A slightly early happy and healthy New Year!
As I have done for quite a few years, here are some of the experiences I enjoyed this past year: what I listened to, what I read, what I watched, and more.
The best books I read this year:
Fiction: The latest books by two authors whose books I usually love: The Every by Dave Eggers and Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen.
Non-fiction: The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro, Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott, and The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman. This was my second time reading the Power Broker. I first read it many years ago. After a close friend raved about it, I decided to read it again. I almost never read books twice. I’m glad I did, despite it being the combined length of three or four “normal-length” books. I remembered far less of it than I expected to, and in a wonderful bit of coincidental timing, a friend got tickets for us to see a super new play in Manhattan about Robert Moses called Straight Line Crazy, the first play I went to since the start of the pandemic.
To keep up with current events, I scan three news apps and two sports apps every morning, and regularly read a few newsletters, my favorite of which are “Axios AM” and Dave Pell’s Next Draft.
The best shows I watched this year included the final seasons of two of my favorite shows, Ozark and Better Call Saul, the latest seasons of the Handmaid’s Tale, Formula 1: Drive to Survive, and Stranger Things, the five seasons I binged of Billions, the UK version I binged of The Office, season one of Severance, season one of the Bear, season one of Julia, the Dropout (the mini-series about recently-convicted Elizabeth Holmes), and many Seinfeld episodes (I started with season one, episode one, and have watched through seven-and-a-half of the nine seasons so far – most of which I first watched when they ran in the late 80s and the 90s).
We only went to one movie in a theater this year, but streamed some good ones, including: CODA, Summer of Soul, Elvis, and The Banshees of Inisherin. I also liked the quirky, Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Listening (to Music)
My favorite new albums this year (with the name of the artists in parenthesis):
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You (Big Thief), Sunshine, I’m Counting on You! (Jacklen Ro), Sometimes, Forever (Soccer Mommy), Florist (Florist), WE (Arcade Fire), 90 In November (Why Bonnie), Radiator (Sadurn), A Light for Attracting Attention (The Smile), Household Name (Momma), Art Moore (Art Moore), Physical Thrills (Silversun Pickups), Space Beyond the Solar System (Raw Poetic & Damu the Fudgemunk), PAINLESS (Nilufer Yanya), Pre Pleasure (Julia Jacklin), they only talk about the weather (Arny Margret), Warm Chris (Aldous Harding), and Anais Mitchell (Anais Mitchell).
This Spotify playlist contains my favorite 2022 songs, including some from the albums listed above. There was so much great new music this year and so I am also linking to this much longer Spotify list with more 2022 favorites of mine, many of which almost made it to the first list.
I listen to new music more than anything else. According to Spotify, my top five (most listened-to) artists included Big Thief (new album mentioned above), Anais Mitchell (new album mentioned above), Waxahatchee (whose song Tomorrow I played over and over, along with lots more by her), Kendrick Lamar, and the late David Bowie (who is my all-time favorite, and whose estate keeps releasing new and updated material, some of which are on the second list I linked to above).
Listening (to Podcasts)
The links I have included are for the Apple podcast app. I imagine you can find most of these wherever you listen to podcasts.
New to me this year is A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs. I skipped many of the earliest episodes, because the very earliest history wasn’t of great interest to me. But, starting with episode 99, I’ve listened to nearly every episode. It’s incredibly well researched and I find it extremely interesting.
Newsworthy is a 10-minute daily podcast about the news of the day. I listen weekly to This American Life. Fresh Air has a wide range of interviews, many of which I listen to. After a one-year-plus hiatus from the podcast world, an old favorite of mine is back, Mike Pesca’s almost-daily, The Gist. I also listen to most of the episodes of these music podcasts: Broken Record, Hit Parade, and All Songs Considered.
Trips with family and friends, and to visit family and friends, are my single favorite thing to do, and the thing I missed most during the worst days of the pandemic. We finally got on a plane this year, with trips to visit family and friends in Florida and Portugal (pictured). We also spent a few days with friends in Boston and Cape May. In what was the biggest and most awesome highlight of the year for my family, we spent a long weekend in Reading, Pennsylvania for the wedding of my son and now-daughter-in-law.
I’ve always enjoyed making lists. Going back as long as I can remember, I have made lists of my favorite movies, books, and music (and within music, my favorite artists, albums, songs, and concerts).
I’ve often recommended making lists to help you to “Be Happy” – lists of what you are grateful for, what makes you smile, and your accomplishments. When I started posting these annual reviews, I realized they fit with 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.
During the pandemic, thinking often about everything I am grateful for has helped me a lot.
What did you read, watch, learn, enjoy? What are you grateful about?
My best regards for happiness, peace, and health for you and your loved ones in 2023,