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Favorites of 2020 (Movies/TV/Games)

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Yeah, it's been a weird one. I only saw 22 movies that were released in 2020. I went to the theater six times and two of those were for re-releases in IMAX (The Dark Knight and Inception if you must know). So doing a top ten films post didn't feel right. I did watch a lot more TV, and played a couple of great games. So here are my favorite films, TV shows, and games that I enjoyed in 2020.

But first, some table setting and whatnot.

Movies I was most devastated were not released in 2020 (for whatever reason):

  • Dune - this is the most devastating of them all.
  • Top Gun: Maverick - Tom Cruise in real fighter jets. You have been so cruel, 2020.
  • No Time To Die
  • A Quiet Place II
  • Stillwater - new Tom McCarthy movie with Matt Damon. I don't even know what it's about but I needed it and did not get it.
  • Deep Water - steamy romantic thriller with Affleck and Ana De Armas. Why isn't this already out on Netflix or something?
  • Uncharted - not sure how I feel about where they are going with this, but I still wanted to see it. Not sure if they even finished production.
  • Last Night in Soho - new Edgar Wright, also not sure if it's even done.
  • The Green Knight - pretty sure this one was done. Please release it A24!

Movies I still need to watch (no good excuses for not having watched these already):

  • Da 5 Bloods - Spike Lee movie on Netflix. 
  • Mank - David Fincher movie on Netflix, seriously why haven't I watched this yet?
  • Into The Deep - this was the Danish submarine documentary that Netflix acquired but then was shelved for some reason? Not even sure if this is still being released. There is however a good looking Danish show coming on HBO on this topic that I'm still looking forward to (The Investigation).
  • Small Axe - new Steve McQueen movies (plural!) on Amazon.
  • First Cow
  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always - HBO Max 
  • Happiest Season - Hulu
  • The Vast of Night - Amazon Prime
  • Time - Amazon Prime
  • The Nest
  • Possessor
  • Black Bear
  • On The Rocks - New Sofia Coppola on Apple+
Movie that I was convinced would be amazing but was actually a massive disappointment:
The Last Thing He Wanted - Ben Affleck, Anne Hathaway, directed by Dee Rees based on a book by Joan Didion. This should have been amazing! It wasn't. Sad face.

Delightful surprises on Netflix that were all much better than they had any right to be:
EuroVision: Fire Saga - "The elves went too far!"
The Old Guard
Enola Holmes

Movie that I am really glad exists but not sure if I really liked it:
I'm Thinking of Ending Things 

Best movie with Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham dancing in a pharmacy to Paris Hilton music:
Promising Young Woman - oh my goodness that ending. 

Tenet would have been no. six on my list, but since I'm just doing a top five, here we are. I have complicated feelings about Tenet, but you gotta love Nolan's ambition and that he is always going for it.

Favorite Movies of 2020

5. The Gentlemen

I love Guy Ritchie, and I love Guy Ritchie British gangster movies, with quirky characters, gratuitous violence, and funny one-liners. Is it problematic? Yeah. But I still love it and enjoyed myself immensely each time I watched it. More of Colin Farrell and Charlie Hunnam getting to use their real accents please. 

4. The Way Back

Ben Affleck made The Town and he divorced Jennifer Garner. Proof that the world is a complicated place with no easy answers. Will I watch anything he attaches his name to? Yes, I will. 

The alcoholism plotline (i.e. most of the movie, I guess?) is a bit heavy at times, but this movie really made me feel things. This proves once again that Gavin O'Connor really has a knack for sports movies (as much as I enjoyed The Accountant), and that Ben Affleck just needs to keep on making stuff.

I hope Ben gets back to writing and directing soon.

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7

Okay, so a lot of this didn't happen. But I love Aaron Sorkin, and the fact that his period pieces aren't documentaries has never bothered me before. Is this on the level of A Few Good Men, or The Social Network, or Steve Jobs, or even Molly's Game? Not sure. Probably not.

However, I love Aaron Sorkin, and I love courtroom drama, and in spite of whatever flaws this movie has, I enjoyed the heck out of it. Would I prefer that Fincher and Sorkin just made a permanent partnership, instead of each doing their own things? Yes, I would. But I'll take what I can get (though apparently not Mank. I guess I will never watch that movie. I am a heretic and cannot be trusted).

