Earlier this year, I introduced the idea of “Style Personas“, and while it was a fun experiment, I haven’t really followed through with it. It’s mostly because I tend to have a much more relaxed approach to my style rather than having some sets of rigid “rules” to define it. In short, I wear what I like and what I think looks good on me, and if I think too much about it, I’ll end up overthinking it and the outfit will look overwrought, so it’s best not to.
So here are some of my favorite outfits from last year – I thought about dividing them up according to the Style Personas, but there’s so much overlapping that it’s pointless anyway.
Still, those Style Personas have given me new ways to think about my clothes and keep me interested. Usually, by this time of year, I’d be so bored with my wardrobe and would have to go on a shopping spree in the spring to revitalize it, but now, I’m still pretty excited about new possibilities in the coming seasons. We’ll see how excited I still am by the time summer rolls around, but for now, I’m looking forward to the new year.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all! I’d debated whether to post today or tomorrow, but I figure it’s best to keep the usual schedule (since we don’t really celebrate Christmas anyway), so here’s the business of the day: a look back at all the books I’ve read in 2019. I had so much fun doing this last year so I decided to give it another go this year. Here we go!
Best books you read in 2019:
– Children’s fiction: the only book that can be in this category is The Owl Service (and even then it’s a bit of a stretch), but I didn’t like it, so none.
– Crime fiction: I only read one crime fiction book this year, Damsel in Distress, but it wasn’t great either.
– Classics: does Douglas Adams’s Mostly Harmless count as classics? I think it does.
– Non-fiction: Midnight at Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham. I never thought a non-fiction book could keep me up at night.
– YA: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. It’s dark and twisted and unique.
– Sci-fi/Fantasy: I’m changing last year’s “Dystopian fiction” into Sci-fi/Fantasy because I think it’s a much broader category. Anyway, my favorite sci-fi/fantasy book this year is Thud! by Terry Pratchett.
Most surprising (in a good way) book of 2019: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. I didn’t expect a book about a Silicon Valley scam to be this absorbing, but I found Elizabeth Holmes so fascinating – what was she thinking? How did she pull that off? It goes to show that it doesn’t matter what your book is about, as long as you have great characters.
Book that you read in 2019 that you recommended most to others: Midnight at Chernobyl
Best series you discovered in 2019: Wayward Children (starting with Every Heart a Doorway) by Seanan McGuire and The Anomaly Files (starting with The Anomaly) by Michael Rutger. Both series are relatively new (each only has two books), but I’m interested to see where they’re going to take the story.
Favorite new author you discovered in 2019: Michael Pollan. I read two of his books this year and he’s quickly becoming my favorite food writer.
Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love but didn’t: The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux, The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicholson, and Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller. Each of them is about something I love (train travel, British history, dystopian sci-fi), and each of them turns ou to be really, really boring.
Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre to you: The Gown by Jennifer Robson. I don’t read a lot of chick lit, but this one is sweet and has a historical element, which is nice.
Book you read in 2019 that you’re most likely to read again: Cooked by Michael Pollan.
Favorite book you read in 2019 from an author you’ve read previously: Every Heart a Doorway and Thud!
Best book you read in 2019 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else: Bad Blood, from a recommendation on Reddit.
Favorite cover of a book in 2019: These two.
Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2019: The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It made me think more about food and our relationship with it.
Book you can’t BELIEVE you waited until 2019 to read: The Owl Service.
Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it: Not reeling so much, and not just a single scene. I just really want to discuss the entirety of The Owl Service or The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay, because I had no idea what the hell is going on.
Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2019: Ove’s friendship with his neighbors in A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.
Most memorable character in a book you read in 2019: Jack and Jill in Every Heart a Doorway.
Genre you read the most from 2019: non-fiction.
Best 2018 debut: I didn’t read any “debut” book, and the only book I read that was published in 2019 is City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I didn’t like enough to put on a “best” list.
Book that was the most fun to read in 2019: Cooked, Bad Blood.
Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2019: A Man Called Ove.
Book you read in 2019 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out: Geisha, a Life by Mineko Iwasaki (I guess it got overshadowed by Memoirs of a Geisha, but I’m not surprised because it’s a snooze-fest.)
Total number of books read in 2019: 37 (with some rereads).
As promised, this week I’m going to post a series of yearly review posts, starting with the SIA challenges. This year has been fun, with some unique inspiration pieces from my co-hosts, Daenel and Kim. I still prefer the “classical” paintings as inspiration, but it’s great to stretch my sartorial imagination once in a while. So without further ado, here are some of my favorite SIA challenges of 2019:
First up is Kim’s first challenge as a co-host. I like the casual look and the colors (blue, pink, and red), which I’d never think to put together:
Daenel always picks interesting pieces as her inspirations, but one of my favorites is her own photo of the buttons:
This is my own pick, inspired by Suzuki Harunobu’s “Woman Admiring Plum Blossoms at Night“. Come to think of it, I featured this black top + tan/beige bottom combo in a lot of my outfits this year:
This one is Kim’s pick – the Merlot poster. I didn’t think I had anything in my closet to mimic such a colorful piece, but it turns out I have the perfect dress:
This next one is probably my most favorite SIA challenge of the entire year, not just because I love the inspiration piece (Ingres’s “Portrait of Comtesse d’Haussonville“) but also because everybody did such a good job:
Here’s another one of Daenel’s picks, Godward’s “Sweet Dreams”. Any SIA challenge that inspires more than one outfit is a win for me:
And finally, the Triadic Ballet – how could I not include it? It’s so weird, but so fun to do:
Don’t forget to check back on Jan 6 for a new piece of inspiration, courtesy of Daenel!
