Editors’ Picks of the Year: The Best of WordPress.com in 2013


This week, our editors dove into the archives to find and rediscover notable posts published this year on WordPress.com, from nonfiction to poetry, and photography to illustration. These posts have been especially resonant to us and the community, and represent the diversity of voices of our users all over the world.

An Open Letter to the Girl I Pretended to Have a Crush On in Eighth Grade at Rottin’ in Denmark

You were the first girl I pretended to have a crush on so no one would know I was gay. I didn’t intend for it to happen, for it to be you, for it to be so easy. But it did, and it was.

From the opening lines of his epic open letter to Tracy Dolan, Michael Hobbes at Rottin’ in Denmark mesmerizes readers with his sharp and thoughtful storytelling, describing his strategy for surviving adolescence as a gay teenager. At 5,787 words, Hobbes’ letter is a longer piece to savor, and captures what it’s like to grow up, to fit in, and to ultimately find yourself. A favorite on WordPress.com this year, the post was well-received elsewhere on the web, including Longreads.

Image by Palo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

When Your (Brown) Body is a (White) Wonderland at tressiemc

She is playing a type of black female body as a joke to challenge her audience’s perceptions of herself while leaving their perceptions of black women’s bodies firmly intact. It’s a dance between performing sexual freedom and maintaining a hierarchy of female bodies from which white women benefit materially.

Scholar Tressie McMillan Cottom caught our attention this year with her incisive, critical think-pieces on race and class, and her commentary on black female bodies as amusements parks for white people — in the context of Miley Cyrus’ carnival-like performance at the MTV Video Music Awards — is worth reading. We recommend tressiemc for thought-provoking discussions on culture and sociology, period.

Collaborating With a 4-Year-Old at The Busy Mockingbird

The whimsical collaborations of Mica Angela Hendricks and her four-year-old daughter at The Busy Mockingbird were a huge hit this year: think snail and mermaid-like creatures with oversized human heads, or the tie-wearing manimal in the forest, above. Looking at these illustrations, you can’t help but smile.

The Pixar Theory by Jon Negroni

Every Pixar movie is connected. I explain how, and possibly why.

Jon Negroni’s wildly popular post detailing the Pixar Theory is completely entertaining and imaginative: he lays out a working narrative that connects all of Pixar’s movies into one cohesive timeline. From Brave to WALL-E to A Bug’s Life, he weaves a grand theory involving this animated universe’s key characters, and the result is a fun journey for both die-hard Pixar enthusiasts and film lovers alike. (We chatted with Jon this fall about this post’s popularity and the growth of his blog — check it out.)

Image by Jonathan Kim (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Image by Jonathan Kim (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Reporting for Duty, Sir at Paving the Road Back

Even as he displayed that puckish smile over and again, he also displayed a certain resolve, a certain protector-warrior sense, even if only in glimpses, that reminded us all — that reminded him — that he was still ready for duty, ready to assume a role that he loved, ready to face again, if necessary, a violence that would perhaps destroy him, but that would not — would not — destroy those whom he loved.

Rod Deaton is a psychiatrist with an extensive background working with military troops and combat veterans. His blog, Paving the Road Back, offers a glimpse into the work he does, as well as the lives of the brave men and women who’ve served the US military. Always crafted with care, his stories are poignant, like this post on “Ethan,” who became hooked on opiates after suffering a traumatic brain injury while serving in the Middle East.

Documenting Syria by Russell Chapman

Earlier this year, freelance journalist and photographer Russell Chapman spent time in Syria, talking to people from political, military, and humanitarian wings of the new Syrian opposition about what’s happening in the region. Russell’s photographs offer a glimpse into this war-torn landscape; the image above features FSA fighters in Aleppo.

27 Nights at What Happens to Us

I read your journal, she finally said.

I read the part where you questioned whether you had chosen the right twin? Where you wondered if we made love in the same way?

In this contemporary tale of dating and relationships, David at What Happens to Us writes about a man torn between two twin sisters, Kara and Kendra. While we don’t want to give anything away, we’ll say David has a strong, original voice, and he keeps us glued ’til the end. It’s an intriguing introduction to his fiction — we can’t wait for chapter two.

My Penis Girl by Gendermom

“Mom, I think something went wrong when I was in your tummy, because I was supposed to be born a girl, but I was born a boy instead.” He wanted me to put him back in the womb to right the wrong. He was sobbing.

