Yes, it’s that time. Right now, across the world, people are sitting down to take stock of their year in the hopes they have ticked off as many of their ‘To Do’ lists as possible and – hopefully – find a lot to celebrate and give thanks for. I know I have and do. A little of mine is below in a brief listicle, the rest I’ll talk about more in coming weeks.

colosseum
Kids and I at the Colosseum

Favourite book?

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. I’ve mentioned it a few times here and I blurt it out to anyone who asks me for book recommendations, so some of you might be thinking “Oh, enough already”, but it’s utterly extraordinary. I still catch myself thinking about that alien planet.

Favourite poem?

O California‘ by Sarah Holland-Batt. Out of all writing forms, I’ve read poetry most this year and there’s been some incredible work by Australian women poets: Lucy Dougan, Maria Takolander, Chloe Wilson and Fiona Wright among others.

Favourite short story?

If I read poetry the most that means something has to rank last and that, unfortunately, was short stories. I can’t single any specific example out, but I do want to mention the impressive New American Stories, published by Granta in August.

Favourite movie?

Thinking back, we didn’t go to the movies much this year. Most movie watching happened on airplanes as we travelled for those six weeks and I didn’t like what I saw (Into the Woods and Birdman stand out in that number). I get the sense that if I had seen the new Mad Max I would’ve loved it, so let’s put that in here provisionally until I do.

Favourite TV show?

After (I think) a wobbly start, Hannibal S3 ended triumphantly. The climatic fight was bloody and brutal – and yet it had grace. Critics might argue that it glorified violence, but I prefer an alternate existential interpretation: its open-eyed, stare-you-down use of the senses and bodies is a way of allowing the viewer an opportunity to locate themselves if not in this specific environment but their own and make comparisons. Deeds are elevated to greater significance because they are recognised as such; an antithetical reaction to the ‘going through the motions’ state we often move around in. (I hope that makes sense. I should tease these thoughts out better.)

I also enjoyed Making a Murderer (surely that case will be re-opened after all the publicity it has received) and Jessica Jones on Netflix.

venice
Venice

Favourite place we visited?

This is tough. So tough. As a quick answer, and if I had to pick just one place I’m going to be very general and say: Italy (Venice, Rome, Pompeii and Vesuvius). But Whitby in England is a close second. It lived up to my hopes, and then smashed them.

sunset whitby
Whitby

Favourite place I didn’t visit?

While I was down in Gallipoli, Adam and the kids stayed in Istanbul to do the touristy things I didn’t have time to do – including taking a ferry over to the Asian side of the city and visiting the Basilica Cistern. This is basically an old underground water tank to supply one of the palaces and was built by ‘repurposing’ stones and material from around the city.

Doesn’t it look beautiful?

Basilica Cistern

 

Favourite scary thing I did?

I knew as soon as we took off from the ground that I would be fighting off panic attacks until we landed safely again, but even so it was gorgeous to see the Yarra Valley from a hot air balloon.

Clouds in the Dawn

Here’s the video if you’d like to see:

 

Would I ever do it again? Maybe in Cappadocia, Turkey. And even that would be a big maybe.

Favourite gift to myself?

I took myself off to see Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet. Alone. Just me. It was wonderful. A close second would be the alternative/complementary therapies I’ve needed this year to try and cope with Fibromyalgia. Even a cheap $10 neck massage at the shops can make a big difference.

Favourite Instagram photo?

These were my ‘top’ nine Instagram photos this year, as determined by how many likes/hearts they received. Compositionally speaking, I know I took others that were ‘better’ – but that’s subjectivity for you.

From a productivity standpoint, I’m really proud of myself for sticking at the #mop15 (you’d need to scroll back through my feed), #julycreativechallenge and #nanowrimoprompt tasks.

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What are your 2015 ‘Best of’ or ‘Favourites’? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear. I’m sure I’ve left out a lot from this little list – if so, I’ll try and touch on them again soon.

Happy New Year for tomorrow. I hope 2016 is wonderful. x

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Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Crying in the Car: Reflections on Life and Motherhood.