Things I Really Liked in 2017

In the vein of this post from last year, here’s a list of things I really liked in 2017.

Music/Podcasts:

  • Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812, Broadway Soundtrack: while this show was on Broadway in 2016 and has since closed, I became obsessed with the soundtrack in 2017. Denee Benton’s voice is extraordinary and vulnerable, and the rest is a delightful mash up. Look for Russian themes in my upcoming work. /waggles eyebrows/
  • DAMN., Kendrick Lamar: timely, brilliant, and on constant rotation in my car.
  • Turn Out the Lights, Julien Baker: full disclosure, I didn’t love it quite as much as Sprained Ankle, but I can’t stop listening to it and “Appointments” is probably my song of the year.
  • Melodrama, Lorde: I didn’t like “Green Light” on the radio, but the album is an album, and much more than the sum of its parts. Perfect for writing heartbreak.
  • LA Divine, Cold War Kids: what do you know, people still write rock songs. The Bishop Briggs cameo is a highlight; she’s going to break out soon.
  • There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light, Stars: after a few subpar albums, Stars is back, and I loved every minute.
  • Slow Burn, Leon Neyfakh/Slate: this podcast about Watergate has given me a plot bunny so large, it’s like a plot hare.

Romance Novels:

  • An Extraordinary Union, Alyssa Cole: timely and suspenseful. I had to take breaks because I was so anxious…but I couldn’t stay away long because I had to know what was going to happen.
  • Beginner’s Luck, Kate Clayborn: the easy banter and cadence of the romance is like your favorite blue jeans. Probably my favorite hero of the year.
  • Coffee Boy, Austin Chant: this was my first book of 2017, and it still made the list. It has a great romance, a compelling voice, and a political setting. What more can you want?
  • Clean Breaks, Ruby Lang: the final book in the series, it might also be the best. I love the female friendships and the sly humor, and the hero is wonderful.
  • Better at Weddings than You, Mina V. Esguerra: Daphne was probably my favorite heroine of the year. She is in fact better at weddings (planning, that is) than the hero, and she’s not about to apologize for it. Funny, fresh, and strikingly modern.
  • Knit One, Girl Two, Shira Glassman: this like hot cocoa or a warm hug in book form. Great banter, lots of wool dying, and an incident with a cat.

All Other Books:

  • The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas: this book stayed with me more than anything else I read this year.
  • A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment, Barbara Radnofsky: I sincerely feel like everyone needs to read a book about impeachment.
  • The Cooking Gene, Michael Twitty: Elisabeth Lane from Cooking Up Romance invited me to hear Twitty speak at Colonial Williamsburg in February, and it was the most thought-provoking hour of that month for me. This journey through southern food and his family’s history is that but on steroids.
  • Carrying the Fire, Michael Collins: first published in 1974, I read it this year, and it’s now my one of my go-to recommendation when people tell me they want to read about space history. Easily the best book by an astronaut, it’s funny and self-effacing and just plain inspiring.

Movies/TV:

  • Moana: a 2016 release my kids became obsessed with in 2017. I’ve probably watched it more than any other film this year, and I still mist up during the moment with her grandmother on the boat.
  • Wonder Woman: my runner-up for most watched film of the year. I’ve got quibbles, but it was an exceptionally well done super hero flick and romance.
  • The Last Jedi: the most visually glorious Star Wars, even with some more quibbles.
  • Thanksgiving,” Master of None: while I didn’t think the entire second season was amazing, this episode was.
  • The Vietnam War, Ken Burns: Burns surprised me and he taught me things and I couldn’t stop watching even as it pissed me off.

(Keep in mind that I tend to be really behind the curve. These are just things that stuck out to me this year; I’m in no way claiming these are the “best.”)

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