Let’s face it, we all knew 2017 was going to be a garbage fire. But in between the political nightmares, nazis, and general terribleness, there were moments in 2017 that gave us life. Nursing Clio presents its third annual Best Of list.
Laura Ansley: I can never pick just one. But favorite fiction this year was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, starting with The Fifth Season. For nonfiction, I want everyone to read Roxane Gay’s Hunger and Kory Stamper’s very fun and funny Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries. For comics, I loved the three volume Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! that Kate Leth wrote this year. Patsy’s a lot more than just Jessica Jones’s friend!
Averill Earls: I have a very long commute, and audio books get me through it. So my favorites were all a combo of amazing story, writing, and narration. #1 is Peter Clines’s 14 (and everything he’s written, which is smart and funny and weird sci fi / fantasy), and #2 is Christina Henry’s Alice, which is a really creepy take on the Wonderland books. I loved it, and also hated it — the world keeps trying to make Alice a victim; when she kicks ass, it is so satisfying.
Evan Sullivan: I’ve spent the better part of this year reading for comprehensive exams, so I’ll just list my four or five favorite books (approximately one from each list). From my gender & society list, I’d have to say Steve Estes’s I Am a Man!: Manhood and the Civil Rights Movement. From my two public policy lists I’ll nominate Nicole Hemmer’s Messengers of the Right, Jennifer Middlestadt’s The Rise of the Military Welfare State, and Audra Jennings’s Out of the Horrors of War. Finally for my global and comparative field, I really enjoyed Thomas Gregory’s Treating the Trauma of the Great War: Soldiers, Civilians, and Psychiatry in France.
Sarah Handley-Cousins: A year out from finishing my doctoral work, one of the things I’m enjoying most is the freedom to read — although I do most of my “reading” through my ears with audiobooks as I commute, walk, or work. My favorite fiction book this year was Natasha Pulley’s The Bedlam Stacks (reviewed on NC by Averill). What a delight! I can hardly wait until she writes another book. I tend to read much more nonfiction than fiction, and this year I loved Timothy Tyson’s painful The Blood of Emmett Till, which did so much to help me understand Till’s lynching and place it in context, and Mike McHargue’s Finding God in the Waves, which is a beautiful (and fun!) exploration of reconciling science and doubt with faith.
Sarah Swedberg: I read fiction before I fall asleep at night. This year I have had two favorites: Rebecca West’s The Fountain Overflows. The other is Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, which made me weep. My favorite nonfiction was a book I taught in Material Culture: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Ivan Gaskell, Sarah Schechner, and Sarah Anne Carter’s Tangible Things: Making History through Objects, a lovely object-based musing on things and where we put them in museums.
Cassia Roth: I’ve been reading Sarah Ahmed’s Living a Feminist Life — a must read for those who want to put intersectional feminist theory to work in our everyday lives.
Lara Freidenfelds: Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. The race and sex dimensions of Trump’s America are unsurprising once you find out exactly what people ask Google in the privacy of their own homes. Insightful, if depressing, and an engaging read.
Emily Contois: For my research on food and gender, I want to shine a light on a book published in 2015 that I read in 2016, but that has come up for me over and over again this year, particularly in the wake of Weinstein and #metoo: Deborah Harris and Patti Giuffre’s Taking the Heat: Women Chefs and Gender Inequality in the Professional Kitchen. New this year, I enjoyed Anne Helen Petersen’s Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman, which Laura reviewed on NC. For fun, I was completely surprised by how much I liked Sylvain Neuvel’s Sleeping Giants, which came out in 2016, and I just realized that there’s a sequel, so I know what I’m getting myself for Christmas!
RE Fulton: Two very different books top my list this year: Plucked: A History of Hair Removal by Rebecca M. Herzig, and Defending Battered Women on Trial: Lessons from the Transcripts by Elizabeth A. Sheehy. The first is a detailed and thought-provoking study of the ways and reasons that Americans have chosen to remove their body hair over the decades since the colonial period. It’s equal parts curious cultural history and intro to biopolitics. Defending Battered Women is heavy in every sense of the word: an exhaustive, rigorously researched study of Canadian women on trial for the murder of their abusers.
Carrie Adkins: I keep looking up my favorite reads from the year and finding that they were published before 2017. Apparently I am behind, so I’m just going to go with the only 2017 book I loved: Roxane Gay’s Hunger.
