As I have done for each of the past three years, here are the many ways I enjoyed the experiences of my year, including places I visited, books I read, and even
what I watched on TV.
I love reading and I love learning. I read quite a bit every day, starting with the newspaper.
In the middle of the year, I read a powerful, disturbing book called Missoula by John Krakauer. As many readers do, when I find an author I like, I tend to read more of their books
—often everything they have written. I’m not sure why I didn’t read more by Krakauer after I read his excellent books, Into Thin Air and Into the Wild. After reading Missoula, which I discussed in this blog post, I went back and read the rest of Krakauer’s books.
Under the Banner of Heaven is another disturbing Krakauer book (as I write this, I realize all of his books are disturbing in some way) about religious fundamentalists. Where Men Win Glory is about Pat Tillman, the NFL player who left pro football to join the war against terror in Afghanistan. I found the book’s recap of the pre- and post-9/11 world very interesting.
Another powerful book was National Book Award winner Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I wrote about that book and many other articles I read related to the #BlackLivesMatter movement in this blog post.
The most amazing piece of fiction I read this year was Stoner, by John Williams. The book is not about a guy who smokes pot, rather about the life of a man named William Stoner. After Stoner, I read Williams’ Butcher’s Crossing, which was also great.
My favorite new series was Broad City, an offbeat and oft-crude Comedy Central show about two young women in New York City. (I caught up on this show during its second season). I also enjoyed old favorites Portlandia, The Americans, Modern Family, Ray Donovan, and Homeland. Fargo‘s second season was even better than its first.
Narcos, a Netflix original series based on the life of Colombian druglord Pablo Escobar was great, though very violent, and quite disturbing. (It also helped that it was created and written by Chris Brancato, a childhood friend of mine
—we grew up two blocks from each other and went to school together from K-12.)
It’s amazing to me that not too long ago I watched no TV other than some sports. The quality of long-form TV is incredibly impressive at the same time quality, full-length movies are rare.
I listen to music all the time. I love my old favorites and I love discovering new music. I also love live music. My favorite new album came from Courtney Barnett. Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit is her second album and I like it even better than her terrific first album. Her concert was also my favorite live show of the year.
I went to 10 or so concerts this year. The best ones, as was the case in each of the past few years, were the ones at small venues where I didn’t pay a huge price, and stood or sat right near the stage, including Citizen Cope and KT Tunstall. 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.
Growing up, and living, in the New York area, I have had the opportunity to attend many Broadway shows. I don’t go often, so I try to be very selective, only going to shows I am certain I will enjoy. I loved Beautiful, the story (and music) of Carole King. I also was wowed by The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (not a musical), based on the highly acclaimed and popular book of the same name.
This was the year when podcasts became part of my life. They had a huge impact on me. I learned more from podcasts than almost anything I did. And I only began listening to them during the last third of the year.
It all started when my son sent me a link to an episode he wanted me to listen to of This American Life. It was an extremely powerful episode and I was hooked on this amazing, weekly podcast, a radio show celebrating its 20th anniversary. Fresh Air is a daily podcast, which makes it hard to keep up with, but its wide range of topics leads me to skip episodes not of great interest to me (though that doesn’t happen often largely due to the terrific show-host / interviewer Terry Gross). The TED Radio Hour is a fantastic, weekly podcast where they weave together several “TED Talks” on a particular theme. It’s an easy and enjoyable way to digest a ton of great learning.
I’m very much looking forward to everything I’m going to learn and enjoy as a podcast listener.
I’ve always enjoyed making lists. Going back as long as I can remember, I could tell you my favorite all-time movies, books, and music (and within music, my favorite artists, albums, songs, and concerts).
I’ve often recommended on this blog, and in my Saturday Facebook post, making lists of what you are grateful for, what made you smile, and your accomplishments. Until I started posting these annual reviews, I never connected it with those happiness lists. 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 gives me a sense of accomplishment, a sense of gratitude, and makes me smile.
Best of all were the trips we made to visit family and friends in Prague (Czech Republic), Portland (Oregon), Denver, Arizona, and Detroit, the tons of time with family and friends locally, and the visits to our kids at their colleges.
I had many wonderful 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 warm regards,