What sort of a year has it been? A good one, I think. I went back to work. I think I even managed to do some useful things, in between nursery drop-offs, pick-ups, repeated toddler-borne colds, holidays and all the rest. I started putting E into nursery for an extra half-day, to give me a morning to myself each week, which has worked brilliantly. It gives me a slot to run, that I really can’t miss, or there are no other opportunities. And I can get household admin and errands done without a toddler in tow. We have had a lot of good times as a family, and have had more meals with friends than the year before, simply by setting a schedule in advance where we would make time for a Sunday lunch.
Here are some of the things I read and enjoyed this year.
The Silicon Valley Suicides – a daunting read, about high school and normalising the pressure kids are under from parents and from each other.
This piece on stereotype threat from the MIT Admissions office blew my mind, and continues to influence me each day, especially at work. Are we priming ourselves and each other to underperform without realising it?
The writing exercise of ‘greening’ or striking out a specific number of words from a short piece is an appealing one, although I expect very hard to acquire.
To mark the anniversary, the New Yorker republished a huge essay on the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima. It’s a stunning piece of work, detailed and engaging and manages to personalise a tragedy on an epic scale.
Oliver Sacks died this year. This piece on coming to terms with the end of his life is characteristically good-humoured and beautiful.
(Many of these stories I found via the excellent Next Draft email newsletter, that brings me links to some of the best writing on the web every day, without overwhelming me. Not a sponsored link, I just like it.)
On food and cooking:
The Myth of Easy Cooking – argues that cooking at home every day is hard, and we should stop pretending that it takes no effort.
Bee Wilson is a voice of incredible reason in the fad and trend-ridden world of food. I am currently mid-way through her brand new book on how we learn to eat, First Bite. I loved this piece on whether or not you should stick to recipes.
This piece on a ritual of Friday Night Meatballs inspired our own series of open Sunday lunches in 2015, something we are likely to repeat this year.
Eating Well at the End of the Road shines a spotlight on a food community in a remote Alaskan town.
A debate broke out earlier in the year around Food52’s Piglet cookbook tournament: is it sexist to judge a cookbook by the pictures?
On family, kids and work-life balance:
I loved a lot of Rachel Jeffcoat‘s writing at Make a Long Story Short this year, but special mentions go to this piece on parenting a boy that seems to have a lot in common with you, without transferring your own anxieties; and a runner’s creed, for those who hate it (but do it anyway). She also has a reading and writing round-up of her own.
Shauna, aka Gluten Free Girl, is another writer who writes beautifully and with raw honesty about family and parenting. This is a lovely piece on accepting where you are, in the midst of messy, sometimes scary life.
And this piece of hers about having a rhythm and a ritual to eating each week is probably the food piece I referred back to most this year.
I added Miriam Gonzalez-Durantez to my list of inspiring women this year. Lots of good stuff in this interview, on work, and feminism and family (from before the election).
Via brainpickings, a lovely 1925 article on the rewards of fatherhood.
Advice to a daughter – a chance to revisit advice from mother to daughter, scrawled in a notebook and unearthed later.
New York Times writer David Carr died this year. I didn’t know him, but someone who did linked to his 2008 piece about being the father to twin baby girls while being addicted to crack. It is exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure, and not at all what you might expect.
A former clerk for Ruth Bader Ginsburg on being a stay at home dad.
Brilliant and down-to-earth make-up columnist Sali Hughes being interviewed on how she balances work, life, kids and the rest.
And if all that wasn’t enough, Bloomberg’s list of the 38 best stories we didn’t write had me bookmarking every other link to read later.