That’s it for 2018

When I really think about what was good about 2018, everything is kind of grayed out, overtaken by the fact that most of 2018 was the first year I had to exist without my grandma, who was, indisputably, the best person I got lucky enough to be so close to. This was followed closely by other thoughts of loss. It took a lot of thinking, and going through iPhone memories to remember that other things happened, that my year existed outside of that.

Here are some of the higher points:

Albums that were released in 2018:

5. Living Proof – State Champs
4. LM5 – Little Mix
3. M A N I A – Fall Out Boy
2. Love and Loathing – With Confidence
1. Youngblood – 5 Seconds of Summer

Honorable Mentions:
Shawn Mendes
Panic Vertigo (EP) – The Wrecks
Trench – twenty one pilots
Camila – Camila Cabello
Dark Horse – Devin Dawson

Albums not released in 2018 that were still important

2. Dear Evan Hansen
1. Red Pill Blues – Maroon 5

Top 5 Songs Released in 2018

Intentionally not choosing songs from the previously mentioned top albums because those albums were chosen due to how much I listened to THE WHOLE THING.

5. I Hope You’re Happy – Blue October
4. Back to You – Selena Gomez
3. Sangria Wine – Pharrell Williams and Camila Cabello
2. Birthday – All Time Low
1. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Backstreet Boys

Honorable Mentions:
Fall in Line – Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato
Capital Letters – Hailee Steinfeld
This is America – Childish Gambino
New Light – John Mayer
Chances – Backstreet Boys (coming in hot for 2019)

Top 5 Songs Not Released in 2018

5. You Should See Me in a Crown – Billie Eilish
4. Coal Makes Diamonds – Blue October
3. Delicate – Taylor Swift
2. Smoke & Mirrors – Demi Lovato
1. End Game – Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift

Top Cover Songs of 2017

5. congratulations – Lewis Watson
4. You Should See Me in a Crown – The Wrecks
3. No Roots – 5 Seconds of Summer
2. Back to You – Our Last Night
1. Stay – 5 Seconds of Summer

2017 Concerts

5. 5 Seconds of Summer – House of Blues, Chicago
4. Harry Styles – United Center, Chicago
3. Warped Tour (The Maine, With Confidence, State Champs
2. Haunted Holidays (The Wrecks, The Maine, All Time Low) – The Rave, Milwaukee
1. 5 Seconds of Summer – Aragon Ballroom, Chicago

Honorable Mention:
Blue October – Westfair Ampitheater, Council Bluffs
Pink – Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln
5 Seconds of Summer- The Armory, Minneapolis (because every sauce show can’t be in the top 5)

On to non-music things!

Top 8 Books (because it’s 2018)

8. Chemistry – Weike Wang
7. The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevedo
6. Long Way Down – Jason Reynolds
5. Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson
4. Girl Made of Stars – Ashley Herring Blake
3. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing – Hank Green
2. All the Crooked Saints – Maggie Stiefvater
1. The Astonishing Color of After – Emily X.R. Pan

Honorable Mentions:
9 Days and 9 Nights – Katie Cotugno (man, I just love Cotugno)
On the Come Up – Angie Thomas (this book isn’t out until February, but
If You Come Softly – Jacqueline Woodson (this was a reread for me, but it’s a good one)

Top 5 of Life

I wrote this as moments last year, but what stood out to me about this year wasn’t specific moments but moreso themes or concepts.

Friendship: Through this year, I have solidified some adult friendships that mean a lot to me and make my life better in general. I am thankful for good friendships that have developed, and golden friendships that have continued and I hope always will.

Career: I am incredibly lucky to have a job that I love with coworkers that are supportive, generous, and intelligent and tiny humans that continue to surprise me without thoughtful, and hardworking, and kind they can be.

Babies: Two of my best friends have brought their own incredible, small humans into the world and has been so much fun watching them grow up and watching people I love get to be mothers.

Books: Sarah discovered Project Lit this year and we embarked on a journey of creating a chapter at our school and attempting to work with students toward better understanding and the checking of privilege, an it has been a great experience. Also NCTE.

Concerts: I continue to believe that concerts are one of the great unifying forces in the world and a fantastic reminder of humanity and the power of connections. Also included here is any Green Brothers book tour because they continue to be some of the best experiences I have.


Miles Morales: A smart, black boy from Brooklyn

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Summary: Miles Morales is just a normal teenager from Brooklyn trying to please his parents, do well in school, get the attention of the girl he likes, and manage being Spiderman, which isn’t always easy when his spidey-sense is alerting him to dangers he can’t see.

Sensitivities: Some violence, discussion of racism

Classroom Library: Absolutely

Most Appropriate for: older, or more advanced readers, or students that know a lot about the marvel universe. This book could be tricky for students who don’t know what they’re walking into.

Enjoyability: ★★★★★ (5/5)
Things I loved about this book: The Sijos, Jason Reynolds’ ability to add mundane details into his stories and normalize characters, the very present parents, the rich and detailed side characters. 

Things I’m struggling with: This story, is obviously, about Spiderman. Throughout the story there is a build up to the battle scene, with Miles’ Spidey sense alerting him and the way too evil history teacher. It felt like all of this build up happened and then the battle scene was 10 pages long and then it was over.

However, the more I think about this, the more I think that it’s done this way on purpose. Being Spiderman is just one part of Miles. He is also a son, and a friend, and a student, and a teenage boy trying to navigate his crush. This story tells one small period of time in his life. Once he has defeated the villain, he still has real life demons to answer to and problems of racism and discrimination that cannot be as easily defeated as the larger-than-life villain.

So while this was unsettling to me when I read it, it forced me ask myself a lot of questions and grapple with why the story was told this way and the answers make the grappling worth it.

tl;dr Jason Reynolds is masterful in his story telling. This is exactly the story Donald Glover was talking about years ago. Spiderman is just a normal, smart black kid from Brooklyn.

Teachability: ★★★ (3/5)
I can see this book being a really interesting addition to a unit about Heroes and the hero story. Examining whether Miles is truly a hero in terms of “the hero’s journey” would be interesting, especially given the arguably more heroic ending. This book could be a catalyst for an interesting discussion about what it means to be a hero. However, it may be challenging to teach without providing students with an origin story. This is included in the book, but subtly and pretty far into the story, which may create frustration for student readers.