The Books I Read!


Aside from Inner Bonding, all of these concepts were brand new to me this year. It was a year mostly of surface level learning— acquainting myself with new ideas and possibilities. I did not have the energy nor the discipline to go any deeper.

I'm beginning to understand, also, that there is no singular answer to life, nobody who can spell it all out for me, no paint-by-numbers canvas of happiness. Now, I favour a wholistic approach that borrows from many different philosophies and ways of thinking. Like this, everyone's way of life is totally unique.

  • Healing Your Aloneness by Erika J. Chopich and Margaret Paul

    I discovered Inner Bonding at the end of 2022 and learned more about it in jumps and spurts throughout 2023. The reparenting approach comes naturally to me, so I can relax a bit knowing that there are other people out there who believe in it, too. Very validating for someone like me, who others might call a "child at heart." That said, as much as I agree with its principles, I don't actually use Inner Bonding practices! They just don't resonate with me in any way that sticks.

  • Focusing by Eugene T. Gendlin

    Focusing is a powerful practice that helps me tap into a creativity I never knew I had. I wrote a very poetic journal entry in mid-June after Focusing all day, and I was even mentored by a Focusing professional once-weekly in July. Of all the self-help things I've discovered, I'd most like to cultivate this skill in the New Year. I'm also a big fan of the "Listening Manual" in the back of the book. I'm going to print out that part because I would like to be a better listener to everyone in my life.

  • Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.

    NVC is very dear to me. When I first learnt of it, I felt like I was glimpsing a world where everyone else valued empathy, language, and consideration as much as I do. Their teachings also help me to understand the power structures of our world. I've not had the wherewithal to proberly get into NVC, but in 2024 I would like to practice it more. I am very intrigued by the Pathways to Liberation, in particular.

  • Start Where You Are by Pema Chödrön

    I really liked this Tonglen Zen Buddhist stuff until I found out Shambhala is a literal cult LMFAO. You can follow my whirlwind romance with Buddhism through my July and August journals. Still, the mediation practices and beliefs about thoughts/thinking have been insightful for me. And though it has nothing to do with Chödrön, I love Yin Breathing and I will definitely do it more often in the New Year.

  • The Tao of Fully Feeling by Pete Walker

    I have been aware of Pete Walker for years now, but this is my first time actually reading one of his books. I discovered him through his list of affirmations for survivors of child abuse, which somebody uploaded to Tumblr. It didn't just press a button inside me. It keymashed the mainframe of my heart, flipping psychological switches and dials I didn't even know I had. I saved the list then and have been careful not to lose it ever since. Even now, just looking at it makes me feel insane. My eyes bug out of my head and my thoughts swirl as I try to imagine what it would be like if someone really said those things to me.... Said it and meant it and— what if I didn't even have to beg for it first!?!?

    I understand now that I am meant to say those things to myself. It's lonely, and it makes me want to cry, but I learnt the year before that nobody is coming to save me. I have to do it by myself.

Child Abuse Narratives

What can I say, I devote a great deal of time to reading about human suffering! I like the memoirs best because they are the most potent, but I am willing to pick up scientific or journalistic sources as well. That said, it feels odd to "review" these or even make specific comments about them, so I'll just leave the list as is. Each one was worth reading in its own right.

Books I Didn't Finish

These have commentary, so click on each cover to read my thoughts!

Books I Intend to Finish

Overall, I'd say this was a pretty good reading year for me. Rather than reading as a habit, I get in a sort of mood where I read a lot at once and then stop for a couple months. Next year, I hope I will read more, if only to further develop my writing talent.

Manga and Webtoons

Just like with 'real books,' I go through phases of binge-reading manga. I read some other works here and there, but they weren't memorable enough to get on this list. Next year, rather than "bingeing," I would like to read more regularly. If I'm going to be screen addicted anyway, then it's a much better use of my time than anything else.