Evan Sullivan: My music has been mostly been pre-2017 stuff. My favorite album this year, however, has been Young the Giant’s self-titled album from 2010. I’ve also been listening to The 1975 and Bleachers; both have somewhat of a retro feel.
Sarah Handley-Cousins: I became deeply, deeply obsessed with Jason Isbell this year, and his new album with the 400-Unit, The Nashville Sound, is bleeping magnificent. I literally listen to it on repeat.
Lauren MacIvor Thompson: I am echoing Sarah, and reiterating my own obsession with Jason Isbell — his song “Anxiety” has been a poignant anthem for me. I also have to profess my undying love to the late, great Tom Petty. In fact, I didn’t even realize how much I loved him until he passed away in early October. I have Sirius XM radio in my car where he has his own channel, and I literally listen to nothing else. I can’t pick a favorite song, but “Learning to Fly” is close, as is “Saving Grace” from Highway Companion.
Sarah Swedberg: My favorite new-ish music (2016) is Bombón, a three-woman surf-rock band from San Pedro, California. Their EP A Date with Bombón is worth a serious listen. At the moment, I also have the 1984 Time Zone (Afrika Bambaataa and John Lydon) song, “World Destruction” on continual play in my head. I wonder why.
Amelia Grabowski: My music recommendation isn’t new, but it’s new to me: Josh Ritter. How can you resist a song with lyrics like “It’s just another damn in the damns you’re not giving”?
RE Fulton: Warren Zevon’s 1976 self-titled debut album has probably been my album of the year for three years running.
Laura Ansley: I got into the musical Waitress this year. While the original cast recording is good, I ADORE the album songwriter Sara Bareilles released called “What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress.” Excited that the national tour will hit my area this spring!
Carrie Adkins: I should not be allowed to contribute to this category. I basically alternate between oldies and the Hamilton soundtrack all day long.
Favorite TV Show
Laura Ansley: If you’re not watching The Good Place, what are you doing with your life? Parks and Recreation is maybe my favorite show of all time, so Mike Schur doing a new sitcom meant I was on board immediately. Kristen Bell plays a terrible person who has accidentally been sent to the heavenly Good Place after death and hijinks ensue. And then the first season ended this spring with a twist like no other — I won’t spoil it, but just watch. You’ll love it.
Averill Earls: I’ve been watching Blackish since the beginning, but it just keeps getting better. It has been hard-hitting this year. I was happy with Season 2 of Stranger Things, and I love that teen shows like The 100 and The Fosters are more intersectional and diverse than was even conceivable 5 years ago. More please.
Evan Sullivan: I usually spend my off time re-watching both Parks and Recreation and The Office (that series finale gets me every time). Two shows that never failed to make me feel good, especially in the context of 2017, were Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Silicon Valley.
Sarah Handley-Cousins: I’m very bad at keeping up with the new, popular shows — I usually get around to watching them 2 years after everyone else. This year has also been really stressful, so I needed comfort TV. I fell hard for the delightful Canadian mystery series Murdoch Mysteries, which is quirky and cheesy and just so darn lovable. I also am still loving Outlander and Hulu’s The Path. My hardcore Trekkie husband has forced me to watch The Orville and Star Trek: Discovery, both of which I have actually really enjoyed.
Sarah Swedberg: I am sad that the World Series is over. I know it’s not a TV show, but it is my favorite drama. My students also turned me on to The Fosters, and I will binge watch a season at a time.
Cassia Roth: I’m rewatching Call the Midwife. I cry almost every time.
Emily Contois: With its feminist point of view and delicious dose of late 1950s fashion, I really enjoyed The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which was hilarious too. Like Sarah, I’m still watching and liking Outlander, though it’ll probably never be as great as the first season. And this year was 10 years since the first episode of Mad Men, so I couldn’t help but watch it all again. I also really liked the second season of Master of None for both its content and style.
Amelia Grabowski: I’m a sucker for period murder mysteries with a romantic subplot. I highly recommend Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries — the feminist period murder mystery show you never knew you needed. I also can’t miss an episode of Grantchester, or as my family refers to it “The Hot Vicar Show.” (He’s Church of England. It’s fine.)
