2014: Year in Review

At the end of last year when I was just starting to get into blogging full-swing, I found it useful to read through these types of recap posts. They give blog authors an opportunity to highlight and summarize the content on their sites, and I thought I would do the same.

But first, this photo, probably the best one I’ve ever taken, which has languished in iPhoto for months waiting for an opportunity to be utilized. Perhaps it could be a metaphor for how we’re teetering on the edge between 2014 and 2015? Nah, too corny.

On the fence - 2014 to 2015

My most-viewed post in 2014 was, by far, 10 Things people say when they learn you were born in Alabama. It’s quite amusing, if I do say so myself, though most of those pageviews have been generated by random folks googling things like “Alabama stereotypes,” “are people from alabama nice,” and “shit people from birmingham say.” My second most-viewed post, Roger Mello: Brazilian Illustrator and Winner of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award, is probably more worth reading, especially since it had the distinction of being cited in an academic publication — a completely unexpected and very exciting development! My third most popular post was the brief analysis I did of Emma Watson’s speech, which was surprising since my review was far from the most thorough, or most unique, out there. On the opposite side of the spectrum, seemingly very few people people cared about the facewash I was using back in March, which is good, since I concluded it was terrible after just a few more days of use.

My favorite post to write was probably my cathartic takedown of Paulo Coehlo’s absolute rubbish novel The Alchemist. Turns out a lot of people hate it just as much as I do! I’m also quite proud of my feature on the independent bookstore Bookends & Beginnings.

My 10 favorite search terms that brought people to Literary Vittles in 2014:
10. depraved humanity, despair, violence and gore = walking dead
9. i refuse to straighten my hair
8. why do we need wisdom from on high
7. yara greyjoy naked
6. the alchemist open book quiz pages 11-47
5. why i like them movies
4. college feels like prison
3. boobs, butts, and thighs in GOT
2. pressure your sister is valedictorian and you’re not
1. did chick corea ever play the piano with his feet?

YA section - Bookends & Beginnings

At the end of 2013, I resolved to read 30 books in the coming year — and to spend proportionally less time watching films and television. Well, I ended up watching roughly the same number of movies, but I did read more books. So, partial success?

The best book I read in 2014 was, by far, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (full review). Unfortunately, I finished it in January! Persepolis, which was also granted a rare 5-star rating, was wonderful, unique, and came in second place. You can see a full list of the books I read in 2014, and links to my reviews, on my Book Review Index page.

The best and worst movies I saw in the theater were Edge of Tomorrow and The Wolf of Wall Street, respectively. If Edge of Tomorrow seems like a surprising or lame choice, well, it kind of is — but I found most of the promising new releases to be disappointing, including The Grand Budapest Hotel, A Most Wanted Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Boyhood, Under the Skin, and, yes, even Interstellar. It’s true that Ida was very good, but I thought it lacked something, and I’m hard-pressed to find any major faults with Edge of Tomorrow. An action movie, my favorite theatrical release of the year?! What’s happening! I should mention that I didn’t see as many new releases this year due to my trans-Pacific move and the significantly higher cost of movie tickets in New Zealand.

But the best “new” movie I watched in 2014 was, hands down, Taxi Driver. Really says something, doesn’t it, when Scorsese flicks are both my best & worst picks from the year?  The French-German miniseries Carlos, which falls somewhere between a movie and a TV show, was also extremely good. Some of the other very good movies that I watched in 2014 included Let the Right One In (Swedish version), Apocalypse NowTsotsi, Robot and Frank, Snowpiercer, Boyand The Babadook. The worst movie I watched (yes, even worse than Wolf of Wall Street!) was Divergent, the result of a sad trip to Redbox in rural Missouri.

But what did I miss? Were there any good movies that I didn’t manage to see, but should have? I’d still like to watch The Immigrant when I have a chance, along with Only Lovers Left Alive even though it’s been divisive, and I also think that Pride would put me in a good mood.


Last year I only had four resolutions, but one of them was major. It’s also the only one I managed to accomplish in full, ha! A review:

1. Stop being late to work every day
Well, I quit my job in September, so does that count? I never went to bed on time, meaning I never got to work at 8:30 like I was supposed to. I did, however, manage to fairly consistently arrive by 8:45. Which isn’t bad, if you know me!

2. Eat healthy & exercise 3x a week
I know I didn’t exercise 3x a week throughout the entire year, though I have been more active since arriving in New Zealand. As for the vague “eat healthy” mantra, I don’t think I’ve been eating any more unhealthfully, so, success?

3. Read 30 books
Nope! Only managed to read 22, of which only 18 were of considerable length. Ah well. Better luck next year.

4. Move to New Zealand
Well, of all the things! How did I manage to pull THIS one off?!

Lights 2

My resolutions for 2015 are a bit more specific:

1. Try again to read 30 books within the year (two shorter YA books only count as 1 “full” book)

2. Cook more often: try out 1 new recipe per month while traveling, and 1 per week when stationary. Bookmark any good vegetarian recipes I discover for my sister.

3. Eat more fruit — specifically, eat one piece every morning with breakfast

4. Eat less sugar — specifically, have one dessert-type thing every other day, instead of… every day

5. Do yoga 3x a week

6. Start running again so as to eliminate the huffing and puffing when hiking up hills

7. Stop getting so behind on others’ blogs — read new posts the same day they are published

8. Apply to grad school

And there you have it! Saved the big one for last, as per usual. If I ignore #1-7 and only accomplish #8, then I’ll still be pretty pleased with myself. I tried to make my goals a bit more specific so as to better define what “success” means — though “start running again” is really vague, I’ll admit.

May these beautiful lens flare photos also inspire YOU to undertake ambitious and possibly impossible self-improvement goals in the coming year.

Photo credits: Fence, me. Shelves (a takeout from the Bookends & Beginnings post) and spheres of light taken by G. 


15 thoughts on “2014: Year in Review

    1. I’d try to jump ahead and get a PhD, skip the Master’s as I don’t reeeeally see the point of doing that in my chosen field (anthropology). The catch-22 is that I don’t think(?) I qualify as a skilled worker in Australia, meaning I’d have to get a degree *in order to* get citizenship. So unfortunately I think I’d be stuck with the international rates! In New Zealand international & domestic students pay the same rate for a PhD. That said, I’m hoping I get funding so that I don’t have to pay for my PhD at all, meaning Australia is still an option! Whoo. Sorry, that was long-winded. Happen to know of any great graduate programs in medical anthropology over there in Australia? 🙂

  1. What a great recap! I hope you’ve been doing well in New Zealand. That is huge, and can count for about 100 books read 😉 (I think I read the same number of books you did this year…also want to do more next year). Happy 2015!

    1. Hello, Cecilia! Thank you for taking the time to check in! I hope you’ve been doing better?

      I meant to write about the massive New Zealand move in this post, but honestly it’s such a huge topic and trying to summarize it seemed a bit daunting. I’m also several weeks behind in my travel chronicles, and I feel like I have to catch up on posting those pictures & stories before I can indulge in deeper reflections. BUT, to your question: yes, we’ve been doing well here in New Zealand. Even managed to make the holiday season feel festive despite the warm summer weather. Old family recipes can do that, you know!

    1. It’s awful! But books that sell that many copies usually are. And yes, aren’t the search terms great?! I bet there were a lot more really amusing ones, but unfortunately the majority of them get encrypted via Google search.

      1. Go to the movie theater more often instead of waiting to watch at home. Take more photos. Read more books. Stay positive and in the moment. Exercise more often. Finish the first draft of my second novel by May. Happy New Year, Alina 🙂

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