I consumed a lot of media in 2019. Books, podcasts, television shows, movies, music… I love the “Best of” lists that come out at the end of the year and thought I’d make my own “Best of 2019” list.
Essentialism. I started 2019 off with Essentialism and it changed how I work. It digs into the idea of pursuing less in an effort to do more. After reading this book, I prioritize my schedule differently as well as what I put on my to-do list. If you feel like you’re constantly stretched too thin, read this book and put its teachings into practice.
The Lost Girls of Paris. This book follows three women: Grace, Eleanor, and Marie. In 1946, after WWII but before the Nuremberg trials, Grace finds an abandoned suitcase containing photos of women at Grand Central Station and soon learns its owner was killed in a hit-and-run that same day. Eleanor works for the British SOE during the last years of the war and Marie is one of her “girls.” This beautiful book follows their intertwined stories.
Where The Crawdads Sing. I was a late to the game on this one, but once I started, I simply couldn’t put it down. Set in the marshes of North Carolina, it tells the story of Kya, known to the locals as the “Marsh Girl.” There’s a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, and a lot of life lessons.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Should you only read one of these books, make it this one. Based on the true story of Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov, this book follows Lale through his years imprisoned and his love story with Gita. While held at the concentration camp, Lale, who speaks several languages, becomes the camp’s tattooist, tattooing numbers on prisoners as they arrive. He sees and experiences unimaginable things, but holds onto hope even in the darkest moments.
Designing Your Life. If you have no idea what you’re doing with your life, or you’re looking to make a change, read this book and do the exercises as they are laid out. I read it poolside over the summer and would immediately come back in and do the exercises. It helped me gain an immense amount of clarity.
Year of Yes. I loved Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes so much I wrote a whole post about it. At the risk of sounding dramatic, this book utterly changed my life. It’s about saying “yes” to chances, opportunities, and crazy ideas. It’s also about saying “yes” to saying “no” when you need to. More to come in the coming months on why this book inspired me to say “yes” to some really scary stuff.
American Royals. Imagine that George Washington became a king instead of a president and the United States was a monarchy. This book follows the Washington family of today and all the drama that comes along with being royalty. I couldn’t put it down. My only warning: the sequel doesn’t come out until Fall 2020 and when you finish this one, you’re going to have a real problem with the wait time!
Cold. My friends and I ended up listening to this one as a sort of “book club.” It follows the case of Susan Powell who disappeared in December 2009 and has been presumed dead. Her husband, Josh, killed himself and their two sons in February 2012. It was heart wrenching and gut turning at times, but very well done. If you like true crime, this is your podcast.
To Live and Die In LA. I listened to this one driving to and from Knoxville for the Garth Brooks concert. It follows the case of Adea Shabani, a Macedonian actress/model that disappears from her Hollywood apartment. Told by a journalist and private investigator, I actually gasped out loud several times with the twists the case took.
The Dropout. I couldn’t get enough of this podcast. This one tells the story/case of Elizabeth Holmes who fancied herself “the next Steve Jobs” and created the company Theranos. A different sort of true crime, this one follows the scandal of how it all came to be and then unraveled.
By The Book. As a fan of self-help books, this podcast is right up my alley. Co-hosts Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer read popular self-help books, live by them for a period of time, and report back on their findings. Sometimes you’re laughing, others you’re cringing, and you might even cry once in a while. This is a favorite of mine for my days in the office.
Living Fully. Mallory Ervin is one of my favorite influencers. Her podcast is about how to live your life to its best and the episodes with her father in particular are especially inspirational. There’s a really great episode with Shawn Johnson on visualization and how it helped her win a gold medal at the Olympics that I recommend as well.
