Welcome to Smugglivus 2016! Throughout this month, we will have guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2016, looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2017, and more.
Next on Smugglivus 2016, please give it up to Anna Hight, author of “Ruby” a wonderful short story published with The Book Smugglers’ Quarterly Almanac Volume 2.
Well, 2016 happened. Yeah.
And yet, there were a few things about this dumpster fire of a year that are worth mentioning. I tried to cultivate a list of things that stood out for me in 2016, or things I discovered this year that made the bad stuff just a little more bearable. Here we go!
? Stranger Things: A love letter to Dungeons & Dragons, and to the horror and science fiction – Alien, Close Encounters, ET, The Shining – of the 70s and 80s. I grew up swiping my mother’s Stephen King novels and reading them in my closet with a flashlight, so I knew this show was for me. If you are one of the two people left in the country who have not seen Stranger Things, come the heck on. What are you waiting for? Millie Bobbie Brown is phenomenal.
? K-dramas: Korean TV dramas are amazing. You’ve got stuff like You Are Beautiful (a novice nun dresses in drag as her sick twin brother and joins his boyband and they all fall in love with her no I am not making this up) and Boys Over Flowers (a high school girl hecks stuff up for the popular guy and his friends and he falls in love with her and oh my God the drama). I have never been so invested in over-the-top, wacky romantic hijinks. Not to mention the enviable fashion and the men’s haircuts. You owe it to yourself to sign up for DramaFever and watch things like City Hunter. (Lee Min-Ho is a dreamboat.)
? The Hamilton Mixtape: Hamilton dominated my life this year, the cast recording on solid repeat in my car from September 2015 on, and the Mixtape – a celebration of the musical in the form of original content and covers by current and classic hiphop artists (and Jimmy Fallon, for some reason) – is absolutely required listening. It’s so relevant, so revolutionary, so important. The standout track – for me, anyway – is John Legend’s gospel take on “History Has Its Eyes On You,” which could arguably be the anthem of 2016.
?Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes: Technically released in late 2015, I started playing in early 2016 and it has eaten my brain. The gist is this – you collect different Star Wars characters and you battle them against other characters for rewards. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a richly thought-out system that does not actually require you to spend real money in order to level up really high and enjoy yourself. There’s some great endgame content that I don’t know much about just yet (I’m only level 50), but it’s a pretty fun, long-term phone game that has a broad appeal.
?Yuri!!! On ICE: This is an anime about figure skaters. It started bleeding onto my Tumblr dashboard about a month or so ago, and then I noticed it in my Twitter feed. It’s not often that I get that kind of crossover since my Twitter and Tumblr lives are fairly separate, so I started paying attention. I wasn’t sure about a sports anime – I’m not particularly sportsy – but I had such good luck with the hockey comic Check, Please! that I decided it was worth a shot, so I watched the first episode. Eleven episodes later, I am hooked on this diverse cast, fantastic character building, an intense love of the sport of figure skating, and goofy romantic leads. Admittedly, I’m a little wary of queerbaiting, because we’ve all been burned so many times before, but I am cautiously optimistic that this may end up a fun, near mainstream little show about ice skaters in love.
? Moana: What a wonderful, last-minute burst of happiness for the closing of the year! So lush, so beautifully rendered. Moana is a breath of life for the traditional Disney heroine, and I want to personally hand The Rock all the awards for Maui. Disney did this so well. I’ve seen Moana twice now (once in 3D – highly recommended) and I am tempted by a third.
? Steven Universe: Yes, it’s been around for a couple of years, but 2016 is when Steven and the Crystal Gems found their way into my life, and oh. Oh. Such a darling, wonderful show. When I watch it I feel so light, even when the subject matter is weighty. I love how this little cartoon, just a handful of minutes long, contains so much, more than many hour-long dramas do in full seasons.
? #givecaptainamericaaboyfriend: my favorite hashtag of the year.
You may note: there are no books on this list, yet. The reason is that I have severe ADD, and for the last couple of years it has significantly hindered my ability to read. Most of the time, I have serious trouble reading anything more complicated than a menu. It’s very discouraging. In 2015 I managed to finish one book (The Martian, by Andy Weir). In 2016, I read two books – Him, by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy and already mentioned by Tansy Rayner Roberts in an earlier Smugglivus entry, and the other book was
? Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. Not published in 2016, but I’m late to the party. I’ve heard a lot of people tell me, “you should read this book” because of my fandom history; I’ve been in some form of fandom continuously for 25 years, since age 14. I was a bit leery at first, because mainstream media has never, historically, treated fandom very well. I expected more of the same from this book, so I resisted for a long time. I wish I hadn’t. I found myself identifying with a lot of Cath’s interactions with other people – especially outsiders – on the subject – and there was so much wonderful character-building, I really appreciated that. I’m glad I made it through this book.
So, that’s my 2016.
2017, you’re up.
Thank you, Anna!