2. Palm Springs

This is probably the movie I most enjoyed watching all year. I've rewatched it a few times and it's always fun. My friends accuse me of only liking it because of the Groundhog's Day premise (hey, just because Live, Die, Repeat aka Edge of Tomorrow aka All You Need Is Kill is a masterpiece is not my fault! Yes, I also love Russian Doll. Let me alone) but they are wrong, it's just a great movie.

Okay, I'm not sure if it's a great movie. I'm also not sure if I even know what that means. All I know is that I love it. And that I had so much fun watching it. And that I wish more movies were as pleasurable a viewing experience as this was.

The Lonely Island just doesn't miss. Hot Rod. Popstar. The defense rests, your honor.

1. Soul

Another movie that has some issues. I can't speak to it, I'm not the guy for that, and I'm sorry to say that I didn't notice it while I watched it. I have a blind spot there, so I'll have to think about that.

But I also just loved watching this movie. I felt things throughout. I cried at the end. It made me think about lots of stuff. It made me laugh. For whatever its flaws, Pixar made a movie about existential questions that I haven't seen tackled like this... ever? It's not quite Inside Out level, but they are shooting their shot, and I respect it. 

This is a movie for children. Think about that. It should not be as deep, or insightful, or thoughtful, or GOOD as it is. And as a movie, it is very good. So I think it's numero uno... because I still haven't seen Mank. 

And I hate myself every day for it!

Favorite TV I watched in 2020

TV that is still on our to-watch list: Normal People, Better Call Saul, Zero Zero Zero, Fargo Season Four, High Fidelity, Betty, Ozark.

Honorable Mentions: Brave New World, I May Destroy You, The Mandalorian, Follow the Money, Industry. 

Rewatches: The West Wing, Justified, Mr. Robot.

Started but not finished: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fringe, Arrow, Vikings, Giri/Haji, Utopia (UK version). 

I could go on about all of those shows, but let's just get to the top ten, since this is already in danger of being way too long.

10. The Good Fight

The Good Wife was basically my favorite network legal drama. It was soapy, and very episodic, but it was also just really good. Constantly entertaining, with a great set of recurring side characters. They built out their own little universe and it was a delight.

The Good Fight is even better. It does all of the stuff The Good Wife did well, but doesn't have the content or time restrictions of a network, which also seems to have freed them up to be even more topical than before. I don't know of any other show that tackles real world events as well as this one. Can't get enough of it.

9. Upload

This one was a surprise. Amazon Original. Quirky premise. Kind of a genre blending exercise. Funnier and deeper than it had any right to be. Just a pleasure to watch all the way through.

8. Warrior

Based on the writings of Bruce Lee, it follows the gang wars in 19th century Chinatown in San Francisco. Co-created by Jonathan Tropper, who was the main force behind another show called, Banshee. 

Sidebar: Warrior, Banshee, and Justified do the "stand-off" better than any other media I have ever seen or read. Each show borrows Western themes, but this trope is something that they each do to great effect. The main character is flawed, but extremely gifted in their respective combative arts, and each find themselves challenged by outside forces throughout the shows. How the writers/directors build to those moments of confrontation is so incredibly exhilarating and exciting. 

Warrior has great hand to hand action, but I also really loved the crime story it was wrapped in. It does all this, while also addressing immigration in America in a way that is eye opening and important.  

7. What We Do In The Shadows

Two words. One name. Jackie Daytona. Is this the funniest show on Television? I think so. Constantly delightful and surprising. Pretty much always funny. Couldn't get enough of it.

They are all great, but I especially love Matt Berry. Makes me want to go back and rewatch The IT Crowd.

6. The Crown

What to say about The Crown? It is gorgeous. It's compelling. Each season is solid. It's just epically great. 

One thing that stands out is how they really take care to actually craft episodes. A lot of streaming shows treat their stories like "8-hour movies", which certainly can be fun, but The Crown doesn't do that. There is of course an overarching trajectory to the story, but often its strength comes in how well the standalone episodes tell complete stories. Often they dig into specific topics, or the experience of certain characters, and take you on a whole journey. 

Just a fantastic show.

5. Devs

 I love Alex Garland. I love his books. I loved Ex Machina. I loved Annihilation. And when I heard about this show, I was excited beyond belief. It was released weekly, and we would watch the new episode almost immediately.

It was a show about big ideas. At times it almost felt like a vehicle to debate and discuss those ideas, rather than an actual story about characters. But at the same time, that work was on display as well. I was hooked episode to episode and wanted to know how things would unfold.

Visually, it might be the best thing on TV this year (a couple of shows could challenge that). 

