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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
Dec 21st at 4:39 am
I am floored… completely humbled. Would it be too cliché for a blogger to say “I can’t find the words to express my gratitude”?
Dec 21st at 4:57 am
These are great choices for “picks” for the year. Congrats to them.
Dec 21st at 4:58 am
Wow. Rich and enriching both come to mind. Pretty awesome stuff.
Dec 21st at 6:19 am
Some fantastic writing here. I followed Rotten in Denmark. Tremendous talent. Humbling.
Dec 21st at 6:52 am
Thank you so much for having my blog on picks of the year. This is a huge surprise. You just made my day
Dec 21st at 8:31 am
Congratulations to all those picked, and well done the WordPress team for wading through what must be mountains of posts that must’ve been on your list. And to all the rest of us, who misssed out this year, may we have better luck next year!
Dec 21st at 10:36 am
Congrats to all! Some great reads!
Dec 21st at 11:00 am
Great examples of some amazingly interesting ideas for posts. Looking forward to reading them all.
Dec 21st at 11:17 am
Documenting Syria by Russell Chapman would be my no. 1 article …
Dec 21st at 11:47 am
All wonderful, worthy picks to be best of 2013!
Thank you WP for continuing to shine on some great blogs!
Dec 21st at 12:48 pm
Wonderful end of year review with some more bloggers to be inspired by – a real treat.
Dec 21st at 1:41 pm
Being an editor of WordPress is surely a very tough call, especially with the festive season almost upon us. Heartfelt thanks to your team for having taken the trouble to bring these scintillating posts to the attention of mere mortals.
Have a great time ahead!
Dec 21st at 1:44 pm
Congratulations to all of you who made it onto this exclusive, end-of-year list. Warmest regards, and a Happy Holiday season to all of you.
Dec 21st at 6:00 pm
Congrats to all. Really well deserved!
Dec 21st at 6:11 pm
Congratulations to the winners of 2013 for writing beautifully…. and thanks to wordpress admin for providing the common platform….
Dec 21st at 6:53 pm
Way to go to all of the best of 2013! Now look out 2014, have a feeling it is going to be another year of terrific blogging!
Dec 22nd at 9:20 am
Wow. Thank you so much for including my tiny blog in this list – what a wonderful Christmas surprise!
Dec 22nd at 10:36 am
Some great picks & congrats to all!
Dec 22nd at 11:51 am
Wow. I’m relatively new to WordPress, but reading through some of these wonderfully crafted posts has been truly inspirational. What I would say, however, is that the selections seem confined to the arts. Where are the science blogs, the autobiographical day-to-day diaries, the fashion blogs? What would truly be great would be if blogs of all sorts — and not just those that focus on story-telling, poetry, drawing or photography — were given a fair chance of winning. My blog — although very new and very empty at present — chronicles the whims and wonders of a London student whilst she makes it through a very difficult degree programme (me) — and I don’t see something like that fitting into any of the winning categories here. I’d like to aim for this once I’ve been on WordPress longer, so please notice all us other bloggers as well! But that was a wonderful showcase of talent. Thank you for sharing these posts with us.
Dec 22nd at 3:15 pm
Congrats to them all!!! Can’t wait to go read each and every one! There are so many talented people out there—-It amazes me at times!!!
Dec 22nd at 8:00 pm
Congrats to everyone! WordPress bloggers continue to show the rest of the Internet how it’s done!!
Dec 22nd at 9:00 pm
Fantastic picks this year. I am enjoying the exploration of other people’s ideas, words, and images.
Dec 22nd at 11:58 pm
Congrats to the chosen, excellent writing. Looking forward to the future . . .
Dec 23rd at 3:40 am
I just wish there was more that were humorous. Such an underrated category.
Dec 23rd at 4:32 am
Very inspiring! Hopefully everyone is working towards producing content as amazing as this!
Dec 23rd at 6:24 am
It’s a pity that all the blogs you comment are in English. How about blogs in French, Spanish, German, or Italian? There are marvelous blogs in other languages that you should check out.
Dec 23rd at 8:08 am
Congrats to the picks.
Well I can understand that the editors have chosen english texts for their picks about topics, because most members write and read english.
But as far as it goes for pictures/photo’s they could have gone to non-english blogs.
I do follow some blogs of photographers from Belgium and the Netherlands and I do think some of them are very ‘pick-worthy’.
