2019 Staff Picks


Below you will see that 41 Ann Arbor District Library employees composed 18,000 words listing arts and culture that made an impact on their lives in this calendar year. While movies, books, and music released in 2019 figured prominently among our picks, we never limit our selections to material from the past year. Not all timeless art can be discovered and absorbed in a mere 365 days, so we're like Master P: no limits.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb (2019) {AADL}
Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas (2018) - This is the Washtenaw Reads book for 2020, and it is phenomenal. I started recommending it to anyone and everyone as soon as I was halfway through the book, and I still haven’t stopped, long after finishing it. {AADL
Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love (2019) - A super-cute collection of stories that are all written by different authors, but take place in the same town of Hungry Hearts Row. Some characters make cameos in each other's stories, all of which center on food and love. It’s an exploration of different cultures, it’s heartwarming, and it’s sure to make you hungry. {AADL}  
We Wear the Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America (2017) - This was an interesting collection of essays about what it’s like to pass, be it as white, rich, cisgender, or a different ethnicity. There are stories of people who tried to pass on purpose, to try to get a leg up, while others were just assumed to be what they were passing as. I will definitely be reading this one again. {AADL

🎥Film, Video & TV
Sharp Objects (2018) - Whew this show was intense, but I could not stop watching. Just absolutely incredible, with a crazy twist at the end. {AADL
Good Omens (2019) - Just a fun little show about orchestrating the end of the world. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Us (2019) - Best horror movie of the year. The movie follows Adelaide Wilson, expertly played by Lupita Nyong’o, and her family as they vacation at a summer beach house. Haunted by childhood trauma, Adelaide is wary of the beach...and for good reason. That night, the Wilsons are visited by exact replicas of themselves -- doppelgangers who are out for blood and revenge. To say any more might give away the best parts of the movie. The plot of the film runs deep, and ties together many different threads into a cohesive and fulfilling script. The film is riddled with easter eggs, references and trivia, and each actor plays a double role: that of their regular self and that of their doppelganger. With themes of American privilege, classism, marginalization, and duality, director Jordan Peele takes us on an ambitious and inventive ride you won’t soon forget. {AADL}
Castle Rock: Season Two (2019) - Last year I begrudgingly included the first season of Castle Rock in my Staff Picks after I was severely disappointed by its ambiguous ending. I decided to give it another try this year, and boy am I glad I did! The creators have always maintained that the show would remain an anthology series, with each season comprising a different set of characters and storylines. This is true, and this season introduces the amazing Lizzy Caplan, who completely transforms into Annie Wilkes (of Misery fame). This season fleshes out more of what we saw in season one and doles out a few more answers, although in doing so it opens up even more mysteries to solve. By the end of the second season, I had gotten an answer I found satisfying in regards to that disappointing ambiguous season one ending. A great series, especially for fans of Stephen King. {Hulu}
Stranger Things: Season Three (2019) - I found season three of Stranger Things a thrilling roller coaster ride, and I bet you will too. {Netflix}
Leaving Neverland (2019) - Regardless of how you personally feel about Michael Jackson, this documentary presents a fascinating study of the psychology of a sexual predator, how they hook and groom survivors of abuse (and their families), and how devastating and confusing this abuse can be throughout a survivors’ life. Before I watched the film, I also watched footage of Martin Bashir’s 2002 interviews with Jackson on Youtube, which helped provide necessary context and background (and helped me draw my own conclusions about Jackson). {HBO}
What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (2019) - I saw this documentary about the making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with a theater full of die-hard fans earlier this year and found it very fun and nostalgic. The documentary was crowd-funded by fans of DS9 and chronicles the making of and legacy of Deep Space Nine, featuring interviews with the director and cast, as well as footage from the show that has been remastered in high definition. {AADL}
Hot Ones - A web series on YouTube in which host Sean Evans interviews a celebrity guest while they both eat increasingly spicy hot wings. This show hosts a variety of famous types, and Evans does deep research on his guests before interviewing them, which can be seen in the depth of questions he asks. The recent interview with Shia LaBeouf completely changed my view of Shia for the better, but all of the guests have their own unique charm. {YouTube}
Under a Rock with Tig Notaro - In this fun show, comedian Tig Notaro introduces a special celebrity guest. The only catch? Tig isn’t big on pop culture, and she doesn’t know who her celebrity guest is. She spends the entire show trying to figure out the guest’s identity. It’s very good-natured and the guest often brings clues so that Tig can guess their name and occupation. Short, sweet and very funny. {YouTube}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Norman F*cking Rockwell by Lana del Rey (2019) - OK, OK, I am obsessed with Lana del Rey. But this is her absolute best work yet, combining her instantly recognizable and idiosyncratic songwriting and voice with the legendary Jack Antonoff’s production. It’s been nearly universally critically acclaimed since its August debut and already nominated for two Grammys: Album of the Year and Song of the Year for the title track. Stand out tracks include The GreatestHope is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have… But I Have ItCinnamon Girl, and F*ck It I Love You, but to be honest there isn’t a bad track on the album. The double video for F*ck It I Love You and The Greatest is one of her best and deals with the highs and lows of love and society. She also produced a few amazing covers this year, including covers of Sublime’s Doin Time and Donovan’s Season of the Witch. But perhaps my favorite of her new songs is Looking for America, a bonus track she penned right after and in response to the latest batch of mass shootings. An icon and artist, and absolutely worth checking out. {AADL}
Thank U Next by Ariana Grande (2019) - Last year I wrote about how much I loved Sweetener, but nothing could have prepared me for Thank U Next. Coming to us just six months after Sweetener, it’s Ariana’s best, most devastating and most personal work yet. Standouts include NASABreak Up With Your Girlfriend I’m BoredNeedyBloodlineGhostin’ and In My Head (so… basically every song on the album). I also loved her song Monopoly with Victoria Monet. {AADL}
Magdalene by FKA Twigs (2019) - I wasn’t an FKA Twigs fan going into this year, but I certainly was coming out of it. FKA Twigs’ album Magdalene deals with a relationship at its end (the subject of which is most likely actor Robert Pattinson). It can be fragile, fierce, devastating … all within the same track. The album has some variation in its’ sound, and has several recurring motifs throughout its tracklist. Standouts include Sad DayHoly Terrain, Fallen Alien and Cellophane (and the video for Cellophane is amazing too). {YouTube}
Blackpink at Coachella (2019, live performance) - Seeing video footage of Blackpink performing at Coachella launched me into a several-months-long obsession. The first K-pop girl group to ever perform at Coachella, Blackpink absolutely blew me away. For each song, the members of Blackpink sing and rap in both Korean and English as they simultaneously perform highly choreographed dance routines at breakneck speed. Stand out songs include Ddu-Du Ddu-DuBoombayahDon’t Know What to Do and Kill This Love. Jisoo is my ultimate bias, but I’ve drawn inspiration from all four members (Jisoo, Lisa, Rose, and Jennie), who were selected for the group based on their different personalities and skillsets. I also loved watching their reality show Blackpink House on Youtube to help satisfy my craving for new content, and I’m really looking forward to their new album in 2020. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
A random collection of podcasts:
The Report - Lawfare - The show is a beautifully produced, fascinating, highly informative deep dive into the contents of Special Council Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential election. Each episode takes a segment of the report and places the report’s findings into context with interviews with lawyers, reporters, and other subject matter experts. {Apple} {Lawfare Blog
In Our Time - BBC Radio 4 - Billing itself as a show about ‘the history of ideas,’ each episode features interviews a panel of academics about a particular theme. Topics of discussion range from the lives of historical figures to explorations of the professional lives of scientists, philosophers, writers, and so much more. Depending on which podcast app you use, you might have as many as 20 years worth of episodes to browse through. {Apple} {BBC}
Today, Explained - Vox - There are plenty of podcasts out there that offer up deep dives into the ‘how and why’ behind current events, but Today, Explained is hands-down one of the best. It combines smart, timely and incisive analysis with beautiful sound design, and is reliably fresh, interesting and informative. It’s a genuinely enjoyable way to better understand what is happening in our world, and the historical context behind it all. {Apple} {Vox}

Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey - It's like this book was designed for the pleasure centers of my brain. A somewhat mysterious cult? Check. Bleak northern/midwestern setting? Check. Teen girl as narrator? Check? Teen girls taking control of their destiny? Check and check. A dog as a narrator? Check. Fiction that's not quite magical realism but just "off" enough that it sorta is? Check. It's best to jump into this book without knowing too much, but it was one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time — easy to read while exploring dark truths. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Not by Big Thief (2019) - Adrianne Lenker's voice is a force. So often, as on Abysskiss, its power lies in its intimacy — close little breaths — its tenderness. But power can also comes from an ability to change shape, to adjust, and to modulate. I like Two Hands a lot as a whole album, but Not is the track that knocked the wind out of me. The crack in her voice about a third of the way in? It's perfectly, ferociously raw. {YouTube}
Half Way Home by Angel Olsen - The new Angel Olsen album, All Mirrors, is striking and lush, its instrumentation a natural follow-up to 2016's My Woman. The synths make sense even before you notice John Congleton (see also: Sharon Van Etten's Seventeen) worked on the record. It would be reductive to say that this was the year Congleton nudged the formerly folky to pick up synths, but I'm not complaining about All Mirrors or Remind Me TomorrowBoth Olsen and Van Etten have always been ace songwriters, and sometimes experimenting with new instruments can crack something open. With that said, though, plenty of year-end lists are going to heap praise on All Mirrors. It's worthy of it, but I'm most thankful that it made me revisit Olsen's pre-Burn Your Fire... catalog. Even though Half Way Home was made seven years ago, it holds up well, and you can see and feel the seeds of what was to come since. I've had Half Way ... on repeat for the last two months, and it's perfect for winter hibernation. Waiting is one part Orbison-longing and one part Everly Brothers. Free also brings to mind the Everlys, but maybe more so Mickey & SylviaLonely Universe is devastating in its details, and The Sky Opened Up... could've stepped out of a spaghetti western. All Mirrors is worth year-end accolades, but revisiting Olsen's previous catalog is worthy of your time, too. 
How Far by Deadbeat Beat - Do you like The Clean? Do you like Black Tambourine? Do you want to listen to a band that doesn't necessarily rip either of those off but might just make you feel the same way? How Far might be just the record for you! If nothing else, the video for "You Lift Me Up" might remind you of the warmth you can still find in the midst of a bleak Michigan winter. One of my favorite albums of this past year, they just happen to be local. DBB plays pretty regularly around Detroit, so you should probably go to their next show. In the meanwhile, look for their LP in the circulating AADL vinyl collection over the next month or two!

