It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
Book of the Year: Backpack & They Both Die at the End
Two books have defined my year. The first is Backpack by Emily Barr, which was actually published about 15 years ago. It’s about a girl who goes backpacking in South East Asia, and I found a second hand copy in a shop in Hanoi. It’s also about a string of murders of backpackers in South East Asia, so I possibly made a mistake by staying up late to finish it in my bunk in Laos in almost the exact place where some of the action happens. It’s a brilliant take on the whole ‘British person goes travelling to find themselves’ narrative and has some good twists, so you should definitely read it from the comfort of your English armchair and then book yourself a flight to Asia.
The second book is They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. I started using GoodReads this year to keep track of all the books I see on Instagram and in those often questionable ‘recommended books for x’ lists, and I’m really glad I listened to the recommendations for this one. My review of it is here.
Special commendation to: Angie Thomas‘ debut The Hate U Give. I want to do a proper review for it so I won’t say too much except pick it up right now and read until you reevaluate your world views.
Album of the Year: Melodrama
I know who my Lorde and saviour is, thanks.
Right, onto the news.
The ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Living Through This Shit, Although it Will Probably Kill Me So At Least There’s That’ Story of the Year
There are so many options, so I’m just going to list my favourites, aka the ones I’ll be complaining to my grandchildren about:
- Trump’s inauguration
- Another election how many fucking elections does one country need
- When the DUP won the bloody election
- Jacob Rees-Mogg’s opinions
The ‘I Witnessed this Shit Live and Wish It Had Killed Me’ News Story of the Year: Brexit
Brexit. All the Brexit. Big Brexit news on the actual news and little Brexit conversations in my house. Blue passports. The Daily Mail. Random people on the news with opinions about Brexit. The fact that, despite the entire country’s obsession with Brexit, very little tangible Brexit has occurred. So Ireland won’t have a boarder? Was anyone ever really going to look the Irish people in the face and say ‘hey I know there was a decades-long violent war in this beautiful land about boarders and sovereignty that was concluded with great effort on both sides, but I really feel that we ought to put a giant bloody wall up and reopen wounds that are only just starting to heal because BREXIT MEANS BREXIT’?
Special commendation to: the American government. Obviously it was tough to choose between Trump and Brexit, but on reflection I have decided that Trump will eventually be impeached, die from all those Cokes he drinks or come to the end of his term and deny he was ever president in the first place. The clean up process won’t be pretty, but I have confidence in the better part of America. Or the part that doesn’t want to die from climate change and nuclear war, anyway. The process and effects of Brexit, on the other hand, are likely to chug on until I reach retirement age which I am assuming will be 95. But who cares as long as we have blue passports!
Outstanding Achievement for Distracting Me from the Horror of the Year for Five Minutes: Blue Planet II
Thank you, little puffin families, for restoring my faith in the husbands of this world. You guys saw what puffins go through to bring back food for their pufflings, right? And the parents split the childcare! I wish I understood science because studying puffin families sounds like a nice job to have. And did you see the sea lions hunting tuna? How do humans think we’re the smartest species I frequently can’t locate tea bags.
Special commendation to: the country of Australia for passing equal marriage (congratulations, you have one-upped the UK) and every Women’s March placard, poster and pussy hat for warming my feminist bones.
Outstanding Social Media Moment: the Big Green Bookshop vs Piers Morgan
The Internet has been a double edged sword this year; the news is so important that it’s hard to look away, but so awful and consuming that it’s equally as important to know when to look away. But sometimes humanity proves it’s all right, and my favourite example of that this year is when the a man named Simon, who co-owns the Big Green Bookshop in London, tweeted Piers Morgan the entirety of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Until he got blocked, anyway. If there’s one thing the people of Britain can agree on, it’s that Piers Morgan should piss right off – and I feel the Big Green Bookshop gave us all a chance to rally together and express our collective love for Potter and our collective loathing for Piers. Please support your local independent bookshops.
Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award: Everywhere?
I can’t remember their names and I won’t look for them because I don’t wish to give them further exposure, but some ‘gay cure therapy’ people were on morning TV this year. I think it was Good Morning Britain, but I won’t check and give the news articles any more views. I can’t dish out an award without knowing the names of the people I’m awarding, though, so this year’s winners are the member states of the United Nations. News broke some time in February about the detention and murder of perceived gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. The UN has confirmed and condemned it, but as far as I can tell the only country to have actually done anything to help is Canada. It’s also still illegal to be gay in 72 countries – countries whose human rights records are generally lacking. The Guardian did a handy map indicating levels of legal status of LGBT people globally, and it looks a lot like maps indicating press freedom and women’s rights. I feel like if one of those things can improve in a nation, the other two will follow, but I would also like to learn more about how that can be done in the next year. Primary education? Free access to the Internet? Democratic election processes? I will report back with my findings.
Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award: The Donald
Ugh. Ugh. It’s Trump. It was always going to be, really, but Jacki made a point in her comment on my nominations blog: Trump is a figurehead. If someone who had never heard of Trump were to take everything that is ignorant about Western culture in 2017 and mix it up and cook it and craft a little figurine, that figurine would be Trump. He represents the worst of us.
Look, a line representing the end of the year. A fresh start. I’ve been thinking about all the winners (and losers, ha) and next year I’d like to reboot The Six O’Clock News but with a twist. Every time I’ve turned on the news this year, either on an app or Twitter or the TV, the ratio of awful story:nice story has been about 9:1. So next year I want to find a story that has a happy ending or a fun twist. Like this 16 year old who got into Harvard (thanks Jacki!) or this dog whose bones were surgically regrown in a lab so she didn’t need her leg amputated. I like to think there will be enough material out there to fill a blog post or two… what do you reckon?
I won’t be back on here until some time next week and/or when the NYE fug has lifted, so happy new year! May your return to work on 2nd January be as painless as possible.