Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Top Books & More of 2017

I track everything. I love to see statistics of my productivity, whether that's my workout, meals, books I've read, films I've watched, or how many minutes I've spent listening to Spotify (it's over 42,500 if you're wondering). So, naturally, as the year comes to a close I'm thinking over the content I've consumed and loved this year. So, here's my list of top books, films, TV, YouTube and Podcasts from 2017.

It would be silly to start with anything else. Now, I'm going to be honest, this year has been my worst in many for reading. At this point (18/12/17), I'm on target to read 40. That's 15-25 less than I have in recent years. In 2016 I read 66, so obviously I'm a little disappointed with this year's number, but honestly, my focus has been elsewhere.

I had a lot of "life" happening at the beginning of the year and couldn't focus on reading. After that came spring and summer, and for the first time my horses live in a place that has beautiful, safe riding, and I spent a lot of leisure time with them. I've also developed a healthy gym habit, and unfortunately, I'm too energetic to listen to audiobooks while I workout. After that, there's really not a lot of excuses, but I'm not going to punish myself. I have experienced so much personal growth this year with ups and downs, that the fact that I have read 40 as well as written and edited my own work, is honestly something to be proud of. I do intend to do better next year, though.

TOP FICTION: The Smell of Other People's Houses - Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock 
This book blew me away. It was so beautiful. It is so simple in concept and so careful in execution that I couldn't put it down. I really encourage everyone to read it.

HONOURABLE MENTION: Waking Gods - Sylvian Neuvel 
This is the second book in (what I expect is) a Sci-Fi trilogy, centred around the concept of what influence and effect interaction with aliens could have on our world. I read each book in a day. I made sure with this one to find a day where I was going to be able to wear my headphones or be near a speaker for the required number of hours and settled in. It is utterly gripping, and the voice actors are great on the audiobooks. The concept feels unique, though definitely has its roots in popular culture.

TOP NON-FICTION: How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie 
I do not believe it would be an overstatement to say this book changed my life, or at least, it certainly helped.

HONOURABLE MENTION: Talking as Fast as I Can - Lauren Graham 
Listen to the audiobook--if you're a Gilmore Girls fan you'll really enjoy this quick read.

This might not be to everyone's taste, but it does what it sets out to do so well and Sailor Moon herself is one of the only fourteen-year-old girls I've ever read who feels real.

No need to explain this one. The volumes themselves are beautiful, and I love the depth of the story and world-building.

I've watched a total of 18 films this year so far. I have no data to compare that to since this is my first year using Letterboxd. 6 of these were new releases. My top film was a hard pick, and I'll explain why: it would be, hands-down, Baby Driver. I LOVED that film. It had absolutely everything I like in a film. It was sexy, fast-paced, violent, romantic, and all focused around music. But then Kevin Spacey turned out to be a piece of-- sexual predator and ruined the film for me. I haven't bought it or rewatched it, and I'm not sure when or if I will.

TOP FILM: Spider-Man: Homecoming
This was such good fun, so well executed, and it is great to see Spider-Man portrayed the way he should be.

She's been my phone background from before the film released until about four days ago when Oscar Isaac usurped her. I didn't think the film was flawless, but it was glorious.

I'll be honest: I don't watch a lot of TV. We only have Netflix and Amazon, and if I'm home alone I've usually got YouTube on instead. I've watched a lot of my staple shows this year (Archer, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Office) as well as some new releases, so...

Glow is a Netflix original starring Alison Brie about women's wrestling in the 80s. It is super 80s. It has an amazing soundtrack. It also has a full cast of kickass women and explores stereotypes, sexism, and relationships among other things. It's great. You should watch it.

Also a Netflix original show--created by Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg. It's definitely for grown-ups, and as a sucker for adult animated shows, this one hit the spot. I love the way it portrays puberty and all the trials that come with it with real puberty-monsters.

I might spend too much time on YouTube. I love the variety of content, I love that I can learn or be entertained, watch something that's taken weeks of research or the weirdest shit you've ever seen. So, instead of doing a top YT video or channel, I'll highlight this years' favourite channels. I encourage you to go and watch a video by some of these guys if they're unfamiliar.

