The Best Things We Read In 2016

This year has had its ups and downs, the downs being more recent in our memories, but there were also a multitude of excellent stories told this year. We’ve read a number of articles, books, magazines, etc. this year and have compiled a list of some of the best this year had to offer. There were stories that took us to a galaxy far, far away and stories that hit close to home and helped us connect with ourselves and the ever-changing world around us.

What I Know

Rosanna Tasker – Lenny Letter

In March, New York Times best-selling author Jessica Knoll shared the story of the real rape informing her debut novel Luckiest Girl Alive (which is also one of the best thing’s I’ve read this year).  Her essay is real, powerful, and necessary. I don’t think a line of text has ever resonated with me more than the final line of her piece: “I’m not fine. It’s not fine. But it’s finally the truth, it’s what I know, and that’s a start.” 



Star Wars: Ahsoka

 

Star Wars: Ahsoka is one of the newest  Star Wars texts this year and is the first book in the canon to feature the former Jedi apprentice to Anakin Skywalker. The story, written by E.K. Johnston, focuses on Ahsoka’s time after the fall of the Republic.  For any fan of Star Wars Rebels or Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this book shares the story of how our favorite padawan became Fulcrum, the informant for the Resistance. 

Scrappy Little Nobody

Anna Kendrick’s collection of essays, Scrappy Little Nobody, was released in November of this year. It is a hilarious and charming account of her time in the business so far. She has written this book in the same authentic and candid voice that can be found on her Twitter. It was a joy to read!




The Princess Diarist 

The final memoir written by the late Carrie Fisher is by far one of my favorites from 2016.  The entire text focuses on Carrie’s reflections on and personal diaries surrounding her time filming the original Star Wars film, now known as A New Hope. She also speaks about bringing her iconic role back to the big screen in The Force Awakens.  Ms. Fisher, in her outstanding way, maintains her usual frank, witty humor throughout the text.  Many times, I found myself hearing her voice in my mind telling the story (Of course, you can actually hear her tell the story through the audiobook). – Sarah

Marcia Clark is Redeemed

via: NY Mag

The People v. O.J. Simpson was one of the biggest television events of the season and has garnered high critical praise and industry awards for best television mini-series and its leading actors.  The major appeal of the show was the sensational nature of O.J. Simpson’s trial and one of the best performances of the television season was Sarah Paulson’s portrayal of Marcia Clark.  I loved reading Rebecca Traister’s piece detailing how the show has helped the “90’s bogeywoman… become a feminist icon.”

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Heart of an Empire – ConCarolinas 2014

In the mid-1990s, one man’s idea launched a group that has become an international force for good in the community. At Cons, charity events and public events, stormtroopers, Darth Vaders, and other imperial officers can be seen in full costume – seeming to have come directly from the movies.

Fans of Star Wars have been collecting props, action figures, comics and other paraphernalia for many decades.  Albin Johnson, as mentioned in the film Heart of an Empire, had an idea that he wanted to dress up as a stormtrooper.  With support of his friends and fellow Star Wars fans, Albin’s dream has become a reality.  Chapters of the 501st Legion can be found all over the world, which is more than Albin could have dreamed of.  
                                               

                       
This past weekend, Albin’s dream-turned-reality made its way into my line of sight.  At ConCarolinas in Charlotte, North Carolina, I was formally introduced to the Carolina Garrison of the 501st and the whole 501st through Jay Thompson’s documentary, Heart of an Empire.  Don’t get me wrong, I had heard of the group before, but I had no idea just how big and well-known the group is.  
And let me tell you, as a life-long fan of the Star Wars trilogies and EU (Expanded Universe), the fact that the 501st group exists excites me.
Not only are these groups active fans of the franchise, they are also active in their communities as individuals that want to have a positive influence on the people around them.  In fact, Heart of an Empire focuses on the influence these men and women have had on other people.  
                                       
I refuse to give anything away…so, PLEASE watch the film! It will change your life with its beautiful story.
   

In addition to seeing the film, I was able to sit in on an interesting panel on Saturday morning at ConCarolinas: Star Wars.
      
One thing that I knew would be discussed is the fact that Disney now owns LucasFilm and what that will entail for the upcoming sequel trilogies.  Just among the four panelists, the tension was running high.  They even went into the lengthy argument over the prequel trilogies and whether or not they are good or necessary for the Star Wars saga.
Now, say what you will, but I loved the prequel trilogy, but because I was a kid and saw the appeal.  I was a member of the generation that saw the release of these films, and that is part of my individual experience with Star Wars.  I, now, believe that the original films (without the additional edits that were made in the 1990s and 2000s) are far superior (Am I getting the Star Wars stamp of approval, now?)

However, I believe that the most important point from the panel is that the upcoming trilogy should not be judged harshly before it is released.  I believe fans of the saga should take the “innocent until proven guilty” approach.  Be excited for the films! Be hopeful that the stories will be great! Have faith that JJ Abrams and the entire cast and crew will do well with the films!
Now, if the films come out and are a success, YAY!!!! You had faith and you are being rewarded accordingly.   If the films are terrible, well that’s okay too. Once that happens, go to town criticizing and analyzing and complaining – you deserve to.  But we should not set ourselves up with great expectations of what the films will be when we have no true idea of what is coming! That’s just my simple opinion.
For more info on Star Wars, check them out on twitter, Facebook, tumblr and the official website.
For more information about the amazing Con that is ConCarolinas, check out their website!
Photos courtesy of the official websites of the 501st Legion, Star Wars, and ConCarolinas.