We Laughed, We Cried, We Felt: The Posts We Loved in 2016

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We editors at WordPress.com are stunned by what we read on your blogs every day: the range of topics. The candor and emotion. The beauty of the writing. Every moment, in everything you publish, you share parts of yourselves — which is both brave and important.

On Tuesday, we highlighted some of the current events-focused posts that moved us this year. Today, we celebrate the breadth and depth of your other writing in 14 of our most popular topics, from food to sports to fiction to parenting and beyond.


seamus the basset hound
Photo of Seamus from The Ripening Joy.

Pets

They can’t blog for themselves, but we love reading when you do it on their behalves — more often than not, we all end up learning a little something about ourselves. “The Invisible Leash,” by Ivan Kreilkamp in Avidly, is a sweet, thoughtful meditation on the nature of pet ownership, while The Ripening Joy‘s “Seamus” celebrates the life of a beloved Basset Hound who eased his new owner’s final days.


Academia

Published on her eponymous blog, Tiffany Martínez’s “Academia, Love Me Back” was shared across social networks over 10,000 times.Her enraging story about a professor’s racist feedback was a stark reminder of the deep, insidious role race plays not just in politics and policing, but also in education.


Blogging

Community-favorite blogger Ra at Rarasaur gave her readers a scare and something to think about with August’s “oh nothing”:

I almost deleted my blog yesterday, on a whim,
but the whim sputtered under the weight of me,
and thankfully the buttons I pressed were just matches
not mines.

Part stream of consciousness, part prose poetry, all honest — a deeply relatable read for anyone who’s struggled with disillusionment or loss (i.e., everyone).


Sports

Tim Struby, writing in Victory Journal, brought us “The Alternates:  the stories of those unsung Olympic heroes, the team alternates who train and travel with the US Olympic team, but don’t actually get to compete. His piece shines a light on these oft-forgotten — but incredibly skilled — athletes, and deftly illustrates the uncomfortable Olympic limbo of being there-but-not.


Food

From Tangerine Drawings, “similes / empanadas” isn’t your normal food blog post — there’s no recipe, no close-up photo of a glistening drop of sauce about to drip off a fork — but it drew us in. It’s a beautiful meditation on food, family, and tradition, and a lesson on how to describe and talk about food in a way that grabs readers and makes them part of the story. The loose, colorful sketches accompanying it are the egg wash on the empanada.

a colorful sketch of people making empanadas
Empanadas drawing” from Tangerine Drawings.

LGBTQ Issues

The Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, shocked the world — but many people didn’t fully appreciate the importance of the location, or how bringing this violence to a gay club was in itself a violation over and above the physical violence. The blogger behind Gukira responded with “refuge,” the story of their personal experience finding community in clubs. “In the club, I found some air. Tainted, thin, even toxic, but it was breathable.”


The Internet

Sam Kriss wrote “Why you’re not quitting Twitter” on the social network we love to hate and our seemingly bottomless need for expression and validation. It’s not for the faint of heart, and his words are best left to speak for themselves.

You can’t quit Twitter: you, writer; you, comedian; you, journalist; you, early adopter; you, self-confessed nerd and unapologetic brunch snob. You created it, with your earnest musings and your boiling self-regard; you summoned the demon, and while its name might change the beast will never be able to relent. You bring Twitter with you wherever you go, because you are Twitter. And it’s dying, because you’re already dead.


Loss

For many of us writing can be a form of therapy, helping us to process our own thoughts or life’s challenges. Losing a parent or grandparent can be one of the hardest griefs to work through, as Chanyado’s Aleya Kassam now knows. Five months after losing her grandmother, she published “And full stop,” giving voice to the longing and profundity of her loss.


Women

In the face of sexism and oppressive beauty standards, humor and anger are two common responses. Anne Theriault of The Belle Jar takes the first tack in “A List Of Things In Literature, Music and Art That Are Actually Metaphors For Women;” Alice Isak at Coffee and a Blank Page takes the second with “fcuk pretty.” “It’s funny because it’s true” is a cliché for a reason, as Anne well knows, and anyone who’s ever chafed under the pressure to lose weight will find camaraderie and release in Alice’s piece.


Beyoncé

(She had a big year and generated a lot of commentary, so yes, she gets her own topic.)

There was no line from Beyoncé’s Lemonade that got a bigger reaction than “He better call Becky with the good hair.” For anyone not sure what’s significant about Becky and her hair, Alexis Chateau offered “Translating ‘Becky with the Good Hair’” to unpack the historical significance of “good hair” and its meaning to women of color.


Short Fiction

Entire worlds created and lives begun and ended, all with an impressive economy of words: short fiction takes us on amazing and unexpected five-minute journeys. Trent Lewin’s “Pickle” broke our hearts with the story of a bittersweet birth tempered by a terrible loss, while N.K. Jesmin’s “The City Born Great” takes us into a slightly altered universe to contemplate a different kind of birth — the birth of a city.

I raise my arms and avenues leap. (It’s real but it’s not. The ground jolts and people think, Huh, subway’s really shaky today.) I brace my feet and they are girders, anchors, bedrock. The beast of the deeps shrieks and I laugh, giddy with postpartum endorphins. Bring it. And when it comes at me I hip-check it with the BQE, backhand it with Inwood Park, drop the South Bronx on it like an elbow.

– From The City Born Great


Listicles (and Writing)

Never underestimate the power of a list to explain and amuse. In “34 Reasons to Stop Writing Forever,” Nathaniel Tower at Juggling Writer hit just about every raw nerve a writer ever nursed as an excuse to give up — even those we’d rather not admit to — and negates their power by taking them out of the shadows of our psyches and into the light of his listicle.


Parenting

Parenting is one of life’s biggest joys and challenges, generating endless fodder for writing. These two bloggers captured both the sublime and the terrible: “Radiant (or how not to give a spider a bath),” from Bye-Bye Beer, is a lovely vignette of the mundane-yet-transcendent daily moments that blogging is so well suited for chronicling. And on pryvate parts, Lisa Shaw lays bare a painful realization about love and jealousy in “My Ugly Truth About Parenting a Difficult Child.”


Photography

We’ll be sharing our favorite images of 2016 is an upcoming post; “The Photograph I Did Not Take,” from Mary Turner, is about what photography means — and what it means, as a photographer, to remove yourself from a moment in order to capture an image of it.

But in that moment in Piraeus, part of me knew that if I got up and raised my trigger finger to the shutter I would be stealing part of Abohane’s soul and chipping away at my own. I haven’t seen a man so crippled with grief like that for a while and I just couldn’t do it to him. Maybe my hardwired photographer’s brain didn’t know it but my legs did, the dead weight in my stomach did. And they would not let me get up.

As always, there is far more excellent writing than we’re able to shine a spotlight on here. We hope you’ll share some of your favorite reads in the comments, and you can recommend posts to us at any time on Twitter — we’re @WPDiscover.


Look for our favorite images, artwork, and poetry of 2016 in posts next week.