Fun, Learning, and Gratitude in 2018
As I have done for each of the past few years, here are the many ways I enjoyed the experiences of my year: places I visited, what I listened to, what I read, what I watched, and more.
I love reading and I love learning. I read quite a bit every day, starting with the news. Over the last few years, I have read fewer books than in the past for two reasons. First, after many years not watching almost any TV at all, I began to enjoy certain shows on HBO, Showtime, FX, and Netflix. (More on this in the “Viewing” section, below.) Second, since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, I have read more news, and listened to more podcasts.
The best books I read this year related to my attempt to understand what is happening in the U.S. and its historical causes. The two best, White Rage, which came out last year & One Person, No Vote, which came out this year, were written by the same author, Carol Anderson.
Another book I greatly enjoyed was Bad Blood, a super-fast read about the Theranos scandal.
For a lighter view of the news, my favorite TV moments this year came from Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, along with the opening segments from Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show, Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Marcie and I enjoyed the second seasons of The Crown & Ozark on Netflix. I loved watching season four of Black Mirror on Netflix. I continued to enjoy old favorites I watch with Marcie: Homeland, The Americans (in what was its final season), and Modern Family.
Hannah Gadsby: Nanette was one of the most impactful things I watched. It’s on Netflix and it’s just over an hour. It starts out funny and then it becomes extremely serious and powerful.
Further to what I said in the “Reading” section, above, 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 some 2017 movies I caught up on (either on cable TV or an airplane in a couple of instances): Get Out, Battle of the Sexes, the Disaster Artist, the Florida Project, I, Tonya; and from 2018: Bohemian Rhapsody, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, and Blackkklansman.
Listening (to Music)
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, Look Now from Elvis Costello & the Imposters, is, in my opinion, the best album from Elvis Costello in many years. (And I have all of his dozens of albums.)
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.
The two most memorable shows I saw this year were Spoon and Beck. Beck was in a large venue and I wasn’t planning to go, despite Beck being among my handful of favorite artists; but I received a special offer for $25 tickets and the music and stage projections were phenomenal.
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.
I continue to listen weekly to the wonderful This American Life. Fresh Air is a daily podcast, which makes it hard to keep up with, but because of its wide range of topics, not all of which are of interest to me, I skip some episodes. The TED Radio Hour is a weekly podcast where they weave together excerpts from several “TED Talks” on a particular theme. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will have frequently seen me quote things I have heard on the TED Radio Hour. It’s an easy and enjoyable way to digest a ton of great learning. Revisionist History, by one of my favorite writers, Malcolm Gladwell, is very interesting.
Podcasts are another way I have kept up with what has been happening in the U.S. since the 2016 election. The ones I listen to regularly include Trumpcast, Political Gabfest, Intercepted, Pod Save America, The Gist, The Ezra Klein Show, and The Daily from the New York Times.
I loved listening to season two of In the Dark, about the case of Curtis Flowers, who has been tried six times for the same crime. For 21 years, Flowers has maintained his innocence. He’s won appeal after appeal, but every time, the prosecutor tries the case again. Thanks to this podcast, one element of the case is going to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this session. That is an amazing accomplishment.
I’ve always enjoyed making lists. Going back as long as I can remember, I could tell you 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 France and Spain, Portugal, Denver, 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…
Happy New Year and warm regards,