Good Things of 2011 (

1. King Leopold's Ghost (1999) by Adam Hochschild. About the old Congo atrocities and the publicity campaign that ended that villainy, important for showing how evil can persist without being noticed.

2. Courageous (2011) A Christian movie about fatherhood and friendship between men--- the kind of movie I usually hate, so my recommendation means a lot. So well-crafted and true-to-life, despite huge temptation to sentimentality.

3. The Twelve Days of Christmas. See my website. Something to learn and do each day till January 6.

4. The Human Factor (2008, 350 pp.) by "Ishmael Jones". A sardonic description of incompetence in the CIA by someone who wanted to be a spy, not a civil servant.

5. Sergeant Cribb mysteries by Peter Lovesey. Good for their Victoriana--- spiritualism, bare-knuckles prizefighting, six-day walking competitions.

6. The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis. A book of sermons, including "The Weight of Glory," with his usual common sense and inimitable conversational writing.

7. The Royal Botanical Gardens, near Toronto and nearer Hamilton. Variety of style, and well-labelled. Good enough to give me some regret that Uncle Thomas has moved to Cincinnati.

8. Streamlight Stylus Pro penlight ($24.16). Recommended by former policeman David Baker (not the jazzist), this does fit in your shirt pocket.

9. True Grit (2010). I recommended the novel last year. This version is great; I haven't seen the John Wayne one.

10. Cars 2 (2011). Like Bugs Bunny, this has subtleties for adults and slapstick for kids. I hear Cars 1 isn't as good, though.

11. Pandora, the Internet radio station. They'll try to slip in modern minimalist and movie classical, though. Free with ads, but worth the $36/year without them.

12. Arkangel Shakepeare recordings (1998 onwards) of Henry VI parts 2 and 3, Richard III, and other plays. Played straight, the listening as good as seeing. For your car, in particular.

Also: Trenton Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society(not just for kids). Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, by James Hornfischer (Leyte Gulf). Schnuck's Culinaria in downtown St. Louis (a grocery store). Fitz's root beer brewpub, St. Louis. The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts. Jon R. Friedman's portrait of Bill and Melinda Gates. Mathematica for diagrams.

Lists of good things from other years are at