A Book Apart

Our Favorite Things: 2016 - Part I

Dec 15, 2016

We’ve got a special bonus list of favorites this month (in two parts). To round off a challenging year, we thought we’d ask our big, wonderful ABA family (authors, editors, and staff) to share some of their favorite things from the year.


BubbleSort Zines are “a monthly zine series filled with stories and hand-drawn art and diagrams. They cover topics like circuits, sorting, memory, and tcp.” I ADORE them—they’re brilliant and cute and demystify so much really intimidating tech.

—Lara Hogan, author

Despite many things that have brought my spirits down this year, I’ll happily remember 2016 as the year my daughter Cora was born. Getting to raise two girls is the greatest honor I can imagine.

—Scott Jehl, author

Buddy up, and get gross: the multiplayer game Push Me Pull You (by House House) recasts human bodies as little tube suits wrestling over a sports ball. It is a lot of fun. Bonus: squelching sounds.

Twitter bots spit out mini universes. Generate your own weird logic with Cheap Bots, Done Quick! by George Buckenham and Tracery by Kate Compton—both free.

—Tina Lee, managing editor

We built a mountain biking flow trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains (process and end result).

—Luke Wroblewski, author

For a parent, sometimes the most special things are those that let you see your kid in a new way. Perhaps it shines a light on an aspect of their personality you didn’t see before, or gives you insight into what they might be like as an adult. In uncertain times, the greatest comfort I have is knowing we’re bringing better people into the world.

Codenames is a team-based word game where the “spymaster” of each team has to get their team to guess words on a 5×5 grid. I’ve played this game with colleagues at the IA Summit and friends on game night. But the best was when we played with my parents and my children. It’s inexpensive, highly replayable, and (obviously!) great for all ages.

—Dan Brown, author (forthcoming)

Like many of you, I’ve spent this fall rethinking how I spend my time and money. One little project that might help you do that, too, is Subscribe to Change, made by Githubbers Sophie Shepherd and Sarah Vessels. I love that it’s not another shallow tech-industry attempt to “fix” a complex problem. It’s simple: it helps you tally how much you spend per month on subscription entertainment like Netflix and Hulu, and then commit to putting an equal amount toward charities doing work that our world desperately needs right now.

—Sara Wachter-Boettcher, author

My favorite thing this year was the people I worked with. I spent much of the past twelve months writing my first book for ABA. Jeffrey and I have a history together (back when we both had 56k modems) so I was confident I’d be working with some top-notch people, but the folks I’ve encountered in this project have far exceeded my expectations. So, thank you all for that. I’m also thankful that I got to do this project in the first place. We all get those things we “have to do,” but for the most part our work is stuff we “want to do.” To top it off, we also get to choose who we work with on these projects. We get to work hard on things that matter to us. It’s a good time of year to remember that’s a privilege that many folks don’t have.

—Craig Hockenberry, author

2016 was so hard. But a handful of good things happened.

In June, I was lucky enough to be able to attend Typographics, a thoughtful conference organized by Type@Cooper on the intersection between type and visual design. And, accompanied by a very dear friend, I managed to cross three—three!—items off my so-called bucket list: I went floating, ate at an April Bloomfield restaurant, and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge for the very first time.

—Caren Litherland, editor

Tasting wonderful food in beautiful places. Tapas in Barcelona, bratwurst in Nuremberg, tripe and beans in Bologna, sausage in Budapest, short ribs and asparagus grilled by Ethan and Liz in Boston, and an oyster on Brighton beach. And as much as I love to taste all the world has to offer, there's nothing like the taste of home like: homemade pappardelle with pig cheek ragu, tomatoes in season, or a rib of beef with a fine wine.

—Jeremy Keith, author

Of This New World by Allegra Hyde: I read this collection of short stories at the end of October, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since—funny, strange, both dark and enlightening, with a deadpan voice and a knack for the absurd. Each story explores themes of home, belonging, and utopia, from the Garden of Eden to the Shakers to “Americans on Mars!” (you should read it just to thank her for that title). And the story “Delight®”—less a cautionary tale, more a mirror—should be required reading.

—Lisa Maria Martin, editor

Traveling—in particular being in different timezones—has not only helped me learn about the people I’ve met in those places but it’s also meant I’ve gotten to see the web community in a different way. By being on Twitter while on the US West Coast, or in Australia, or in Singapore, you hear completely different voices. Different people reply to your tweets and it all becomes less of an echo chamber. Things existing in less of an echo chamber seems really important right now. I hope our social tools can find ways of encouraging us to move out of that.

—Rachel Andrew, author

I believe it when they say knitting reduces stress, builds confidence, and brings people together—among other wonderful things. This year, I’ve done it almost every single day. I just finished this soft, small blanket for my (due any day!) niece. KnitPicks is one of my favorite spots to grab starter kits, materials, and tools.

—Katel LeDu, executive director

Check out part two and stay tuned here for more, or find us on Twitter and Facebook.