Music I Bought in 2018…

So my $$$ spent on music has greatly decreased both due to lack of time (either to listen OR to even have heard about new tunes) AND lack of $$. But here is a quick review of the albums I bought in 2018 and whether they were worth it or not!

January: no tunes purchased.

February: no tunes purchased.


  • Black Panther (soundtrack) – I adore Kendrick Lamar. His last two albums (ESPECIALLY “Damn”) have just rocked my socks off. But I bought this, forgot to listen, started, forgot, started, forgot. I’m not sure I ever even listened to this all-the-way through. March tends to be a NUTS month at school though so I probably just kept not finding any time to listen. Bygones.


  • Tinashe “Joyride” – OK. didn’t love it.
  • Kylie Minogue “Golden” – LOVE love love love. One of my favorites of the year.
  • Cardi B “Invasion of Privacy” – It’s OK. Most of the songs sound exactly the same to me! /ducks/

May: No tunes purchased.

June: No tunes purchased.


  • Maluma “FAME” – Yes, I started buying Spanish-language rap and R&B a few years ago due to my primarily Hispanic students and some of their recommendations. No, I don’t speak it even close to well enough–I either look up translations of the lyrics OR I just enjoy it for the sounds and don’t worry about its most likely inappropriate lyrics (it is AMAZING what students will recommend to you sometimes without considering their audience). This is, to my very-inexperienced-with-it ears, definitely in the “reggaeton” tradition, like Nikki Jam, another student-inspired purchase of mine.
  • Meg Myers “Take Me to the Disco” – Love love love love. Definitely one of my favorite purchases of the year.

August: No tunes purchased.


  • Troye Sivan “Bloom” – It’s OK. But I had too much built-up anticipation because I looooove his first album so much. This falls short for me.
  • ARM & TEPR “Psaumes” – this is an older release that I just got turned on to. I have in the past bought a lot of French rap/R&B but I’ve fallen off recently. It’s OK–I think a certain song or two convinced me to buy it but then I didn’t love the album as a whole.
  • Also bought two singles from Odessa “I will be there” (love) and “Hummed low” (OK), and “Black Beatles” from Mayrie, which I like.


  • Cat Power “Wanderer” – I like it. It’s very mellow. The Rihanna cover is what grabbed me. But I’ve been more into previous albums of hers.
  • Matt Nathanson “Sings His Sad Heart” – SO good! Best album of his, in my view. He’s awesome in concert, has such SUCH good stage banter, and his albums before this have never lived up to his live performances for me–they’ve always been a little cheesy. A little white frat boy “college-ing it out” (a term I use a lot and frankly think it’s self explanatory so maybe you understand it and maybe you don’t). Anyway, I love this album.

November: No tunes purchased.

December: I spend the most $$ on tunes in December every year, where I start rabidly buying things I see on best of lists!

  • Boygenius EP – It’s SO good, I can’t stop listening to it.
  • Kacey Musgraves “Golden Hour” – I like it but it’s a little light. There’s one song I just can’t stand to listen to. There’s two I love. But I don’t really think it earned the hype for me.
  • Janelle Monae “Dirty Computer” – this is basically a Prince album to me. So I like it. But it doesn’t necessarily make me feel like seeking out all her stuff.
  • Mitski “Be the Cowboy” – definitely like a few songs from it. Haven’t listened to it enough yet though. My bad.
  • Rosalia “El Mal Querer” – I love this. So operatic and drama mama. Her videos are all Queen of Wands sass, vim and vigor. LOVE. Even though I don’t understand the lyrics. 😉
  • NoName “Room 25” – bought based on best of lists. Hasn’t really pulled me in. But need to give it a few more tries.
  • Lucy Dacus “Historian” – it’s good but I like the Boygenius (which she’s part of) a LOT more.
  • and I bought a single of Brandi Carlile’s song “Mother” which is stunning. She’s an artist I really only buy singles by though, her full albums never grab me.

Duff at the Movies 2018

So….I forgot to ever make this list. Trying to recreate it from memories, texting people I know I went to the movies with, we’ll see what I can come up with… I know I saw very, very few movies last year. 

