Obligatory List of Media I Enjoyed in 2018

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.
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December 31, 2018

Looking back over the year, I actually consumed a fair bit of media, despite spending two months watching nothing but HGTV and the History Channel (I’m not saying it was aliens, but it was aliens). I have the HGTV schedule memorized and that’s a sad, sad, sad commentary on the paucity of programming they have these days.

But anyhow! I set a goal of reading 50 books this year and I actually made that goal…and promptly stopped reading on the regular (although I am slowly picking my way through the most recent Expanse novel and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness).

So some books I enjoyed were:

  • Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, and Exit Strategy by Martha Wells. More commonly known as Murderbot 2, 3, and 4. Murderbot is best, basically.
  • Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky. These are classic (hu)Man vs. Nature books, which there aren’t that many of these days, so it was a nice change of pace. And Elma’s a fantastic character and I enjoy her voice so very much.
  • The posthumously published I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. What a loss. I don’t normally read true crime, but this was compelling as all get out and so full of compassion for the victims. McNamara doesn’t linger unnecessarily on the trauma inflicted–there’s nothing voyeuristic about it at all. And while the book was incomplete at the time of her death, the parts not written by her are clearly marked out in the text.
  • Reading Classes by Barbara Jensen was illuminating in multiple directions and I’m so glad I read it. If you’re at all interested in the intersection and friction between different classes in the Midwest, I’d recommend picking this one up.
  • T. Kingfisher’s Clocktaur duology and Swordheart, set in the same universe. Kingfisher is the “adult” pseudonym of Ursula Vernon, which I think everyone knows at this point. There’s something about Vernon’s narrative style–her protagonists tend to be pragmatic and practical and there’s just something so comforting about her fiction.
  • As for short fiction, I read a fair bit in the first half of the year and the one story that’s really stuck with me is Marissa Lingen’s “Flow.” So, so, so, so, so good. And extra-resonant for me now, now that I’ve had my Year of Sick.

I did not watch as much visual media (not counting the endless hours of Fixer Upper and Property Brothers), but standouts included Black Panther and Shetland. Same for video games, but I am a huge fan of I Love Hue and recommend it highly.

And finally, I spent an awful lot of time scrolling on Instagram this year. It was one of the things I could focus on while I was in the hospital. I follow a few hundred people–many of them artists of different stripes–and here are some of my favorites:

  • Saraswati (queenofluna) is an absolutely incredible makeup artist who does the most dead on fannish looks I’ve ever seen. Seriously, she’s amazing.
  • I’ve been super into Islamic art and geometry and two of my favorite accounts for that type of content are Samira Mian’s and Bryn Edmonston’s (thegeometrista). My work is nowhere near theirs, but I find their work accessible and inspirational.
  • I’m also lucky to have friends who are awesome at the art thing: Wendell McKay (orphantanist), Kathryn Tewson (biscuitsmontana), and Suzanne Earley. Watching their work evolve is a constant pleasure, even when I’m filled with envy (they put in the hours, I do not; it is not in any way a rational envy on my part; if envy can ever be rational).

So that’s what I have for 2018, here’s hoping that 2019 is even better. And that I don’t almost die. And that I get more therapy to help me deal with that. I am planning more personal posts next year and if anyone wants to send me a copy of Dianetics to hateread, drop me a line. Seriously. I have Alec Nevala-Lee’s Astounding on deck for next year and I thought it would be interesting to also read Dianetics and I don’t want to give money to the Church of Scientology because they’re a horrible money grabbing cult.

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