2015: Year in Review

Hello, loyal readers! Hope things are going well for you and you’re finding warm and safe spaces in what can be a rather fraught time of year.

I sort of loathe the arbitrary calendar rollover Mandated Moment of Self-Reflection (falling, as it does, during the time of year I’m least inspired, when my resolutions tend to be on the level of “maybe I should go outside today” and “look, eat a real breakfast or at least take a multivitamin with that donut, okay?”).

Still, the days are getting longer, I have some time off work, and I do enjoy taking a moment to reap the fruits of my obsession with tracking everything humanly possible. So, as is traditional, here’s a longish roundup of various things I enjoyed (or didn’t) in 2015.

Books

I read 80 books in 2015, continuing the trend of reading not only more, but better and newer books (how did I ever live without my Kindle?).

I can’t possibly pick a favorite from these: The Peripheral, The Bone Clocks, All the Light We Cannot See, The Summer We Got Free, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, Kindred. I recommend each and every one of those, they are amazing.

I continued working my way through Iain Banks’ oeuvre, moving on from his Culture novels to the semi-Culture novel Inversions and the non-Culture book Transition — both turned out to rank among my favorite of his stories.

I devoured Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind trilogy (well, the 2.5 parts that exist so far). I finally got around to The Handmaid’s Tale and The Left Hand of Darkness. I picked up a quite good Tim Powers short story on Kindle. Enjoyed Stories of Your Life and OthersBabel-17, and the strange and sad Maze.

In the YA world, I read the Divergent trilogy, China Miéville’s Un Lun Dun, and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book; all pretty good. I reread two childhood favorites: Dogsbody (still amazing) and Island of the Blue Dolphins (sadder than I remembered).

I read more nonfiction than usual, including that Marie Kondō book, Daring Greatly, Susan Cain’s Quiet, and Whipping Girl. Gretchen Rubin’s research on habits was pretty good. I found a couple books about process oddly compelling. I finally read some bell hooks. I fell slightly in love with Rebecca Solnit’s essays (Men Explain Things To Me is a good entry point, though personally I enjoyed The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness more).

I had mixed feelings about The Art of Asking, rolled my eyes a bit at The Martian, and was underwhelmed by Welcome to Night Vale. I slogged my way through Foucault’s Pendulum (good); also Wicked and The Princess Bride (not good). I found Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage mediocre; similarly, David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green was merely okay.

In negative reviews: I hate-read more Anne McCaffrey, utterly despised Altered Carbon, and was slightly traumatized by a Daniel Handler novel.

My reading list for 2016 includes Infinite Jest, Ancillary Justice, and Between the World and Me. Other recommendations?

Movies and TV

I watched 35 films in 2015. Favorites: Chappie, Inside Out, When Marnie Was There, The Prestige, and the Oscar-nominated shorts The Dam Keeper and Aya.

In Bad At Movies news, I finally saw The Godfather. I didn’t care at all for District 9. I haven’t yet seen the new Star Wars, though I expect I’ll end up seeing it eventually.

TV: I finally watched (and was mildly obsessed with) Twin Peaks. Dominic and I returned to the X-Files; we slogged our way through Season 8 and are halfway through the spin-off The Lone Gunmen (both are pretty dismal, albeit with moments of greatness). We also watched the first season of Sleepy Hollow, a show that I love probably more than it deserves. And we kept up with Doctor Who, which has, in defiance of my expectations, had a couple of stunningly good episodes this past season (Heaven Sent was just.. wow).

Dominic and I have watched 91 movies together. What’s a good candidate for #100?

Games

Favorite game of the year: Journey. Absolutely 100% Journey. Unforgettable, inspiring, transformative.

The Majora’s Mask remake on the 3DS is fantastic; the changes made to the game are all for the better, and it remains one of the best games ever made. Link Between Worlds was pretty solid but nothing to write home about.

Eidolon is one I keep meaning to go back to. Just so enthralling and meditative.

After initially having a hard time getting into it, I’ve played hundreds of hours of Dragon Age: Inquisition (a full playthrough on two characters, and a complete set of PS trophies). I’ve now started on the DLC. On the whole, I think it’s a fantastic 30-hour game that is unfortunately bloated with cruft and grind. In many ways it seems designed to waste as much of the player’s time as possible, which is a pity considering that there’s so much to love about it.

I didn’t even bother with all the trophies for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, a fun Ezio game but a pale shadow of its predecessors. I think I’m done with the AC franchise, as it’s becoming increasingly obvious that AC2 and Brotherhood were the apex of the series.

I Am Bread. I can’t think what to say about this but it’s weird and hard and hilarious and you should play it.

Phone games: Monument Valley is basically perfect. I played ねこあすめ for awhile, and enjoyed it, but I haven’t opened it in months and think I’m over it. I also finally uninstalled Ingress.

2016 playlist: so far, just Undertale. What else should be on it?

Music

New: Taylor Swift. Continuing: Tegan and Sara, Owl City (but not his newer stuff), Foster the People, Mika. Rekindled: Tori Amos.

Personal

I did 39 hour-long yoga classes in 2015, an average of 0.75 classes per week. Considering I didn’t pay attention to how often I was doing it, I’m pleased with that, though I’d like to bring that average up to once per week in 2016.

I biked 817 miles or so, which works out to a couple of miles a day. Again, not amazing or anything, but pretty good considering it wasn’t really a focus in 2015.

I traveled to Boston, Portland, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Albuquerque, Chicago, Zurich, Park City, Chicago again, New Haven, and (briefly) NYC.

2015 accomplishments: Eloped! Lost a bunch of weight. Became team lead. Gave a talk at Loopconf.

2016 intentions: Weekly yoga. Learn to meditate. Make more things. (Maybe blog more? LOL probably not.)