I guess I’ve caught that bug that all bloggers get–the urge to compile a year-end list. Most of the music, books, movies, etc., that I consumed this year were not very new, not enough to make a list of any one of them, so I’ll just jumble all the new stuff together in one list that covers all media.

1. Open Book, Thunderegg. Okay, this is a shameless personal plug. The creator of this opus is my other half, plus I co-produced the book itself. But it’s good, and it was a great way to kick off the new year. It’s nine hours of odd, literate, lo-fi, homemade pop treats, plus an illustrated book. For most people in this country, that’s more music and reading in one package than they usually consume all year.

2. Oxytocin, Snowglobe. When I take Open Book out of rotation, this album is often what replaces it. I admire their DIY ethic, plus the soaring melodies and rich orchestral arrangements they manage to spin out of thin air.

3. The Optimist’s Club, Casper & the Cookies. Another personal plug, as these guys are dear friends of mine back down in Georgia. But again, friends or no, they have “chops,” as Will would say, cranking out weird, bouncy, pretty, yet rockin’ tunes.

4. Puzzles Like You, Mojave 3. Neil Halstead has been making simple, pretty music for a long time. There’s nothing terribly exciting or groundbreaking in this new disc, but I have found myself returning to this over and over. Plus, he and his band delivered one of the best performances I saw this year.

5. Absurdistan, Gary Shteyngart. I was nervous about this book, as I loved his debut (The Russian Debutante’s Handbook) and was worried that he’d fall victim to sophomore slump. But I wasn’t disappointed; it was funny, sarcastic, self-aware, surprisingly romantic, and much more sophisticated than his first novel. I’m always relieved when young writers actually show some growth, rather than ride the first wave of their hipness until it fizzles to nothing (ahem, Dave Eggers).

6. Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami. Okay, technically this is a few years old, but the paperback edition of the English translation didn’t come out until this year, so I’m putting it in. I’ve read through most of Murakami’s work, and this is my favorite book of his yet, even more so than The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Ordinarily, I like concrete, believable stories, but he manages to weave fantasy and reality so simply and elegantly that I can’t help but get caught up in it.

7. The Devil Wears Prada. Not the book–haven’t read it, never will. But wow, the movie was fantastic. Meryl Streep was so funny and whispery-scary, and she looked just like Sargent’s Madame X in her evening dress. Everyone else in the film was perfectly nice; I don’t envy them the stress of living up to the performance of an artist like Ms. Streep.

8. The Science of Sleep. Michel Gondry’s latest film was typically weird and arty, blurring the line between dream and reality, but it was also very sweet and simple. Gorgeous art direction, sharp editing, and wonderful performances made it just right.

9. Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde. This exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art didn’t present any new or unknown artists; rather it shed a new and bright light on the art dealer who introduced the world to Van Gogh, Picasso, Renoir, Matisse, Vuillard, Rousseau, and many more of modern art’s greatest stars. It was a stunning collection showcasing a stunning legacy.

10. Blogging. It’s a supremely self-absorbed and self-indulgent pastime, but as I look back over the posts I’ve written since I took this up in March, I’m so glad I have this record of the big and small things I’ve experienced over the past year. So much happens in our busy lives that it’s nice to have a detailed account of the things that amuse, frustrate, and interest us from one day to the next.

So there you have it. I’m off tomorrow morning for the Christmas holiday, so this is likely the last you’ll hear from me until the middle of next week.