The Carpetbagger
I'm not sure when I first subscribed to Jacob, but his videos have been a staple of my week this year. He travels around the south (US) stopping at roadside attractions and other tourist traps and historical sites and vlogs them. If I ever have the time and the money, travelling around the US exploring all these weird folk-art places is something I'd love to do, but until then I'll live vicariously through his videos. He's currently the only content creator I patronize on Patreon, though I have a list of other creators I'd like to support in the future.

Jordan the Lion
A super recent find. Jordan makes a similar style of video to The Carpetbagger. He lives in LA and daily vlogs historical sites. You need to watch to fully appreciate.

Kristen Martin
An indie author who vlogs, is more type A than me, and someone I could be best friends with. She vlogs her days, gives indie publishing advice and writing craft. All of her content is valuable and if you're looking for a writer to give you the motivation to get on with your work, even around a full-time job, she's your gal.

Taylor R
Vlogger and model who has been living in Tokyo for the past three years but recently moved back to Hong Kong. She's Canadian. She's a fun goofball who loves making herself the butt of the joke.

King of DIY
This will be of no interest to 99% of you, but Joey is a very popular aquarium-guy. He's very energetic, excited, and has spent most of 2017 building an aquarium gallery. He's super accessible to those who don't know anything about fish keeping. He's also very Canadian so I just said aboot in my head.

Rachel O'leary
She's an extremely knowledgeable aquarist. If you are serious about your freshwater/tropical hobby I strongly recommend.

Aquarium Coop
My mum says their fish unboxings should be prescribed by the NHS as a relaxation and anti-anxiety method. They create a LOT of content, so there's nearly always something to be watching.

Meg Squats
Meg is the only female fitness YouTuber I can stick with. Her mission is to get barbells in the hands of women, and I think she'd be proud to know how often I have one in mine.

Okay, so this is new and honestly, it is just here because of Buzzfeed Unsolved. Goddamn, I love that show.

I have spent hours and hours and hours and hours listening to podcasts this year. I use them for entertainment, for companionship when I'm at my current day-job alone and bored, and for learning. There is so much you can learn from podcasts, if you aren't utilizing them you really must. Here are my favourites from this year:

Expanded Perspectives
I have literally binged every free episode of theirs this year. That's three years of weekly hour-long episodes. You do the math. It's a paranormal podcast.

Monsters Among Us
Also on the paranormal, this is a podcast where callers tell their stories and the host, Derek Hayes, talks over phenomenon and usually tries to give a rational explanation for what people have seen, without belittling them.

Bizarre States
A Nerdist podcast hosted by Jessica Chobot and Andrew Bowser. I've been a fan of Jess since she hosted the Daily Fix on IGN and totally have a girl-crush on her. I could listen to Bowser and his stories all day long.

Page 7
I think to really get the most out of this podcast you already need to be a listener of the Last Podcast Network, but if you like celebrity gossip and fangirling you may enjoy this. I usually have very little interest in this topic but I love geeking out with these guys.

Pub(lishing) Crawl
If you're a writer and you've yet to find this GO, GO NOW! (Probably not relevant for those only considering indie publishing but there are gems in there for everyone.)

That Smart Hustle
Kristen Martin's podcast. As I said in my YouTube pick we're very similar so the fact that I devoured all the episodes in a few days shouldn't surprise anyone.

The Trail Went Cold
A true crime podcast I absolutely love.

Work On Your Game
If you play sports, are in a high-pressure industry or just enjoy motivation, give this one a try. I don't think it will hit everyone's sweet spot but I definitely find a lot of value in the episodes.

Writing Excuses
If you write you should already know this podcast and are already a long time listener. If you're not, you better go find out what you're missing.

And that's it! It'll be interesting to come back and look at this list at the end of 2018 to see what I think of my picks then and if my current favourite YouTubers and Podcasts are still with me. I hope you find something new to watch/read/listen to in this list. I'd love to know your top picks, so leave a comment or send me a link!

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