In my yearly outfit reviews (since I started doing it regularly, about 5 years ago), I realize that I always say my style is getting simpler and simpler, and it’s definitely true. Looking at these favorite outfits from the past year, I can see that my style focus has shifted from colors and patterns to proportions and functionality, hence my tendency to stick to pants and neutrals. It also means the blog name has gone full circle – I started the blog with the intention of getting away from the “shades of grey” in my wardrobe and ended up embracing them again. It’s not surprising that my most colorful outfits are usually for SIA.
Still, all in all, not a bad spread of outfits. I’m interested to see what changes next year will bring, and I hope you guys will still be along for the ride!
I want to do a different “Year in Review” for the books. As opposed to just rounding up the favorite books of 2018, I got this list of questions from Kezzie, which I think is a fun way to look back at my reading of the year. Here we are:
Best books you read in 2018:
– Children’s fiction: I didn’t read any that can be comfortably called children’s fiction (the closest is The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, but it is too dark for a kid’s book), so I guess none.
– Crime fiction: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Michael Sullivan. Actually I prefer Altered Carbon, but it belongs to a different category (see below).
– Classics: I didn’t read a lot of books in this category so Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee pretty much wins by default.
– Non-fiction: The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. It’s horrifying but uplifting at the same time.
– YA: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. The Book of Lost Things deserves an honorary mention, though again, I think it’s not a true YA book. More like a fantasy for adult featuring a kid as the main character.
– Dystopian fiction: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan. I’m not sure if this is true dystopian, but it’s definitely better than the “true dystopian” book I read this year, Red Rising.
Most surprising (in a good way) book of 2018: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. It sounds like a typical ghost story at first, but it ends up haunting me even now.
Book that you read in 2018 that you recommended most to others: A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain, The Little Stranger, any Discworld book.
Best series you discovered in 2018: Either the Takeshi Kovacs series (Altered Carbon) or the Daisy Dalrymple series (Death at Wentwater Court) by Carola Dunn. Both are crime series, though they cannot be more different – one is set in a futuristic, Blade Runner-like world, and the other is set in the upperclass British society of the 1920’s – but they’re both enjoyable in their own ways.
Favorite new author you discovered in 2018: Mary Roach. I have read Mary Roach before, but this year solidifies her position as my favorite science writer. When I pick up one of her books, I know I’m going to enjoy it. The list of authors whose books I always enjoy is very short – Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and Bill Bryson – so I’m glad to add another author to it.
Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love but didn’t: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton. Hidden Figures is merely disappointing, but Margaret the First absolutely infuriates me with how bad it is.
Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre to you: People who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry. It’s not the first true crime book I read, but it’s definitely more modern and sensational than my usual fare, yet it turns out to be really well-researched, well-written. A true page-turner.
Book you read in 2018 that you’re most likely to read again: A Cook’s Tour. I like to reread travelogues whenever my wanderlust hits me, and I always like to read about food, so a book that combines both is naturally going to be reread multiple times.
Favorite book you read in 2018 from an author you’ve read previously: Monstrous Regiment and A Cook’s Tour.
Best book you read in 2018 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else: Death at Wentwater Court. I picked this up after reading about it on Kezzie’s blog, so thanks, Kezzie!
Favorite cover of a book in 2018: Margaret the First. Too bad the book isn’t good.
Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2018: The Nature Fix by Florence Williams. I’ve always loved nature, but this book has made me a lot more aware of my relationship with nature and made me resolve to spend more time in nature.
Book you can’t BELIEVE you waited until 2018 to read: Speak. It’s such a classic YA book, and I like the movie and also enjoy the author’s other works so I didn’t know why it took me so long.
Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it: The ending of The Little Stranger (the entire book, actually, especially the interpretation of who the “ghost” might be).
Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2018: the friendship between the soldiers in Monstrous Regiment.
Most memorable character in a book you read in 2018: Sergeant Jackrum of Monstrous Regiment (if this was the Oscars, then Monstrous Regiment would be the movie that sweeps all the categories before winning Best Picture).
Genre you read the most from 2018: sci-fi/fantasy (of course) and non-fiction (surprisingly).
Best 2018 debut: Tell the Machine Goodnight by Kate Williams (it’s not a debut book but at least it was published in 2018. All the other books were published earlier).
Book that was the most fun to read in 2018: A Cook’s Tour and The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson. Bonk by Mary Roach is funny as well but it’s just too gross sometimes.
Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2018: Monstrous Regiment.
Book you read in 2018 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out: The Road to Little Dribbling, maybe? I don’t know if it’s “overlooked”, but it’s definitely not well-received as Bill Bryson’s other books. I still enjoyed it though.
Total number of books read in 2018: 40 (with some rereads).
If you guys want to do something similar, feel free to grab these questions. I can’t wait to read your round-up!