Giant Days graphic novel series {AADL}
Organic Embroidery {AADL}
The Child Finder {AADL}
Little Darlings {AADL}
Yarn - One of the many items I’ve found while searching for another item with a similar title. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Yarn {AADL}
Gold Diggers of 1933 {AADL
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami {AADL}
Jamaica Inn {AADL}
Bad Reputation {AADL}
Parks & Recreation - Yeah, I just started watching this year. Love it. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
First Issue by Public Image Limited  - I’ve heard this album before but somehow, this year, I just can’t get enough of Johnny Lydon’s vocals be it PIL or the Sex Pistols, and this album especially has been on rotation. {P.I.L.}
Ramones - Generally just this band, no specific album. Joey Ramone suddenly resonated with me this year. {AADL}
Rubies by Destroyer - Another album I had been previously aware of but thanks to my partner we now own a vinyl copy (it’s ruby red!) and is being played regularly. {Bandcamp}
Yoga Is Dead podcast {Yoga Is Dead}
Dolly Parton’s America podcast {WNYC Studios}

💟Pulp Life 
Agua Fresca art print by Rex Tay {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
The Essential Dolly Parton (2005) - A great album to get a feel for all things wonderfully Dolly. 

🎥Film, Video & TV
Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction - A beautiful documentary that celebrates the life of a great actor and truly unique individual. Harry Dean is a national treasure who has been in too many movies to count. This documentary explores his life in black and white through conversations with those he has worked with, intercut with Harry singing songs and talking to the camera. It is mesmerizing and delightful. {AADL}
Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse (2019) - This is my favorite Spiderman movie. Miles Morales was bitten by a radioactive spider... and we know what that means. But the best part is that while Miles is growing into his new powers, he's in a comic book and meets alternate dimension versions of Spider-Man who have to all work together. It is so visually appealing and so well done. {AADL}
Russian Doll (2019) - An amazing, smart, addictive Netflix show -- and Natasha Leonne is phenomenal in this unique and mesmerizing television experience. Start watching and keep going. Once you get past that one episode, you're gold!  
Mindhunter, Season 1-2 (2017, 2019) - Based on the true-crime book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit, this Netflix drama is riveting, highly watchable, and recommended if you're into true crime or crime dramas. {AADL}
Pen15 (2019) - Get ready to cringe as though you were back in middle school again in this comedy from Hulu. Two thirty-something comedians artfully portray two middle school girls in the year 2000. It is one smart, brave, and hilarious show that I am so happy exists.  
Stephen King Adaptations - In February I decided to go hard on watching & reading all things Stephen King that I hadn't dove into before, and there are too many winners in this area. A few new-to-me adaptations I watched this year that I recommend: Gerald's GameDolores ClaiborneThe Mist (2007), and Misery

The Long Walk by Richard Bachman (1979) - This was my favorite book of the summer. Written under Stephen King's pseudonym, it's not the first novel published by him, but was the first written. Here we have 100 teenage boys who have to walk the long walk, and not stop, until only one of them is left standing and declared the winner. It is brutal and harsh, but the boys are the heart of the story and it was a pleasure to walk along side them. {AADL}
G'morning, G'night: Little Pep Talks for Me and You by Lin-Manuel Miranda (2018) - I was pleasantly surprised and wonderfully delighted with this quick read offering so many lovely thoughts that make you feel better and more human. {AADL}


American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee (2017) - Nonfiction history of the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone and the surrounding area, and the ecological and political fallout. {AADL}
This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us by Edgar Cantero (2018) - Absolutely bonkers noir full of cliché and metaphors on meth. {AADL}
Out of Skin by Emily Carroll webcomic (2013) - A truly beautiful and spooky short horror comic. {emcarroll.com}
Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enríquez (2017) - An amazing collection of short stories that immerse you in a scarred Argentina. {AADL}
The Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn (2016) - Having the feel of a classic epic, it reads like a legend set in pseudo-feudal-Japan. {AADL}
The Changeling by Victor LaValle (2017) - Classic “which of these characters is crazy” storyline with some interesting nuggets to consider in the digital age where we freely publish everything about our personal lives. {AADL}
Circe by Madeline Miller (2018) - My absolute favorite book I read this year. This tells the story of Circe, weaving together what we see of her in The Odyssey and other Greek myths. The Gods are humanized, but in the huge scope of eternity as immortals they become monsters. {Madeline Miller}
The Nest by Kenneth Oppel (2015) - This young adult book freaked me out more than most adult horror. A child is given a chance to have his brother (with some unnamed disorder) “fixed” by a nest of wasps. {Kenneth Oppel}
Rosewater by Tade Thompson (2016) - Set in near-future Nigeria, the winding plot (mostly) follows a government agent in the town Rosewater, which is being colonized by aliens. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Midsommar (2019) - One big, beautiful, horrific acid trip. {AADL}
The Lighthouse (2019) - You can’t unwatch this. {AADL}
Good Boys (2019) - Hilarious and surprisingly sweet comedy about friendship and growing up. {AADL}


💟Pulp Life 
Chips and Salsa - In 2019, I renewed my relationship with chips and salsa. The perfect food -- crunch, salt, a vegetable that's technically fruit. Paired with a cold drink and maybe some kind of tertiary sport on a restaurant/bar TV, it's, as stated earlier, the perfect food. When placed in front of you, free, at restaurants, I never really need to order anything off the menu. My mouth and stomach are perfectly happy with the bounty (and the promise of additional refills of the bounty) before me, but propriety dictates I order at least a taco. Maybe a smothered burrito or a shrimp salad. Chips and salsa feed, but also bind and bond society. I watched my five-year-old daughter on Thanksgiving dip chip after chip into a small bowl of salsa, while a 65-year-old man she'd just met patiently held the bowl in place so her amateur scooping didn't push it off the dining room table. Generations -- coming together over, stated the third time, over the perfect food. 

Southern Bastards - I'm late to the Southern Bastards party -- a comic started in 2014 by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour -- about a small town in the south where the high school football coach is also the crime boss. He can do anything with no repercussions because he's mean and violent and wins state titles every few years. In the first of four volumes available at the AADL, you're introduced to this guy. He does some reprehensible things that make you hope for equally bad things to happen to him. Then the creators show you his back story in the second volume, and though maybe you still want bad things to happen to him, you're much more sympathetic to his ongoing plight. It's gross and violent and there's lots of cussing, but it's a great example of character and world-building and I can't wait for volume five. {AADL}


New York Times Magazine 2019 August 18 Issue: 1619 Project - A must-read issue dedicated to re-examining the role of slavery in the birth of America and the ways its insidious roots linger in today’s society. This project was the brain-child of NYT Magazine staff writer Nikole Hannah-Jones who will be visiting the library in April. It is a monumental piece of work that includes an online component with articles on how the project came together, a partnership with the Pulitzer Center to develop a free curriculum for school-aged children as well as a series of podcast episodes. {AADL}
The Garden Awakening: Designs to Nurture Our Land & Ourselves by Mary Reynolds - The Garden Awakening was recommended to me by a fellow library staff member back at the beginning of 2019. Recommendations from my colleagues are my favorite kind and they almost always end up being my favorite books that check out repeatedly. I loved reading this book in the cold of the winter and imagining my own garden designs for my home as I awaited the arrival of spring. Author, Irish gardener and landscape designer Mary Reynolds carefully weaves thoughtful intention and a wildish spirit throughout this book while sharing practical information. Love this book! {AADL}
Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity by Jennifer Weiss Wolf - Periods Gone Public explores a new political movement in women’s rights: period equity. In this book, author Jennifer Weiss-Wolf examines the history of societal attitudes on periods and how period equity fits into the greater umbrella of gender equity and equality. She looks at advocacy and policy opportunities and raises awareness on the effects of the tampon tax, access to period products, and limited transparency in what period products are made out of. {AADL}
Embroidered Life: The Art of Sarah K. Benning - Sarah Benning’s embroidery pieces are works of art. I loved reading this book and stepping into her world of art-making. {AADL}
I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel - The author’s dedication sealed it for me when I was perusing the stacks for a cozy book to read. She writes: “For everyone who’s ever finished a book under the covers with a flashlight when they were supposed to be sleeping.” This book is a quick and humorous read. My favorite chapters are Chapter 10: “Bookworm Problems” and the final chapter, Chapter 21: “I’d Rather Be Reading.” {AADL}
Silence: In the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge - Kagge takes the reader on his remarkable journey: a 50-day solo walk in Antarctica without radio contact through 33 short essays, reflections, and meditations on silence. {AADL}

