The season of people posting their "top 10" or "10 favorite" for the past year is a bit fraught for authors. There's always the hope that maybe, just maybe, your work will have been among someone's favorites, or considered by someone to have been among the best of whatever category it is they're considering. For those of us whose work falls outside the popular categories, and when that work came out at the very end of the year when most people have already drawn up their lists, it's best just to close our hearts and move on.
What does "best of" mean, in any case? For one thing, there's always a subtext of "best/favorite from the very limited subset of things that I even knew existed, narrowed down further by those I chose to consume." So for my list, I'm going to make that very explicit.
This is my list of 20 favorite things that I wrote reviews of in 2016. SInce my reviews get classified into seven categories, I've chosen two items from each of the five smaller groups, and five each from the two largest. Note also that this is things I consumed in 2016, not necessarily things released in 2016.
Lesbian Movies - From my series "Died / Recanted / Unhappy / Came Out"
1. Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister - Costume drama, self-identified lesbians, and something resembling a happy ending. What more could I want?
2. Imagine Me and You - I had so much angst about whether this would turn out well that it may have jumped to my favorites list just in reaction.
1. Queen of Katwe - A truly fabulous movie. If you blinked and missed it when it was in theaters, hunt it down in video or when it's available on Netflix.
2. Florence Foster Jenkins - A loving but mostly unflinching look at a bizarre woman.
Live Theater - Ordinarily, at least one of the Broadway shows I saw would make this list, but this time it's all from the Cal Shakes season
1. Othello - "In summary: a powerful, disturbing staging of Othello that succeeded in assaulting the concept of the audience as passive consumers of entertainment and went far beyond the usual goal of making Shakespeare 'relevant.'"
2. Fences - From August Wilson's "Pittsburgh Cycle" presenting portraits from an African-American neighborhood across the 20th century. Check out the new film version opening soon.
Audio Fiction - Although I listen to short fiction on a number of podcasts, I've gotten in the habit of doing brief reviews of Podcastle
1. The Little Dog Ohori by Anatoly Belilovsky - I loved the way information is hidden and revealed to create a poignant ending to a harrowing tale.
2. The Cellar Dweller by Maria Dahvana Headley - A strange and twisty story that I think must be listened to, rather than read, for full effect.
1. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua - I loved the way this started off as entertaining biography and then slid sideways into fictional adventure when truth failed to suffice.
2. Monstress by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda - An artistic masterpiece, despite the fact that I can't necessarily say I "enjoyed" it.
Lesbian Historic Motif Project - My favorite five publications from this year's coverage. See the entries themselves to find out why these are my favorites.
2. Lansing, Carol. 2005. “Donna con Donna? A 1295 Inquest into Female Sodomy” in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History: Sexuality and Culture in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Third Series vol. II: 109-122.
3. Newton, Esther. “The Mythic Mannish Lesbian: Radclyffe Hall and the New Woman” in Signs 9 (1984): 557-575. (reprinted in: Freedman, Esteele B., Barbara C. Gelpi, Susan L. Johnson & Kathleen M. Weston. 1985. The Lesbian Issue: Essays from Signs. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ISBN 0-2256-26151-4)
5. Eriksson, Brigitte. 1985. “A Lesbian Execution in Germany, 1721: The Trial Records” in Licata, Salvatore J. & Robert P. Petersen (eds). The Gay Past: A Collection of Historical Essays. Harrington Park Press, New York. ISBN 0-918393-11-6 (Also published as Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 6, numbers 1/2, Fall/Winter 1980.)
1. The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher - A book that might have changed my life if I'd read it at an impressionable age.
2. River of Souls series by Beth Bernobich - Technically I only reviewed the third book in the series in 2016, but I also wrote up an overall impression of how sexuality is handled in the series, so I'm counting the whole thing.
3. Goddess by Kelly Gardiner - There are many directions that a fictionalized biography of Julie d'Aubigny could have gone. I was happy with this one.
4. Pembroke Park by Michelle Martin - A historic lesbian romance written in the 1980s. At the time I first read it, I had hopes that it would help create an entire genre of fun lesbian historic romance. Alas, that has not come to pass, but this one continues to hold up as a model.
5. Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis - I loved the details and atmosphere of the historic setting and the unexpectedly engaging characters.
So what were your favorite things you consumed in 2016?