I don't know if it stuck the landing for me. I didn't feel as thrilled about the experience as a whole once it was over, but I can't ignore how engaged I was throughout, so it's still high on the list. That is also a function of how much this just ticks my personal preference boxes all across the board.

Whatever he does, I'm there.

4. The Umbrella Academy

This show is underrated at this point, right? We liked season one. It was good. It was enjoyable. I liked the characters and I had a good time. Season two blew me away. I don't want to spoil any of it, but it really rewarded the investment from the first season. Every single character goes on an interested journey here. Similarly, the different character relationships were great, seeing how they each played off each other differently. The overarching story is fascinating and complex. I'm ready for more.

3. Schitt's Creek

What can I say about it? Just one of the most enjoyable TV viewing experiences of the year. Endlessly quotable. Consistently hilarious. Surprisingly heart warming. Sad it's over. Happy it happened.

2. Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso, you magnificent SOB! I think I'm ready to watch this show again. I need the second and third seasons to be made available immediately. Also, I need there to be 30 seasons, not just 3. 

Ted Lasso might be the most wholesome human on earth. This show is just such a delight. I loved every minute of it. It's funny. It's sincere. It's emotional. It's inspiring. Basically a roadmap to how to be an awesome person. WWTLD?

1. The Queen's Gambit

I love this book so much. I didn't even know they were making it into a show. I saw it pop up one day and just got a jolt of excitement. I didn't know if it could actually be good, but I loved the book so much I was ready to go. It's hands down the best thing I watched all year, in any medium. 

They made chess thrilling. Think about that. The writing. The directing. The costumes. The music. The acting. Just the everything! It's all so good. A perfect season of television. A perfect adaptation. I guess I need to watch Godless now? 

Favorite Games of 2020

So I've started a few games this year that I didn't finish. But these three stood out and have provided hours and hours of enjoyment and stimulation (all on the PS4).

3. Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

Basically I've played every Assassin's Creed game (except for the Paris one, and the very first one), and while only a few of them are truly great, I usually enjoy myself. I just like running around in historical locations, collecting resources, and fighting people.

Of course I had to do it as a Viking. That is my heritage. These are my people. 

I'm still playing this one, so I will have to see how the story nets out, but I'm thinking so far that I like it just as much as Odyssey, and better than Origins. The slight tweaks they made to the gameplay have all been enjoyable, and I really like the characters and story. 

It's just fun running around being a Viking. 

2. The Last of Us II

The Last of Us is my favorite game of all time. They took a risk in making a sequel, when the first game's magic really came with that ending. 

I don't want to get into spoilers and go on a rant that so many others have done so much better, so here are just a few quick thoughts:
  • The gameplay was a huge improvement, and it was fun and challenging.
  • The story choices were challenging as well, but ultimately really paid off for me. No other piece of media has put me into the shoes of different characters, and made me feel so many conflicting things, so effectively. I went on the whole journey and really experienced things with each character that opened me up in a meaningful way. This was something that only a video game could do like this.
  • The ludonarrative dissonance was stark. It's not an open world game. There are not multiple endings. You go on the ride they have created. This felt like a conflict with the lessons of the narrative itself. There were choices and acts of violence that I did not want to do as the player, and I felt like were in conflict with what I was learning as the character in the game, yet you didn't have a choice. If you don't do the thing, you can't move on. So there were three or four moments where that took me out of it, and I felt myself saying "[character x] wouldn't do this. I don't want to do this."
That last point aside, it was still a powerful experience, and transporting in a way that few other mediums are capable of. 

1. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

This game is hard. I started it and gave up because it was too hard (it was my first FromSoftware game, and there is no difficulty setting). But the game is so cool. I loved the fantastical Japanese setting. I loved the main character and his motivation. The visuals were absolutely stunning, so I knew I wanted to try again.

Second time was the charm. Once I learned how to play the game, it was one of the most satisfying game experiences I've ever had. Usually I think of games as playable movies, I enjoy the gameplay, but it's really about getting to the next big plot point or progressing the story line (The Last of Us and Uncharted games are especially like that). This might be the first game where I fell in love with the process and gameplay itself. I wanted to master it. I wanted to get better at it, and I enjoyed just playing, even though the story didn't progress in the same way as those other more "cinematic" games.

Don't get me wrong. The story in this game is also extremely good. But you get the idea.