I do hope that the editors broaden their view next year to non-english blogs.
Dec 23rd at 9:19 am
Many congratulations to all. Excellent blogs and so much to learn. Bravo!
Dec 23rd at 12:31 pm
Great Blogs! Thank you for sharing them with the rest of us! ( looks like I have a lot of work to do!
Dec 23rd at 2:17 pm
Personally thought much of it had a twisted agenda in the choices but that was to be expected.
Dec 23rd at 7:07 pm
I knew it was desert of Egypt from the moment I saw the picture :))) <3
Dec 23rd at 7:57 pm
So honored to have made the list! Congratulations to all of the fellow winners (you all deserve it!) and thank you WordPress for providing such a powerful and accessible platform that made all of this possible. Cheers everyone!
Dec 24th at 1:02 am
Neat stuff … would love to get included in this sort of list one day.
Dec 24th at 5:13 pm
Congratulations! I really found all the articles and topics quite interesting.
Dec 25th at 8:14 pm
I think the variety displayed in this post is a great example of how the internet builds a global community. It is inspiring to see different feelings and experiences conveyed through blogs. I love John Atkinson’s Vintage Social Networking cartoon and the Pixar Theory intrigued me for days on end. Congratulations!
Dec 26th at 11:11 am
Thanks for including my Western Desert Journey in your list. I’ve just returned from Wadi Run in Jordan so more otherworldly landscapes coming to my blog soon
Dec 26th at 4:09 pm
Thank you! As an education blogger, I tend to get knee-deep in anything education. However, you have offered an interesting mix of blogs that have caught my eye. I will definitely take a peek at some of them.
And maybe I’m mistaken, but I didn’t notice any education blogs represented. If I am incorrect, would love to see what was chosen.:)
Dec 27th at 6:49 am
I was wondering how you came to you choices for this year. Was it simply your favorite posts you discovered while randomly surfing the reader? Did you choose from only ‘popular’ blogs or where all blogs on wordpress.com given a chance? Could the post only be concerning general common everyday topics? Does it have to be word intensive or can art blogs like my own have a chance? Or is only only photography and comic strips allowed? Are movie, game, and book review site taboo to be considered?
Dec 28th at 2:56 am
This was definitely an entertaining handful of picks. It was lovely reading these well thought out and put together blogs. I appreciate how wordpress.com sets the time aside to congratulate readers on their hard work and give them their few minutes of fame.
Speaking of a few minutes of fame: I’m new around here, so I’m not one hundred and ten percent sure how this works. I would love to actually get some reads on my social experiment of stepping outside of my comfort zone, and jumping into doing things I would normally tend to avoid doing. I do not get many (if any) readers on my blog, and I would highly appreciate if someone could tell me what I have to do to receive a spot over here, on wordpress picks?
Thanks so much for reading and caring, lots of love and congratulations to everyone; you guys deserve all the credit you get!
Dec 29th at 12:31 am
Congrats to all the picks! Well done!
Now, how can I get snow to fall on my blog page?
Happy New Year to come!!
Dec 29th at 11:19 am
Congratulations to the guys and gals on this list. As a poet the Sorry Sylvia Platt piece is pure genius!
Thanks WP Editors’ – what a great compilation!
Dec 29th at 1:50 pm
A big congratulations to all the picks whose sites I must visit to enjoy the writings and, perhaps, gain more insight.
Dec 30th at 2:00 pm
An update on my Syria work which was chosen by the editors. This slideshow should be interesting http://russellchapman.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/syria-facing-the-revolution/
Dec 31st at 10:41 am
To the authors – Congratulations to all the Picks of the ear 2013!
To the editors – Work well done!
Dec 31st at 1:17 pm
Writing is one of the best ways to keep a society free. Thanks to all of you who write. But, and there is always a but; where to hell are the conservative blog picks. Not everyone leans to the left you know.
Jan 3rd at 6:41 am
Interesting sites , congrats . Will be exploring around…:)
Jan 3rd at 9:20 am
Congratulations…I have some good reading to do this year.
Jan 3rd at 10:22 am
It’s really interesting to get more information about the best picks of the year! I loved browsing through those websites! Congrats to all the featured blogs. I’d love to make it to the freshly pressed list this year too! How can I make my blog more visible to people? I read about this in another blog post already, have followed all the steps too, but I’m still looking for ways to make the WordPress employees notice my blog. Could you write an article on that? Thank you for your response!