First off, don’t watch Reality Television. If fewer people did, imagine where we’d be right now, eh? That includes the news. Maybe it shouldn’t be compared to reality TV but if they’re going to treat it as such, then we should ignore it. Maybe if we picked a newspaper and stuck to the written word… Would things be less ridiculous? Anyway. Here’s how I got through it all!


There was so much great television this year, plus some stuff I caught up on from before, or finally finished. All of these have writers who got paid for writing words that were well written.

• Detectorists – It’s on Netflix. It looks like something you wouldn’t be into (it looks like something I wouldn’t be into), but it’s so, so good. It’s just lovely. We watched it in The Throes of That Voting Thing That Happened This Year and it was perfect. I miss it.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – Yes, Jerry Seinfeld’s web show. Each episode is between 16 and 23 minutes long. It’s just people being funny and nice. There’s ONE episode (I won’t name names; it would be mean) where she (I’ll narrow it down that much) seemed like kind of a fool and I took against her as a person, but basically it’s eight seasons of funny, talented people talking about the thing that they’re best at. We watched it during the summer, as That Voting Thing was going on, and it was a really nice reminder that people are fine, and funny, and the country is large.

• Wolf Hall – I actually watched this last year when it came out but I think more than any other show I’ve ever seen it just wants to be rewatched over and

The Night Manager – So good.

War & Peace – Gorgeous.

Wallander – I mean, you have years worth of a show, each episode being as long as and better than any movie. WHY would people watch the CRAP that’s on television? Kenneth Branagh is just so good. And in the early seasons Tom Hiddleston is in it as one of the lesser cops, and there’s this one scene when he and Ken Branagh walk into a murder scene and the level of acting, ahh, it’s so great. Then Tom Hiddleston got Loki and disappeared from future seasons.

Dicte – Transitioning from English Sweden to Danish Denmark, this show’s on Netflix, it’s got the girlfriend from High Fidelity in it, and it’s just lovely. Yeah there’s murders and crime and whatnot, but the way they look head-on with real honesty at social problems (immigration, racism, money and corruption) without being dicks about it is so unusual (for an American viewer), and all the characters are just really good, flawed, funny individuals trying their best, and every episode makes you feel happier about people.

Foyle’s War – It’s still on! So good.


Hah, I wish. I read some young adult fiction this year, one that I read as a kid and one that I bought at The Child’s book fair. I’m taking an epically long time reading an Icelandic novel (I think the style of writing isn’t working in English, but who knows until I’ve finished).

The Inquisitor’s Tale – The one I just finished. I really liked it. The pacing’s not great in places but you know what, Chaucer’s isn’t either.

Constance – This is a great book, I read it when I was young, but the copy that Amazon sells now is such crap. What’s with the cheap reprints of kids’ books? They don’t even spell Constance right in all instances. Godsake.

The Blackhouse – Scottish. Dark. Really good tho.

Riders – Teehee

Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy – One of these things is not like the other things… I actually started reading this in 2014 but then The Baby happened and I can’t read with that going on. But look! I finished it!

And then there’s a ton of books that I haven’t even cracked open yet. Oh well.

Scented Candles!

Is it the hygge trend? Who knows. Buy a nice one. Light it and put it on your bedside table while you watch TV shows in the middle of the day on your iPad. You’ll feel like Cleopatra. It helps enormously.


I’ve arranged for about 90% of my Christmas presents to be pajamas. I’m done with wearing crappy old t-shirts. Proper pajamas are excellent. You’ll feel like Myrna Loy.


I get that most of this is just a list of distractions from Real Life, diverting attention from What’s Really Important, but what’s really important (small letters) is more important anyway. So, you know what, buy yourself a gift set of miniature bottles of expensive skin care. Don’t save it for a single use before a party (it doesn’t work like that). Just use it. Every day. If you feel like you look better over time, you’ll feel like you’ve cracked some timeless mystery. If it does nothing, you’ll feel smug like you’ve figured that out too, and in the meantime your face, or hands, or elbows, will smell nicer for it.

Plus, it’s fun, and it keeps you in the bathroom for those precious extra minutes that might otherwise be spent wallowing in the misery on Twitter.


You know, if you don’t like someone, and you’ve already made up your mind not to vote for him, or her, you don’t have to read every bad thing written about him, or her. It’ll just make you miserable. Sure, you run the risk of thinking less badly of the person, but who wants their heads filled with poison for another human being? Because it doesn’t really matter what we think. None of us are individually responsible for what happens, and none of us are going to be affected that badly by what happens as a result of what we think. And if we are, we’re in a different sort of trouble entirely.

Basically, I think my credo for 2017 is going to be that we can do better. We don’t have to settle for crap. If the stuff on TV sucks, find something on Netflix. If the politician on TV is upsetting you, turn it off and find someone you like instead. If your house is ugly, plant some roses. Just do something better.