Dec 21, 2012

Here & Elsewhere: Favourite Posts of 2012

Wordle cloud for my blog
My goals for this year included showing more appreciation for and drawing attention to online writing I enjoy, and also becoming better at saying “hey, here’s this thing I created that is maybe not terrible”. This post is an attempt to keep both sets of goals firmly in mind amidst all the fun of end of the year list-making: I’m going to tell you about some of my favourite posts of the year, both here on this blog (gulp) and elsewhere on the interwebz.

The “Here” section of this list was actually easier to put together, for two obvious reasons: first, it’s easier to remember posts when I’ve spent a long time working on them. Secondly, all I have to do is go into my dashboard, and I have instant access to a list of everything I wrote in 2012. The same isn’t true of other people’s posts. I used Sidetracks at Lady Business, the link round-ups I started doing over here more recently, my Google Reader’s starred items and my memory to guide me, but I’m sure there are still plenty of posts which really resonated with me that I forgot to include. Also, this might go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: there are many, many blogs and people I love who aren’t on this list, and my not including them doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them immensely.

Lastly, I’d really love to see other people run with this idea if they’re so inclined. What are your favourite posts of the year, both posts that you wrote and posts you saw elsewhere? Feel free to tell me in the comments or to do a post of your own.

But enough blabbing – here goes the list:

Elsewhere:

  • I’ve expressed my appreciation for Rohan Maitzen’s “Am I Making Excuses for Gaudy Night?” before, but I couldn’t possibly fail to include it on this list. This post is a perfect example of the kind of conversation I hope blogs will elicit.

  • Kari Sperring’s “Rape in fiction: a rant” does a brilliant job of drawing attention to something that had been bugging me all year. I’m pretty tired of lazy and exploitative rape scenes in fiction myself, but sometimes people get carried away and act as if going “Enough about rape! I’m so bored of abuse survivor’s stories *yawn*” counts as awesome feminist commentary, which… no.

  • When it comes to favourite post of the year on authors’ blogs, Sperring’s is tied with this absolutely glorious rant by China MiĆ©ville.

  • Renay’s “Coverage of Women on SF/F Blogs” made me really proud to be a part of Lady Business. Sometimes when doing their end of the year stats, people apologise for reviewing more books by women than by men, because we’re trained to see anything other than a perfect 50/50 split as bad – especially when it benefits women. Renay’s post is a good reminder of why we shouldn’t be sorry: we’re only making up for the dismal situation elsewhere.

  • Speaking of being proud of your friends, Iris’ “Confessions of an Insecure Reader” is really open and brave and resonated with a lot of people, myself included.

  • It’s difficult to pick just one post from Foz Meadows’ blog, as she’s perhaps the person I learned the most from this year. But I’ll go with one on a topic that is close to my heart: “Stories are genderless”.

  • I keep coming back to Clare’s “The Hunger Games Merchandise and Androcentrism”, a piece on how the scapegoating of traditional femininity is all around us. Thank you for being awesome, Clare.

  • I learned a ton from Jodie this year when it comes to critiquing visual media; her review of the movie version of The Hunger Games is one of my favourite pieces of criticism she’s written, and it’ll give you a good idea of why I’m in awe of how Jodie writes about film and television.

  • The above also goes for Amy, but the post I decided to highlight here, “A Possibly Unpopular Opinion Awaits You”, is an excellent example of another thing Amy is brilliant at: analysing blogging culture and articulating what many of us who celebrate our love of books online have been feeling and maybe struggling with.

  • Speaking of blogging culture, “Reflections on the BEA Blogger Con 2012” at Read React Review is an excellent resource that either directly mentions or links to pretty much everything I learned about blogging in 2012.

  • The Unconventional Blog Tour was another excellent resource, and I particularly appreciated Liz B’s “Audience and Writing for Readers”. Writing for readers is what I’ve been doing for the past 6 years, and keeping this focus in mind is what has made blogging worthwhile for me.

    (I told myself I’d stick to one post per blog, but “Reading and Libraries” is a perfect expression of what I try to do both in my professional and in my blogging lives, so I’m going to include it too.)

  • Jenny’s “Thoughts about Blue Angel, Francine Prose” is an excellent post that started a great discussion about satire and social power. Again, this is the kind of conversation I want blogging to be all about.

  • Finally, is it cheating to include a month-long blogging celebration in here? Oh well; my list, my rules. Memory’s “Into The Hellmouth”, a celebration of Buffy, took place at around the time I started watching it, and heading over to Stella Matutina to read Memory’s thoughts the second I finished each season of Buffy and of Angel brought me a lot of joy. Sometimes I left long, involved comments on her posts, sometimes I just nodded along in my head; but in either case I felt like I was sharing the series with a friend, which made the whole experience of discovering it even more rewarding.

Here (aka the nervous-making bit):

  • The post I’m the most proud of is hands down “Gender Balance in YA Award Winners since 2000”. It was a long time in the making, but with Jodie and Renay’s help I think I managed to make it say exactly what I wanted it to say. The fact that there have been follow-up studies makes me incredibly happy.

  • I’m also happy to have posted “Reading and Gender: A Brief Guided Tour of my MA Dissertation”. Since posting it I have received e-mail from other graduate students working on the same general topic, and it makes me happy to know my work contributes to the knowledge that exists out there.

  • The reviews I’m happiest with this year were actually for the three books that resonated with me the most. I think I did a not too horrible job of engaging with them critically, and it pleases me to counter the idea that being a fan and writing in-depth criticism are two mutually exclusive categories. Basically, “critical” and “negative” are not synonyms. The books in question are The Fault in Our Stars, The Brides of Rollrock Island and The Mismeasure of Woman.