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (2/9) — very powerful whilst watching. But one of those movies you can find a lot of holes and things in afterward. Great performances though.
  • A Wrinkle in Time (3/25) — didn’t really like. 🙁 Thought it was v. weak compared to the book.
  • Sorry to Bother You — good, traumatizing, shock and awe in the best way.
  • Blindspotting — good, upsetting, the truth of white privilege.
  • Puzzle — I really enjoyed this. A quirky somewhat insular story, it was fascinating thinking about the different way people’s minds work. Also: I want his apartment!! (8/8)
  • BlacKKKlansman — OMG SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD. Best film of 2018, no doubt. (8/10)
  • Crazy Rich Asians — fun enough. silly.
  • Colette (10/7) — really amazing performance by Keira Knightley, I want ALL the clothes in this film.

That might be it, but I’ll update this if any of my feelers pay off.

ETA: Puzzle! I forgot Puzzle, but I randomly saw it while scrolling back through my Instagram feed. That is definitely a movie worth seeing!

ETA: Found my stub from Three Billboards this weekend! I wonder if there are other stubs hanging out somewhere that I’ll find again later in the year, ha.

Books you should go read, now.

Hello, 2019. Let’s talk about 2018 some more. I have done a terrible job of keeping this blog up to date–in fact, this year I completely failed to keep up any of my lists (books, movies, concerts). Fortunately with books, it’s not a complete disaster as I do keep my Goodreads pretty much 100% up to date at all times. So, if you want to see my ever evolving list as it evolves, follow me there.

In 2018, I read 110 books, which is fairly normal for me. I generally read around 100 and am bitterly disappointed if I read less. This school year has started off strong, as I’ve instituted a goal where in the morning on the way there I read my current YA or middle grades book and in the afternoon on the way home I read my current adult book. It’s really kept things going, and it’s easier to notice when I clearly don’t like a book because I keep not reading on that leg of the journey! 😉

Just roughly looking over the list, I read 33 books by minority authors, 36 books that were clearly sci fi/fantasy, 4 teaching books, 6 nonfiction (not counting the teaching books, which would make it 10 which is…kinda high actually! ha!), and about 18 of my 110 were graphic novels.

Here are my top 10 reads from 2018: (not in any particular order, just numbered for the sake of numbering)

  1. Cravings 2: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen (cookbook). I absolutely love this cookbook, I love the way she writes, her enthusiasm and bubbly personality come right off the page. I’ve made 8 things out of it so far and they’ve all been fabulous!
  2. If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Already, by Cordell Strug. Yup, my dad’s book is in my top 10. Apparently I read a draft of this many years ago, but I didn’t remember that much of it. If you like Confederacy of Dunces, or Straight Man, I’d suggest you check this out. It’s a comedy of errors and quite enjoyable.
  3. Electric Arches, by Eve Ewing (poetry). A Chicago poet who also published this year a non-fiction text on southside Chicago schools, these poems tell the story of her childhood and her growing up and her growing understanding. If I was raising black girls, I would make them read this. But as a whitey white, there were so many moments in here that also resonated deeply with my childhood. Here’s how I started my GoodReads review: This book is so good I kept right on reading it at a bus stop in 20 degrees without mittens while the chill wind snapped the pages back against my numb fingers. 
  4. The Obelisk Gate (Broken Earth book 2), by N.K. Jemisin. The middle book of a trilogy–all of which are amazing and all of which won the Hugo in their year of publication!!–this was the one I loved best of the three. So, so, so good. Best sci fi/fantasy series out there right now. Read it!!!
  5. Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer book 2), by Laini Taylor. Another series (a duology, thankfully) I feel like I was waiting for this book forever and when it finally arrived, I just swallowed it up. The magic and the imagery in this series is just unmatchable–so evocative, and sensual, and scary, and intense.
  6. Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik. This book has a slow start, it’s got multiple first-person perspectives, it jumps wildly from mind to mind, country to country. And it’s so damn powerful and good. Who has power, who matters, why, who do we love, why, what makes a person worth something, what doesn’t. Deep ideas, deep down in this fairytale word. I was breathless at the end.
  7. Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate. Not at all the next book I expected from the author of The One and Only Ivan, this is high fantasy at a middle grade readability level. Fascinating world building, great character development. I can’t wait to see where this series goes!
  8. The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill. Like Spinning Silver, this dips deep down into fairytale foundations to tell a story so true and real, it’ll break your heart. It had been in my classroom library for a while before Gabriel and Natalie told me READ IT! and wow was I missing out!
  9. Monstress Volume 2, by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda (graphic novel). Second book of what has been three so far but will be going on for quite a while, I expect. Another sci fi/fantasy world full of different factions fighting for control–I actually had to reread the first book a couple of times to keep track of who was on which side of things. The art in these books is amazing, the mysteries are intriguing, the monster is bewildering and terrifying. They’re super, super cool.
  10. The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black. I read this at lightning speed, it’s SO GOOD. Gave it to a student, and honestly we have been counting down the days until book 2 comes out (this month!!). It’s SO right on with the stings and tangles of growing up, of finding yourself, of being left out, of being let in. Oh, it’s just…bitter and beautiful and so very good.