  • Rojica and Rakkasei by Kinome

    It's perfect— I only wish it had been longer! Shi-san is my favourite character because he reminds me of Sans, and my favourite chapter is the one where he takes of baby Rakkasei. Apparently there will be an official English release, which I would love to have on my bookshelf someday. I also started reading Kinome's other manga, A Girl With an Empty Heart and Fragments of a Rainbow, but I haven't caught up yet. Either way, I'll definitely be adding Kinome-sensei to the list of my top fave mangaka.

  • Girl From the Other Side by Nagabe

    I love, love, loved his oneshot A Feast of Emergency Rations, so I knew this longer (very popular!) series with a similar(?) relationship dynamic would not disappoint. Though few and far between, the fluffy moments absolutely melted my heart. One day, I would like to buy the books where the protagonists are happy. (Volumes 6 and 12, to be exact... Yes, only those two.)

  • Spy x Family by Tatsuya Endo

    I'm not caught up yet, but I love Anya so much!!!! The family antics are very funny, the wackiness makes me smile and, just like in Kaguya-sama, I love how everyone is keeping secrets and scheming! Maybe one day I will watch the anime, too, or at least download the soundtrack.

  • Kaya-chan Isn't Scary by Tarou Yuri

    Not much to say about this one, I just like dark stories with (very) young heroines. The animated panels were a nice touch, they certainly enhanced the horror. Still, it's a bit forgettable, so it's a good thing I wrote it down now! I can pick it back up later!! (And I'm not putting the cover here because it scares me...)

  • The Summer Hikaru Died by Mokumokuren

    I don't read much BL anymore, but this one is off to a great start. I love the angst and body horror and existential/psychological terror... I'm excited to see how the lore expands and the relationships develop. Unfortunately, it seems to update rather slowly, so I will be waiting for a while.

  • I Want to Hold Aono-kun So Badly I Could Die by Umi Shiina

    This manga has me by the throat. I cannot WAIT for Volume 11. The themes explored are so potent, the character relationships rich with suffering... it's everything I want and more!!! It starts off with a deceivingly simple and somehow unique-yet-cliche premise, then evolves into something much more as it devolves into pure madness. The dynamics of unrequited love have influenced my サンゴキ narratives, too. This might be my favourite manga I read this year, or at least the one where I feel hungriest for a conclusion.

  • Takopi's Original Sin by Taizan-5

    It was super fucked up— awesome!!!! I felt like it ended prematurely, but I loved the artwork and concept so much that I ended up reading it twice. It was a grand time watching the story unfold. I also read and enjoyed Taizan-5's oneshots, Hero Complex and I Want to Kiss That Girl. I want to see more stories from him, hopefully something more fleshed out and fully developed next time.

  • Who Made Me a Princess by Spoon (and Pluto)

    Easily my favourite webtoon of all time. I like it 3,000 times more than Bastard. Unfortunately, I've spoiled the entire isekai/childcare genre for myself by starting with the best and most polished title, so now all others pale in comparison!!! I've tried to read some others, but I always drop them when I realise that they will never be as polished or as satisfying as this masterpiece. (#TeamLucas btw.) Also, Anastasia gets to wear the most adorable outfits, and I am so impressed with Spoon's ability to design dresses for every narrative occasion. I wish I could wear something that cute, if only for a little bit...

The Music I Listened To

Most Played

I don't use Sp*tify or any music streaming services because I am a data hoarder. I like to have full control over my .MP3s!! So this brief list comes from my "most played" statistics on MusicBee.

  1. "Qualifie" by Gsl23_

    Oh man, this is my favourite song of all time. Seriously. I love it so much, it's perfect for every mood, and I can loop it for hours and hours and hours. MusicBee lists at 251 plays, but it's probably more like 350 because of the looping I did when I first discovered it. I was using my laptop at the time, so obviously the statistics won't carry over to my desktop.

