As we now enter the halfway point of January 2018, it’s probably the exact moment to tell you about my 2017 favourites!
To be honest, this is mainly just a forum for me to tell you about all the things I liked last year, and have you weigh in on where things lined up. for you! I’ll try to explain a little bit about each thing, but please know that I’m just sharing some favourites, not necessarily endorsing the content (especially because I try to tailor recommendations to who I know you to be, and would probably not recommend some of these things to some of you!! Just going to be honest!!)
There’s no specific number of things, but these are pieces I’m still thinking about, shows I’m still laughing about, songs I’m still crying in my car to, podcasts that are on essential rotation, and more.
Let’s get to it!
BOOKS // FICTION ::
all book roads lead you back to Goodreads. Also, be my friend on Goodreads, please!!
I’ve been a long time fan of Jodi Picoult and her roller coaster books, but “Small Great Things” was exceptional. I was very nervous, reading a book - written by a white woman - that tackled a lot of racial issues, but I think that’s the only thing I would have changed, if only to add to the truth and depth of the story. I literally cooked food while reading this book on the side because I couldn’t stop. An especially important read in this day and age.
“A Man Called Ove” is the literary version of UP! - don’t @ me. This book wove together different stories and different characters, but all surrounded around the crotchety old man, Ove. By the end of this book, I was SOBBING. I thought I would be fine. I was not fine. It was masterful storytelling that wove together a love story between a husband and wife, and a love story between a community. Highly recommend.
A masterful debut YA novel from Angie Thomas. Even now, six months after reading it, I can’t formulate a coherent thought about why you should go read it but if you care about racism, injustice, reading diverse authors, opening up your worldview, exceptional young adult fiction… do I need to go on? Read it.
I had read a few other books by Julie Murphy but “Dumplin’” was probably my favourite. Fun, quirky (but in a real girl way, not a manic pixie dream girl way), honest, and true. Then I found out it’s going to be made into a movie and lost my mind. You should definitely give this one a read before the movie comes out.
BOOKS // NON-FICTION ::
I had watched the Minimalism documentary on Netflix at the end of 2016, and was shifting some of my thinking towards those principles, but this book shot that into high gear. Jen talks about seven experiments she and her family went through, to get back to the simplicity of what Christ calls us to do. Since reading this book in February, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I did one challenge in 2017 related to this book, and I really need to buy it, mark it up, and try some more. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a Christian perspective on minimalism. (Also, read the Gospels, as a thought.)
This book came highly recommended to me by a co-worker, and I put off reading it for the longest time, and I really wish I hadn’t. Wow. This thoughtful book - filled with stories and reflections from Bryan’s time as a death row lawyer - shook me to my core, and made me confront privilege and racial injustice in the world. I don’t think you can come away from this book without crying or feeling rage in your gut at the state of America’s legal system - and I’m sure this is mirrored in different ways in Canada. Exceptional, exceptional read - and furthered my pro-life stance that life matters from the womb to the tomb.
I originally saw this book on a Buzzed list and thought, “Oh, didn’t she go to Ryerson?” So I put a hold on it and went about my day. When I finally got around to reading it in December, I could not stop laughing. (I actually just recommended it to a friend who told me she was cry laughing in a coffee shop, if you’re looking for that specific sort of book in your life.) It’s a smart, funny collection of essays - there is a chapter on trying on a dress that also made me cry-laugh in the chiropractors office, so. Go. Read it. Support Ryerson alumni.
I’ve engaged in way too many debates about the refugee crisis, without being adequately informed. I’ve fought solely on what my heart feels - and what I believe the Bible says - is right. Here’s what I appreciated about this book: it gave me language and stats to back up those feelings and those sayings. Also, I can’t believe it took me until 24 to realize that we are all created in the image of God - and that means no one life is worth more than another - from refugee to corporate executive. Thoroughly appreciated this book!
Okay, quick thing to know about me: I am FASCINATED by cults. I had seen this book making the rounds on my Instagram feed and thought, “Eh, I’ll give it a shot.” Upon reading it, I found myself in a religious sort of cult memoir, and I could not stop reading. Warning: it’s pretty graphic in language and experiences, but oh my, what a testament to Ruth and her family’s strength that they were able to live through what they lived through. Please go read this book.
This book also was making the rounds on my social media, and when I picked it up, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s mores about local ministry as opposed to international ministry, but revealed some harmful patterns of thinking, even within myself. This is a book I would buy and mark up, and that’s pretty much the highest compliment I could give a book sooooo… take that to heart and read it.
TV SHOWS ::
all TV roads lead you back to YouTube trailers, F Y I.
"The Good Place” - Kristen Bell + the creator of Parks and Rec. (He’s done other things, but that’s my favourite one so I will begin and end it there.) It’s smart, funny, and quick dialogue, which I love, and also tells a really interesting story of redemption. FYI, I would NOT recommend this show to everyone (just people who have the same sense of humour as me) - but I am sad I waited until September to watch this. (And now I’m more sad that I have to wait a week.)
