Well friends, here we are.
I know the new year doesn’t really mean anything – changing the year from 2020 to 2021 won’t magically make all of our problems go away. I gotta say though, it is nice to hang up a new calendar on the wall, to start a new bullet journal, and at least symbolically put the last year behind us.
I don’t want to diminish the hardships and tragedies that everyone endured this past year, of course, but I think there’s something to be said for the good things that happened this year. We can all grieve and still remember the moments that made us smile, too.
So, as is tradition, here is my Year in Review for 2020!
Top 5 Albums
5) Tension – Anchor & Braille
Favorite songs: No Ordinary, Closer & Farther, Madness
4) Guardians – August Burns Red
Favorite songs: The Narrative, Defender, Ties That Bind
3) Devotion – Anberlin
Favorite songs: Unstable, Dead American, Said Too Much
2) Dawn – Wolves At The Gate
Favorite songs: Counterfeit (Redux), A Voice in the Violence (Redux), Alone (Live from Quarantine)
1) The Path – Fit For A King
Favorite songs: The Face of Hate, Breaking the Mirror, Louder Voice
Top 5 Books
5) Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova
Incendiary took a little while to pick up speed, but once it did, it was full speed ahead right until the end. I love a good fantasy world that’s full of intrigue.
4) Slay by Brittney Morris
Not only does this book star an awesome “gamer girl,” it also doesn’t shy away from serious discussions and issues that are relevant to how we live in the real world.
3) King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
It’s hard to top Six of Crows in my book, but Leigh Bardugo came awfully close with this one. I’ll never say no to another installment in the Grishaverse.
2) The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Addie is the kind of book that feels like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket with a cup of tea on a rainy day. It’s heartbreaking sometimes, sure, but comforting too.
1) The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Steifvater
This is technically four books, but I’m counting it as one since I read them all in the span of three weeks and have a hard time remembering which events belong to which book. I quickly fell in love with the characters and the magic of their world. I miss them already.
Honorable mentions: Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim and the Fullmetal Alchemist manga series by Hiromu Arkawa
Top 5 Video Games
5) Super Mario Galaxy – Nintendo (Nintendo Switch)
After spending many hours as my brother’s “co-star” in the Wii version of Super Mario Galaxy a long time ago, I finally got to play and finish the game for myself when it was re-released for the Switch.
4) Bastion – Supergiant Games / Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Nintendo Switch)
I loved this game so much that I wrote a whole blog post analyzing how it effectively creates characters and makes players face difficult choices.
3) Fire Emblem: Three Houses – Intelligent Systems / Koei Tecmo / Nintendo (Nintendo Switch)
I knew a lot of people enjoyed FE3H, but I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. 60 hours later, I’m totally invested in these characters and I can’t wait to play through the other routes the game offers.
2) Hades – Supergiant Games (PC/Nintendo Switch)
I was hesitant about Hades at first, but I’m easy to please when it comes to mythology-inspired media. I enjoyed the game in early access, and finally reached the “true ending” when it was brought to the Switch.
1) Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Nintendo (Nintendo Switch)
It was hard to choose between this and Hades to be my game of the year, but in the end, Animal Crossing takes the cake for being a steady friend during the loneliest months of quarantine. ACNH also gave me a video game I could enjoy together with my mom, and we had a good time visiting each other virtually, even when we were apart.
Top 5 Movies/TV Shows
5) The Legend of Korra
This series had a lot of potential, but ultimately didn’t quite live up to my expectations of it. Still, it’s a strong follow up to its predecessor, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and certainly has its moments of greatness.
I’m always fascinated by how different storytellers approach the concept of time travel, and this anime series was no exception. Complete with a cast of memorable characters, Steins;Gate was fun to breeze through for a few weeks.
I’ve noticed that Pixar does a good job of making “nerdier” movies accessible to a broader audience without losing their original charm, and Onward is no exception.
2) Little Women
It’s been a long time since I read the original book, but this was just a delightful movie that made me laugh and cry (sometimes at the same time). I’m glad my last theater-going experience was a good one!
1) Knives Out
By far my favorite movie I’ve seen in a long time! There’s nothing quite like a murder-mystery premise that keeps you on your toes and delivers largely original story.
Honorable mentions: Castlevania (but I didn’t like the third season), Tower of God, The Witcher, Enola Holmes.
Favorite Blog Posts
My favorites from the year, in chronological order:
A Defense of Non-Traditional Reading (January)
In which I talk about why having “non-traditional” ways of reading – like ebooks and audiobooks – is important, and often even necessary.
Confessions of a Paper Hoarder (February)
I try to give an explanation as to why I just can’t seem to get rid of anything made out of paper.
May The Odds Be (N)ever In Your Favor (June)
We don’t actually understand The Hunger Games as well as we think we do. This post explains why, and what we actually should be learning from the bestselling novels.
Book Blurb Wishlist (September)
In this highly-anticipated follow up to my “Book Blurb Blacklist” post from several years ago, I shared some of my favorite tropes and plot devices that get me interested in a book.
8 Online Learning Tips From Someone Who’s Done It Before (September)
With so many people working and going to school from home this year, I decided to share a few of the things I discovered about virtual learning from my years as a cyberschool student.
Favorite Moments & Memories
Taking a papermaking and bookmaking class
For my art elective, I took a class called “Paper Processes” where we learned how to create handmade paper and artists’ books.
Seeing a musical production of Anne of Green Gables
My school’s spring musical was Anne of Green Gables, so a friend and I went to go see it. It was fun to see one of my childhood books on stage!
Watching my friends present their honors research
Several of my friends spent their senior year of college doing independent research on everything from young adult coming-of-age novels to feminist mythology. Even though they weren’t able to present their research in person, I loved watching them share their work virtually!
Celebrating birthdays with friends
Despite the circumstances, I was able to celebrate a few of my friends’ birthdays with them in person throughout the year.
Making my own custom figurines
This year, I started a new hobby with making custom Funko Pop figurines based on my favorite book characters. As of now, I’ve made nine total, but you can read about the process behind my first two here.
Having family come to visit
My aunt, uncle, and cousins came to visit for a few days in the summer, so it was fun to spend some time with them.
Moving to my own place and starting a new job
In August, I started a new job back at the university I graduated from, and I was able to move into my very own apartment! It’s hard to believe it’s been four months already.
Hanging out with my friends online
This was kind of an “all year” thing, but I’m very grateful for how I was able to stay connected to friends throughout the year. Whether we got together for a writing workshop, played Quiplash, or just took some time to catch up, it was always a blessing.
Going on some “small adventures“
In the early fall, I spent a few weekends getting outside and exploring the surrounding area. I’m looking forward to warmer weather when I can do this again.
Spending Christmas with my family
I was fortunate enough to be able to visit with my immediate family for a few days at Christmas, and I’m very thankful for the time we were able to spend together watching movies, playing games, and eating good food.