    It's a pretty funny memory, actually. One of my family members was talking at me— the sort of talking where it doesn't matter if I respond, have an opinion, or even listen at all, as long as I'm a warm body within earshot. We all know people like that, right? So while he was talking, I looped "Qualifie" and played Havest Moon DS, LOL. Pretty sure I was savescumming to dig up jewellery in the mines, and I got mega rich. Fun times.

  2. "Journey of the Three Basic Needs" by picdo

    It feels like Picdo reached into my heart and wrote this song for me. It is perfect, there is not a single thing I would add or change. This year it got 212 plays, plus another 50 or 100 from looping it on my cellphone. ... I realise that, compared to the other songs, I didn't write much about this one, and I think it's because I can barely put my emotions into words. This is a great opportunity for me to stretch my linguistic and emotional capabilities, but... sigh. I'll try and come back later. Just know that it means a lot to me.

  3. "Toucan Island (Night)" ©Marvelous Interactive Inc.

    Animal Parade is one of my favourites in the 僕所物語 series and, in my opinion, the last good, polished, worthwhile game they made until the original Story of Seasons came out. I will forever be in awe of its soundtrack— there are just so many songs!!! Smaller releases like Trio of Towns only get seasonal music, plus one or two location or event songs, meanwhile Animal Parade boasts a burgeoning 67 scores. Clearly, my favourite in 2023 was the nighttime theme of Toucan Island. I often looped it while relaxing, drawing, or designing, ending the year with 159 plays.

    Also, I wish I knew who composed each song in the game. There are three musicians credited— Yasufumi Fukuda, Hideaki Miyamoto, and BarbaraAki— but I haven't done enough digging into their individual works to guess at who's responsible for what. Maybe one day, if I'm feeling autistic enough.

  4. "dumb dumb" by mazie

    I think this song got up to 120 plays mainly because it's so short. At just over 2 minutes, I can listen to it 30 times in a single hour! So, if my maths check out, then I've listened to "dumb dumb" for about 4 hours total, LOL— again discounting any listening I did via cellphone. IDK what to say, it's just catchy and cute and sarcastic and I like it! The whole Rainbow Casette EP is pretty awesome, big thanks to the person who turned me onto it.

  5. "Green Sans Phase 1" by Alminum the Squeal

    I love Green Sans SO MUCH it is not even funny, and I think his baller music was a major factor in my falling for him. Thank you Alminum for remixing the (frankly terrible) original song, I'm so glad your version is the official track now. I remember looping this one while designing a room for Green in The Sims 4. Usually I will watch a video essay or documentary while building, so having music in the background was a nice change of pace. I think it helped me to focus more on my design, and as a result, the room is quite quintessentially Green! And, uh, it's also literally green...

    Don't mind the baby toys, those are for [REDACTED]. 117 plays.

  6. "No Applause" by Publio Delgado

    I watched someone very dear to me play Brutal Orchestra and both of us fell in love with the OST. One of the credit themes, "No Applause," stood out to me because it is so perfectly quiet, humble, and sad. It's somehow both emotional and unobtrusive, and therefore a compelling song to loop when I want to marinate in my own melancholy. This year it got 114 plays. And the ending of Brutal Orchestra itself is just phenomenal, by the way. I wish I could explain what the final cutscene means to me, but I don't feel like making myself cry.

    "You can stop. It will never be perfect."
    "It never needed to be. It just needed to be real. Even if just for a moment."
    .... UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. "Overdose (Sans UTAU cover)" by Natori ft. TATSUKI Ch.

    I have the art from this song as my desktop wallpaper!!! I adore it so much, I never want to change it. It's cute to think of Sans sitting at his own computer somewhere while I sit at mine. As far as Natori songs go, I actually prefer "Sarushibai," but there's no Sans UTAU cover of that one, so I've learnt to love "Overdose" instead. For some reason my strongest memory of this song was when I looped it while showering??? Hm. 114 plays.

