Off the top of my head, these are my tops. Apologies if I’ve completely forgotten anything that happened towards the beginning of the year; I haven’t spent much time exhaustively researching this. But I figure if it stuck with me for a moment’s reflection in the middle of a New Year’s Eve, it must rank, eh?

This, I think, has to be the funniest video I’ve seen all year (it was close, tho, but this one definitely made me laugh the most (barely any views because to this day EMI keeps having YouTube take it down, even though Alicia Keys was singing it on Radio 1 for crying out loud)):

But this one I think is my favourite (39 million views, plus a further 16 million on another version and countless rip-off one-offs):

The most cats in a video:

Some books I’ve read (and I haven’t read very many this year; it’s been a busy year, see):

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa: ★★★★★ Oh my goodness so good, so important, so heavy, so easy to read though, I meant to dedicate a whole long post to it but it quite overwhelmed me and I never did. :(

Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America: ★★★★ Very good book, the way it’s written reminded me of being in Sociology classes again, except in a more interesting way. But that feeling of soaking up data was the same. The narrative structure wasn’t totally my cup of tea (a matter of personal preference) and I remember it much more anecdotally than I think it actually was (perhaps my own fault since that’s how I remember all things but it means a lot slipped out of my mind fairly quickly). It was a good accompaniment to Waiting for Superman, the documentary, which was why I read it, and was an excellent description of the issues surrounding a difficult neighborhood, poverty, and the challenges of educating the kids that come through that situation. I just wished it had lingered more cohesively.

Roseanna: A Martin Beck Police Mystery (1) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard): ★★★★ A police procedural, written in Sweden? In the 60s? Very interesting, very straightforward, lacked all the clichés of modern (and even the older (English) mysteries). The dogged policeman would do his work and discover things; no weirdo unlikely twists etc. Apparently the authors (an unmarried romantically linked couple where the man became ill and died soon after they were finished the series) become very political, but none of that was evident in this earliest episode.

Cast, In Order of Disappearance (Charles Paris Mysteries): ★★★★ One of the stack of books I got out of the library the other day, a Simon Brett mystery. I’ve read a bunch of his books including one of the Charles Parrises but the Mountain View library collection is way better than our branch in Philadelphia when I first encountered him so I could start this series at the beginning. As a first novel it’s rather sweet, I recognized a lot of male fronting in the writing, but as an artefact from 1975, it’s remarkable. The 1970s weren’t that far away, after all; down here in the San Francisco Bay Area it was downright modern (even the mouse had already been invented), but in this novel about the London theater scene and all its neer-do-well characters, even with the floosies and the sex and the drinking and the unwanted pregnancies and all the rest of it, the women always ask the men (even the one-night-stands) if they’d like her to cook him something to eat. It’s amazing. It’s like a window into a very long-away past. I felt downright Indiana Jones reading it. And THEN there’s the petrol shortages and union rules and it’s more outlandish than one of the odder chapters in Tolkien.

The Bumper Book of Nature: ★★★★★ Not a novel and I’ve barely flipped through it but it just looks AMAZING. Baby’s much too young to appreciate it (or even go near it without harming it) so it’s quite safe in a box at the moment but I can’t wait to take it out when/if we ever find a house and put it to work. I’m so glad I ordered it.

I’m forgetting a couple of things but the night is getting late so instead I’ll distract you with some… cookbooks I’ve bought!

Tartine Bread Cooking with Italian Grandmothers: Recipes and Stories from Tuscany to Sicily

Those last two were Christmas presents for my parents and Peter’s parents respectively.

Some other items from the year: Peter got a new job, twice (so did I, once; but two contracts for it). He got a bunch of money and lost a bunch of money. He had promises of more money and left it behind. We moved. Bridges, despite their protective coating carefully applied, were singed. We bought a house and tried selling it (it’s still on the market). Baby went from 5.5 months to 17.5. I started letting days slip on the blog. We rented out our condo, we rented an apartment. We went to Maui, we went to Canada twice. We bought me my precious SportWagen. There were some Olympics, which were rather silly. There was a World Cup, which was rather more epic. The Ashes were played and won by England, just in the nick of time. We bought an iPad and two new iPhones. We both got Macbooks and Peter gave his back when he left that job. Peter got his own iPad and iPhones with his fruit basket. I made a few new friends but they’re all from work so who knows how long they’ll last. And I came home.