  • The two posts about Avatar: The Last Airbender I co-wrote are pretty much an embodiment of all the reasons why I blog: I got to delve deep into a beloved piece of media a friend had recommended along with another friend, and our efforts resulted in yet more friends discovering it. Everything about the process of watching and reviewing this series was happy-making.

  • Co-reviewing The Fault in Our Stars with Renay was also a ton of fun: we talked less about the book and more about its reception, but in the process we highlighted something that really matters to us both: the dismissal of smart teen characters as “unrealistic”. I really think we need to normalise intellectual curiosity, and fiction can play a crucial role when it comes to that. We also need to stop insisting that every YA protagonist be your average teen (whatever that means), especially when we don’t do the same when it comes to adult literature. As I said in the post, when did statistical frequency become a requirement for deciding who gets to have their stories told?

  • “On Being Wrong”: This is a post I still come back to when I need to remind myself that I blog to engage with ideas and learn and grow in the process, not to make definite statements that I must stand by forever, and that this is absolutely okay.

  • “On Objectivity, Again”: There were a lot of kerfuffles surrounding online reviewers this year, and this was the only time I felt the need to jump into the fray. To be honest I’m a little tired of the subject, but it’s nice to have written down all my thoughts in one place.

  • My recap of this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival is, at over five thousand words, probably my longest post to date, but I had a ton of fun writing it and I’m not one bit sorry. I love that it allows me to relive one of the most fun weeks of the year.

  • And the same goes for my post about my trip to Paris. It’s mostly picture based, but it still brings back a lot of memories and I’m really happy I took the time to put it together.

14 comments:

Renay said...

What a fantastic idea! I really liked this; it reminded me of posts I wanted to check back on. Now I want to steal it. >>

And I got included, even! as;dlk;skda;klsd *rockstar*

Clare said...

What a fantastic idea for a post! I keep trying to think of ways to steal Sidetracks for my own nefarious purposes, but it never quite pans out. I'm reading Jodie's review of The Hunger Games right now—I definitely read it when it came out, but it's so, so good.

No, you're awesome! I quite enjoyed writing that post; I find that linking style very effective, but that's the only piece I've managed to use it in. D'aw, shucks. :)

I think I did a not too horrible job of engaging with them critically, and it pleases me to counter the idea that being a fan and writing in-depth criticism are two mutually exclusive categories. Basically, “critical” and “negative” are not synonyms.

Yes. This. Forever. I literally have a document open to write a post on this subject in the new year. I am critical of the things I love, because they deserve it. Loving blindly is loving stupidly. Also: demolishing the barriers between fandom and academia is my jam.

Bookgazing said...

Really great post idea, you should feel proud of this one too. So many posts on here that were really influential to me this year. (Also, yay for Avatar discussions - we should totally do another program next year).

StuckInABook said...

Lovely, lovely links!
I've actually written a highlights post, ready to appear at some point, but only about my own blog! I feel arrogant now... but, to be fair to myself, it is mostly related to comments and collaborations.

I'm off to read some of these now... thanks for compiling, Ana!

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

Renay: Just so you know, I could easily have included more posts of yours in there ("It's Only Fantasy", the John Green one, etc). Pleas feel free to use the idea - it would be awesome to see more people make lists like this :D

Clare: Now I'm super excited for that post of yours :D

Jodie: There's still Korra...? *peers at you hopefully*

Simon: You're not arrogant at all! We absolutely should celebrate what we do on our own blogs, and it's always so much fun to look back at the end of the year. I know what you mean about collaborations - they're one of the greatest pleasures of blogging.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Thanks for compiling this! I can't wait to explore all of the links.

Rebecca (Aldine) said...

You know you're new to blogging when every new post feels like an achievement. I was thinking of my favorite personal posts and the first I thought of was the post I just wrote, about Vesalius. The pleasure and excitement of blogging is still new and fresh to me.

Thanks for the wonderful list of links!

Katherine Traylor said...

Thanks! These look fantastic.

Amy said...

You had a great year of blogging, but I really can't imagine you ever having a bad one. This is a lovely post, Ana! And thanks for including me.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Yes, I would love to save links to favorite posts and do this next year. Thanks for a great idea!

Joanna said...

This is great, I think going through the various posts will take up the rest of today. :-) thank you for highlighting good discussions, I want to improve my writing and my blogging and increase interaction and these are all a great place to start!

C.B. James said...

I see several posts that I missed the first time around that I'll have to take a look at.

This post is just that sort of thign BBAW should do. It's just what their awards should have driving towards.

Thanks and happy holidays.

sakura said...

This is a wonderful selection of links. I always enjoy reading your thoughtful posts and have added way too many titles to my wishlist because of you!

Susan said...

Thank you for all the links you provided, Ana! There's some I missed that I'm going to go check out.

You know I enjoyed so many of your posts, as always, Ana. I enjoy how you are unabashed in your desire to be critical and thoughtful in every review you post. You show many of us that even if we aren't critics, we can still be precise and clear about what we like and why in a book, and that being thoughtful and fair in our reviews and impressions is what reviewing a book is all about.

Most of all your posts show a delight and wonder in reading, which is why I do think one day we will see your blog published in book form. It deserves it!

Discussion is what blogging is all about, and thank you for your considerable contribution to the blogging world. It is a delight to have met you this way, and I treasure what you have to say, even if I don't comment on every post you write.

Thanks so much for everything you do, Ana.

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