Gendermom chronicles the joys and challenges of raising M., her five-year-old transgender daughter. In “My Penis Girl,” Gendermom recounts how M. knew early on that she was a girl, and describes her initial concerns as a parent before finally “letting her boy go.” Her site is an inspiring example of how bloggers can build supportive communities and an outlet for those rearing a transgender child.

Image by Nathan Ruttley (CC BY 2.0)

Image by Nathan Ruttley (CC BY 2.0)

On Geek Versus Nerd at Slackpropagation

Both are dedicated to their subjects, and sometimes socially awkward. The distinction is that geeks are fans of their subjects, and nerds are practitioners of them.

Popular culture, statistics, and social science intersect in scientist and software engineer Burr Settles’ discussion of “geek” versus “nerd.” From analyzing Twitter data and PMI statistics, he explains how these two terms — often viewed as synonyms — are different. Are you a geek or a nerd? Read it to find out.

Vintage Social Networking at Wrong Hands

Canadian cartoonist John Atkinson created this light-hearted cartoon commenting on social media, online publishing, and the internet of today. It’s well-done and spot-on (and we love seeing WordPress right in the middle, among all these social tools).

It’s Just Sex, Dammit! by Dorkdaddy

There are a thousand things necessary for a successful day and a successful life. Balancing the checkbook. Reading to the kids. Visiting your parents. Maintenance on the house. Laughing. Resting. Playing. Growing. Learning. These are the things of life. These are the things that determine whether we are fulfilled, whether we are successful in life. None of them require intercourse. And yet still we venerate sex as the ultimate goal in life, as if everything else is just a way of occupying time between sexual interludes.

At Dorkdaddy, a father documents his misadventures in raising three children, as well as interests in pop and geek culture, from superheroes to games to fun in all shapes and sizes. We love this candid discussion about our fascination and obsession with sex, and the pleasures and troubles it brings.

Western Desert Journey, Egypt by Quintin Lake

Photographer Quintin Lake wowed us with his stunning images from Egypt’s Western Desert. From the surreal tent formations in the White Desert to the ripples captured in sand dunes, Quintin’s snapshots are truly jaw-dropping. His passion for architecture inspires his work, which lends an artistic, geometric feel to some of his travel photography.

Sorry Sylvia (Plath) by Simon Kindt

Could you imagine this Sylvia?
That this is what we would do to you?

That high school teachers
would keep dragging you out of the ground,
and laying your bones out for inspection,
looking for symptom,
and signifier,
pretending like we could ever know
what you looked like on the inside of your skin.

Simon Kindt‘s poem on Sylvia Plath touched many readers, conjuring many images and thoughts: young minds learning to read poetry, piecing together a life from the words one has left — so precious, yet not enough. As you read, you might also feel pain or misunderstanding, or perhaps feel that spot within yourself that only poetry can touch.

Image by weareintheplace (CC BY 2.0)

Image by weareintheplace (CC BY 2.0)

The Knuckle Sandwich Epiphany at How the light gets in

It was in that moment that I finally recognised my childhood ambitions for the fantasies they were. I had never been cut out to save the world through passive resistance.

The Sydney-based writer and illustrator at How the light gets in will win you over with quirky stories and drawings; we enjoyed this offbeat yet charming post about coming of age in the 1980s, and all the awkwardness and uncertainty that accompanied it. From an original point of view to visual narratives, this blogger has the elements to tell great stories.

Tracks at Without an H

Photographer Jon Sanwell documents daily life in Southeast Asia on his blog, Without an H. His portraits of people, urban and street shots, and countryside landscapes from Vietnam and beyond are lively and full of vibrant colors. We love all of his photo collections, and especially enjoyed these images from a Hanoi neighborhood that lies along the train tracks.

We’re thrilled that so many talented writers, artists, and photographers call WordPress.com their online home, and that all of you use this platform to express yourselves, far and wide, across the globe. We look forward to reading you in 2014 and hope you continue to share your ideas and stories with us, wherever you are.

Want to read more editors’ picks of 2013? Dive in now. If you love reading the freshest picks and most-recommended reads on WordPress.com, sign up for Weekend Reads, which we’ll deliver to your inbox monthly.

Filed under: Community, WordPress.com, Writing

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