RE Fulton: Netflix’s The Keepers and anything on the Food Network. I also named a cat after a Stranger Things character this year.
Jacki Antonovich: Oooh, The Keepers was so good. I am a devoted fan of Mr. Robot. Also The Crown and Alias Grace. The final season of The Leftovers was perfection.
Carrie Adkins: The Handmaid’s Tale, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Handmaid’s Tale. The Handmaid’s Tale. But also I liked Bojack Horseman, Mind Hunter, Master of None, Veep, and the return of Twin Peaks. John Oliver continues to be brilliant. And I finally yielded to peer pressure and discovered Game of Thrones this year and binged the entire thing greedily.
Averill Earls: Now that I have the Movie Pass, I have seen all the movies. Blockbuster yeses: Wonder Woman, duh; also Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Logan and Alien: Covenant. Obviously I sobbed through Beauty and the Beast. But I think my favorite movie of the year was Get Out. I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the version where Chris (the main character) doesn’t get out. I know that is the statement version of the film, and director Jordan Peele has good reason to have that ending, but I feel bad for anyone who missed the theatrical version.
Sarah Handley-Cousins: I’m basically Averill’s polar opposite in this regard: I hardly ever watch movies. My daughters and I loooooooved Beauty and the Beast, I bought Guardians of the Galaxy 2 the minute it came out, and I’m obsessed with Wonder Woman.
Evan Sullivan: Either Wonder Woman or The Big Sick. I can’t decide.
Laura Ansley: Why not both, Evan? I’d say Wonder Woman for ass kicking feminism, The Big Sick for the romantic comedy that I’m always craving that Hollywood delivers so rarely these days. And as someone who just overlapped with the protagonist’s years in high school, I also adored Lady Bird. The fashion and music alone took me back.
Lauren MacIvor Thompson: Wonder Woman — that scene where she climbs out of the trench line and charges across the No Man’s Land in war-torn France is literally a visual symbol of how I intend to succeed in life.
Cassia Roth: I watched the German film Marija (released in 2016) about a Ukrainian-born woman negotiating life and love in Germany. It’s absolutely feminist, and as one reviewer put it, the film “paints a universally relevant portrait of disenfranchised immigrant life.” Important for our times. I don’t speak German, but I watched it with someone who does, and she also said the play with language (German, Ukranian, Turkish) and accents is genius.
Lara Freidenfelds: I mostly watch movies with my family, and we all really enjoyed Coco. It asks how we balance our individual needs and desires with our family life, including our extended family, and our family traditions.
Emily Contois: I’ll happily jump on our train for Wonder Woman and The Big Sick. Another standout for me this year that didn’t get much buzz was Wind River.
RE Fulton: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri was a masterpiece on every level. If you haven’t seen it, I implore you to do so.
Carrie Adkins: I feel like this has been a great year for movies. My top three are probably The Shape of Water, The Florida Project, and Lady Bird. Other favorites: Wonder Woman, The Big Sick, Get Out, Baby Driver.
Amelia Grabowski: I think I only saw one new movie this year. It was Wonder Woman. I have no qualms about that being my favorite movie.
Evan Sullivan: Disability Visibility Podcast. Really great.
Sarah Handley-Cousins: I listen to so many wonderful podcasts, but one of my favorites I discovered this year was The Liturgists. It is such a powerful journey through the complicated and sometimes painful experience of trying to hold onto (or let go of) a faith practice. My kids and I loved WHYY’s Eleanor Amplified, which has so many laugh-out-loud moments, and we also really enjoyed NPR’s WOW in the World, which is why my toddler is now inexplicably obsessed with Guy Raz.
Laura Ansley: I like to subscribe to some podcasts that allow me to hear from underrepresented voices in media and culture. I wholeheartedly endorse See Something, Say Something, a BuzzFeed podcast about being Muslim in America. Along with their older show Another Round (also one of my favorites, but leaving BuzzFeed next year) and their newest Thirst Aid Kit, BuzzFeed is doing the work of providing smart, funny, interesting people platforms to talk about race and religion, and in the last case, lust.
Cassia Roth: I love Tom Ashbrook’s On Point (WBUR). He welcomes various points of views and doesn’t shy away from asking tough questions of all of his guests and listeners. Update: Tom Ashbrook has been put on leave for sexual harassment and hostile workplace accusations. So he’s off my list as a favorite. I do love the NPR Politics Podcast.
