As I have done for each of the past two years, here are the many ways I enjoyed music, movies, places I visited, books I read, and what I watched on TV this past year.
I love reading and I love learning. I read quite a bit every day, starting with the newspaper.
The list of books I read this year was dominated by The Best American Sports Writing series. Each year, a group of that past year’s best articles are assembled and published as a collection. I am a huge sports fan and enjoyed reading many years’ worth of amazing articles about sports I closely follow (such as football and baseball), others I follow less closely (like hockey), and many I do not follow at all (such as fishing and bull riding.) The Best American Series has many other collections: in addition to sports there are series focusing on Science, Short Stories, Non-Required Reading, Essays, and more.
I enjoyed a couple of books about Theodore Roosevelt—Colonel Roosevelt was the third part of a trilogy and the Bully Pulpit was written by Doris Kearns Goodwin, who also wrote one of my all-time favorite books, No Ordinary Time, as well as the excellent Team of Rivals, the inspiration for the Lincoln movie (starring Daniel Day Lewis.)
I read one of the year’s most popular pieces of fiction, the Goldfinch. It was a bit long, but I liked it a lot. I also loved 1Q84 by Murakami.
My favorite blogs continue to be Joshua Becker’s Becoming Minimalist and Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits. I am pleased with and proud of my blogging, but I am awed by the quantity of quality work done by those two amazing, inspiring bloggers.
My favorite new series were Fargo and Ray Donovan (which I caught up on during its second season). I also enjoyed old favorites Portlandia, The Americans, Modern Family, and Homeland. It’s amazing to me that not too long ago I watched no TV other than some football games and on occasion other sports. The quality of long-form TV is incredible, and at the same time quality, full-length movies are few and far between.
I watched an eight-part series of one-hour shows called Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways. I’m not a big fan of the band Foo Fighters, but I loved the series in which the band and its leader, Dave Grohl, traveled to Chicago, DC, Nashville, Austin, LA, New Orleans, Seattle, and NY and shared each city’s music history.
I listen to music all the time. I love my old favorites and I love discovering new music. In addition to enjoying new albums by favorites Broken Bells, Beck, and The New Pornographers, and getting more into some of Jack White’s past creations (with his bands the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather), I enjoyed a new band called Temples, newish artist Courtney Barnett, and I got very into Rufus Wainwright.
I went to a dozen or so concerts this year. The best were the ones at small venues where I didn’t pay a huge price, and stood right near the stage, including Broken Bells, Silversun Pickups, Death Cab for Cutie, The New Pornographers, Santana, and Buddy Guy. There are more small venues than ever and, with the internet allowing new music to reach the public faster and in an easier way than before, we are in a golden age of live music. I love it.
Marcie and I used to go to tons of movies. Once we became parents, we were no longer big moviegoers, and that didn’t change even after the kids got older. When we do go, we try to go to ones we are sure to love.
I wish there were more great movies. Being in the New York area gives me better access than otherwise, but still, there is a dearth of quality choices.
Boyhood is the movie that stands out for me this year. It was filmed over a 12-year period and the main characters are the same actors throughout the 12 years (rather than three different actors portraying a boy at five, 11, and then 17.) I didn’t think it was an amazing story, but it was a unique concept, very interesting, and had the added bonus for me of largely tracking with the same years I was raising my kids. I also enjoyed Gone Girl, Wild, and Whiplash.
I’ve always enjoyed making lists. Going back as long as I can remember, at any given time I could tell you my favorite all-time movies, books, and music (and within music, my favorite artists, albums, songs, and concerts).
Until I started posting these annual reviews here, I never connected it with the happiness lists I make. I’ve recommended several times on this blog, and in my Saturday Facebook post, making lists of what you are grateful for, what made you smile, and your accomplishments. The lists in today’s post—what I read, watched, and listened to this year—all fit somewhere in the weekly happiness lists. Looking back at all I’ve learned, experienced, and enjoyed from books, blogs, TV shows, and music, gives me a sense of accomplishment, a sense of gratitude, and makes me smile.
And best of all were the trips we made to visit family and friends in Portland (Maine), Portland (Oregon), and Kansas City, the experience of getting to know the challenged, but coming-back city of Detroit, where my son now lives, the tons of time with family and friends locally, the visits to our kids at their colleges, work-related experiences, book- and blog-related experiences, and so much more. As I do every year, I realize, as I write these words, what an amazing year it’s been.
Tell me about your year. What did you read, watch, learn, enjoy? Please join the conversation with your comments…
Happy New Year and best regards,