Journalists tend to make lists in this season: The best, biggest, worst of the year.
Swept up in that spirit, I offer one here, straying from my usual journalistic topics.
Here are my favorite literary, entertainment or cultural experiences of 2010. Some are as tiny as a phrase in a magazine article; some as spectacular as a $504 million piece of architecture.
I offer the list -- deeply quirky as it is -- hoping that some readers may use it as a tip sheet.
1.) Adam Gopnik's "Postscript" in the Feb. 8 New Yorker magazine following the death of author J.D. Salinger. As a Salinger devotee and a Gopnik fan, I gobbled up the piece eagerly, then came back to savor it, and now have read it repeatedly with something approaching awe. Amid the gush of Salinger coverage, Gopnik's appreciation shone like the brightest star in a darkened sky. As I try to find a brief sample of it to quote here, I'm tempted to simply retype the whole thing and call it a day. But the phrase I've remembered for nearly a year involves the five words at the end of this sentence: "The isolation of [Salinger's] later decades should not be allowed to obscure his essential gift for joy."
2.) Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy's "Rain Shadows" -- a video at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery that, in near silence, speaks volumes about the ephemeral nature of life. The piece, part of the Beyond/In WNY show, couldn't be simpler: A man lies on the ground as a steady rain comes; eventually, he gets up and moves away. The dry pavement that is his "rain shadow" slowly disappears. You watch the video, transfixed, and go away transformed. What more can we ask of art?
3.) The trance-inducing opening song, "Bullet and a Target," of Citizen Cope's sunset concert at Erie Canal Harbor in late July. Mesmerizing, strange and utterly original, Cope is a singer-songwriter from the District of Columbia whom the Washington Post called "the city's most soulful export since Marvin Gaye." Another singer-songwriter, Joni Mitchell, once quipped that pop songs ought to be seen as the artistic jewels they are -- "Nobody ever said to Van Gogh, 'Paint "Starry Night" again, man' " -- and this obscure but wonderful pop-music moment proves her point. (Cope's "The Clarence Greenwood Recordings" can give a sense of its appeal.)
4.) Michael Cunningham's novel, "By Nightfall." While many book critics consider Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" the novel of the year, I was far more absorbed by Cunningham's musings on middle age, morphing relationships, mortality and the New York City art world. Cunningham won the Pulitzer Prize for his earlier novel, "The Hours," and his every sentence validates that recognition.
5.) The new "Art of the Americas" wing at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, which, in all its glassy splendor, showcases such wonders as Edward Hopper's "Room in Brooklyn" and John Singer Sargent's "Daughters of Edward Darley Boit." The collection is well-served by the open spaces of this gorgeous addition, the work of British "starchitect" Sir Norman Foster.
A few more.
*Movie: At the Toronto Film Festival, the hilarious and uplifting "Lapland Odyssey." It is, oddly enough, a Finnish road comedy.
*Celebrity meeting: Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington -- charming, smart and visionary -- before her UB appearance.
*Literary Criticism: Amy Bloom's essay, "Terrible Jane" (part of a collection, new in paperback, called "A Truth Universally Acknowledged," about Jane Austen's appeal to outstanding writers, from C.S. Lewis to Jay McInerney). Bloom is brilliant and moving on what Austen's "Persuasion" can teach about true love: "rare, unfashionable, unlikely and inimitable."
*Pop Recording: Alicia Keys' "Unthinkable." For sheer sensuality, the song of the year.
*Interactive Art: "I Wish Your Wish," by Rivane Neuenschwander of Brazil, who presents a multicolored curtain of thousands of skinny ribbons, each printed with a submitted wish, to be chosen and wound around wrists. ("You can have three," said a guard at the New Museum in Lower Manhattan, where I caught the traveling show.) You take the art with you, out into an imperfect world. When the ribbon falls off, the wish comes true. One ribbon read, "I wish that wise and humanitarian people were chosen as leaders of nations." I haven't noticed its complete fulfillment yet, but in the new year, there is always hope.