We Are All Me by Jordan Crane - A powerful little picture book exploring life’s interconnectedness, from the stars to a strand of DNA. Written, drawn and brilliantly colored by an undisputed comics master, it stands up to many, many repeat readings. {AADL}
Worn Tuff Elbow 2 by Mark Bell - Reading this comic book felt like getting air-dropped into a whole world that’s like a cross between Kim Deitch’s The Boulevard of Broken Dreams and the 1996 PC claymation game The Neverhood. A hilarious, joyful immersive experience. {What Things Do}
The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond by Patrick Dillon and Stephen Biesty - I love the writer’s basic point that for thousands of years humans have built buildings “to show others what they care about and what they believe in.” Take your time to savor both the text and detailed architectural drawings in this big beautiful picture book. All this engineering ingenuity really puts my 2020 DIY wood-bench project in perspective. {AADL}
Nate the Nonconformist Has a Rival! by Stephanie Mannheim - This comic book stars Nate, a pubescent anarchist punk, who has just broken up with Charlotte, his girlfriend & ride to school. The main characters here are mischievous, arrogant, clueless slackers. I pray for more Nate books! {Birdcage Bottom Books}
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso - Drnaso explores people’s capacities to intimidate, deceive and dominate one another. (Timely themes.) This comic book’s visuals feel empty, which may be a deliberate choice to reinforce how disconnected everyone feels from one another. It makes my list because despite the static-looking art, the story is well-paced and tense: as I read along it felt like any hideous thing might happen. {AADL}
These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore - OK, I admit I haven’t read all 900-plus pages of this book yet, but the 50 I did read were electrifying. I hope that by including this here I’ll be shamed into finishing this seven-century-long extravaganza by next December. Watch Lepore give an excellent stump speech for the book here, then join me in tackling this thing! {AADL}
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells - It takes guts to stare down the barrel of our human-created climate catastrophe. Most of us can hardly bear to scroll through the odd news article on the subject before sadness overwhelms us, but it is worth marshaling the strength to take a more sustained, patient approach to learning about this problem that overshadows all of us. The book is broken into roughly two parts: descriptions of the many factors that will likely impact our daily lives this century, followed by a section called “The Climate Kaleidoscope” that analyzes the various ways in which humans seem to be responding to our new planetary reality. Wallace-Wells cuts the fat: no lengthy historical tangents or feel-good list of prescriptions here, just a sober meditation on the precipice on which we stand, right now. When I finished reading this I felt slightly more brave. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack, 2018) - A raw and riveting performance from the Queen of Soul. {AADL}
Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019) - A mind-bending thriller. {AADL}
PEN15 - This TV miniseries was co-written by and stars two women in their thirties as middle-school versions of themselves. The plot is fictionalized, but the weird hair and chokers are real. The intimidation factor from their actual middle-school-aged co-stars feels real, too. And the duo’s real-life friendship shines through, making the show’s explorations of the more serious matters of growing up feel honest. {Hulu}

♫ Music & Podcasts
"Mary Magdalene" by FKA Twigs (live performance) - A ghostly, seductive, glittering, dangerous song & performance. {YouTube
Some Rap Songs by Earl Sweatshirt (2018) - Thebe Neruda Kgositsile’s alter ego Earl Sweatshirt whittled each one of these tracks down to the nub. The artistry and wit on display here remind me of MF DOOM, another rapper whose albums seem to reveal more to me with every listen. {AADL}
Songs of Our Native Daughters by Our Native Daughters (2019) - I heard one of the four badass African-American women musicians of this group interviewed on a radio program about country music’s roots. [The episode is worth listening to, itself.] When they previewed the haunting song “Mama’s Cryin’ Long,” I wanted to experience the whole album. Our Native Daughters shed light on America’s past to illuminate our present. It isn’t always easy listening. {AADL}
Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970 (2007) - This mammoth four-disc compilation of folk and rock tracks makes me nostalgic for an era from before I was born. Favorite track: “Revolution” by Mother Earth. {AADL}
The Best of Sidney Bechet by Sidney Bechet (1994) - Bechet has classed up many a weekday dinner at my place with his groovy interpretations of jazz classics. His clarinet always brightens my mood and gets me tappin’ my feet. {AADL}


Somehow this was a year of mostly tolerable books that left little lasting impression. But there were some wonderful standouts.
The Doll's Alphabet by Camila Grudova - By far the best book I read all year. These short stories are beautifully told, yet there is such little beauty in them. For the most part, the characters live bleak lives of scarcity and pointlessness in a world ruled by callous men and arbitrary social norms. I couldn't stop thinking of the loneliness of Eraserhead and all its expressed fears of food, sex, and love, but also its funniest moments of absurdity while I was reading this. {AADL}
Watership Down by Richard Adams - At 500-plus pages, Watership Down sometimes seemed a little long. At one point my wife asked me if I was still reading "that damn book." And I had to tell her that the rabbits were almost across the bridge. Maybe they would make it in another chapter or two, who would know? And yet, I really enjoyed the saga of these self-aware rabbits, the rival Stalinist warren, and the small animals that came to their aid. Plus, it has psychic bunnies and a made up language. I keep wanting to tell my coworkers that I'm going out to silflay, but I don't think any of them speak Lapine. {AADL}
Tenements, Towers and Trash by Julia Wertz - The best graphic novel I read all year. This coffee-table-sized book reads much like a love letter to the city of New York, where Wertz lived for many years. Personal stories are very much tied to particular storefronts and neighborhoods. She retells little-known oddities of the city's history. And she lovingly draws whole city blocks from old photos and then depicts their current state with modern stores and signs. While many of her stories made me laugh, it was these full-page street scenes that drew me in the most. {AADL}
Fatherland by Nina Bunjevac - The detailed and crisp artwork in the graphic novel Fatherland is immediately arresting. Fortunately, Bunjevac's storytelling -- about growing up in Canada and Yugoslavia with a terrorist father is equally engrossing. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Leto - A retelling of the Leningrad rock scene and the formation of the band Kino in the early '80s. {IMDB}
Midsommar - One of the most gorgeous and cohesive horror movies I've ever watched. {AADL}
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love - I was amazed the filmmaker could put together so much footage and history that captured this beautiful and tragic love. {AADL}
I Am Not Your Negro - Incredibly stirring view of race and racism based on James Baldwin's writing. {AADL}

💟Pulp Life
Decode Detroit in Ypsilanti - One of the best experiences out of the library this year was visiting Decode Detroit's new Ypsilanti location. My brother, my family, and I had a riot frantically decoding riddles to save the world from doom. The story, the acting, the set design, and certainly the puzzles made this the best escape room I've ever been to and made my brother's visit here incredibly memorable for all of us. {Decode Detroit}

Orange World and Other Stories (2019) {AADL}, Swamplandia! (2011) {AADL}, Saint Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (2006) {AADL} by Karen Russell - Karen Russell's writing is humorous, dark, and poetic. I discovered her earlier this year and have since been immersed in her lucid worlds of the mundane supernatural and stories of everyday absurdities in modern life.   

♫ Music & Podcasts
House of Sugar by (Sandy) Alex G (2019) -  A nostalgic collection of genre-bending tracks that could come from none other than Alex G. {AADL}
Swing Slow by Haruomi Hosono & Miharu Koshi (1996) - This album is a gem! {YouTube}
The Undivided Five by A Winged Victory for the Sullen (2019) - This is the first album AWVFTS has released in almost five years, what a dream. {YouTube}
Indifferent Rivers Romance End by Wreck and Reference (2016) - Heavy album 100% in its own lane. Wreck and Reference actually released a new album this year (Absolute Still Life), but I keep coming back to this earlier one. Love. {Bandcamp}
uknowhatimsayin¿ by Danny Brown (2019) - This cools down from the intense experimentation of Brown's last album into something both retro and transcendental. He said he wanted this album to be funny, but not a satire, and it definitely hit that mark. Great album, bruh-bruh. {AADL}

💟Pulp Life 
Fresh Forage - This is a pretty great new restaurant that sources most of its produce, meat, and dairy locally! It is a simple menu -- you can either get a bowl or a wrap and fill them with various seasonal menu items. I love a bowl packed with goodness and this place never disappoints! They also have kombucha on tap and house-made gluten-free baked goods. It is hard to find restaurants that actually source the bulk of their food locally- most places will feature one or two items from local farms to make the menu look good. This place is the real deal -- and they are located on West Jackson so you don't have to mess with downtown traffic. Vegetarian and vegan-friendly. {Fresh Forage}

