2020 truly was a year for the books (don’t worry, I instantly regretted that pun). This is the year where I discovered that I’m obsessed with contemporary romance novels (think Berkley, not Harlequin). I was a super-avid reader as a child, but I found it harder to make time for it as an adult. Nothing like being stuck at home for nine months to catch up on old hobbies!
Here are a few of my favorite things from the year!
Favorite Fiction (in no particular order)
The Bookshop of Second Chances – Jackie Fraser (to be released in 2021)
So, technically all of the “non-fiction” I read this year was either presented in memoirs style (10% Happier) or to fictionalized to protect the identities of the innocent (Three Women, lol). So for this somewhat amorphous category, I’m picking The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West. Yes, technically they are humor essays. However, they are boldly political, analytical takes at culture at large rather than explicitly personal essays, very much a response to the evils of the Trump administration and the #MeToo-era reckoning of the sex pests. This book informs and challenges as it entertains, and for that, it has won the top slot in its category.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson – I loved this book so much that I listened to a 4-part podcast series about it after I was finished. I was shocked that I could be so invested in the story of an artist to whom I hadn’t previously given much thought. I listened to the audiobook (obtained through my local library!), and not only was Jessica’s performance incredible and emotional, her (literary) voice came through so clearly in her writing. Honorable mention: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.
Favorite Essay Collection
This one feels like choosing between my own (currently non-existent) children. Humor essays are my all-time favorite genre of writing, so they comprise a significant portion of what I read in general. Although David Sedaris will likely always be my favorite humorist, this year it went to a tie between Wow, No Thank Youand We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby. These two books had me wheezing from start to finish. I’ve actually never been so inspired to write before (although of course, I didn’t follow through because everything I produced was absolute garbage compared to the Word Science herself).
Best Audiobook Performance
While this book didn’t make it into one of my favorite slots, I had to shout out Rachel Bloom’s unbelievable performance of I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are. This was a joy start to finish, and she performs a literal musical in the middle. Rachel Bloom is a STAR.
These are the books I’ve started (and enjoyed) this year but didn’t finish by midnight on the 31st:
I’m serious. Come to my house, take it away from me, and throw it into a swamp. It has to be a swamp, because I have a deathly fear of alligators and will never attempt to retrieve it.
Being stuck at home all day without diversion is difficult for those of us who are used to being out of the house 10+ hours a day. I am not in any way complaining, of course: I’m so fortunate to live and work where I do. I’m also quarantined with a partner and a pet, so I’m not feeling the strain of a lack of companionship that a lot of people are right now. But it’s been an adjustment. Being at home all day has made me want to streamline and beautify my house, and it’s made me keenly aware of things like, oh, my bras are 5 years old. Things I can normally ignore for a while, like dirty dishes in the sink, become intolerable. Anything that’s not organized by ROYGBIV is an eyesore.
Here are all the (nonessential) things I’ve bought since quarantine started and my reviews:
Cameron Esposito’s book, Save Yourself, on audiobook. 10/10 would recommend. I’m about 60% of the way through already because I can’t stop listening.
ThirdLove, baby! They were having a sale so I finally bit the bullet. I am ashamed to admit how old all of my bras are (you can probably guess how old they are by the fact that they’re Victoria’s Secret PINK…) and I seriously needed to upgrade. I got the Classic T-Shirt Bra, which I cannot recommend highly enough, the Classic Uplift Plunge Bra, the Classic Strapless Bra, and the Seamless Lounge Bra (this was free with my purchase). The only one I’m not thrilled with is the strapless bra, because strapless bras are the work of the devil, but as strapless bras go, I trust it to get the job done.
This ban.do necklace. Over a year ago, when I got my initial (ultimately not completely accurate) psychiatric diagnosis, I bought this one, but I had to make an update. Eventually, I’ll complete the trifecta. This necklace is tiny and dainty and perfect for everyday wear.
I needed another slipper chair, because I moved our other one into the bedroom (it’s the sunniest room in our house, and, in between the plants, makes for a perfect reading nook!) I love the look of this chair, and I got it super on sale, but I will say that it’s lower-backed than I had hoped, and doesn’t quite fill the space it’s in.
This rug. I’m obsessed. It’s so soft, and it brings such a vibe to my bedroom. Great quality for the price.
