The Season of the Lists

Season of ListsOne of the seasonal amusements of December and January is browsing the annual profusion of lists. If you’re wondering which books you should have read in 2016 or which movies you should be watching for in 2017, you can find list upon list.

We can look back on the stars and heroes that we lost, and peruse best-of music, television shows, golf courses, and travel destinations. There are lists of the year’s most memorable moments in sports, and even the year’s most underwhelming video games. We can find fashion predictions for the coming season, lists of the hottest kitchen remodels, and the names of the year’s top 200 art collectors. Pundits gather their candidates for the year’s best art and architecture, and we can whet our palate with a list of “Every Single Food Trend That’s Been Predicted for 2017.” Whatever we crave, there’s a best-of list out there somewhere.

One of the lists that interested me this fall was “100 Objects that Shaped Public Health.” Compiled by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the list includes objects and discoveries that have improved the state of our health. The information is quite surprising. For example, who knew that over the last 50 years in the U.S., air conditioners have reduced the chance of dying on an extremely hot day by 75 percent? Or that our desk chairs may be affecting our health? Or that the blood of horseshoe crabs is vital for testing drugs and medical equipment? Fascinating reading!

What’s the list you can’t live without?