We are a new blog, so we don’t have year-end traditions yet. That said, it seems like it’s about time for a year-end wrap up post. It makes logical sense for that year-end wrap up to be about books. Books are kind of our brand here at the library. I’m going to do that, but I’m going to take a rambling approach to get there. That’s just the kind of year this has been. I think we all know what I’m talking about. I can’t think of another year in my half century of life in which the collective burden of living through a year has been so obvious to all those who survived it. Living through historic moments can be uncomfortable… and we tend to be aware when it’s happening. That’s not something I think I realized when I was a kid and my mom told me where she was and what she was doing when JFK was assassinated. It’s not just the big stories that have been weird this year. I think we are so aware of our “bingo cards” this year that any incremental weird story lands like yet one more confirming data point that we are living in “interesting times” and would rather this particular circus sideshow of a year be over.

Periodically, in this space, we’ve joked about the murder hornet news story from earlier in the year. Just to reinforce that 2020 couldn’t GET any weirder (insert Chandler Bing inflection here) there have been other stories in the news this year with equally weird and whimsical animal subjects. Every once in a while, I thought about creating a list of them somewhere. I then decided not to because I didn’t want to have to remember where I put it when I wrote the blog post I’m writing today. I never once considered that I was weighing the possible frustration of not being able to find the document to the very real probability that when I sat down to write the post, I would not be able to remember any of the truly awesome headlines I’d identified as being ones I’d want to refer to. So, I think we can all agree that I’m just lazy and have a bad memory and that, sadly, many of the news stories that would have been great in this post have now been lost to the passage of time. I was able to find and recall some of the amazing stories of the year. Here is a non-comprehensive list of the weird animal stories that made 2020 all that it has been (NOTE: these are all things, that are real stories, from 2020… I’m linking to them and everything): 

  • We all know about the murder hornets.
  • Virginia residents were warned about Venomous Puss Caterpillars.
  • Self-cloning mutant crayfish took over a Belgian cemetery.
  • Hand-sized “Sex-Crazed” spiders showed up inside homes in the UK (NOTE: The Mirror, which is a tabloid labeled these spiders as being sex-crazed. In reality, they are entering homes in search of mates… presumably mates who are other spiders. I did not read fully to determine how they had all decided collectively that houses of humans were the best hookup spots; perhaps they think that terrified humans are an aphrodisiac?)
  • Zombie minks in Denmark (I think this one is kinda weak because there are no actual zombies in this story, just dead mink that won’t stay buried… not the same thing at all as zombies… lame.)
  • Aggressive rodents of unusual size (Yes, the headline people are stealing their names from The Princess Bride.)
  • Just today I saw a story about, wait for it… snake infested sea foam. I just happened upon that one accidentally while I was in pre-writing dithering mode. Sometimes the world just gives us gifts! Except for the people wanting to walk on the beach down in Australia, I guess… practice beach walking safety down there, everyone.

It’s particularly staggering when you recognize that this is not a comprehensive list of all the bizarre animal stories out there.

So, it’s been a year… but there’s been good stuff in there along with all the weirdness. Many of us have found time to read a lot. I know I have. I’ve taken the opportunity to read to open my mind, especially when it comes to reading about experiences other than my own. I believe it has stretched and opened my mind in ways that will make me a better person. I hope you have had similar experiences. I’ve seen some particularly good year-end lists of best reads, so I suspect that there are lots of folks with amazing lists, given the sheer volume of reading that folks have had the time to do. I thought I’d share my list with you and ask you to share yours with me. If you want to play along, just pick your favorite books of 2020 and build a list using the list feature in the library catalog. If you publish it so that “everyone” can see it, I will be able to find it and maybe do something fun with it early in 2021. 

Here’s my list.