Sunday, January 01, 2012

In With The New!

Happy New Year to all!

You know, I'm usually a little inclined to scoff at the idea that an arbitrary change of dates on the calendar means much of anything. But this year, I'm more than willing to take whatever psychological boost might come from imagining a firm dividing line between a somewhat disappointing old year and a bright, shiny new one. It is actually making me feel happier and more optimistic, and I'll take that for as long as it lasts.

I've actually kinda-sorta made some resolutions this year, even. It used to be, whenever I was asked about new year's resolutions, I'd say, "I made a resolution, years ago, never to make any more resolutions. So far it's the only one I've ever kept." If I'm honest, though, it was practically the only one I ever made. And I was young. From my current lofty middle-aged perspective, it seems to me that the young are much less in need of that kind of motivation. Anyway, two things about my behavior have been particularly bothering me lately. One is that my eating habits, which were never great in the first place, have gotten really, really bad. As in, "my fat jeans are now tight and I feel sort of unhealthy" bad. The other is that I fell off the book-buying wagon repeatedly in 2011, wiping out all the progress I'd made in 2010 and then some. So, in 2012, there will be fewer candy bars and fewer trips to the Barnes & Noble. In 2012, my watchword will be "continence"! (Yes, I know it's a stupid watchword. But it's the one I'm using, so shut up.) I know I am capable of a certain amount of self-control in these areas if I'm vigilant about it, because I've done it before. It never lasts forever, of course, but if it lasts six months it'll help, and I'll take it.

Speaking of my massive quantities of books, you can, as usual, find my list of 2011 reading here. I finished 159 books (counting a couple of re-reads of Harry Potter novels, which show up at the top of the list there). Not nearly as impressive as last year, but not too shabby, either.

For your edification, my best, or at least highest-rated books of 2011 are as follows:

FICTION:
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr.
Room by Emma Donoghue
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Blue Heaven by Joe Keenan
Ready Player One by Earnest Cline
Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
Locke & Key, Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill

NON-FICTION:
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts by Andrew Chaikin
The Character of Physical Law by Richard Feynman
The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention by Guy Deutscher
Columbine by Dave Cullen
The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World by Carl Safina
The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray
No Life for a Lady by Agnes Morley Cleaveland
A Passion for Mars: Intrepid Explorers of the Red Planet by Andrew Chaikin
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

OTHER:
Every Thing on It by Shel Silverstein


And that's about it for my first post of the New Year. I'll leave you with this farewell to 2011:

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