What were your favorites this year? Leave me a comment or send me an email, because if I haven’t read it yet, I probably want to! 🙂

p.s. I saw The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas on a lot of 2018 lists–just thought I’d point out that I do love that book, but I read it in 2017.

ETA: (edited to add) WOW, I am so forgetful that I didn’t realize that a lot of what I said here, I already said in my very most previous post on Dec 14th. DOH. I recommend most of the same books and tell you the same story about the bus. Welcome to past-middle-aged me, you can probably expect a lot of that kind of repetition. HA.

Duff at the Movies 2017

Repeat from 2016 disaster: Um, what? I never created this list back in January? And I haven’t realized that until now (August?) Ughhhh….. Off to attempt to recreate… Might be missing something…

  • American Assassin (9/23)
  • Atomic Blonde (8/8)
  • A Ghost Story (7/x)
  • The Big Sick (7/18)
  • Baby Driver (7/17)
  • Wonder Woman (6/11)
  • Fate of the Furious (or as I call it “Fast 8”) (4/16)
  • Get Out (2/25)

Duff at the Movies 2016

Um, what? I never created this list back in January? And I haven’t realized that until now (July 10?) Ughhhh….. Off to attempt to recreate…

  • La-La Land (12/28)
  • The Arrival (12/?)
  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (7/22)
  • Ghostbusters (7/19)
  • The Meddler (7/4)
  • Central Intelligence (6/29)
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (6/26)
  • L’Attesa (6/24)
  • Keanu (5/13?)
  • Allegiant (4/1)
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (3/? stub is illegible!)

Duff Does Live Music 2016

  • Sufjan Stevens (3rd x) (Pitchfork) (7/16)
  • Anderson Paak (Pitchfork) (7/16)
  • Brian Wilson (Pitchfork) (7/16)
  • Super Furry Animals (Pitchfork) (7/16)
  • Troye Sivan (2/23)
  • Josh Ritter (1/29)

Books Read in 2016

date refers to date finished; i.e., just b/c I finished two books in a given day doesn’t mean I read two entire books that day!

  • Because You’re Mine, by Lisa Kleypas (7/11)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (7/10)
  • Uprooted, by Naomi Novik (7/7)
  • Untold, by Sarah Rees Brennan (7/7)
  • The Hare, by Cesar Aira (7/5)
  • Until Friday Night, by Abbi Gilnes (7/5)
  • Stiletto, by Daniel O’Malley (7/2)
  • Hamilton: The Revolution, by Lin-Manuel Miranda (6/30) (nonfiction)
  • Fire Touched, by Patricia Briggs (6/29)
  • The Trees, Vol. 1: In Shadow, by Warren Ellis (6/26) (graphic novel)
  • The Last One, by Alexandra Oliva (6/25)
  • Snow Like Ashes, by Sara Raasch (6/22)
  • The Girl from Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig (6/17)
  • Unspoken, by Sarah Rees Brennan (6/14)
  • Article 5, by Kristen Simmons (6/11)
  • If I Was Your Girl, by Meredith Russo (6/10)
  • Sex Object, by Jessica Valenti (6/10) (nonfiction)
  • The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater (6/8) (reread)
  • Mr Fox, by Helen Oyeyemi (6/7)
  • I Kill Giants, by Joe Kelly (6/6) (graphic novel)
  • The Sellout, by Paul Beatty (5/31)
  • The Raven King, by Maggie Stiefvater (5/30)
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater (5/29) (reread)
  • The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater (5/28) (reread)
  • The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater (5/28) (reread)
  • Blaze, by Rachael Herron (5/27)
  • Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore( (5/21) (reread)
  • Fire, by Kristin Cashore (5/21) (reread)
  • Graceling, by Kristin Cashore (5/21) (reread)
  • Bolt, by Dick Francis (5/11) (reread)
  • Break In, by Dick Francis (5/9) (reread)
  • Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays, by Eula Biss (5/7) (nonfiction)
  • The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy (5/5)
  • Booked, by Kwame Alexander (4/22)
  • Gym Candy, by Carl Deuker (4/21)
  • The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson (4/19) (nonfiction)
  • Son, by Lois Lowry (4/17)
  • The Story of My Teeth, by Valeria Liuselli (4/17)
  • Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs, by Sally Mann (4/17) (nonfiction)
  • Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie (4/16)
  • The Crimson Skew, by S.E. Grove (4/12)
  • The Golden Specific, by S.E. Grove (4/12)
  • Giant Days, Vol 1, by John Allison (4/5) (graphic novel)
  • This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki (4/4) (graphic novel)
  • The Wicked + The Divine, Vol 1: The Faust Act, by Kieron Gillen (4/2) (graphic novel)
  • The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die, by April Henry (3/30)
  • Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie (3/27)
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin (3/22)
  • Mara, by Brian Wood (3/19) (graphic novel)
  • The Radiant Road, by Katherine Catmull (3/16)
  • On Immunity, An Inoculation, by Eula Biss (3/5) (nonfiction)
  • An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir (3/4)
  • Messenger, by Lois Lowry (3/2)
  • Gathering Blue, by Lois Lowry (2/29)
  • The Giver, by Lois Lowry (2/28) (reread)
  • The Darling Songbirds, by Rachael Herron (2/27) (romance)
  • The Door, by Magda Szabo (2/27)
  • The Raising, by Laura Kasischke (2/13)
  • Black Wolves, by Kate Elliott (1/23)
  • Loitering: New and Collected Essays, by Charles D’Ambrosio (1/19) (nonfiction) (essays)
  • It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single, by Sara Eckel (1/10) (nonfiction)
  • Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown (1/5) (nonfiction) (advice)
  • The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown (1/2) (nonfiction) (advice)