I love these boots, so much. I’ve needed replacement booties for ages (I wore my Seychelles pair, similar to these, until they literally fell apart). I’ve been looking everywhere; the last place I expected to find them was Target. They’re super comfortable, go with everything, and I didn’t have to spend a fortune.
Betabrand Dress Pant Yoga Pants. I really wanted these to work out, since dress pants are a goddamn nightmare for me. My ankles, I think, are proportional to my hips/waist, and in dress pant world this is a no-no. Whoever designs dress pants thinks women are shaped like Humpty-Dumpty, it’s a travesty. All of which is a long way of saying that I returned them. I bought a medium, my normal size, and they were super loose in the waist. If I ever see a pair I like on sale (like, really on sale) I might try again in a small.
Lightswitch plates. Unfortunately, the ones I bought are no longer available, but they’re Hearth & Hand with Magnolia black metal. They look amazing and were soooo on sale.
Yet to Arrive/Use:
The nixit menstrual cup. I’m all about a waste-free period, so I’m up to try any innovation on that score. I’ve been using the Saalt cup and wash, which I’m perfectly happy with, but the nixit seems like it might be a little easier to insert/take out.
This pink nightstand! When I first moved into my house, over 6 years ago, I didn’t have a nightstand, so I picked something up at Marshall’s for about $30. It’s cute, but it really doesn’t go with our decor. This will be a perfect fit for our room!
I have long stanned Girlfriend Collective, and the Spring collection is no exception. I treated myself to the Paloma Bra & Leggings in “Wildflower.” I may have also gotten some scrunchies…the Unitard is on my wishlist but I have no idea why I’d ever need one. Fun fact—you get $15 off when you sign up for texts!
I shopped the Madewell sale for the first time in a while. But how could I have resisted these jeans? I’m probably going to live in this dress, and this one was too cute to pass up.
I mentioned this in a previous post, but I caved and bought these. But I will absolutely return them if the fit is not perfect! I swear!
More ThirdLove! They’re having a 2/$99 sale on their Pima Cotton Bras, so I snagged this one in Stormy Lilac and Ballet. I should mention: I’m donating all of my gently-used bras to I Support the Girls, which is an amazing organization that you should definitely check out! I also snagged the 7/$47 undies.
I’ve had my Kate Spade wallet for years and it’s one of the best investments I’ve made. It’s sturdy, functional, and adorable. Time to welcome another baby into the family…
Winc wine subscription. I am not about to go out right now for non-essentials, like wine, but it does suck being trapped day after day without a little something to sip on.
I think that’s it, although I wouldn’t be terribly shocked if a random package arrived in the next few weeks. Some of the items in the below section will inevitably be returned (please don’t think I’m made of money), and I’m definitely going to chill out now that quarantine life is becoming the new normal. I think, in times of stress or trauma, we can fall back on old patterns (for me, overspending), but we have to give ourselves some grace right now.
Well, the entire world is on fire, and not for the usual reasons. Things are hideously bleak at present and, apart from sewing some masks and making some donations, there’s literally nothing we can do about it except stay at home and not touch our faces. We’re kind of living in Station Eleven, and yes, that is the justification I will eventually use for performing Shakespearean monologues on Instagram stories.
My family and I are doing really well, and as yet, no one we know has been affected by COVID-19. I’m so fortunate to still be able to work remotely (I love my job and wish I could gush about it but I would like to keep it private so that I can, y’know, keep it). My husband is also able to work from home, which we didn’t initially know would be an option, so we’re really thankful.
I’ve been making an effort to shower and get dressed every day, to preserve a sense of normalcy, even if the shower doesn’t come until 3pm. Everyone keeps posting about snacking all day long, but I’ve actually been having the opposite problem: I keep completely forgetting food exists. We’re not panic-buyers, but our fridge and freezer are STOCKED with healthy stuff (we also have an adequate amount of toilet paper—Trader Joe’s has it!) I’m hoping that my reduced calorie intake counteracts my absolute lack of any physical activity whatsoever. I actually danced last night for over an hour (if you’re a millennial, I highly recommend throwing this song on and going absolutely buckwild). I’m trying to use this time to improve my home (I ROYGBIV’d my bookcase) and myself (I’m crushing DuoLingo French checkpoints like a frat boy crushes p—I’m sorry, this is a family blog). As of yet, I have not done anything fucked up to my hair, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.
