stuff i liked: 2023

It’s 2024! I want to get back to sharing stuff I liked! LFG!!

a picture of ash as a baby in a walker with their tongue hanging out and a potted pothos nearby

I read 120 books in 2023 — 31 of which I did DNF — and though I don’t put a lot of stake in star ratings generally, I did give four of those books five stars, basically meaning that I loved them a lot and also thought they were exceptionally well made.

Ryan Andrews’ This Is Our Pact is a graphic novel with a nice story about a kid getting lost in the woods and the fantastical things he encounters therein. It’s done in an extremely limited color palette and yet manages to be so unbelievably beautiful, I spent many long minutes just staring at panels in awe.

Parini Shroff’s Bandit Queens is the most fun I’ve had with a horrifying situation in a long time! I loved the premise as blurbed, but by the end of actually reading it I was just obsessed. Probably my most successfully and frequently recommended book this year.

Kevin Wilson’s Now Is Not the Time to Panic is the book I loved most that I was most surprised by because I thought the plot sounded a little thin, but the characters here are so compelling and the narrative voice so engaging that I ended up absolutely delighted.

Manon Steffan Ros’ The Blue Book of Nebo is the most emotional suffering I’ve endured in just 120 pages in my life. The narrative voices are great — and the alternating POVs worked exceptionally well — and the bit about the hare… Really enduringly painful.

Honorable mentions to Cat Sebastian’s Tommy Cabot Was Here, Isaac Blum’s The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen, Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver, Kiku Hughes’ Displacement, Alice Winn’s In Memoriam, Stephanie Clifford’s The Farewell Tour, Sacha Lamb’s When the Angels Left the Old Country, Lisabeth Posthuma’s Baby and Solo, Clare Pooley’s Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting, John Allison’s Giant Days series, and Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries, which I am still working my way through but enjoyed reading immensely to close out the year.

Also a full solo paragraph shoutout to Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books. I read the first one in like, 2015, and for some reason got a bug up my ass to read the rest this year (probably because of Libby tbh!) and I had a fantastic time. These are not good books, though they are sometimes better than average, but I really loved Sookie and her goofy-ass world and even when the books were bad, I had a fun time. Nothing was a graver disappointment to me this year than watching True Blood and seeing how little of what made Harris’ books worth my time made it to screen.

I read a lot this year and I reviewed every single one of them, so I’d call 2023 a success! I only recently like, absorbed the fact that I guess a lot of people are weirdly competitive about the Goodreads yearly challenge? And/Or beat themselves up about it really badly? So I am here to tell you not to do that! Reading should be fun or challenging in a way you find satisfying, not a chore. I set a goal because I like reading and it makes me a better writer and it makes all my neurons feel more active and zippy, but I don’t feel bad if I don’t hit my goal. If you do, don’t set one! Or set a really low one! Reading good! Feeling bad bad!

I didn’t really watch anything at all in 2023 or at least nothing worth noting. I have been using Letterboxed like a good little person addicted to sharing their opinions compulsively on the internet, but it’s mostly me saying, “I watched this movie when I was twelve and it’s still pretty good,” so. I did watch Bros which I thought was really charming and funny, and also No One Will Save You, which I absolutely L-O-V-E-D. I thought Metal Lords was also a really great time that nailed being a teenager in a very specific way. Honorable mentions to The Dirt, Heaven Help Us, and My Bodyguard, which I also enjoyed a lot!

The only TV I watched this year was True Blood, as previously mentioned, and I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone, so. Alexander Skarsgård F-O-R-E-V-E-R though.

Oh wait, I also watched the second season of Shoresy which was fine if not as transcendental as the first, and also I think we watched some Game Changer, which I do genuinely love.

As surely you know if you’re reading this, I did make a playlist every month in 2023 — shoutout to March and July and October in particular — and I listened to a lot of music — 83,911 minutes as of Spotify Wrapped time supposedly — but not as much or as intentionally as is usual for me. (Something I’d like to change in 2024!) Mostly I just listened to “Naive” by the Kooks a lot and also “The Way You Do the Things You Do” by UB40 for some reason?

But I did get pretty into Screaming Females (who then broke up!) and Glass Animals a bit and Tigercub and the Linda Lindas and I think listened to “Ottawa Rockstar” by WHALESTALK way more than I think Spotify actually credited me with. Why they’d lie I don’t know but it’s suspicious. I also listened to Weezer and the Cure a lot, but Spotify said I listened to Fall Out Boy more than any other band but I don’t even remember listening to them almost at all (I didn’t like the new album, booooooo me.) so… What is the truth?

Other stuff: these shorts from Target, traditional Carmex in the jar, the Edmonton Oilers, birria tacos, letting Crystal cut my hair, NARS soft matte tinted lip balm, seeing the nothern lights from my backyard, sourdough toast with fig jam and salami, getting back into comics some, sitting in a bathtub staring at MPLS when the Panthers eliminated the Bruins, Donut County, being cancer free enough that my doctor said she could – quote- ‘start treating me like a regular patient’ – unquote, Good and Gather Double Chocolate Chunk Granola with Noosa Vanilla, checking out books from the library via Libby, paying $50 a year for a Queens Public Library card (though because of bullshit budget cuts the benefits have decreased significantly), tteokbokki, Unpacking (which, to be fair, I might have played in 2022), being able to ask Crystal to draw me stuff because she’s gotten so good, meeting two of my favorite friends IRL for the first time and getting to surprise them with hockey tickets right behind the bench, Odd Mart, and the Savannah Bananas.

Okay, thank you for joining me on this journey! I know I will enjoy many more things to come in 2024 and hopefully I will, like, actually share them! ♥

tunesday: january 2024

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tunesday: november 2023

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tunesday: october 2023

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tunesday: september 2023

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