Emily Contois: I’ve totally fallen for Past Present Podcast.
Lara Freidenfelds: I’ve been having a good time exploring Kate Clancy’s Period. podcast. I discovered her interdisciplinary interviews on all things menstrual when she interviewed me for it a little while ago.
RE Fulton: Jacki put me onto Criminal, which is a delight during my hour-plus commutes. I’ve also developed an addiction to 99% Invisible, which never interested me when it was billed as “a podcast about design,” but which hits that perfect sweet spot of “I never thought to be interested in this, but I’m enjoying a half hour of gently narrated expert insight into its history, origins, and social significance.”
Carrie Adkins: Jacki also sold me on Criminal! It’s great. Other favorites right now: Lore, Doughboys, and still — I think I mentioned these last year — You Must Remember This, Memory Palace, and How Did This Get Made.
Jacki Antonovich: I am so glad y’all are listening to Criminal! It’s so great. I’ve been really into Glynn Washington’s Heaven’s Gate podcast. It’s more about the personal stories of the people who got caught up in the cult, and I find it riveting. I’m also enjoying Slate’s podcast on Watergate called Slow Burn.
Amelia Grabowski: There’s so many to choose from, as demonstrated in our podcast post. But when life or news has me down, and I can’t listen to anything else, I’m always educated and entertained by Reply All.
Favorite Historical Callback
Sarah Handley-Cousins: While I’m not really sure “favorite” is the right word, it’s been a little mind-blowing to see how America continues to fight the Civil War. Many of this year’s flashpoints have been over the Civil War and its legacy, and it’s been exhausting and fascinating as a historian of the conflict. It is a positive in one way: I think now more than ever, people are trying to disentangle the complex history and memory of our nation’s central armed conflict.
Sarah Swedberg: I hate every reference to the Constitution by every politician or pundit. I end up yelling, “There’s no such thing as original intent!” far more than I should.
Evan Sullivan: All the cool World War I exhibits happening this year at museums and libraries big and small.
Cassia Roth: When I told a member of my family that the required blood test they had to take in 1980s California in order to get married was eugenics….
Lara Freidenfelds: Like Sarah H., I wouldn’t call this a “favorite” exactly, but “most meaningful.” Members of my family who remember World War II have been watching Trump and his supporters and pointing out that populist dictators don’t look like they are taking over until suddenly they do.
Favorite News Story
Evan Sullivan: Definitely the article/video from The Onion, “Trump Voter Feels Betrayed By President After Reading 800 Pages of Queer Feminist Theory.”
Sarah Handley-Cousins: This New Yorker article about the business of essential oils. Wowza.
Lara Freidenfelds: The Washington Post’s investigative reporting exposing Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assaults, and the wave of follow-on revelations about pervasive sexual harassment across industries. Not a cheerful set of stories, but it gives me hope that times may be changing.
RE Fulton: Daughter Of Focus On The Family Executive Comes Out As A Lesbian.
Jacki Antonovich: The Quartz article on gender and multi-level marketing companies like Lularoe is a must read. Also the Washington Post article on the woman who did a home DNA test and went down a fascinating rabbit hole of family history is a great read.
Laura Ansley: Can I say full-time employment with health benefits? Life changing. But if we’re talking smaller things, I’m a big fan of my Rothy’s shoes. They’re a bit of an investment, but comfortable, machine washable, sustainable, and they look good too. Tweet me if you want a discount code.
Lauren MacIvor Thompson: Rothy’s!!! Wore them all over New York City for a month-long research fellowship and my feet were happy. Also I’m about to buy my first tube of LipSense lipstick, which apparently stays on until you take it off with their special remover. I’ll report back!
Sarah Handley-Cousins: Let 2017 go down in history as the year that I discovered ramen. My deepest thanks to Averill who introduced me to Sato, our local ramen joint. I’m so in love with this rich, savory, spicy soup that I have the restaurant’s app on my phone, no matter how much storage I need to free up.
Sarah Swedberg: Rebecca West. See Favorite Book above.
Evan Sullivan: Short sleeve button-down shirts and bars with arcades in them (I mean this in the least bro-y way possible). I found an amazing arcade-bar in Burlington, Vermont this past summer that changed my life. And yes, I just this year tried on those shirts for the first time.