I felt like I was a true shinobi. By the end I got to the end, I had played so much, and I had mastered it. And I was ready to start all over again because it was all so much fun (I ultimately did not play it again, because I have a young child and a wife and a job and that would be impossible, but I really wanted to).

Loved it.

My favorite game should have been Cyberpunk 2077

But it wasn't. I haven't even bothered playing yet. Will need to wait until I get the PS5 and they patch that sucker. Let this be the last thing you stole from me 2020!

So there it is! All the stuff I liked. I hope you liked stuff and here's to a great 2021.

Favorite Reads of 2020

I read lots of great stuff this year, so let's get into it! If you are interested in the full list of what I read then check out this post.

I was able to get my favorites to a list of ten (ish), but first, some random thoughts.

Two non-fiction books that felt life changing, and were extremely motivating, but over time I had a hard time implementing lasting changes:

  • Tiny Habits by B. J. Fogg - I've read a bunch of these self-help-ish books about habits, and this is by far the best, because it defies the category. It's a complete framework, based on actual original research done by the author (a researcher at Stanford), whereas most of the others just compile quotes and ideas from others.
  • How Not To Diet by Michael Greger - I've also read a bunch of "diet"/nutrition books and this is also best of breed. He has compiled so much research, and backs up virtually every assertion with solid studies on the applicable topic. He also is careful not to go past what the science actually can support, as opposed to a lot of books about nutrition that make extravagant promises and claims that really aren't supported.

Political-ish books that I really enjoyed and felt like I learned a lot from:

  • Let the People Pick the President by Jesse Wegman - digs into the history of the electoral college, the arguments the founders had at the time about it, and while it didn't make a lot of sense at the time, it certainly doesn't make sense today. I really enjoyed the format too, where he picks apart the various arguments for the electoral college in detailed responses. Very enlightening.
  • Why We're Polarized by Ezra Klein - one of my favorites. I feel like it should be required reading to help understand how we got here. Things weren't always like this, and this books does a lot to explain what happened.
  • Open Borders by Bryan Caplan - so this is actually a graphic novel of sorts. He basically breaks down all of the arguments surrounding immigration policy in a really engaging, yet thorough way. Can be read in a couple of sittings, but presents a lot of eye opening data and statistics that really made me reconsider what I thought I knew about immigration.
  • Crime in Progress by Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch - So this is about the now infamous Steele Dossier and Fusion GPS (the investigative firm initially hired by republicans during the primaries, and then later hired by the DNC once Trump won the nomination). This whole topic is frustrating because of the partisan nonsense surrounding it. It was actually refreshing to get more details from behind the scenes about what happened from the perspective of the people who actually were involved. It added a lot of nuance and perspective to the topic that felt missing from the public discourse at the time. Probably not as relevant now (don't we all just want to move on?) but if you're interested in the topic, this was a good read.
  • UnTrumping America by Dan Pfeiffer - speaking of moving on. The title speaks for itself. I'm sure you can figure out if something like this interests you or not. I enjoyed the read, for what it's worth.
  • The Entrepreneurial State by Mariana Mazzucato - this is more academic than any of the other books on this list, and shouldn't even be considered political, but unfortunately these topics are. It's about the role the government has played in investment and innovation throughout our history (as well as those in other countries), and how the narrative around innovation often leaves this part of the story untold. We have an idea in America of the bold and risk-taking innovators who get things done and create massive change through their work, but the reality is often that the government played a critical role in early stages of technological development, that then created the space for others to build and innovate further. Apple is a good example that we are all familiar with: GPS, touch screen technology, voice recognition (which led to Siri), the internet itself all came from government funded research. No government investment, no iPhone. Similarly the algorithm which helped create Google's search engine was funded by the US National Science Foundation. There are lots of examples, and the book is great. She doesn't just dig into the history, she also looks forward at the technologies and sectors that will require investment moving forward if our society and country hopes to continue to prosper.
  • Twilight of Democracy by Anne Applebaum - about the rise of authoritarianism throughout the world, with three main examples: Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The author is an award winning historian of Soviet atrocities, and her perspective on the crisis of democracy we are seeing around the world is quite stark. It's a short book, and well worth the read.

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel is the final book in her Cromwell trilogy (I've written previously about Wolf Hall and Bringing Out the Bodies), and I felt like I needed to at least touch on it. Basically, I struggled with this final book. I absolutely loved the first two, and was so excited to read this one, but it was long and it felt long. I was ultimately glad I finished the journey, but it didn't have the same energy or propulsive feeling and excitement that the first two books in the series had. I don't know if that was because of the mindset I was in, or something else, but that was my experience. I still recommend the series wholeheartedly, and I think this last book is excellent and worthwhile, but it was not an easy read for me.

