_Who doesn't love a good "Best of" list to ring out the old and ring in the new?
Especially this teen blogger's "Best Books of 2011" list, which includes, and I quote: "This Girl is Different by J. J. Johnson. This book is different. In a good way. No, scratch that, in an amazing, incredible way."
**Happy sigh.** Feeling the love.
And it gets me thinking ... what are MY Favorite Books of 2011? Well, well -- I'm so glad I asked myself!
First, FICTION. Man, I read some hella good books this year. So here goes:
The White City by John Claude Bemis (Random House, 2011). Totally satisfying, Ferris Wheel-centric conclusion to The Clockwork Dark Trilogy. Super love.
The Death of York Mortwell by Stephen Messer (Random House, 2011). Creepy and touching and just plain fantastic.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (HarperCollins, 2011). This novel just stuck to my ribs.
Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal by Mal Peet (Candlewick, 2007). What it might have been like to be in the resistance in the Netherlands, WWII.
Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald (Bantam Dell, 2006). Caught my eye at Goodwill, and I loved it, because it's hard to find a "real" novel about straddling two cultures.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown, 2007). Because I heart Sherman Alexie.
For more, including my non-fiction picks, click right over there --------------------------->
I do love me the resolutions of the new year variety. And this year, having spent NYE on the sofa with the flu, I've had time to consider my resolutions. (Too much time.)
First, the J.J. Johnson Criteria for Acceptable New Year's Resolutions:
(A) A resolution must be desirable. And by that I mean something *I* desire. Sure, I could resolve to run a half marathon--and believe me, I admire those who do--but the sad truth is that I do NOT enjoy running. In fact, it's torture. I've tried, people, I've tried. Me, I'll keep fit through other means. Moving on.
(B) A resolution must be measurable. "To feel better about the fact that I am not a runner" is not truly measurable, and thus, kind of a buzzkill to achieve, because there's this nagging voice that's all "Are you SURE you REALLY achieved this?" Whatever, nagging voice. Go to hell.
(C) Proposed resolutions must be achievable. Difficult is fine, but completely out of the realm of possibility is just a sucky plan. (Section C-1) This also means the resolution must be, barring illness or other "acts of God," wholly within my own locus of control. Thus "Get third novel published," while both desirable and measurable, depends on other people (not to mention a crazy industry), and therefore does not qualify as acceptable under the J.J. Johnson Resolution Statutes.
And so, without further ado, I give you my 2012 New Year's Resolutions. (Careful readers will note these skew more "goal" than "resolution". But whatevs.)
1. Go somewhere new. This has been on the list several years now, and it's always a good one. It can be near, it can be far, but it must be a place on Earth as yet un-walked-upon by me.
Desirable? Yes. I love to travel and explore. Measurable? Yes. Achievable? Yes.
2. Finish writing a new novel. Along with editing and releasing my second novel, I want to write at least one more this year. Either finishing a work-in-progress, or completing a whole new project, doesn't matter.
Desirable? Hell yes. Measurable? Yes. Doesn't matter if it sucks (although hopefully it will be RAD!). No value judgments, just need to get to "THE END." Achievable? Evidently so!
3. Investigate going solar. Read at least two more books AND contact a local solar company for their advice and free estimate on transitioning our household to solar. (The decision itself--whether to install panels--is not the resolution.)
Desirable? Yes. Not sure whether it makes sense for us to make the transition, and it would have to be a decision made with my hubs, but I do desire to greenify my energy choices, and I want to know what solar panels would cost/conserve, ballpark. Measurable? Yep. Either I read the books and make the call, or I don't. If the company flakes out, that's not on me. Achievable? You betcha.
Well ... I think that's it. Sure, there's "be healthy and happy, invest in important relationships, keep marriage strong, work hard, save for retirement, keep fit and eat well." But here I refer you back to item B under "J.J. Johnson Criteria for Acceptable New Year's Resolutions". They're all too gelatinous. Except Save for Retirement. Duly Added.
4. Save for retirement. I have specific numbers in mind, but that's personal, yo.
So there they are. What are your thoughts? Have you made resolutions? Discuss.
My BFF Jen just sent me this photo from when we shared an apartment in college. I usually don't like photos of myself, but this one? Love. Because it pretty much sums up who I was, who I am, and who I (God willing) will continue to be. What I like about it:
1. Good friends. In the photo, I'm smiling not for the camera, but for Jen -- because she's an amazing person, and a phenomenal friend, and she had the thoughtfulness to take a picture of me "doing two of the things you love the most." (Mind you, this was 1994, before camera phones or even digital cameras, so it took some effort --"Wait right there, JJ! Don't move! I'll be right back!" -- for her to take this picture.) If you've got friends like this, you're blessed and lucky.
2. Dance. I'm stretching after rehearsals for a modern dance performance. Whether for performance or just getting my groove on, I heart dance.
3. Yummy food. Love me some num nums. In college, I had the good fortune to room with several women in possession of vibrant, healthy body images and good relationships with food. These women DO exist!
4. Also about the spatula dipped in batter: life's all about measured risk. Small risks, like eating raw eggs; large risks, like professing your love to the object of your affection. Someone wiser than me once said that you'll regret the things you didn't do in life more than the things you *did* do.
Take care, and take risks.A life without cookie dough (from scratch, mind you) is a life not worth living.
Take care, and take risks.
That about sums it up.
_My dog, Ruby, died yesterday. I miss her like crazy already. And I've been thinking about some of the things Ruby taught me, like:
1. Enjoy your food. Every morsel of every meal is to be delighted in.
2. You CAN learn empathy, even if it doesn't come naturally to you, and even if you've had a rotten child(puppy)hood.
3. You can be smart, and behave, and learn a lot of tricks, but you should never ignore your core instincts.
4. Let yourself mellow with age. It's all good.
5. You can be bad-ass and super sweet in the same package.
6. Protect the things you love. A big bark and a flash of teeth, used judiciously, can go a long way.
j.j. johnson, author