*Actual release dates may vary.
As 2014 comes to a close–and to be honest, it’s been a pretty fucked up year–I’ve been mulling over what I read and watched that delighted or changed me this year. I’ve tried to be thorough, but there are two caveats:
- I didn’t take great notes as the year went by, so I might miss some things that I loved as the year progressed.
- I am sometimes (often, even) a little behind the zeitgeist, so some of these things may have actually been released earlier than this year.
I am going to go ahead and call the year’s media consumption at an end a couple of days early, too. It’s busy at work, and I’m not likely to finish anything else before the year ends.
Without any further ado, here’s my (in-no-particular-order) list of my Favorite Things Consumed (Media Edition) for 2014:
- Red Rising–it’s a little Hunger Games and a little Ender’s Game, but a lot more graphic and brutal than either, which is no small accomplishment. It’s YA with the emphasis on A, but it’s tense and tightly plotted and I couldn’t put it down. Its sequel is coming in 2015, and I can’t wait to read it.
- Rainbow Rowell’s writing, but particularly Eleanor and Park and Attachments–These two really are outstanding novels that deftly achieve what they set out to do. They aren’t high art or literature by any stretch of the imagination, but each is a beautiful jewel of contemporary fiction for its target age group. Reading Rainbow Rowell is a lot like hanging out with a girlfriend, or revisiting a crush from high school that you have no bad feelings toward in adulthood. I’ve been reluctant to recommend them for their “lack of depth,” but in retrospect I’m applying the Ebert Rule and judging them on how well they achieve what they set out to do. That makes them awesomely good.
- Everything written by Roxane Gay but especially An Untamed State and Bad Feminist–her Twitter feed is also often funny and thought-provoking all at once. Gay has a sweet, funny voice in her essays and her Twitter feed, and An Untamed State proves she can do raw and dark as well. She’s uncommonly talented, and I want to be here when I grow up.
- Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened–I don’t remember when I first found Allie Brosh’s web comic, but I read it religiously for most of law school, and then I fretted during the times when Brosh would go silent. Her comics on the subject of her depression are some of the most truthful, accurate, and yet still-funny I have ever read. The book adds content the site didn’t have, and Brosh can count on me to buy all her future endeavors.
- Saga–I think I technically read the first of these in late 2013, but I’m squeezing it in here since I read most of it in 2014. This series of graphic novels are hard to truly describe, but it’s a space opera love story about soldiers from two warring cultures who fall in love, go AWOL, and have a cross-species baby. It shouldn’t work at all, and yet it totally does. I’m wait-listed at the library well in advance of every installment.
- Dusted–Podcast veterans Alastair Stephens and Lani Diane Rich (of StoryWonk) have started a re-watching of Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the same time they’ve started an episode-by-episode analysis of them in podcast form. It combines Storywonk’s love of nerd culture and well-constructed stories with the genius of Joss Whedon. But for the other podcast entry on my list, this would be the best new podcast of 2014.
- Serial–I already loved This American Life and Sarah Koenig when they announced this new podcast they were undertaking, called Serial. I set it up to download to my podcast app–Stitcher–and eager anticipated the first episode. Since then, I’ve been well and truly addicted. I’ve blogged about it. I’ve pushed it on friends. I’ve wished my parents knew what podcasts were in enough detail that I could share it with them. I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but if I haven’t tried it, you should. It’s really that good, and once you’ve seen it, we can talk about it!
- Outlander (TV)–I’m still not caught up with Ronald Moore’s Starz adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s wildly successful novel, but so far, I’ve been impressed by the production values and the amazingly engaging adaptation of what is actually a pretty uneven novel. Starz hasn’t scrimped in bringing the show to the screen, and I’m loving the hell out of the first half of the first season. They’ll finish the novel when they come back from hiatus, and Starz announced after the huge acclaim that greeted the first episode’s airing that they had already renewed it for a second season to be based on Dragonfly in Amber.