Averill Earls: All Wil Wheaton and Roy Porter-narrated audiobooks.
Emily Contois: Not a new discovery, but every winter here in New England, I’m so very thankful that fleece-lined leggings are a thing. Oh and I can’t explain why, but squishies, like these kitties, have proved sweet and inexplicably effective little ways for dealing with the anxieties of the academic job market. Squishing their little bellies truly makes me feel a bit better.
Lara Freidenfelds: The Freedom app. I can tell it to not allow me to connect to Facebook or the New York Times (or whatever else is distracting me). It’s almost as important to my writing and editing process as chocolate.
Cassia Roth: My Afro-Cuban and Reggaeton dance classes.
RE Fulton: Almond milk and cat parenthood.
Jacki Antonovich: Three words: mango sticky rice.
Favorite Public Institution
Evan Sullivan: Shoutout to the New York State Museum with their 100th anniversary exhibits this year on both women’s suffrage in New York and the state’s contribution to World War I.
Sarah Handley-Cousins: I have spent a lot of time this year working with the staff of the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site here in Buffalo. They do so much hard work bringing history to the people of Buffalo in fun and creative ways! I’m also very grateful to the Buffalo and Erie County Public Libraries for helping feed my and my daughters’ audiobook addiction.
Laura Ansley: Always, always, always public libraries. I spent two months this year without access to a public library and it was so terrible! But now I’m settled and I’m enjoying the Fairfax County Library system.
Lauren MacIvor Thompson: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Lara Freidenfelds: NJ Transit. Of course I love to hate on it, along with everyone else in the suburbs. But it gets me, a visually-impaired non-driver, to New York City reasonably reliably, so that I can connect with friends and colleagues and take the dance classes that mean so much to me. Public transit is an important community resource.
Emily Contois: The National Museum of American History. I made a trip again this year for Food History Weekend (which is just a fabulous event on its own), and I learn something new every time, even when visiting the same exhibits and objects, like, you know, Julia Child’s kitchen.
Cassia Roth: The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. I’m living in Scotland this year, and I’m amazed by the excellent primary care I get — and how easy it is to access it. The continuous defunding of the NHS is a great tragedy.
RE Fulton: The Lower East Side Tenement Museum truly is an amazing place — and I don’t just say that because they now pay for my groceries! It’s an incredibly unique opportunity to engage with history both on superficial levels (“Look at these weird old toilets!”) and on more meaningful ones (discussions of historiography, agency, and invisibility).
Jacki Antonovich: The University of Michigan has a video game archive! They have computer and videogames dating back to the 1970s and all the original gaming systems. And you can play them! I took my students there and they loved it.
Favorite Frivolous Enjoyment
Evan Sullivan: Because so much of my life recently has been reading for exams, I like to decompress by sitting in front of my Playstation losing myself in the wondrous post-apocalyptic hellscape of Fallout 4.
Sarah Handley-Cousins: I spent a lot of time gardening this summer, and it was really satisfying. It feels great to take a break from sitting at a computer to get sweaty and dirty, and it’s wonderful when you see the results of your work appear in the form of green beans, sunflowers, and happy butterflies.
Averill Earls: MoviePass (and even before I had the crazy cheap MoviePass, I went to a movie every Tuesday. Sometimes a double feature.) And all the TV shows. We did finally get rid of cable, but upgraded HuluPlus to the commercial free version, got Starz and HBONow, and of course already had Netflix and AmazonPrime. I watch a lot of TV. Probably an alarming amount.
Sarah Swedberg: I spend far too much time on Facebook.
Lara Freidenfelds: Guittard chocolate. I’ve been enjoying far too much of it. Chocolate is the only thing that gets me through the writing process.
RE Fulton: The Sims.
Jacki Antonovich: Sleep.
Sarah Handley-Cousins: Technically not a meme, but this video of the Irish family versus the bat made me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants.
RE Fulton: This is neither a meme nor a gif and is over a year old but there’s never a wrong time to revisit Mallory Ortberg’s Two Medieval Monks.
Jacki Antonovich: Beyoncé ordering food off a menu meme gave us light in dark times.
Laura Ansley: I will read every “I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox” parody tweet and I will enjoy them every time.
Here’s hoping for a non-garbage 2018!