“Anne” - Listen. CBC did not give us a re-make of Megan Follow’s and Jonathan Crombie. Which is good. I probably would have led the mutiny. But ah! New Anne is so, so good. It’s a richer story, because they have more time to tell it, and they’re diving in to some of the inclusion narratives that mirrors some of the inclusion conversations we as a world need to be having. Also, apparently my preferred design style is 1800’s farm house so that was a fun find out.
"This is Us” - If you’re not watching, that’s fine and I respect your decisions (but also, I probably think you’re wrong). If you are watching, let’s talk about Kevin. And Beth. A lot about Beth.
(hi I’m only halfway through this, but I HAVE A LOT OF THINGS TO SAY APPARENTLY, and I’m sorry. If you’re sick of reading, know at this point, I started to get sick of writing, and then I remembered why I love these things, and I got excited again, but mainly tired.)
Fun side note: I wasn’t into podcasts until this year! These ones turned me. All roads lead to wherever I could find what I needed to share with you.
RELEVANT - Long length. Interview Style. Nuanced conversations about the intersection of culture and faith (sort of my main interests). Hilarious. I do sometimes skip through the interviews (but never skip through the games), because the meat - and the portion I consistently like - is the co-hosts bantering off each other.
FAVE :: This one.
Fun Therapy - Medium length. Interview style. Basically a therapy session. There have been only a handful of episodes where I have not cried.
FAVE :: Annie F. Downs. She spoke so much about my own fears in so many different areas of my life. I’m probably due for a re-listen of this episode, to be honest.
The Simple Show - Short. Practical. Helpful. Conversational style. There are some episodes that definitely lean more towards the women’s phase of life (motherhood, to be a main example) but I’ve found the rest of them to be really helpful in many different areas of my life. This fall, they did an excellent series on saying yes and no to the right things, and it was so good.
FAVE :: All of the “What’s Saving My Life” series from December. Helpful, practical, short, and sort of like this blog post - it’s just fun to hear about the things other people like.
That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs - Mediumlongish. Interview style. I don’t listen to every episode (I don’t always know - or, to be honest, care about - the guests), but when I’m curious and actively listening, I’m always rewarded. Also, Annie is one of my favourite authors, and she’s fun, but also has a depth and has side wise things on this podcast that have stayed with me for all of 2017.
FAVE :: Carlos Whittaker. They both say some things that became anthems in my life for the second half of 2017.
Going to the washroom upstairs - During my first week of working from home, my work coach gave me a tip that I stand by. “Go to the washroom upstairs.” It’s a matter of making sure you get up and move, which is excellent because I don’t commute and to be honest, I don’t really move. I LIVE by this habit now.
Whole 30 (sort of) - This food program - which is intended to be a 30 day reset of your body - was something I only achieved for one week. Hahahahahaha. But! It engrained habits in me that I couldn’t shake for the rest of 2017, and after some persisting dietary sensitivities (from what I can tell), I’m doing my first full round on January 29! (Keeping it real - I’m currently drinking Coca Cola out of a wine glass while I write about how game changing Whole30 was sooooooo take everything I say with a grain of salt.)
Running (sort of) - Running gave me a lot of things this year - achievement, community, a shared sense of purpose, five lessons, etc etc - which I’m really grateful for! I don’t know if it’s a habit yet, but it did make me feel healthy and strong, which are two feelings I regularly craved and also avoided achieving before running in 2017! It’s sort of become a habit over the last little while, so let’s hope that keeps up!
Capsule wardrobe (sort of) - I don’t think I’m doing the capsule wardrobe “right” (I have more than 33 items in my closet and I don’t include accessories or outerwear in mine) but I will say that packing for 12 days in a carry-on is a breeze until I start jamming books in there.
The Forest App - thankful for any app that gets me away from my phone - even more thankful when it’s an app that gamify’s me getting away from my phone.
My Blundstones - I will never buy another brand of boots ever again (also because I’m hoping these stay for the rest of my life)
Pentel RSVP Pens - at some point in a woman’s life, she needs to know what pens are her best pens.
SheReadsTruth Bible - This is the only one I will give a deep explanation for. This Bible is colourful, has reading plans throughout (in case you’re an analog Bible reader, like myself), and has devotionals throughout it that are wise and thoughtful. I was reminded of how nice the devotional aspect is this morning, because I was on devotions for work and had totally forgotten to prepare something, so I just looked for a thoughtful devotional. BOOM. Also, all their reading plans link up an Old Testament and New Testament reading and as someone who (dangerously, I know) reads more of the New Testament, this is a really good discipline for me to have.
And that’s that! I probably have more that I liked - but now, tell me what your favourites of 2017 were (or things you’re still thinking about and learning from 2017 to 2018.) Can’t wait to hear!