The Bodyguard. First of all, it stars Richard Madden. I hadn’t heard of Richard Madden before I watched this (I know – but I’m no Game of Thrones fan) and he blew me away in this series. He plays a war veteran turned bodyguard assigned to protect the Home Secretary who is a proponent of the conflict he was a part of. He hates her policies, but is duty bound to protect her. Things, of course, head south quickly. Fantastic storytelling, excellent acting.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. If you’ve been reading here, you know I love CAOS. Part 2 came out in April and while Part 1 was good, Part 2 absolutely hooked me with strong characters and a fearless approach to storytelling. In Part 2, Sabrina is a true witch, embracing her powers while discovering she is part of a much bigger, much more sinister plan and of course, falling in love with Nicholas Scratch. I’m on pins and needles waiting for Part 3 in January. #TeamNick
Four Weddings and a Funeral. It took me a few episodes to get into this TV adaption of the movie. I actually didn’t watch past the third or fourth episode for weeks. It was a little slow for my liking. But I gave it another shot and I’m glad I did. The last several episodes are so good and strongly written. And I would love to live in Ansley’s closet.
The Boys. I don’t normally like superhero shows, but Chace Crawford is in this one and while I was #TeamChuck during Gossip Girl, I did love Nate. I loved The Boys. In this universe, superheroes are very real and are as popular as politicians or celebrities. They’re also fond of abusing their power and a vigilante group – The Boys – are out to stop them. And Chace Crawford? Nate who? His character The Deep is what we can only call a a departure. And I love it.
The Man in the High Castle. I’m in the middle of this series right now, but it’s just so good. Imagine the Allies lost WWII. The east coast is controlled by Germany, the west by Japan. But is this reality? The resistance is working to prove otherwise as they come into possession of newsreels that show the Allies winning the war.
Medici. I’m also in the middle of this series, but it’s one I’ve had in my “to watch” list for a while. I needed a minute after the season 1 finale of The Man in the High Castle, and now I’m flipping between the two. Daniel Sharman plays Lorenzo Medici and Richard Madden also has a role as Cosimo Medici. The series follows the rise of the Medici family in Florence in the 1400s. It’s re-inspired my longtime desire to learn about art history.
You. I binged season one last Christmas and it only felt appropriate to binge season two when it hit Netflix the day after Christmas. Consider it a holiday tradition. The new season finds Joe assuming a new identity and trying to start his life over as “Will” in Los Angeles. What I loved about season two is that despite how big of a creep Joe is, the writing had me *almost* rooting for him. Almost.
Lover. I’m a Taylor Swift fan to the end and Lover is right up there with Speak Now, Red, and 1989 as a second favorite album option (Reputation is my favorite). “Lover” is my favorite song from the album – absolutely see this as my first dance song (and love the Shawn Mendes remix as well). I’ve also played “London Boy” (I’ll marry a Brit, mark my words), “I Think He Knows,” “Paper Rings,” and “Cornelia Street” over and over. But really – I love the whole album.
Center Point Road. I also have a strong love of Thomas Rhett (and his precious wife and family). “Look What God Gave Her” has been played a billion times in my car and in my apartment. “Remember You Young” never fails to make me cry. Fun fact – I PR’d a snatch at the North Carolina State Championships while “Remember You Young” played. Not the song I would choose to PR during a weightlifting meet, but here we are.
“One Man Band.” This Old Dominion song may well be the perfect song. The lyrics are absolutely brilliant. It takes the idea of being a solo act and translates it to becoming part of a band or in this case, a couple.
“She’s Mine.” I’ll never understand how country radio sleeps on Kip Moore. He’s one of my favorite artists – absolute authenticity and a brilliant writer – and he’s incredible live. He released “She’s Mine” earlier this year and I’m still blasting it like it came out yesterday.
GIRL. Maren Morris ties Taylor Swift with my favorite album of the year. GIRL is just brilliant. “Girl” is a favorite and “The Bones” is flawless (Also love the Hozier remix). This whole album is just – happiness. Not bubbly pop happiness. Real, authentic, “life has thrown us some curveballs, but we’re still standing and life is good” happiness. And I can’t not mention “Gold Love” as another favorite.
“10,000 Hours.” It was apparently the year for me to enjoy love songs. This Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber collaboration is a jam. Dan + Shay are really solidifying themselves as the duo you can count on to put a killer love song out there.
I’ll stop my Best of 2019 list there. I’m rolling into 2020 with a long list of books to read, podcasts to listen to, and new music and television to discover.
What were some of your favorites of 2019?