The more parents of young children I know, the more I hear some version of the following sentiment: Oh, I used to try to keep up with what was cool, but now I spend my days listening to [annoying kids’ album of the moment] and wiping up puke.
AK and I have all but pinky sworn that we won’t do this. It’s not that we don’t expect—even hope—that the puke-to-museum-going ratio in our lives will change once we convince someone to give us a kid. But for us, the arts aren’t about having something cool to talk about at parties. (Lately I would feel a thousand times cooler if I could talk about wiping up puke.) Books and movies aren’t some kind of shorthand for how edgy we are or aren’t. They’re as life-sustaining as friendship and work.
Coolness is about what’s new, something I gave up on long ago, as evidenced by my list of favorite books this year, one of which was published in 1905. But culture is forever.
So with that overly sincere intro, I present my annual, completely-irrelevant-to-anyone-but-me list of the best stuff I read and saw. The common theme seems to be trauma and its aftermath, or Shit Happens And We All Muddle Through And Sometimes Laugh Or Make Art.
1. Room by Emma Donoghue
2. The False Friend by Myla Goldberg
3. More Than it Hurts You by Darin Strauss
4. By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham
5. Bossypants by Tina Fey
6. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
1. Take Shelter
2. Young Adult
3. The Future
Honorable mention: Hanna, Bridesmaids, Melancholia, Urbanized, Beginners, Unstoppable, The King’s Speech (occupying the regular spot of Movie From Last Year That I Didn’t See Until Late January But Really Loved And Now I’m Not Sure Where To Put It)