Milkman by Anna Burns - Set in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s, during “The Troubles," this novel is a difficult read, but worth it. Burns bases the novel, in part, on her experiences growing up in Belfast. The story is narrated by a young woman, who is considered by the townspeople to be strange for many reasons, the most offensive among them being “reading while walking.” Following the sometimes hilarious misadventures of the narrator, simply known as “Middle Sister,” (all the characters are named with descriptions rather than given-names, such as Third brother-in-law) we are drawn into a dark and timely coming-of-age story that examines the experience of growing up in a politically-polarized and violent time. {AADL}
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh (2018) - Moshfegh’s exploration of a young woman’s experience with depression in pre-9/11 New York left a lasting impression on me. Though I am not alone in deeming the novel “funny,” I have a hard time admitting that I did, multiple times, burst out laughing as I read through the deep, if not mostly detached, psychological struggle of the narrator. Throughout the entirety of the novel, the protagonist seems to be hindered, rather than helped, by her all-consuming desire to sleep for an entire year, her well-meaning best friend whom she despises, and her self-chosen clueless doctor who pushes all kinds of known and made-up pharmaceuticals. I was taken by surprise at how much I enjoyed this bleak yet comedic portrait of America, New York, mental illness, loss, and the pharmaceutical industry at the onset of the new Millennium. {AADL}
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (2019) - This was the second novel I read this year that used the subject of “bog bodies” to frame its narrative. My first encounter with “bog bodies” as a narrative tool was in Anne Youngson’s Meet Me at the Museum (2018), which focused on a friendship that begins with a woman sending letters to a museum curator. The curator, a man of facts, oversees the Tollund Man at the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark. Their correspondence is filled with speculation on the Tollund Man, the nature of his probable ritual sacrifice, and his serene expression. After this first introduction to bog bodies, I spent a lot of time reading about the subject on Wikipedia with equal parts fascination and voyeuristic horror. In Ghost Wall, we experience the bogs of Northern England through a teen girl named Silvie, who is on a holiday in Northumberland, England with her mother, father, and a small group college students with their professor. During this trip, the class is supposed to live as if in the Iron Age, a time period with which Silvie’s father has an obsessive interest in. The group visits the marshes, where bog bodies have been recovered in the past, and posit what types of materials they might leave as offerings in their speculation about the purpose of ritual sacrifice in pre-Roman Britain. The exercise escalates as members of the group become increasingly dissociated from reality, the novel asking us questions about cultural compliance and violence. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Mrs. Wilson (2019) - Stars Ruth Wilson in a suspenseful mystery that investigates. This PBS drama investigates the true story of Alexander Wilson, an enigmatic writer and spy. After his death at the home he shares with his wife, Alison, portrayed by Ruth Wilson, she finds that her marriage was not what it seemed, and neither was her husband. Mrs. Wilson, it turns out, is one of three women who bear the same title, none of which knew of the others. As it turns out, the drama has another layer of intrigue, in that Ruth Wilson is the granddaughter of Alexander Wilson. This film brought to life a stranger-than-fiction true story with beautiful costumes, cinematography, and an outstanding performance by Ruth Wilson. {AADL}
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2019) - Stars Melissa McCarthy in an uncharacteristically-serious role as a struggling writer who resorts to plagiarizing letters. McCarthy portrays author Lee Israel, who is struggling to survive in New York City. After a brief bout of fame, Israel has fallen into obscurity. Israel becomes involved in a one-person scheme to forge letters by famous literary stars in order to pay her rent and care for her sick cat. This film was equal parts heartwarming, upsetting, and wonderful. Both McCarthy and co-star Richard E. Grant contribute amazing performances. {AADL}
The Umbrella Academy (2019) - A Netflix original series, is based on the graphic novels written by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá. The series focuses on a group of adopted children, now adults, who have mysterious powers. The timeline shifts between their earlier experiences as children, and their current situation after their adoptive father dies. After one season, viewers are left with many more questions about the enigmatic backgrounds of the heroes, including how Number 6 died, and what exactly will happen after season one’s apocalyptic, cliff-hanger ending. {Netflix}

📖Audio Books
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee - This book had me laughing out loud almost the entire way through. The main character, Monty, is such a lovable idiot that I couldn't stop listening. The narrator reads the story so perfectly that he was nominated for the 2018 Audie Award® for Best Male Narrator. The sequel "The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy," which follows one of the other characters on her own adventure, is also wonderful and well narrated. {Overdrive}
Toil & Trouble by Augusten Burroughs - This is the first memoir that I have read/heard by Burroughs, though memoir is what he is most known for. (I previously listened to his audiobook "This Is How: Surviving What You Think You Can't," the anti-self help book that really did help.) Burroughs's narration style is natural, and he has good comedic timing. He can take a totally normal interaction and present it in such a way that you can't help laughing. I especially recommend this book to self-identified witches, who may find themselves nodding along in understanding. {Overdrive
Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming - First, I love Alan Cumming as an actor, a singer, and for his delicious Scottish accent. So hearing him narrate this very personal and moving life story was a treat, though the material was occasionally difficult. If you enjoy memoirs, especially celebrity memoirs, this one is very good and a little different in its layout than many that I have read. The chapters alternate between the past and the present, telling different but related stories. {AADL

♫ Music & Podcasts
7 by Beach House (2018) - Lush dream-pop is a good way to describe Beach House’s music. 7 was released in 2018 and took Beach House into a richer and even more layered sound. I loved it so much I went back to some of their earlier albums, including Depression Cherry, which kicks off with "Levitation" -- appropriate since it seems like you float through the album. Perfect for late-night listening. {AADL}
Capacity by Big Thief (2017) - Big Thief songs tend to be dark, but also so beautiful that if the odd frightening experience slips in there, you don’t seem to mind. Adrianne Lenker has a voice like none other and can pull you in with her hypnotic lyrics. In particular, listen to "Mary" and you will understand that song lyrics can be like poetry infused with melody. Big Thief put out two albums this year, too: U.F.O.F and Two Hands. If you like Capacity, you will most likely be drawn to Two Hands as well. {AADL}
Panther in the Dollhouse by Whitehorse - Luke Doucet and his wife Melissa McClelland make up this duo that has gone from folk to a much more rock sound in the past couple of years. Seeing them perform live, it becomes obvious that they love what they are doing, and they do it well. {Six-Shooter Records}
I Am Easy to Find by The National - If you’re looking for something introspective, with an almost hymn-like feel to it, check out The National’s latest album. Adding female vocals, including Sharon Van Etten, The National gave their fans something new to dig their teeth into. {AADL}
All Mirrors by Angel Olsen - This album grabbed me the minute I heard it. Angel Olsen’s voice together with a string section is the icing on the cake for her. {AADL}
Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten - This album is a bit of a departure for her if you’ve heard her other albums. It’s darker and more synth-based, with driving rhythms, but just as personal in her lyrics. Her powerful voice becomes even more of an instrument on this album, adding layers to the music. {AADL}
Afterdark on CBC - Odario Williams chooses music that will make even your longest, hardest day fade away. Listen to his show on CBC Radio 2 weeknights from 8 pm to midnight. If you can’t give up four hours, check it out after 10 pm. It gets more interesting in the second half of the show. {CBC.ca}

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - I loved this book so much that I read it twice and then bought a copy to keep. Kya, whose mother and siblings leave her alone with her alcoholic father at the age of six -- and then is completely on her own when he disappears three years later -- is both innocent and strong as she learns to survive the North Carolina marsh. But the marsh isn’t all Kya must learn to survive. She is left to navigate the many problems society inflicts upon anyone who chooses not to live a traditional life. {AADL}
The Innocents by Michael Crummey - This novel, set in the late 1800s, about an orphaned brother and sister trying to survive alone in a remote area of Newfoundlands harsh coast, is not a light easy read. It will challenge your thoughts and beliefs about the bond between brother and sister. {AADL}
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert - Set in the 1940s, I came to love Vivan for her courageous nature and her love for fun. Now 89 years old, Vivan tells the story of her wild and crazy life in New York City and includes a love story that will make you believe in true love. {AADL}
Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid - After I finished this book I found out it was based loosely on Stevie Nicks and the destructive personal and band experiences in the making of Fleetwood Mac’s iconic Rumours album. I don’t know how much of it is true, but Daisy is an interesting strong character, yet has a vulnerability to her that can make you cry. It’s a quick, easy read that is written in an interview-style with Daisy and those close to her, and it also has a little surprise ending. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Mystery, Alaska (1999) - I was absolutely delighted the entire time I spent watching this movie. My boyfriend had been enthusiastically recommending it to me throughout our relationship, promising me that I would like it. We finally sat down to watch it one weekend in September and I loved it from the very beginning. The story centers on Mystery, a rural Alaska town, where many of the residents spend most of their time thinking about, practicing, and watching ice hockey. The Saturday game where players on the local amateur team scrimmage one another is the highlight of every week in the otherwise sleepy town. When a former Mystery resident -- now an East Coast journalist -- returns to town to do a Sports Illustrated spotlight on the local players, everyone is in a tizzy. One thing leads to another and before anyone knows it, the New York Rangers are headed to Mystery to take on the hometown boys. This movie has got it all: comedy, a couple of sweet love stories, edge-of-your-seat sports moments … and Russell Crowe (he stars as the town sheriff and one of the best Mystery hockey players). I highly recommend watching (or re-watching!) Mystery, Alaska. It still holds up! {AADL}