Books Read in 2015.

date refers to date finished; i.e., just b/c I finished two books in a given day doesn’t mean I read two entire books that day!

  • Dear Mr. You, by Mary Louise Parker (12/29) (epistolary essays)
  • Descender, Vol 1, by Jeff Lemire (12/27) (graphic novel)
  • Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, by Carrie Brownstein (12/26) (memoir)
  • Pretty Deadly, Vol 1, by Kelly Sue DeConnick (12/26)
  • Lumberjanes, Vol 1, by Noelle Stevenson (12/25) (graphic novel)
  • Dryland, by Sara Jaffe (12/25)
  • Yellowcake, by Margo Lanagan (12/4) (short stories)
  • Wytches, Vol 1, by Scott Snyder (11/30) (graphic novel)
  • Saga, Vol 5, by Brian K. Vaughn (11/29) (graphic novel)
  • Saga, Vol 4, by Brian K. Vaughn (11/29) (graphic novel)
  • Saga, Vol 3, by Brian K. Vaughn (11/29) (graphic novel)
  • Saga, Vol 2, by Brian K. Vaughn (11/29) (graphic novel)
  • Saga, Vol 1, by Brian K. Vaughn (11/29) (graphic novel) (reread)
  • The Promise, by Robert Crais (11/26)
  • Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari (11/26) (nonfiction)
  • The Promise, by Robert Crais (11/26)
  • Ms. Marvel Vol 1: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson (11/25) (graphic novel)
  • Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo (11/24)
  • Back Lash, by Devon Monk (11/17)
  • The People in the Trees, by Hanya Yanagihara (11/17)
  • The Sins of the Fathers, by Lawrence Block (11/9)
  • Slade House, by David Mitchell (11/6)
  • The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove (11/4)
  • Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll (11/2) (graphic short stories)
  • Deadly Blessings, by Julie Hyzy (10/29)
  • The Invasion of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen (10/28)
  • The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley (10/22)
  • Bad Blood, by Aline Templeton (10/20)
  • Evil for Evil, by Aline Templeton (10/18)
  • Cradle to Grave, by Aline Templeton (10/16)
  • Dead in the Water, by Aline Templeton (10/14)
  • Lamb to the Slaughter, by Aline Templeton (10/12)
  • Lying Dead, by Aline Templeton (10/11)
  • The Darkness and the Deep, by Aline Templeton (10/9)
  • Cold in the Earth, by Aline Templeton (10/7)
  • Christopher’s Cloud: An Epic Adventure, Peter Pommer (10/5)
  • The Odyssey, by Homer (Fagles translation) (10/2) (poetry) (reread)
  • Make Me, by Lee Child (9/26)
  • Tinkers, by Paul Harding (9/21)
  • After the Apocalypse, by Maureen McHugh (9/18) (short stories)
  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (9/16)
  • Speak, by Louisa Hall (9/9)
  • The Warrior Laird, by Margo Maguire (9/4)
  • Harbor Island, by Carla Neggers (8/29)
  • Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel (8/29)
  • Mind of Winter, by Laura Kasischke (8/24)
  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra (8/22)
  • The Tin Collectors, by Stephen J. Cannell (8/18)
  • Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel (8/12)
  • Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War, by Karen Abbott (8/10) (nonfiction!)
  • World Gone By, by Dennis Lehane (8/3)
  • Just Like Heaven, by Julia Quinn (7/23)
  • Lord of Misrule, by Jaimy Gordon (7/21)
  • Live by Night, by Dennis Lehane (7/4)
  • The Dragonet Prophecy, by Tui Sutherland (7/3)
  • Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (7/2)
  • Just the Sexiest Man Alive, by Julie James (6/29)
