Favorite lists are usually things we see near the end of December. Half a dozen or more came under my eyes during that time but it never occurred to me to gather up a few favorites of my own. Until today. Tramping down the beach on New Year’s morning an idea popped up to recall a few things that added something extra to the year just passed. Thinking more about it, I decided to put it all in five categories of gadgets, ink, fountain pens, books and blogs. So, without a lot of talk let’s get to the memorable bonuses of last year.
iPhone 4S: There was a time I strongly disliked cell phones, thinking of them as something like the devil’s spawn. About a year after the release of the first iPhone I almost grudgingly decided to get one, mostly because I couldn’t stand not having the latest toy from Apple. That turned out to be a moderate disappointment, but one that at least included a couple of great and convenient functions. Then came the iPhone 4S and my whole way of thinking about cell phones changed. This is an incredible handful of do-almost-anything technology that I applaud more than any other Apple product to date.
iPad 2: Best of all the tablet computers, beautiful, full of potential, cool and classy and last but not least, heavy. The truth is, it sits sleeping on my desk most of time waiting to be used. Naive on my part, but I bought the iPad thinking it was going to come out of the box doing everything I’d seen on TV commercials. Better be prepared to spend a handful of money on extra apps if that’s what you want. Another out of the park homerun from Apple, but mostly wasted on me.
One of those who believes there can never be enough fountain pen ink, 2011 brought four colors I especially like. I say ‘colors’ because in this case that alone is the basis of my choosing the inks below. You can buy them at Goulet Pens.
1. Diamine Denim
2. Sailor Tokiwamatsu
3. Noodler’s Lexington Gray
4. Noodler’s Blue Nose Bear
1. Pelikan Souverän 600 — A perennial favorite that never ever fails, no matter the choice of ink.
2. TWSBI Diamond 530 — Big surprise; China gets into the game with a five-star standout pen.
Poetry: Dorianne Laux, The Book of Men—includes the impressive “Homicide Detective: A Film Noir”
Short Stories: Bruce McHart, The Outlaw Album—a singular voice; don’t overlook McHart.
Non-Fiction: Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs—an eye-opener about a rude and obnoxious visionary.
Cookbook: John Folse, The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine—History, Photographs & Recipes
1. Haruki Murakami, 1Q84—another notch on the road to a Nobel Prize
2. Stephen King, 11/22/63—Don’t make the mistake of underestimating a very good writer.
3. Don Winslow, The Gentlemen’s Hour—Winslow is back on top, back in form; best since Savages.
4. James Lee Burke, Feast Day of Fools—Burke is simply one of the best; writes like a damaged angel.
5. Jonathan Lethem, The Fortress of Solitude (2004)—Move over Michael Chabon. Read Jonathan Lethem!
1. Bus Stories: Observations on Life in Transit—a good writer with a sharp eye and piercing wit
2. A Reader’s Life—plain, unadorned happenings and observations in the life of an interesting writer
3. Palimpsest—a literate and well-researched collection of thoughts on pens, ink and pencils