One Day: The Extraordinary Story of 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten (2019) - I’ve always enjoyed reading about “America” as a broad concept. I love books where authors travel around the United States and write essays about the people and places and experiences they encounter (I always recommend Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan.) So, I was excited by the concept of One Day: author Gene Weingarten put days, months, and years into three different hats and plucked one slip of paper from each to come up with a specific date: December 28, 1987. Then, he researched extensively what happened across the United States that day and wrote this book. It is riveting to read the experiences -- big and small -- of residents from California to Indiana to Maryland over the course of this day -- a day that, when simply mentioned, would probably not bring anything significant to mind for most people. Murders, marriages, deaths, fires, video game victories … all this and more happened on December 28, 1987, and affected lives in profound and unexpected ways. I cried several times reading this book, and can’t stop recommending it to everyone I talk to. What a fascinating idea and Weingarten carries it out beautifully. {AADL}

The Lost by Natasha Preston - A young-adult thriller about teens who go missing from their hometown -- and yet haven't gone far. It was a really good psychological thriller for teens. While not as "scary" or "thrilling" as an adult thriller, there was plenty of suspense and the book even ends on a cliffhanger! {AADL}
Tribute by Nora Roberts - Even tho' this book is about 11 years old, I still like to re-read it at times. The storyline isn't the best, but I LOVE the characters and the character development in the book. {AADL}
Taming Teddy by Lucy Lennox - Taming Teddy is the second book in the Made Marian series of M/M Romances and it's my favorite of the series. Teddy and Jamie are wonderful, plus it combines my love of nature and nature photography. There's lots of steamy action and plenty of laughter as well in the whole series. Start with the first one, Borrowing Blue, and enjoy the Marians! The library owns the first three of the series. {AADL}
The Longmire series of books by Craig Johnson - I loved the TV series Longmire so I decided to read the books, which did not disappoint. They're full of great mysteries and red herrings abounding. The storylines are all unique and yet similar. On top of which, I think they got the casting just right for the TV series. {AADL}
Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber - An excellent debut of women's fiction by Ms. Webber. I've always enjoyed her cozy mystery series and I was thrilled with this women's fiction debut. There's plenty of drama, but there are tender moments and learning moments and a coming of age story that is excellent. There's also just a touch of magic in the story and that helps bring it all together. {AADL}

Death Wins a Goldfish by Brian Rea (2019) - This is a short and sweet graphic novel about Death, who has too much vacation time saved up and is forced by HR to take it all at once. During his year off, he does all sorts of small human things, including winning a goldfish at a carnival. It’s a sweet and funny look at humanity and the grim reaper. {AADL}
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow - A chilling book about breaking the Harvey Weinstein story and the structures in place that keep powerful. I was lucky enough to see Farrow speak with The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta earlier this year and write about it for Pulp. This book was everything I hoped it would be and more. {AADL}
A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel - This book follows the same format of the author/artist’s previous Caldecott Honor book, They All Saw a Cat, which I liked but I found this new one even better. It shows a stone through the eyes of different animals, seasons, and environments. The art is beautiful and the writing has a slight, lovely rhythm to it. Any picture books that I bring home are subjected to the same test: Am I willing to read this at least five times in a row to my three-year-old? For this book, yes. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Cuz I Love You by Lizzo (2019) - Duh. I’ve loved Lizzo for years and was delighted when her newest album blew up and made her the superstar she deserves to be. My three-year-old is nuts about Lizzo and alternates between yelling “PLAY LIZZO” when we are in the car and chanting “blame it on my juice” while jumping on the couch. {AADL}
The Highwomen by The Highwomen - This country supergroup made a beautiful record. I particularly love the first song, "Highwomen," which I can happily listen to over and over. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Booksmart - More movies about smart and funny young women, please! {AADL}
Toy Story 4 - I thought this one was much funnier and less dark than Toy Story 3, and new trash-toy Forky’s existential crisis was a great running joke. {AADL}

💟Pulp Life 
Independent pattern companies! I got really into sewing clothes this year, both for my kiddos and for myself. I’m not someone who is renowned for my ability to read manuals. My wife refuses to let me help with IKEA furniture except under her very strict direction because I tend to start constructing things based on my (generally misguided) instincts rather try to decipher a bunch of symbols. Because of this, regular sewing patterns have always been a nightmare for me- the directions are printed on super thin tissue paper and only make sense if you’ve been sewing for about sixty years. Imagine my delight when I discovered great independent companies that make great clothes patterns that come with full instructions, online videos and sew-alongs. Try out local pattern designer Made by Rae, who you can also find with the library’s CreativeBug subscription. I also like Closet Case Patterns and Helen’s Closet. If you want to start sewing, the machine AADL loans is an absolute dream to work with.

♫ Music & Podcasts
Finch by Penny & Sparrow (2019) and Lover by Noah Gundersen (2019) - My wife also loves these artists, but even she got sick of how much I played these late-year albums. {Finch listening options} {Love listening choices}
Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine - Dr. Sydnee McElroy and Justin McElroy (of the My Brother, My Brother and Me podcast) explore some of humanity’s attempts at “medicine" throughout history. {Maximum Fun}

The Dark Interval: Letters on Loss, Grief and Transformation by Maria Rainer Rilke (2018) - Not every letter in this short book blew me away, but the ones that did were worth the price of admission alone. I love letter collections and this one offers some of my favorite ways to think and talk about death and grief and how to live a richer life. {AADL}
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon (2012) - This one is deceiving: It’s a small, square book that looks like any other inspiring “gift” book for the college grad in your life. It might fit in with that group of books, but to me it transcends the genre. In it are valuable lessons that have helped shape how I think about my creative practice and how I want to move through this world. {AADL}
Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay (2018) - I’ve never consumed a book this difficult to read that was also a page-turner. A sobering collection of essays about current rape culture and one of the most important books I’ve read in the last several years. {AADL}
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (2002) - This collection houses the 2017 short story "Arrival," which it is based on. I came to this via the movie version, and when the credits rolled, I learned it was based on Chiang’s work. I immediately put this book on hold at the library -- and it did not disappoint. Chiang is a gifted linguist who uses science fiction to tell deeply human stories. {AADL}
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty (2014) - An entertaining memoir that follows the author through her early years as a professional in the America’s death industry. With lots of contemporary and historical anecdotes, you learn about the practices, misinformation, and ironies of the industry and meet some of its gruff-but-charming workers. Our society doesn’t talk about death and our practices surrounding it enough, and Doughty is out to change that. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Midsommar (2019) - One of those films: excellent, and I will think about for a long time. But I don’t think I ever want to watch it again. Trigger warning: suicide, drug use, cult-like content. {AADL}
Arrival (2017) - I somehow missed this one when it came out. Alien narratives almost always hold a mirror up to humanity, but few do with such tenderness, thoughtfulness, and visual beauty. {AADL}
Good Omens (2019) - A worthy adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s hilarious book with a great cast. All you need to know: An angel and a demon team up to stop the apocalypse. {AADL}
Marriage Story (2019) - A beautiful ache of a film that ruined my day in the best way. It’s a love story told through the lens of divorce. Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, and Laura Dern do a fantastic job in this movie. {AADL}


🎥Film, Video & TV
Invader Zim: Enter The Florpus - The long-awaited film reboot for the 2001 Nickelodeon TV Series came out on Netflix in mid-August. Having grown up watching this show, I was very excited to see its memorable characters make a comeback. The movie picks up where the television series left off and follows Zim, an alien soldier on a mission to conquer Earth with his robot servant GIR, and Dib, a 12-year-old aspiring paranormal investigator who’s determined to stop him and reveal to the world that aliens are real. The show also has a series of comic books. {Netflix}
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance - A prequel to The Dark Crystal film from the 80s, Age of Resistance expands the world and lore of Thra, and tells the story of three gelfling on their quest to ignite a rebellion against their otherworldly and terrifying lords who control the crystal that gives their world life. Technological innovations in puppetry and CGI really make the characters and world come to life in a way they couldn’t before. If you love Jim Henson films, then I highly recommend watching this Netflix series. {Netflix}
Care Bears: Unlock the Magic - Another great modern reboot. The Care Bears discover the entrance into the Silver Lining, where whiffles live and work to grow seeds of caring that expand the Bears’ homeland, Care-a-Lot. The care bears continue their mission to spread caring and sharing throughout the Silver Lining while stopping Bluster and his lackeys from causing trouble. This lighthearted show is something that kids and adults who grew up with the Care Bears can enjoy. {IMDB}

Matched trilogy by Ally Condie - 17-year-old Cassia lives an easy life where the Society decides everything for you: where you work, who you love, and when you will die. During her matching ceremony, she is unsurprised that her best friend Xander is chosen to become her life partner. She knows their perfect life together is certain, until she sees another face flicker on her matching screen for an instant before going dark. She soon faces the difficult choice between following the path laid before her, or creating a new, uncertain path of her own. The Matched trilogy uses storytelling reminiscent of Lois Lowry’s The Giver and is an entertaining addition to the teen dystopian genre. {AADL}
The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells - A sci-fi novella series set in a spacefaring future, where corporations contract and supply planetary exploration missions in search of profit. A team of scientists is assigned a unique SecUnit by their contracted company -- a self-aware android with a hacked governor module that (secretly) calls itself “Murderbot.” All Murderbot wants to do is be left alone and watch soap operas until it finally figures out who or what it is, but when communications from a neighboring team goes dark, it’s up to Murderbot and the team of scientists to discover what happened to them. {AADL}