A few honorable mentions released this year, that were all popular, quite enjoyable, but didn't crack my top ten:

  • Anxious People by Frederick Bachman (please read A Man Called Ove first if you haven't read that yet)
  • Midnight Library by Matt Haig - I really loved this premise. What if you could see the different branches of your different lives based on different choices? What if you could actually try and live all of those different lives to see which one suited you best? 
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke - this is a neat little book. I'm not sure what to say about it, other than that I liked it and it was surprising, and original. 
  • The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman - this felt like a cozy little mystery. Some foul play occurs near a retirement home in England, and some very enterprising members of that community set out to untangle the mystery. Delightful.

And now for the top ten:

10. Locke and Key vols. 1-6

Whatever Joe Hill is usually excellent, and this is no exception. I find that most people I know watched the Netflix series, so they have some familiarity with the story, but the series of graphic novels are truly exceptional. The way the characters and the story evolves, the way the lore is deepened, and ultimately how everything comes together at the end, made this one of my favorite reading experiences of the year. The last volume is especially breathtaking.

It's definitely grisly, with adult language and themes, but if you can handle that, then I think this is worth the journey.

9. Breath by James Nestor

You're probably breathing wrong. This book goes into the science of breathing, as well as explores many of the more mystical traditions where breathing plays a central role. Besides being fascinated by this topic, the author really committed to the journey, and experimented and tried to live many of the things he was learning about and reporting, which made it feel like I was on the journey with him. It wasn't just a dry recitation of our most recent scientific understanding, it was an adventure. 

8. Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli

Speaking of science. I listened to this one on a car trip, and it was narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch. Definitely can recommend that consumption method.

This book is about Time. It dips into our current understanding of quantum physics, relativity, and a bunch of other scientific disciplines that are way too complex for me to understand, even though I'm endlessly fascinated by them. What I loved about this book, is how accessible it was for me. He builds your understanding brick by brick, finding elegant comparisons or allegories for complex concepts, in a way that allowed me to actually follow what he was talking about.

Also this book just blew my mind. Did you know that time doesn't exist as we think it does? There is no such thing as uniform time in the universe. There isn't even a single thing we can call time on earth (time moves slower or faster based on elevation levels and speed). Anyway, you're probably smarter than I am and knew this stuff, but I loved thinking about these things, and this book does a great job of walking you through it.

7. Satari by Don Winslow

All right, so we need to talk about Don Winslow again. I read six of his books this year, and it was a delight. He is one of my favorite authors and I basically love all of his books. The books of his I read this year are:

  • The Dawn Patrol
  • The Gentleman's Hour
  • The Winter of Frankie Machine
  • California Fire and Life
  • Satori
  • Broken

Satori is a prequel to a novel called Shibumi, which is a classic spy novel published in 1979. The main character is Nicolai Hel, a westerner born in Shanghai, raised all over. He is a master Go-player and assassin. After reading this book I bought a fancy Go board and tried to learn the game, although I did not take up any assassinating.

Basically, Don Winslow is the best, and if you like a good old fashioned spy story, then I think you'll love Satori. 

I thought about including Broken on my list (it was just as enjoyable for me), but ultimately decided against it since it is a collection of short stories/novellas that contain a lot of characters from Winslow's other books. I don't think it's the best starting point for someone who has never read his work. If you have read his other books, then Broken is incredibly satisfying, as loads of people you love show up (sometimes unexpectedly), and the stories themselves are excellent. 

Read more Don Winslow. There's your 2021 resolution.

6. Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby

The best crime novel I read this year, and maybe one of the best from the last several. I couldn't put it down. It was emotional, exhilarating, exciting, crushing, moving, etc. etc. etc. Just look at the blurbs and the cover description:

Yeah, it was really good.


5. A Promised Land by Barack Obama

I wasn't planning on reading this in 2020 (it's LONG), but it came up sooner than expected on my library holds so I dove in. It only covers the first few years of his first term (through getting Bin Laden) and it's still 800+ pages, yet I blew through it in a matter of days. It is incredibly well written, and I found myself really drawn in to the behind the scenes experiences.

