Happy New Year!

As I have done for quite a few years, here are some of the many experiences I enjoyed this past year: places I visited, what I listened to, what I read, what I watched, and more.

Reading

For the last several years I had read fewer and fewer books, instead watching more TV shows, reading more news, and listening to more podcasts.

In October, I wrote about cutting back on alerts and news, and being more selective about my podcast listening. As a result, I have read many books in the past year.

I read three wonderful novels: The Handmaid’s Tale, its sequel, The Testaments, and The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead, whose last book, The Underground Railroad, I also loved.

The quickest read of the year, clocking in at a little over an hour, is The Captain and the Glory, by a favorite author of mine, Dave Eggers. This fable will be very familiar to anyone who has followed the goings-on in this country since 2016.

The rest of the best books I read this past year are non-fiction: Educated by Tara Westover, A Mind Unraveled by Kurt Eichenwald, Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson, The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright, Becoming by Michele Obama, Black Boy by Richard Wright, Red Notice by Bill Browder, and two books by Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist.

I also regularly read a few newsletters. My favorite is “Mike’s Top 10,” each morning, from Axios.

Viewing

For a lighter view of the news, I watch Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and Weekend Update (on Saturday Night Live).

Marcie and I watched much less TV this year. We enjoyed the third seasons of The Crown and Stranger Things on Netflix, and the mini-series The Loudest Voice on Showtime. We are looking forward to the next seasons of Homeland and Ozark in 2020 (and I eagerly await the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm). We have been watching the final season of Modern Family. It’s not as great as it once was, but it’s still funny.

It continues to amaze me that not too long ago I watched no TV other than some sports. Now, TV delivers lots of high-quality entertainment, while quality, full-length movies are a rarity.

The best full-length movies I saw this year included Eighth Grade (a 2018 movie I saw on a plane), and in movie theaters The Irishman (now on Netflix), Little Women, and Rocket Man.

Listening (to Music)

I listen to music very frequently. I love my old favorites and I love discovering new music. I also going to concerts.

My favorite new albums: In the Morse Code of Brake Lights (the New Pornographers), Better Oblivion Community Center‘s self-titled album, Norman ****ing Rockwell (Lana Del Rey), Jaime (Brittany Howard), Hot Motion (Temples), and When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (Billie Eilish).

I went to fewer concerts than usual this year. The best ones, as was the case in each of the past few years, were at small venues where I didn’t pay a huge price, and stood right near the stage. 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 another golden age of popular music.

Listening (to Podcasts)

Podcasts first became part of my life during 2015. My love for them has grown each year since. I learn more from podcasts than almost anything I do. (The links I have included are for the Apple podcast app. I imagine you can find any of these wherever you listen to podcasts.)

I recently started listening to Newsworthy, a 10-minute daily podcast about the news of the day. I listen weekly to the wonderful This American Life. Fresh Air is a daily podcast with a wide range of interviews. I listen to most of them. Revisionist History, by one of my favorite writers, Malcolm Gladwell, is always interesting. Gladwell is also involved with a super podcast about music, Broken Record. I also love the music podcast Hit Parade.

Podcasts are another way I have kept up with what has been happening in the U.S. since the 2016 election including these daily podcasts: The Gist and The Daily (from the New York Times); and these weekly ones: The Ezra Klein Show, Why is This Happening? With Chris Hayes, and Intercepted.

List-Making

I’ve always enjoyed making lists. Going back as long as I can remember, I have always been able to list my favorite 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 this exercise 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 with, or to visit, family and friends in Switzerland, France, Florida, Monterey (CA), Austin, Portland (OR), Philadelphia, and Detroit—and the tons of time spent with family and friends locally.

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…

My best regards for a wonderful 2020,

David

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