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle - Sherry Turkle asserts that such a paradigmatic shift in communication as we are experiencing is causing degradation in the conversations we have every day. Dr. Turkle does not approach the topic of conversation from the lofty perspective of an Ivy League fellow nor does she make the quality of heady or intellectual discussion her main concern; rather, she scrutinizes human connection in its most basic forms through the lens of empathetic connection. Dr. Turkle offers a balanced approach to get one started on working through what the presence of technology might be doing to our quality of connection with one another while holding in tension the unquestionable benefits such technology offers. Rather than calling forth the inner luddite, Dr. Turkle asks the reader to become a conscious user of ubiquitous tech and wrestle with its effect on our interactions with others. {AADL}
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson - I never thought that a hard fantasy would feature an accountant as a protagonist, but there it is and it works. Baru is as complex as the Masquerade empire she serves in order to free her home of its rule: she, like the regime, is ruthless but intelligent, merciless yet utterly devoted, paranoid and determined. Seth Dickinson does not let us get too comfortable in any one of her many facets but makes us look at her in her entirety. Baru is not an archetype of evil nor of purity. She gets scared. She gets violent. She falls in love. And she asks the reader how far they would go, how much treachery and against whom they would perform it, in order to attain a righteous goal. Baru is a study in treachery and its corrosive effect on the heart and while this is not a book characterized by magic use or other fantastical elements, the delicate alchemy of strategy, economics, and moral choice. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Dressed: A History of Fashion - Fashion is not treated as frivolity on this podcast. April Callahan and Cassidy Zachary speak to designers, historians, economists, and anthropologists to get a better sense of how the clothes we wear have been reflections of their time and how the industry is affecting our lives today. Both are scholars of fashion at The Fashion Institute of Technology and do not approach the topic with the filter typical of the subject: with glamour and some implied sexiness. As Elizabeth Hawes, one of the earliest fashion revolutionists states, “People wear what they wear because of what goes on in their heads.” This podcast gives us the opportunity to speculate what was going on in the heads of those who have made up ages of history based on what was worn and what wasn’t. {Dressed}
Penny and Sparrow - Any album. Experiencing Penny and Sparrow is a meditation. When you walk away from a listen, assuming you’ve let yourself be bombarded with the implications of every word, the world will break your heart a little more and you will find discontentment with cliches. Give these guys some time and they’ll give you language for all manner of complexities with harmonies and guitars. {Penny and Sparrow}

Endgame: The Problem of Civilization and Endgame: Resistance by Derrick Jensen (2006) - Derrick Jensen has a unique solution for halting the destruction of the Earth: ending civilization. Whether this idea intrigues, angers, or confuses you, give this book a read. Jensen's proposal may be just the ticket. {AADL}
White by Bret Easton Ellis (2019) - The internet is destroying art, language, culture, and just basic awareness in general. Bret Easton Ellis talks a bit about it in White, and although his method is sometimes flawed, his vital point remains. {AADL}
Vacation by Blexbolex (2018) - This silly, tranquil story has lovely artwork, no words, and a subtle twist ending. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Transit Transit by Autolux (2010) - I bought this record the day it came out in 2010 and it's one of my favorite records ever. I listened to it non-stop just last month. AADL owns one copy of this album and I can't have it just sitting there. So go grab it. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Bob's Burgers, any season (2011-present) - I think Bob's is the funniest, most well-written show being done right now. {AADL

💟Pulp Life 
AADL World Famous Trivia Nights - These mind-blowing, captivating, and life-affirming trivia nights -- which I host -- started at AADL last July and have been called "the greatest trivia nights of all time" by every person who has attended them. Go check one out and find your purpose! {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Keep on Moving by Angélique Kidjo - A few years ago this artist from Benin (who has resided in Paris, France for many years) performed at Hill Auditorium, and she will be returning to Ann Arbor in February 2020. An audio recording can't reflect a live experience but it gives some idea of the power and reach of her work. Angélique Kidjo is fluent in five languages, plus another of her own that she spontaneously improvises. She blends diverse musical roots: Afropop, Caribbean zouk, Congolese rumba, jazz, gospel, Latin, rock music. and probably more. Some of the more danceable tracks include a version of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child", "The Sound of the Drums", and "Batonga". Others are haunting: "Fifa"; "Naima" (a song for Kidjo's daughter) and "Malaika" (a golden meltdown in the auditorium, the lament of one living with regret who had believed a lack of money meant s/he could not marry for love). {AADL}

Symphony in C: Carbon and the Evolution of Almost Everything by Robert Hazen - I haven't yet read this cover-to-cover, but thumbing through it was refreshing. The author, both a musician and an Earth scientist, presents an elegantly-written and vivid counterpoint to the oversimplified media vilification of an essential life element, one older than the oldest stars. The book celebrates and explores carbon as a symphony in four parts named for the medieval elements (minus the fifth, quintessence, which might also be appropriate.) Hazen is no denier of human contributions to climate change but is humble and life-affirming in the face of the subtle complexity of the system. I suspect I will not find this mind reducing trees to enclosed monasteries, storage cabinets, sink drains, or trash bins. (Just as I was thinking through some of this, a little girl and her older relative walking on the other side of the street from me stopped at a tree so the girl could touch and put her arms around it.) {AADL}

💟Pulp Life 
Finally began to explore Stapp Nature Area by Traverwood Library. An entomologist accompanied me once. Through his nearsighted eyes, he could see and show me all the ways the butterflies and other insects stitch the woods together. Tiny, mighty webs and pendant eggs and home-constructions, things visible if you happen to catch a temporary gleam of light. Be careful there and take good care of it. Small in acreage, it's a maze of little doorways from which a world could be regenerated.


The Octopus by Frank Norris - This 1901 novel about the conflict between California wheat growers and the railroad is so full of grand events and broad characters that I’m surprised no one has made it into a mini-series. {AADL}
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper - The story is full of melodrama and Cooper’s writing style feels archaic but the action still works and the sympathetic treatment of Uncas, the last of the Mohicans, was wise beyond its time. {AADL}
Foundation by Peter Ackroyd - Subtitled, “The History of England from its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors,” Ackroyd doesn’t mess around. He, indeed, starts his book thousands of years in the past but eventually gets to William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionhearted, Richard II, Richard III and Henry VII. A fascinating readable history. Volume One of a series. {AADL}
The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides - Sometimes it feels like a rundown of battles concerning cities of which you’ve never heard and long speeches that Thucydides probably invented but it’s also a rich examination of a period of history that we probably wouldn’t know of without it. It brings to life people who died 2500 years ago and it demonstrates that democracy has always been fragile and the thirst for power has always been with us. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 - I waited on this series, not having CBS All Access, and it was worth it. I know there have been Star Trek fans that find the old series so sacrosanct that they deplore this series but they are missing out. It is because it establishes its own tone and creates its own characters that it is so powerful and surprising. {AADL}
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - Quentin Tarantino’s most satisfying alternate history story. If only things had worked out this way. {AADL}
The IrishmanIts three-and-a-half-hour running time feels like 45 minutes. Everyone is great in it but Joe Pesci is best of all. If you’ve ever loved Martin Scorsese’s films, you have to see this one. {IMDB}
Us - Jordan Peele takes a trope as old as Euripides and seen in everything from Edgar Allan Poe to Twilight Zone to Alfred Hitchcock Presents and makes it his own. {AADL}
Cold Case Hammarskjold It begins as a documentary examination of the 1961 death of UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold and ends up in unexpected, chilling places. {AADL}
Health Undocumented. Juan Frietez’ compelling look at a clinic for undocumented patients in Arizona. After you see the film, go and talk to Juan about it. He works here! {IMDB}
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound - A history of sound in films doesn’t sound that interesting but it absolutely is. {IMDB}
RingsideLike Hoop Dreams but with young boxers. {IMDB}
Meeting GorbachevWerner Herzog’s latest documentary makes you wonder what might have been. Gorbachev: “Americans thought they won the Cold War and this went to their heads.” {AADL}
Jojo RabbitA half-hour into this film about a kid in the Hitler Youth who has Hitler as an imaginary friend, I thought, “This isn’t working for me at all.” But then it becomes so much more than that, demonstrating, among other things, that nothing dispels hate like getting to know people. {IMDB}

