The Thoughts Count

What's going through my mind.

Archive for December 2012

What Stayed With Me

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I have to admit that I like Top 10 lists because they are a sort of “what did I miss?” checklist for me. There’s so much out there everyday that even some viral sensations seem to pass under the radar. What I also love about these lists is that they force me to consider my own opinion on the things I’ve read, seen and heard throughout the year. 

BOOKS

2012 was a prodigious reading year for me. I have an unabashed passion for nerdy pursuits and nerdy habits: I keep track of the books I complete and what date I finished each of them. I’m a bit competitive with myself, but this bookkeeping (oh, a pun!) allows me to also review my choice of books and whatever that might reveal about my state of mind this year. This year I hit 39 books (oh, only 100 pages short of hitting a round 40). 

The fall, the birthing season for big new releases, spurred me on. I get excited by many of the releases and despite the large collection of unread tomes on my shelves at home, I often put in requests for these books from the library. The two-week new-book lending time encourages a quick turnaround; I’m not one to miss deadlines. 

Somehow, it almost seems as though the more books I’ve read, the more I can pick out the standouts. My top books this year: 

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour-bookstore (original, imaginative and fun — my description of it being as unoriginal as this book was original) 

The Passage (though I read this in 2012, it was published last year)

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (darn you, Oprah, for being right!)

Joseph Anton (perhaps my greatest conquest of this year as I squeezed in 600 pages in two weeks. Not ever, though, because I made it through 925 pages of Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 last year.)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers wins the most overrated, biggest letdown book of the year. Perhaps it was the hype, perhaps I just prefer my nonfiction to be a real dose of learning rather than a novelistic interpretation of reality.  

There are many other books that came out this year still on my list that will carry over to the new year.

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MOVIES

The fall is a busy season — I see more movies in the last few months of the year than at any other time because of the push for Oscar season. I love movies and the slow ease into a loss of time as you become engrossed in a story. Christian Marclay’s The Clock falls somewhere in between movies and art, but I loved it despite it’s enforcement of the awareness of time. And it’s second coming at MOMA offered a chance to see how it would fare during a different time of day, a different state of mind. If anything, I had even more of a sense of anticipation, of wanting to know what might be coming next.

In mainstream cinema, my two best felt easy:

Zero Dark Thirty (I was so excited to see this that it could easily have let me down, but instead it kept me rapt for all 160 minutes.)

Beasts of the Southern Wild (it captured me and left me a weepy mess, despite a viewing on a crappy airplane screen — that seems like success in itself. And it had no big stars; instead the lovely Quvenzhané Wallis filled the screen like a seasoned actor.)

I haven’t yet wrapped up my Oscar season viewing, but the year ends, these are my verdicts for now and I’ll continue viewing in the coming days.

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THEATER

I made it around to some of the bigger musicals (despite my dislike for them) this year — Billy Elliot and Book of Mormon — but neither had much of a lasting impact. It was an okay year for plays, a mix of some good, some bad, but much just middling and may of which I saw just before they closed. Seeing classics — Death of a Salesman and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf — on the stage gave me a little boost in theater history.

Much of the other theater I saw this year seemed a lot to do with families and relationships. Though Clybourne Park did win several awards, I wasn’t so impressed and instead felt disappointed in the display of cliched bits of racism. I did enjoy Other Desert Cities, but I can feel it fading fast in my memory. If There Is, I Haven’t Found It Yet was wonderfully acted, but the play itself could have used more drive. I came late to Tribes and appreciated the subject matter, but would have appreciated subtlety even more.

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MUSIC

Though my interest in the previous three categories has continued to be strong, my obsession with listening to the latest hot thing in music has faded. But I did find myself pleasantly surprised with several albums that I have listened to repeatedly; those are the first in quite a while. 

Yeasayer — Fragrant World

The XX — Coexist

And one of the best sells for me is the ability to stream an album before deciding to buy it. NPR’s All Songs Considered album previews generates some, Spotify has changed the way I get my music and Amazon has been really smart at drawing away music purchases from iTunes, in my experience.

One of my overall feelings about many things this year was “it could have been tighter.” Maybe my patience wanes, even when I’m not skimming articles on the internet. But movies have grown longer in the past few years. Despite that, I know there’s, at this point, an infinite amount of entertainment to consume and I revel in the options. 

Written by Kim

December 31, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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