The big takeaway for me is that reality, life, and of course our politics, is all much more complicated than we really understand. So many of us think that we know how the world works, or why things are a certain way, but this book helped me see more of the grey. I remember being very critical of Obama, especially during this period, and maybe it's just age, or a different perspective (given recent events), but it was very helpful for me to see some of the behind the scenes logic behind publicly controversial decisions. The negotiations and concessions that had to be made, and just how difficult it is to make everyone happy. To get anything done requires heroic compromise, and that left everyone feeling unhappy with the outcome. It's truly incredible how much they were able to accomplish given the circumstances they faced.

Highly recommend for both sides of the political spectrum.

4. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

This book is incredibly powerful. The book examines and compares three caste systems: Nazi Germany, India, and the United States of America. It properly puts race and racism into the context of what really is a larger caste system, very like the other two systems she examines. Race and caste are not synonymous, rather according to the author they "can and do coexist in the same culture and serve to reinforce each other. Race, in the United States, is the visible agent of the unseen force of caste. Caste is the bones, race the skin" (source).

Her book breaks down eight pillars of caste, and then presents many historical (and some too painfully present) examples from all three of the societies in question. A lot of this book is painful reading, but it is also always illuminating. I believe this is a necessary read for everyone in America.

3. The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue by V. E. Schwab

I wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I did. It's about a woman who made a deal with a devil of sorts, that ended up so no one ever remembered her. If they leave the room and come back, they don't know who she is or why she is there. She can leave no permanent mark on the world. She survives hundreds of years like that, and then suddenly someone remembers her. 

This book is romantic. It's whimsical. It's dark at times. Funny at others. It takes the great premise and uses it as a way to dig deep on interesting characters, and the human experience itself. Another long book that was just a pleasure to read the whole way through.

2. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

One of my favorite protagonists in a long time, in a setting that is unlike any other fantasy novel that tackles this premise (magical school/university). I got so invested in her journey, her success, her friendships, and relationships. I was rooting for her the whole way through and was delighted as the story progressed. The magic system is also very good, and unlike anything I've seen before.

So much fun to read. I cannot wait for the next entry in the series!

1. A Gentleman in Moscow (Honorable mention Rules of Civility) by Amor Towles

Easily one of the best books I've read in years. I recommend it to people constantly. It is so wholesome, so uplifting, just so much fun. Here is the blurb description, which I think sums it up nicely:

A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

This book is life affirming. It made me want to live more fully and expansively. I just fell in love with all of the characters and wasn't ready for it to end. I dare you to read this book and not love it.

And that's that! Here's to 2021.

Books I Read In 2020

Find here the full list of books I read in 2020, along with a few random observations and pivot tables.

First here is my rough ranking system (something new I tried this year):

1Really BadHated it
2Not GoodDid not like it
3GoodLiked it
4Really GoodReally liked it
5ExceptionalLOVED IT

Breakdown by genre:

Crime Fiction1
Legal Thriller2
Literary Fiction12
Science Fiction10
Spy Triller1
YA Fiction1
Grand Total85

Breakdown by how I read whatever it was:

Cloud Library26


Grand Total85

Breakdown by ratings:

Grand Total85

Basically I like most of what I read. I guess I'm pretty lenient?

Breakdown by the publishing year:

Grand Total85

And finally here is the list of the books I read in the order I finished them:
RatingTitleDate FinishedPublishedPagesGenreType
3Miracle Creek by Anie Kim1/19/20202019369ThrillerCloud Library
4How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen1/21/20202012300Non-FictionHardcover
4The Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow1/26/20202008303CrimePaperback
4The Gentleman's Hour by Don Winslow1/27/20202009338CrimePaperback
4The Winter of Frankie Machine by Don Winslow1/30/20202006303CrimePaperback
3The Bloomsday Dead by Adrian McKinty2/3/20202006289CrimePaperback
3Breathing Underwater by Richard Rohr2/5/20202011128Non-FictionKindle
4Movies (and other things) by Shea Serrano2/10/20202019255Non-FictionHardcover
4California Fire and Life by Don Winslow2/12/20201999337CrimePaperback
3Lost For Words by Edward St, Aubyn2/15/20202014261Literary FictionPaperback
2The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey2/23/20202018294Literary FictionPaperback
4Locke & Key vol. 1 by Joe Hill2/23/20202008158ComicsHardcover
4Why We're Polarized by Ezra Klein2/28/20202020272Non-FictionHardcover
4The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin3/1/20202015516Science-FictionKindle
5A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles3/3/20202016462Literary FictionPaperback
3The Little Friend by Donna Tartt3/10/20202011640Literary FictionPaperback
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