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons - I first saw the name Anne Rivers Siddons on my grandma’s big white attic bookshelf next to Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts. The House Next Door is the only horror novel she ever wrote and it is truly a hidden gem. Is the house next door cursed or are your neighbors just really xenophobic? Why not both! Bonus: Set in 70’s South Carolina, Siddons describes how characters decorate their homes and what they wear in such a way that you’ll be throwing on your Member’s Only jacket and decoupaging anything you can get your hands on by page 30. Absolutely sumptuous and painfully relevant. {AADL}
The Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris - I laughed. I cried. I bought copies of the first book for my mom, sisters, friends, acquaintances, exes, estranged cousins, family pets and strangers alike. The story of a telepathic waitress in Northern Louisiana solving mysteries while getting jiggy with supernatural beings might not sound like something you want to read but just trust me, it is. The characters become friends-in-your-head and as you root for them, you find ways to root for yourself. And let’s just say that Ms. Harris isn’t afraid of keeping the romance parts of the novels, well, spicy. Laissez les bons temps rouler, as they say. {AADL}
Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead - A book about a girl who visits her grandma and finds a cute lil’ zombie dressed as a chicken in her bedroom closet named Bob. This may be a book written for middle schoolers but it is required reading for all. With fabulous illustrations by Nicholas Gannon, Bob is a book that makes you see the joy in the world. {AADL}
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper - This book broke my heart. Not because it is sad (and there are certainly parts of this book that are sad) or because I felt bad for the characters, but because it reminded me that love--uninhibited, unfettered and against all the odds--is the thing that makes the world turn. For those of you looking to be better allies to disabled folks (which should be all y’all), buy this book. Or get it from us! Now, will somebody please bring me a tissue. {AADL}
Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of “The View” by Ramin Satoodeh - Seventy-something percent of Americans get their news from Facebook. For better or for worse, I get mine from The View. Beginning with the endless episodes I watched with my mom and Grandma growing up, I am a faithful Viewer to this day. Satoodeh answers every question I ever had about the revolving door of squabbling panelists. Did Barbara Walters hate Jenny McCarthy as much as it seemed? Why can’t Whoopi Goldberg be in the same room as Rosie O’Donnell? How did the Clintons and the Trumps get along at Star Jones’ wedding? No bean goes unspilled. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Rosalía, any song - Happy bops. Sad bops. Pop-your-booty bops. Weird bops. Cinematic bops. Flamenco bops. Experimental bops. And all in a language that I don’t speak. Rosalía is indomitable and resplendent. {Rosalía}
Norman F*cking Rockwell! by Lana Del Rey - I began to love Lana Del Rey when I accepted the fact that she is neither real nor is she fake. She is an invention of her own design. One of those albums where you don’t have to skip a single track, NFR! is timeless songwriting from America’s favorite fabricated chanteuse. {AADL}
Eurovision 2019 - Imagine if every country in Europe (and some other ones too) were tasked with writing and performing a pop song, with one being chosen by popular vote as the continent’s favorite. That’s Eurovision! This year’s offerings were especially delightful. At times breathtaking and always campy, Eurovision garners more viewers than the Super Bowl. If you need a place to start, try Italy’s submission Soldi by Mahmood on YouTube.
"The Barrel" music video by Aldous Harding - Does her hat keep getting larger? What’s up with the evil moon mask? An absurdly listenable pop anomaly, you’ll spend hours trying to emulate her dance moves. It’s all a metaphor for something, but what? {Eurovision}

🎥Film, Video & TV
MTV’s How Far Is Tattoo Far? - I don’t care if it’s trash; I have no problem watching frenemies choose deeply obscene tattoos for each other, only to have them dramatically revealed by host Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi. Take a dash of Jerry Springer, a pinch of Shakespearean revenge, and a heaping spoonful of hot mess and voila: 2019’s most watchable trainwreck. And that’s saying something! {MTV}
The Farewell - The most heart-wrenchingly hilarious story about familial loyalty, cultural differences, and the power of love -- even if that love lives in the shadow of a big fat lie. I could watch lead actress Awkwafina read the phone book. {AADL

Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess by Janet Hill {AADL}
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens {AADL}
Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Mobituaries by Mo Rocca - Mr. Rocca takes the most unlikely person and does a touching, thought-provoking "mobituary" that leaves you mesmerized. His stories are meticulously researched and completely captivating. One of my favorites was the mobit for "The Other Darrin" on Bewitched. He takes a seemingly humorous topic and reveals a poignant life worth learning about. Mo Rocca also has a book in the AADL collection titled Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Frankie Drake Mysteries - A lighthearted TV series set in 1920's Toronto. It's a bit cheesy, but always fun. {AADL}
Young Sheldon - If you're a fan of The Big Bang Theory, this is an amusing addendum series. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Pony by Orville Peck {YouTube}
Birth of Violence by Chelsea Wolfe {AADL}
All Mirrors by Angel Olsen {AADL}
Easy Way by The Cactus Blossoms {Pulp}
Revolution of Mind by She Drew the Gun (2018) {AADL}
Miss Universe by Nilüfer Yanya (2019) {AADL}
Shell of a Girl by Sunny War (2019) {AADL}
Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten (2019) {AADL}
Reward by Cate Le Bon (2019) {AADL}
Lost Girls by Bat for Lashes (2019) {AADL}
Better Oblivion Community Center by Better Oblivion Community Center (Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst) (2019) {AADL}
Better in Blak by Thelma Plum (2019) {AADL}
2019 by Lucy Dacus (2019) {AADL}
Loma by Loma (2018) {AADL}
World’s Strongest Man by Gaz Coombes (2018) {YouTube}
Damned Devotion by Joan as Police Woman (2018) {YouTube}
Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division (1979) {AADL}
Movement by New Order (1981) {AADL}
Disintegration by The Cure (1989) {AADL}
Wish by The Cure (1992) {YouTube}
Avalon by Roxy Music (1982) {AADL}
Walking Wounded by Everything But the Girl (1996, reissue 2019) {YouTube}
The Cars by The Cars (1978) {YouTube}
Juju by Siouxsie and the Banshees (1981) {YouTube}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Harriet (2019) - Just saw in the theater with our son and going to see it again with my husband. Great movie! {IMDB}


Pricked by Scott Mooney - Scott Mooney is whip-smart, and so is his writing. Whether you're into fantasy or not, mystery or not, or just want to commiserate with someone who hasn't totally figured out her life, you're going to find something you like in this book. First, the writing is hilarious. You know all those sometimes-sassy, potentially awkward thoughts you have that you think might be funny, but almost never dare to say out loud? (What, is it just me?) It's like Mooney sharpened them up and gave them back to you as lenses through which to experience Pricked's Poisoned Apple (see what I did there?). Main character Briar is a perfectly flawed hero (aren't we all?), and I found myself tearing through this book at an arrow's speed. {AADL}
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown - I listened to this one on a road trip in northern California, and the story was just as captivating as the landscape. The short description is that it tells the story of the U.S. men’s rowing team that competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. What makes it interesting is that this Washington team was a conglomeration of poor kids and lumberjacks-turned-rowers during the Depression. It's not just a sports story, but it is a great sports story. If you've never rowed you can live vicariously and really understand just how physically, mentally - athletically - challenging this sport is. If you have been part of a crew team, well, congratulations, you've found a book that gets it. I tend to prefer fiction to non-fiction, but this story flowed and gave me all of the emotional highs and lows of a narrative style. {AADL}
Flygirl by Sherri Smith - A couple of things you should know about me: I love flying, I love the telling of stories that have been buried for too long, and I really like learning about history via a personal and narrative structure. Flygirl combines all three. Using one central character, Ida Mae Jones, and a host of family, friends, and fellow airmen to represent experiences of multiple real-life people, Smith tells the stories of the WASPs, Women Airforce Service Pilots who served during World War II. Gender, race, class, and navigating open cockpit planes before computers (they taped maps to their legs, people!) - not to mention death-defying stunts (an acrobat is involved) - are all woven into this journey. This book is accessible for young adults and grownups alike. {AADL}
Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan - Another thing you should know about me is that I do a lot of reading via audiobook. I honestly picked this one up because it was the first audiobook available at that exact moment that sounded acceptably interesting. I LOVED it. First of all, there’s a bookstore, so you have my attention. And there are ancient books in a mysterious language. And a host of quirky people stopping in to this shop because they’re OBSESSED with these books. Wouldn’t you be just a little bit curious? The tone is also light and fun and nerdy. The story captivated me beyond my wildest expectations (which, admittedly, were pretty low). P.S. I just discovered there’s a prequel; WHAT?! {AADL}
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah - I also listened to this one as an audiobook, which I recommend because it's read by Trevor Noah himself. It's his story and you can tell. Not only are his dialects and mastery of languages something you really have to hear to fully appreciate, but comedians know timing. Noah's experiences with race, apartheid, a white father, an abusive stepfather, and a strong as H-E-double-hockey-stick black mother are wrapped up in a story along with anecdotes about preparing for prom and a perpetual run-away dog. You're going to want to read this one to the end, trust me. {AADL}
The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg - I don’t have a lot of experience with graphic novels, so thank you to my book club for expanding my horizons. While I don’t feel well-versed enough in the graphic part of graphic novels to comment on the visual artwork, I can tell you about my reaction to the story. Mythology! Feminism! Resistance! Keep turning the pages! I know all these things exist elsewhere in the graphic novel world, and I’m looking forward to future forays. If you haven’t delved into this genre yet, but like women’s folklore, consider checking this out. {AADL}
Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman - I know the TV show has been out for ages, but I needed an audiobook and it was available. First, I appreciated that the author owns her privilege; she’s a white woman with access to education, money, healthcare, (books!) and a society that will support her during and after her incarceration (see: went-to-prison-and-published-a-best-seller-and-made-a-TV-show-about-it). With that very big grain of salt firmly in place… take a look inside a women’s prison through the eyes of one woman. Look at race. Look at aging. Look at power and control. Look at how rules and relationships form, and evolve. Also, look at how the Martha Stewart conviction appeared to those already behind bars. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Hidden History of the Human Race by Blood Incantation  - Old school death metal with a big ol’ sci-fi twist, all recorded to analog tape -easily my favorite record of 2019, and will be hard for most to top in 2020. {YouTube}
Old Star by Darkthrone - This frostbitten two-piece has been on a shockingly consistent tear for about 7 albums or so now, and show no signs of stopping. Classic heavy metal done right, with an obvious black metal tinge that will please the grimmest of metalheads. {YouTube}
Blow Off the Omens by Child Bite - Local-ish noise/punk/rock/who knows what genre heroes deliver their biggest and best-sounding record to date, packed to the brim with twisty riffs and truly manic/distinctive vocals. {YouTube}
The Enemy: Reality by Wolfbrigade - Urgent, powerful, and concise salvos from these d-beat hardcore legends. {YouTube}
Orificial Purge by Vastum - More cavernous death metal from these Bay Area monsters, now boosted by the inclusion of Necrot’s formidable rhythm section. {YouTube}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Bolcom and Friends by University of Michigan Symphony Band (2018) - I put this up here mostly to self-promote: I'm playing tuba in this ensemble on this CD. This album was done to commemorate U-M Professor Emeritus William Bolcom and other composers (such as Paul Dooley -- he's the composer of the track in the link), and was conducted by Michael Haithcock. {YouTube}
Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 by Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra with Manfred Honneck (2019) - New recording of the PSO performing Bruckner's last symphony. It is nominated for the 2020 Grammys. {YouTube}
Copland: Billy the Kid; Grohg by Leonard Slatkin with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (2019) - Nominated for the 2020 Grammys. {YouTube}
Norman: Sustain by Gustavo Dudamel with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (2019) - Also nominated for a 2020 Grammy. {YouTube}
Mahler: Symphony No. 7 by Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with Mariss Jansons (2017) - I have listened to this album many times since it came out. The reason I'm putting it up here is because the conductor, Mariss Jansons, died on November 30, 2019. He was an incredible musician. He said to "live every concert as if it were your last." This album is a testament to his interpretation and his collaboration with the RCO. {AADL}
Symphony No. 2: Flute Concerto; Phaethon by Christopher Rouse, composer; Christoph Eschenbach, conductor; Houston Symphony Orchestra (2017) - First released in 1997, this recording is a testament to Christopher Rouse's composing. He died earlier this year on September 21, and will have his sixth symphony to be premiered, posthumously, by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Joker (2019) {IMDB}

