While I love blogging and creating content, I don’t know if anything is more entertaining than consuming good content. Whether nonfiction or fiction, narrative or journalistic, I love a story that is well written, well edited, well produced. This year, I seemed to take in many more podcasts than normal and less books. But that probably has something to do with the all consuming focus of having a new baby. But regardless of whether it was long novel or short podcast series, there was some wonderful entertainment released this year that made me laugh, cry, burn with rage, and even learn something.
- Watch: Crazy Rich Asians
This book was sooooo good! I was thrilled to hear that it was being made into a movie, and it went beyond my imagination! A simple love story thwarted by family loyalties and bank accounts set against ultra glamorous Singapore. What’s not to love?! The all Asian primary cast is fabulous. The movie truly captures the wit and joy of the book. If you didn’t want to visit Singapore before this film, you just may afterwards!
- Read: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
I’m an ambivalent John Green fan. I’ve read a few books and seen a few movie adaptations. I want to love his books, but I usually don’t. It’s something about how he writes dialogue for teenagers. But I wanted a lighter read earlier this year and picked this new book of his from the library. And I was pleasantly surprised! I really liked how John Green wrote about mental health through this story. The main character was extremely engaging, and the overall narrative was fascinating. I still found cause for complaint with John Green’s teenage dialogue, but not nearly as much in other books I’ve read. Turtles All the Way Down is compassionate, interesting, insightful and thoughtful. Read this one if you haven’t tried John Green yet!
- Listen: In the Dark Podcast
If you only listen to one podcast from 2018, let it be this one. I thought season one of In the Dark was a standout series, but season two far surpassed by hopes and dreams for an investigative podcast. The journalist from APM reporting took on the case of Curtis Flowers, a black man from Mississippi who has been tried for murder in six different trials. The podcast looks in depth at the crime that Curtis is accused of committing, the strategy the white prosecutor has been using to seek a conviction, and the many questions still lingering after the decades since this crime. Madeline Baran and team are relentless in their quest to understand what is happening to Curtis Flowers through the legal system in Mississippi. It’s infuriating and gut wrenching, and so very important.
- Read: The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah
Kristen Hannah is one of those great authors that I will read just because her name is on the cover. I adored her book The Nightingale about female spies and fighter pilots in World War 2 a few years ago. So when I saw she released a new book this year, I immediately joined the library wait list. The Great Alone is nothing like The Nightingale, except for Kristen Hannah’s incredible writing. The Great Alone tells the story of a family who relocates to Alaska when dad comes home from Vietnam a little worse than when he left. The characters are rich and vibrant, and the wildness of Alaska is as much of a character as any person in the story. If you loved Into the Wild, this book is a must read. Also, it does not make me want live in the snow anytime soon!
- Watch: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
It had me at Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of my beloved Gilmore Girls. I knew when season one of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel dropped on Amazon Prime, I would be watching. But I didn’t expect my husband to be watching right alongside of me. And laughing all the way through. Set in New York City in the 1950’s, Midge Maisel has the stereotypical perfect life…handsome husband, great apartment, two beautiful children, and a social life. And then she doesn’t. But then she finds out she has quite the gift for stand-up comedy. And suddenly her life looks quite different than it did before. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is smart, funny and full of heart. Now that season two has just released, I know how we will be spending our New Years holiday!
- Listen: Believed Podcast
I wasn’t sure about this one. Who willingly listens to a podcast season about the sexual assault of women and children? But something about the Larry Nassar story and the way the Believed podcast was written and told kept drawing me back each week. The details are horrifying, but was even more shocking was how this man evaded capture until now. How many victims kept returning to this man because they didn’t want to believe what was happening? How many parents couldn’t understand what their child was telling them that this doctor was doing? And how many police officers and medical professionals wanted to believe Larry’s story about this “medical procedure”? This is such an important story to be told and heard, no matter how difficult. Hopefully, this podcast could be used as a tool to shed light on other offenders.
- Read: Neverworld Wake by Marisha Plessl
I absolutely love Marisha Plessl’s books. They are suspenseful and sometimes creepy, weird, thought provoking and above all, they are books you can not put down. This year, Marisha Plessl released Neverworld Wake, her first book in the Young Adult genre [another guilty pleasure of mine]. I had high hopes, and Neverworld Wake did not disappoint. The only complaint I had was that I finished it too fast! It’s book that wrestles with secrets & lies, life & death, but also what it means to truly live. There’s little to say about the plot without giving away spoilers, so just read it for yourself! I can’t wait to see what Marisha Plessl releases next because I am there.
- Listen: Bear Brook Podcast
This was such an interesting case. I’m a sucker for unsolved crimes, and this one just hit the sweet spot. In the 1980’s in a New Hampshire’s Bear Brook State Park, a large barrels was discovered to contain human remains. Then a few decades later, another was uncovered. 4 victims with no identity. Who were these people? And who did this to them? Twists and turns like you wouldn’t believe and genetic scientific breakthroughs really made this a case to follow. I was hooked on every episode of Bear Brook and I can’t wait for more updates to come!
- Watch: Killing Eve
I hadn’t heard too much about this show, but a true crime podcast I follow recommended it, so I watched the trailer, and immediately binged the entire season. This show has it all…assassins, femme fatale, espionage, murder, romance, revenge, intrigue. Killing Eve is a fascinating cat and mouse hunt, as we watch the bored assassin Villanelle toy with MI-5 agent Eve. By the final episode, I didn’t know what outcome I was hoping for. This show is so addictive, in all the right ways.
- Listen: Mumford & Sons Delta
I love love love Mumford & Sons. Since the first time I heard Little Lion Man about 10 years ago until this year when Guiding Light from the Delta album released. Their sound is great and their lyrics have layers and layers of depth. This is such an interesting album which reminds me more of their first release. Which is probably why I love it so, it reminds of the Mumford & Sons that I fell in love with. Tracks to check out: Guiding Light, If I Say, Woman. Also worth checking out is Mumford & Sons’ collaboration with National Geographic! These epic nature videos are so stunning!
- Listen: The Dream Podcast
You know that one [or more] friend that is always selling something on Facebook? Lipstick or leggings or purses or oils…you know the friend. And they are encouraging you to join their “incredible business opportunity”? Well, maybe share the podcast The Dream with them instead. This fabulous podcast takes a critical look at multi-level marketing companies, including going “undercover” by becoming a sales rep with a MLM cosmetic company. Going back to the original laws regarding pyramid schemes and talking to people personally impacted by the claims these companies make, The Dream podcast doesn’t pull any punches. I certainly didn’t expect to find myself crying during an episode of a podcast about multi-level marketing! But this huge industry is effecting someone we all know, so I’m glad someone is talking about it.
What you have enjoyed watching, reading, or listening to this year? Share your favorites in the comments below!