Three weeks left in the year, but don’t be fooled: December has its own peculiar velocity. Weeks seem to pass more quickly as the month goes on, a downhill sled picking up speed. Depending on your orientation to the holidays, the end of 2023 or time’s passage in general, this could feel exciting or it could be bewildering. Here we go, ready or not! Into the small hours of the year, into the dawn of another one.
One way to keep track of time is to keep track of how you spend it. What did you watch or read or cook or listen to or otherwise consume this year? This is one of the virtues of best-of lists. They’re a way to organize a year, and a generally positive one at that. You look back over 12 months and ask: “What did I love this year? What do I recommend?”
I’ve already loaded my queues and playlists with picks from The Times critics’ year-end lists: the best movies, theater, comedy, albums. As much as I love these genre-specific lists, what I always long for are highly specific, culturally omnivorous inventories of personal favorites.
I want a list that includes everything, regardless of genre: yes, the best thing you watched, but also the best thing you ate, the best advice you received, the best app you discovered, the best line you encountered in a movie, the best book you read that’s been sitting on your shelf for more than a decade, the best change you made to your evening routine.
Last year, readers of The Morning sent in their own highly personal, category-free favorites, and the result was a rich trove of recommendations that I’ve been plumbing for the past almost-12 months. I hope you’ll indulge me again and share your personal recommendations from 2023. You can submit them here, and I’ll include a bunch in an upcoming newsletter.
The cultural critic Fran Hoepfner requisitioned just such far-ranging lists from her friends and published them in her newsletter, Fran Magazine. One friend’s list includes a corn chowder recipe, a book about memory and Joseph Cornell’s boxes. Delightful.
The best advice readers of The Morning received last year.
All of The Times’s best of 2023 lists.
Many more year-end lists from around the internet.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
The U.S. blocked a U.N. resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, arguing that it would allow Hamas to regroup. The vote was 13 to 1, with Britain abstaining.
The Texas Supreme Court temporarily halted a judge’s ruling allowing an abortion for a Dallas woman whose fetus has a fatal condition.
An appeals court upheld but narrowed the gag order on Donald Trump in his Jan. 6 criminal case, letting Trump criticize Jack Smith, the federal prosecutor who brought the case.
The F.D.A. approved two treatments for sickle cell disease, including the first therapy approved for humans that uses the gene editing tool CRISPR.
The U.S. labor market is slowing but remains robust, adding 199,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent.
The E.U. reached a deal on a new law that would set limits on artificial intelligence technology, one of the world’s first comprehensive attempts to regulate it.
Tears, a boardroom brawl and shouts of a “coup”: Behind the scenes of Sam Altman’s ouster from, and return to, OpenAI.
🎥 “Wonka” (Friday): Craving some lightly adulterated imagination? This film from Paul King (the auteur behind the marmalade-sweet “Paddington” films) offers a “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” prequel, imagining the early life of Willy Wonka, the culinary genius with a peculiar succession strategy. Hollywood’s boy prince Timothée Chalamet stars as the erratic chocolatier, with Hugh Grant as a grouchy and extremely orange Oompa Loompa.
📺 “The Crown” (Thursday): Since it debuted on Netflix in 2016, “The Crown,” Peter Morgan’s lightly fictionalized survey of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, has courted adoration and controversy. Luxurious, measured and mildly provocative, it has invited many of England’s finest actors to pass the roles among them, like batons in an opulent relay race. These final episodes, the latter half of the show’s sixth season, nudge the monarchy toward the present, with story lines including Prince William’s courtship of Kate Middleton. God save.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Chicken Thighs With Sweet Potatoes and Dates
Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah and need a main course, or are just on the lookout for a delightful dinner, my braised chicken thighs with sweet potatoes and dates are just the thing. Based on tsimmes, the Ashkenazi dish of root vegetables sweetened with dried fruit, I added chicken, leeks and orange juice to turn what is usually a side dish into a festive and colorful one-pot meal. And, conveniently, you can make it a day or so in advance, then reheat it just before serving. Mound it on top of a bed of polenta, or spoon some next to latkes or some crusty bread: You’ll want something absorbent to catch all the lovely, fragrant sauce.
36 hours in: Vienna, the Austrian capital, beckons as a wintry escape that nonetheless clings to tradition.
Skim milk: Are low-fat dairy products really healthier?
Growing old: Genes that boost fertility can also shorten our life.
Enter Sandman: Sharing a bed with a restless sleeper doesn’t have to be torture, experts say.
ADVICE FROM WIRECUTTER
Gifts that will last forever
The best gifts delight in the moment, sure, but they prove their real worth in the days, months and years ahead. As Wirecutter’s gifts editor, I’m both professionally and personally opposed to buying junk. You won’t find a gag gift or a one-and-done trinket in any of Wirecutter’s gift guides. What you will find, however, are gifts that just might last forever. I’ve gifted a majestic stovetop popcorn popper to all my nearest and dearest. I enjoy my spoils from a Vermont-hewn hardwood bowl that also makes an everlasting gift. And I’ll never tire of giving socks, but only when they’re the very best hiking socks money can buy. You can find all of those and more in our guide to gifts that will last forever. — Hannah Morrill
Need gifting help? Text Wirecutter’s experts. Using one word only, describe your recipient (try “Dad” or “Kid”) to (646) 350-0385 and receive a handpicked recommendation.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers, N.B.A.: This is the championship game of the N.B.A.’s In-Season Tournament, a new midyear competition akin to those in European soccer. The matchup is a great one: The Pacers are a young, fast team with an emerging superstar in Tyrese Haliburton. The Lakers are led by LeBron James, who at age 38 is still — when he musters the energy — the best basketball player on earth. James is certainly going to bring the energy tonight, with a trophy — and a $500,000 prize — on the line. 8:30 p.m. Eastern on ABC