This is a post about year-end lists, rather than an actual effort to make any.

As I mentioned, I was sick all day yesterday and I ended up spending a good deal of it surfing the Internet and reading year-end “best” lists, particularly of books and music. (I guess movie “best” lists tend to happen later, because a lot of the most-acclaimed films aren’t released until December. Interesting that there’s a perception movies will be forgotten or missed if they aren’t fresh in our minds, yet several of the ‘music’ lists I read remarked that albums released late in the year actually have a disadvantage. It presumably takes longer for music to work its way into rotation, and I’m sure it takes longer for people to catch up with a book — if you make exceptions for hot new series books, anyway, which people tend to race through for fear of being spoiled.)

Anyway, yesterday I bookmarked a lot of ‘best music’ lists, mostly as potential downloads if I get an Amazon card for Christmas. “I could get a single or two off all of these that sound interesting,” I think, “and then I’d be well-rounded.” Not that this is how my music-buying usually works. I noted a lot of references in the year-end lists (and also references in conversations with friends) to the fact that ‘nobody buys and listens to albums anymore.’ This makes me realize I’m an outlier, because I’ve probably bought and listened to more entire new albums in the last couple years than in any time in my life since I canceled my membership to the Columbia Tape & CD club. (Dating myself. To get more specific, I’m pretty sure the first things I bought were “August and Everything After” by the Counting Crows and “Cracked Rear View” by Hootie and the Blowfish, although I will admit the possibility that I’m wrong, and those were simply issued to everyone who enrolled in college in the fall of 1993.)

But yeah, in 2010, I’m apparently going against the trend by leaning toward whole albums. Honestly, a big reason for this is that they seem so much cheaper (singles for .99, 13 singles on an album, album costs 8.99) that it doesn’t really bother me if I’m not going to love every single one of those songs. Also, it just occurred to me that albums make sense if (like me) you’re hoping to go to live shows of most of the bands you buy from. There’s value-added in knowing a bunch of songs when you go to a concert, and even something that sounds run-of-the-mill on a recording can be livened up in performance. Or, sure, the opposite happens too, but I’ve been pretty lucky in my concert-going this year.

I’m still not really in a position to make a year-end list, though. Pretty much everything I got I liked, which either means I’m easy to please or not stretching very much. When I see various records I liked turning up on people’s ‘Best of the Year’ list, I realize this only means that I’m reading lists by the same people whose recommendations I took when I was buying the music in the first place.

That’s even more true with books. This year I read Patti Smith’s Just Kids, Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, Justin Cronin’s The Passage, the first two books of N.K. Jemisin’s ‘Inheritance’ Trilogy, and the entire Hunger Games trilogy — most of which I’d recommend to most people, with a few caveats for personal taste. But you’re not wasting your time with any of these books. I’ve got a couple more of this year’s award winners or nominees at home waiting for me (Lords of Misrule, A Visit from the Goon Squad) and I’m imagining I’ll enjoy those two. Next year, though, I should probably go for more classics. I have Brothers Karamazov on the Kindle, and I’m, probably, going to pledge to that ’12 Shakespeare Plays in 12 Months’ thing.

Weirdly enough, the category where I’d be all slack-jawed and “I dunno” about the year’s best is probably comics. This may be a bad sign because I theoretically blog about comics. Possibly it’s the ‘week in, week out’ nature of the stuff that has me going, “That was this year? Really?” Or maybe I need to read more things that aren’t quite so same-y. It’s something to think about.

I’ll plan a future post where I’m more specific about awesome things I have discovered this year. And if you have any particular favorite anythings from 2010, let me know in the comments!

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