social justice help me find balance between acknowledging negative structures that we can’t individually do a lot about, and channelling energy in productive ways to make the improvements we can.

Fiction Book:

With a narrative that meanders between connected individuals and their own stories, A General Theory of Oblivion fed me this year in the way that the best fiction does. It begins in Angola, and chronicles some of the consequences of its independence from Portugal through very personal interactions (and in large part a lack of interaction as the main character barricades herself into an apartment). The novel spans 30 years, and I felt the weight of them in an enriching way.

Nonfiction Book:

I have loved every book by Adam Miller that I’ve read so far, and The Sun Has Burned My Skin: A Modest Paraphrase of Solomon’s Song of Songs is no exception. It felt very appropriate that this modest paraphrase of Song of Solomon was available for purchase on my wedding day. The call-and-response structure, and the simple, modern language enlarged and magnified my belief that truly experiencing and sharing love with one other person connects us to the divine. I need to let these words settle with a few more readings. Scripture is at times elusive, it asks us to bring much of ourselves, and the speed with which I devoured this book unfortunately means that I left much to discover in its pages, but I plan to write a more meaty review next year. For now, buy it and read it yourself, or give it to your partner (or anyone who has or had or looks forward to having a partner).

Best Chocolate:

Okay, maybe this isn’t the best chocolate in the world, but this year I learned that Happy Hippos exist, and they’re like adorable Fererro Rocher (without the whole nut in the middle), and even though I sometimes call them Hungry Hippos by mistake, I’m so glad they exist in this crazy, mixed-up world.

Best TV Show:

I guess this award should go to Michael Shur who co-created these shows, but I didn’t write the rules of this post. (Or, I did, but I’m not changing them now).

After we finished Brooklyn Nine-Nine, we turned to Parks and Recreation, and I’m so sad that we’re already almost at the end of Season 6. I’ve heard that The Good Place is a worthy follow-up, but I’m so going to miss hanging out with Leslie Knope, who seems never to tire in her efforts to make her town a better place — not to mention the many goofballs, geeks and other characters who make up her community.

Best Game:

I know more than one family whose evening TV time was completely usurped by Stardew Valley. My husband and I have been surprised by midnight more than once as we played side by side, and we only expect that to become more frequent when the multiplayer patch is released early next year.

Sometimes digital doesn’t hit the right spot, though. We usually turn to Adventure Time Fluxx when we want something more physical, and only have a little while. The rules and goals change as you play the game, which can occasionally be frustrating when one round goes on too long, but the fast-paced, over-in-a-flash games are much more common (and super fun).

What’s new to you this year that you want to share with us all?

[1] In case you need something new to listen to:
Technology: Accidental Tech Podcast
Philosophy: Roderick on the Line (start at episode 0)
Productivity: Back to Work (the earliest episodes are evergreen; current ones have a lot of in-jokes, and begin with discussion of comics, home automation, customer service or buddhism among other topics)
Politics: Pod Save America

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1 Response

  1. Ziff says:

    Thanks for all the recommendations! A podcast I’ve started listening to this year that I really enjoy is “Science Versus.” They take on interesting and controversial topics and talk to experts and see what the research says.

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