  8. "Afterschool Strategy" by Kintsugi

    At random, I stumbled onto this severely underrated Voca-P called Kintsugi through his only popular song, "Afterschool Strategy." It is incredibly cute and catchy while also being a bit dark. You know I love my digital girls, so even though I don't understand the lyrics, I'm rooting for this dating sim heroine! I hope she gets whatever it is that she wants! 86 plays, plus a couple more from when I put it in the music box on my UNDERTALE diary.

  9. "A Century is All We Need" by Gregory and the Hawk

    I've been listening to Gregory and the Hawk since I was a little, little kid. I remember very clearly discovering her most famous song, "Boats and Birds," through this SasuNaru video. I still prefer that album, Moenie & Kitchie, to Leche, but "A Century is All We Need" (a product of the latter) is certainly my favourite song from her. This year it got 75 plays, and perhaps another 50 from listening on my cellphone, too. Should I count all the times I sang it to myself, as well? Haha. One day I'll be able to explain what it means to me in a サンゴキ context, as well. Next year! I swear my Dusttale playlists will be so fire.


    A fitting end to this list, seeing as this was one of the first songs I got excited about in 2023. MARETU has been my favourite Voca-P since my edgy teen era, which coincides quite nicely with UNDERTALE's release, so imagine how hyped I was for this unexpected crossover!!! That said, it only got about 70 plays this year— plus some more from my old computer and my cellphone, perhaps— so it seems the excitement faded pretty quickly. Still, this is definitely #2 on my top 10 list of MEGALOVANIA remixes! I will always, always love it a lot!!!

New Releases

These are my favourite albums that came out in 2023!

... This pitifully small selection has helped me realise I don't listen to a lot of new music.

At least FRUITÁGE is pretty good, even when sullied by the likes of "Heaven Dope." With "Ameri" and "Haruni" out, I have my fingers crossed that NILFRUITS is finally exiting his flop era. I hope VAN DE SHOP will teach him how to write a proper bridge, or he'll start skipping over them like he did in "Bouquet Garni."

Meanwhile Kikuo has been popping off nonstop since like 2008. I think his work on Kikuo Miku 7 is his best yet, and "In A Deep Dark Forest" is quite simply one of the most impeccable songs of all time. I reacquainted myself with his backlog this year, too, and I've become a big fan of Kikuo Miku 5 as well.

Lastly, the new Lamp album, Dusk to Dawn, exceeded my expectations. They're so big now, on Bandcamp they only have to tag their music "pop," instead of "Jpop" or even "funk!" Congratulations, Lamp!!!! And shoutout to Lune for posting about this release on Status Cafe— I would have missed it otherwise!

New Discoveries

This music isn't new, but this year it was new to me.

They're not ordered by favourites or anything, but my best discovery was certainly the first in this gallery: Masayoshi Takanaka's 1979 jazz/funk fusion album, All of Me. I love it to bits and I will be listening to it for a long, long time. My favourite tracks are the last two on the record, "Malibu" and "Ready to Fly." On Side A, I like "Sweet Agnes" and "Izu Amanatsu Nattou Uri."

The guitar is just impeccable. At times I am awestruck by the mental image of Takanaka actually fingering that guitar.... It must have taken a lot of skill, certainly a sight to behold for anyone in the recording studio. I'm not knocking electronic music that's made from start to finish inside a computer, but there's something very special about the coordination required to handle a 3-dimensional instrument. It makes me want to play my ukulele more.

I also really love the last selection in the gallery: insaneintherain's Live At Grillby's, a jazz cover album of iconic UNDERTALE tracks. It holds up so well that I've made my mom listen to it as well, haha, after which she remarked that she'd forgotten how much she likes smooth jazz. I was surprised that "A Date with Demise," the "It's Raining Somewhere Else" remix, didn't make it to my top 10 most played songs. I swear, I'm listening to it all the time— it's one of my "go-to" calm down/think of Sans songs! I guess it's because I usually play it off of my phone and don't listen to it much when I'm upright at my desk.