December is the month of lists — the best books, the best movies, the best TV shows — which can remind you of all the great things that came out this year. So, as we look back, we’re curious to hear what made you laugh, cry and stay up until 3 a.m. What did you enjoy most? Here are ours…
Holy smokes, TV was SO GOOD this year. (When did TV become better than movies?) I loved Transparent with all its difficult yet lovable characters. Master of None was such a fresh and charming comedy. And, of course, like most people we know, Alex and I are addicted to Homeland. Side note: It’s one of the rare shows that has suspenseful scenes — an ominous walk down an alley, a hacking job in front of a staircase — that don’t always lead somewhere, which makes the show feel less predictable. And it continues to be a great show for women. The female characters are brave and brilliant, which is heartening and inspiring to see. Also, Saul.
For the past few years, my friend Anna and I have hosted an articles club, where female friends come together to drink wine, eat cheese and discuss a recent article. (It’s like a book club, but you can read the article on the way there!) Modern Love essays always stand out. This guide to confidence was right on, and this beautiful article on single motherhood brought me to tears.
For movies, the documentary Tig, about comedian Tig Notaro’s diagnosis of breast cancer, was one of the funniest and most honest documentaries I’ve ever seen. I wanted to tell strangers on the street!
(Also, I’ve mentioned the 2015 books I loved most before, but as a recap: Blackout and After Birth were utterly fantastic, both in very different ways. I thought about them for weeks, even months, after reading them.)
I liked a lot of books this year, but I absolutely loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest book, Big Magic, about creative living beyond fear. Reading it feels like a conversation with your wisest, kindest, most encouraging friend — the one you’d tell your secret dream to quit your job and go to clown school, because you know they’d never laugh. The companion Magic Lessons Podcast — 12 episodes featuring Gilbert in conversation with a roster of amazing humans — is equally inspiring. The final episode, with guest author Brené Brown, made me cry many tears, in the best possible way.
A few months ago, I moved to New York from Missouri with two friends from home. We went to see the movie Brooklyn together as soon as it came out. It tells the story of a young Irish woman who moves across the ocean to Brooklyn, not very far from where we live now. Ten minutes in, we were nudging each other with tears in our eyes. Every scene felt like a haunting and beautiful parallel to our new lives, filled with both homesickness and a growing love for our new town. It nails the subtle yet heartbreaking realization that your home is not always your identity.
In 2015 I listened to stories more than I ever have before. I finally joined the Serial revolution and enjoyed it as much as anyone (I’m diving headfirst into the new season), but the two podcast episodes that have stuck with me the most were from Radiolab: Darkode and The Living Room. Both were astonishing, like, how can it be that average human beings experience such strange, haunting corners of reality AND find their way to a genius radio producer who can pipe their lives right into your ears? It’s wonderful. Darkode is the craziest cyber hacking saga ever and The Living Room will make you hug your significant other extremely tightly.
(Photo by Peter King, 1972)