  • Suddenly One Summer, by Julie James (6/28)
  • Practice Makes Perfect, by Julie James (6/28)
  • It Happened One Wedding, by Julie James (6/28)
  • Love Irresistibly, by Julie James (6/26)
  • About That Night, by Julie James (6/25)
  • A Lot Like Love, by Julie James (6/24)
  • Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie (6/21)
  • Something About You, by Julie James (6/21)
  • World of Trouble, by Ben H. Winters (6/17)
  • Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson (6/13)
  • Countdown City, by Ben H. Winters (6/9)
  • Splinters of Light, by Rachael Herron (6/4)
  • The Last Policeman, by Ben H. Winters (6/4)
  • Foxglove Summer, by Ben Aaronovitch (5/31)
  • Hausfrau, by Jill Alexander Essbaum (5/23)
  • Blue Stars, by Emily Gray Tedrowe (5/2)
  • This Present Moment, by Gary Snyder (4/25) (poetry)
  • H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald (4/25) (memoir)
  • Dead Heat, by Patricia Briggs (4/21)
  • Glow, by Ned Beauman (4/19)
  • All the Birds, Singing, by Evie Wyld (4/18)
  • Hell bent, by Devon Monk (4/18)
  • Stone Cold, by Devon Monk (4/18)
  • Kiss Me Hello, by Grace Burrowes (4/12)
  • The First Kiss, by Grace Burrowes (4/11)
  • A Single Kiss, by Grace Burrowes (4/11)
  • The Given Day, by Dennis Lehane (4/10)
  • Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading: Finding & Losing Myself in Books, by Maureen Corrigan (4/9) (essays)
  • Shadowscale (Seraphina #2), by Rachel Hartman (4/7)
  • Pioneer Girl, by Bich Minh Nguyen (4/6) (nonfiction)
  • A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall, by Will Chancellor (4/5)
  • Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson (3/21)
  • Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed (3/20) (essays)
  • The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander (3/17)
  • Sugar, by Jewell Parker Rhodes (3/12)
  • Wool (Omnibus), by Hugh Howey (3/12)
  • The Manhattan Projects, Vol 1, by Jonathan Hickman (3/6) (graphic novel)
  • Rat Queens Vol 1, by Kurtis Wiebe (3/6) (graphic novel)
  • Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, by Patricia Lockwood (3/6) (poetry)
  • Wittgenstein Jr, by Lars Iyer (3/5)
  • Silence Once Begun, by Jesse Ball (2/21)
  • Boxer, Beetle, by Ned Beauman (2/14)
  • The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters (2/14)
  • Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill (2/1)
  • The Blazing World, by Siri Hustvedt (1/25)
  • Horns, by Joe Hill (1/3)
  • The Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson (1/3)

Duff at the Movies 2015

  • The Danish Girl (12/31)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12/30)
  • Brooklyn (11/27)
  • Spotlight (11/25)
  • The Martian (11/21)
  • Spectre (11/14)
  • Truth (11/7)
  • Pawn Sacrifice (9/27)
  • Sleeping with Other People (9/19)
  • Grandma (8/30)
  • Diary of a Teenage Girl (8/28)
  • American Ultra (8/26)
  • Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (8/3)
  • Iris (7/31)
  • Mr. Holmes (7/29)
  • Trainwreck (7/24)
  • Magic Mike XXL (7/14) & (7/25) & (8/?)
  • Testament of Youth (7/10)
  • Inside Out (7/1)
  • A Little Chaos (6/30)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (6/21)
  • Spy (6/6 & 8/6)
  • Clouds of Sil Maria (5/9)
  • Mr Turner (4/25)
  • Furious 7 (4/9 & 4/11)
  • Divergent: Insurgent (4/6)
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service (3/28)
  • American Sniper (1/16)
  • Big Eyes (1/2)