Just like last year, I’ve decided that my post for the weird, dead week between Christmas and New Year’s won’t contain anything original, but will instead be a compilation of things that I consumed that affected my work this year. So buckle up!

I’m going to do my best to not include any skiing-related sources. Sure, I love the 50 Project, but this is a space for things that don’t involve sliding down snow.

The Half Life of Valery K

Natasha Pulley

My partner likes books that she calls “squelchy” - books that involve lots of struggling against nasty, inevitable demises. She likes books about polar expeditions that nobody survives, that document how everyone died in excruciating detail. I do not like these books. So, when she recommended The Half Life of Valery K as being good, and also “squelchy” I wasn’t optimistic. Turns out that yes, there are some gruesome deaths in here, but it’s also just a really interesting, really well written and researched book about Cold War scientists. Great plot, great characters, scary nuclear stuff, highly recommend!

The Golden Enclaves

Naomi Novik

I mentioned the first book of this trilogy in my piece last year. It’s most easily described as “if Harry Potter were actually gritty and realistic.” This third book is a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, and another quick-ish, fun read. I know, I know, always too much fantasy on my lists, but have you seen what I draw? I can’t help it!

Ender’s Game

Orson Scott Card

No, this is not a new book. But man, I read it again this year and was reminded how much I love it. It’s well written, weirdly timeless, and just a damn delight. Speaker for the Dead, its sequel, is also good. The rest of the series is, well, fine. Things get a little loose, in ways I’m not totally comfortable with after the first two books, so keep reading at your own risk!

The Enduring Legacy of Breast-Shaped Glassware

Claire Carusillo

An interesting article about why glasses are the shape that they are, the male gaze, and breasts. Nothing radical, just one of those articles that makes you stop and think for a moment.

Pinkbike Racing

World Cup DH racing is the only sport I really try to watch live, or at least without spoilers. I don’t know why this is the one that has stuck with me, but it has. And Ben Cathro is one of the most compelling figures in any sport right now. And the production quality and storytelling in this series is top-notch. So basically, I’m a sucker for Pinkbike Racing, even though I hate most mountain bike youtube content and hate how Outside bought up and messed with a bunch of outlets I cared about, and hate how they made NFTs instead of paying good people to make good things.

Pinkbike Racing is so good. It made me feel feelings, and I’m somewhat of a heartless monster when it comes to consuming most internet “content.” Even if you don’t care about mountain biking, or mountain bike racing, this series is worth a watch.

Inheritance Machining

Last year I wrote about how I enjoy the show Forged in Fire because it allows me to turn off my brain and just watch something immensely satisfying with very little drama. This year I’ve found that Inheritance Machining’s youtube channel scratches the same itch. It’s just so calming to watch and listen to him explain how he’s going to make something cool, and then make it. It has inspired me to revisit my college aspirations and start making physical objects again, which has been pretty cool. Machining parts is just the right combination of art and science to push all my buttons.

The Sandman

Neil Gaiman

This might come as a surprise, but I wasn’t really a comic book kid. Sure, I read my friends’ Far Side and Calvin and Hobbs books growing up, but I never really got into comics, or comics culture. That may have been because I was too busy being a different flavor of nerd and painting Warhammer figurines. Regardless, I don’t have much background reading comics beyond the Sunday funnies. So, I watched the first few episodes of The Sandman when it came out with no real context. But something about the pacing and drama of it sucked me in. I get the critiques, I get why some folks don’t like it, but man, I found this adaptation to be so intellectually stimulating. It stretched out parts of my creativity in ways that I’ve never experienced before, and left me with a bunch of half-formed ideas about art and storytelling. And as an added bonus, it motivated me to finally read the comics.

Reservation Dogs

Sterlin Harjo

It’s funny, it’s spooky, it’s interesting and thoughtful and just plain good. Also I’m a sucker for a Nathan Apodaca cameo. Res Dogs has helped me think through how and why I try to tell stories this year. Also it’s just damn good TV, ya Shitass!

Anyhow, back to our regularly scheduled content next week. What did you enjoy consuming this year?