Before I get into my usual frivolity, I just want to say that, if you’re like me and you’re still earning an income, do whatever you can to support your community. I made a donation to my local food bank, and I’m looking for other ways to lend a hand during this crisis. One positive outcome of this might be the increasing radicalization of society, proof that nothing ethical can exist under capitalism. Comrades Fran & Britney certainly seem to agree! But in the meantime, schedule Zoom happy hours, get into that book you’ve been meaning to read, organize your bathroom cabinets, take your meds, and remember to eat your fruits and veggies. I think we’re going to be in here for a long, long time.
I love and miss you all. If the worst happens, please play this at my funeral, and make sure David Hyde Pierce is on the keys.
Of Montreal, Tame Impala, Best Coast, Mandy Moore, Justin Bieber and probably lots of other people have just put out albums so go listen to them!
I made an Apple Music playlist of the trashiest pop from when I was a kid (late ’90s/early ’00s) and it is giving me life.
This is my most-listened song of quarantine. I guess you could call it optimism. We do not deserve Ariana Grande.
Can’t wait to go absolutely HYPEBEAST for Self Made, starring ACADEMY AWARD WINNER OCTAVIA SPENCER.
I read the book years ago, but I finally watched Room and oh my GOD. Brie Larson WERKED for that Oscar, honey. Also, Jacob Tremblay is a star the likes of which this world rarely sees and I simply have to stan.
I bought the audiobook of Cameron Esposito’s Save Yourself. Cameron is one of my favorite comedians and I daily mourn the loss of Put Your Hands Together.
I’m trying to read Silas Marner along with my tutoring student and wow, only 18 months out from earning a literal Master’s degree in Literature and my brain has atrophied to Jello. I’m going to try to make a concerted effort to get through some classics in quarantine. I’m thinking Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, and Brideshead Revisited, since I already own them.
So, Everlane is canceled. They vindictively laid off their newly-formed union of remote workers and uh, wow, fuck you, guys.
If I find out this company SUCKS too, I’ll return them, but I am trying out these pants because it appears that no company (including Everlane) makes dress-pants for what I’m generously calling my hourglass shape. Also, of course they went on sale after I bought them. Will report back on fit for my thicc chicks ❤
Also, I have bought myself another handbag, and I need to stop, but just so you know, I keep them forever and display them when not in use because they are my precious babies. Also, handbags have way better resale value than most stuff online, just sayin’. Here’s another recent purchase that’s a particular fave, and the best computer bag ever.
I found an Etsy shop I love! I got these belly rings (1, 2) and these conch studs (1, 2). Unfortunately, I’m an idiot and forgot that my belly piercing is 14g, so I might try to exchange but these things are seriously gorgeous.
I’m reorganizing my house, call it early Spring Cleaning, and this shelf is going above my kitchen counter. It’s so cute and perfect for me that I can’t believe I didn’t personally design it.
I’m a huge, huge fan of Method‘s cleaning products, but their Heavy Duty Degreaser is an absolute lifesaver. I am not about to use conventional cleaning chemicals on my stovetop, a surface that a. is exposed to fire and b. is where I prepare our food, so finding this more natural alternative that really works was a gamechanger. I buy mine at Target or Grove.
Chelseas can have a little home improvement, as a treat. Since Governor Baker basically shut down Massachusetts (I’m not complaining!) I have purchased this chair and this rug. Soon my entire house will be monochrome pink and I’m not mad about it.
If you’re not following nostro re, persona di colore dell’esperienza italiana, Giabuchi, you are not truly living in these times. Considering what’s going on with coronavirus worldwide, especially in Italy right now, Jaboukie’s mild Italian shitposting is tremendously healing. Catch him before he gets suspended again for heroism.
I loved this post about creating a reusable on-the-go car kit. When we’re finally out of quarantine, I really want to make a more concerted effort to be no-waste. Not being able to use reusable bags at the grocery store right now is killing me. P.S. The cutlery set Laura mentions? It comes in pink.
Discovered this shop last night and I’m intrigued to say the least.