Brief Answers to Big Questions by Steven Hawking (2018) - It still seems like Steven Hawking died yesterday. This book gives us an insight to Steven Hawking's mind: a smart man who changed our understanding of physics and who loves his family. {AADL}
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (2016) and Everything Is F*cked (2019) by Mark Manson - Both of these are here because I was reluctant to read the first book. The language seemed too vulgar to have anything of substance in it (I judged that book by its cover!), but Manson brings up good arguments supported by other phycology texts presented in an easy-to-understand language. {AADL} {AADL}
Dune by Frank Herbert (1965) - This one is an old one, but the universe that the language of this novel is hypnotizing and fascinates the imagination with imagery, plot, and characters. (If you want me to write something better for this let me know!) {AADL}
How We Learn by Benedict Carey (2014) - This book has the current known science of learning and how to apply it in individual study. It's great paired with the title below. {AADL}
Atomic Habits by James Clear (2018) - This book illuminates why we do what we do on a daily basis and can help us to have habits that we enjoy and help us in our long term goals. The essence of the book relies on how our daily systems help us achieve our goals, and how useless goals are. Everyone's goal is to win, right? {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
The Lighthouse - Acclaimed director Robert Eggers second film proves to be just as great, if not better, than his previous work, The Witch. Robert Pattinson continues to prove he's earned his shot at the upcoming Batman role, and Willem Defoe is simultaneously terrifying, hilarious, and captivating. The final 10 minutes has some the most intense imagery and noise design I've ever seen or heard, and it's stuck with me since. {AADL} {Website}
The Mandolorian - I can't be the only one choosing this as a favorite, and for good reason. Only 4 episodes in, director Jon Favreau and his team have successfully captivated new and old fans. This reignited the Star Wars nerd in me and I can't wait to watch the rest of the season. {Website}

American Gods by Neil Gaiman - I picked this up after watching a couple episodes of the HBO adaptation. Still have yet to finish the series but love the book. {AADL}
Smashed by Junji Ito - This is my first time reading any of Junji Ito's work and I'm hooked. I can't wait to read more of his stuff (same with Neil Gaiman). {Website}

♫ Music & Podcasts
H3 Podcast - My interest in podcasts started with this one. From here I've started listening to several, mostly comedian podcasts. I'm super grateful and it's nice to have some laughs throughout the day. Also, their Teddy Fresh clothing line is colorful and stylish. {YouTube} {Website}
TigerbelllyIn my opinion, comedian Bobby Lee is one of the funniest people on the planet. His podcast is a window into the chaos that ensues when Bobby enters a room. {YouTube}
Marc Rebillet - This guy improvises songs on the spot and creates them in front of a live audience, often with a comedic twist. {YouTube}
Hello World! by King Krule - A short film from Charlotte Patmore and Archy Marshall. It combines nostalgic imagery with soothing melodies to create a lo-fi, hypnotic piece of art. {YouTube}
The Fall of Hobo Johnson by Hobo Johnson - I didn't start out as a big fan of Hobo Johnson, but he shows so much improvement on this album that I think it's definitely noteworthy. It's a perfect blend of spoken word, hip-hop, and indie rock that almost sounds like a new genre all together. If you're into non-conventional storytelling, this is the album for you. {YouTube}
Easy by Mac Ayers - This is an older song, but this led me to listen to more of Mac's music and I think he's super talented. {YouTube}
Pretty Pretty Pretty Please by Pink Soup - I made this EP out of my bedroom and it's honestly why I haven't listened to much music this year. It's the first thing I've ever released, so as self indulgent as it may be, I had to include it on this list. It's a lo-fi blend of R&B, hip-hop, and dream pop. {YouTube}

The Lady From the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Millicent Patrick by Mallory O'Meara - O'Meara uncovers the life and work of Milicent Patrick, one of Disney's first female animators and the only woman in history to create one of Hollywood's classic movie monsters. O'Meara discovered that Patrick's contribution had been claimed by a jealous male colleague, and she soon after had disappeared from film history. O'Meara set out to right the wrong, and in the process discovered the full, fascinating story of an ambitious, artistic woman ahead of her time. {AADL}
Lost and Found by Shaun Tan - Three stories explore how we lose and find what matters most to us, as a girl finds a bright spot in a dark world, a boy leads a strange, lost being home, and a group of peaceful creatures loses its home to cruel invaders. Three short stories that focus on loss and despair. The final story, "The Rabbits," is written by John Marsden. Though this is a children's book, the art and stories are equally impactful to adults. {AADL}
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett - A dying wizard hopes to pass his wisdom on to the eighth son of an eighth son, but when the child comes out female, the future of magic could be in jeopardy. Terry Pratchett has always been a favorite author of mine, but this book especially was humorous and had some good insights about subtle sexism and the ways the main character overcomes it. If you enjoyed Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, you will enjoy this book. {Wikipedia}
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (illustrator) - When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. If you have yet to read this FANTASTIC series, I highly suggest you do so. Even if you don't normally read graphic novels, the art is beautiful and the story is very compelling. There are some sexual themes, so be warned. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
The Adventure Zone Podcast and graphic-novel adaptation - The Adventure Zone is a biweekly comedy and adventure actual play podcast based loosely upon the popular Dungeons & Dragons game series, along with other role-playing games. The show is distributed by the Maximum Fun network and hosted by brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy, and father Clint McElroy. {Maximum Fun} {AADL}
Zaba by Glass Animals - A wonderfully weird band I had the joy of discovering this year. They have such a unique sound, I have never heard anything like them before. {YouTube}

🎥Film, Video & TV
The OA - In addition to her role as creator and executive producer of this mind-bending series, Brit Marling also plays the role of Prairie Johnson, a young blind woman who returns home after a seven-year disappearance. Her sudden return is not the only miraculous occurrence: everyone is shocked to learn that Prairie is no longer blind. While the FBI and her parents are anxious to discuss Prairie's disappearance, she won't talk about what happened during the time that she was missing. {Netflix}
Midsommar - A young woman reluctantly joins her boyfriend on a summer trip to a Swedish festival where things quickly go awry. I enjoyed this horror film because it is not the norm for horror movies. The usual movie is full of gore and jump scares, but this movie was a lot more about a young woman's grief and anxiety, and resonated deeply with me. It won't be for everyone, but if you at all enjoyed Hereditary I think you will enjoy this movie as well. {AADL}
Eighth Grade - Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school (the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year) before she begins high school. This movie is wonderfully awkward and a great watch for parents and young teens together. {AADL}

As a BookPro, there are certain books I keep finding in my hands that are gems. Here are a few:
Manhattan: Mapping the Story of an Island by Jennifer Thermes - Learn the history of the island of Manhattan from the last glacial period to modern times. It's fun and interesting reading for children and adults alike. {AADL}
Tokyo Stories by Tim Anderson - Tokyo has always fascinated me and I am hopeful I will go sometime in my life. This book is a complete food tour of Tokyo. You will get to know about its people and culture along the way. Super fun! I am now following its author on Instagram. {AADL}
In Pain: A Bioethicist's Personal Struggle With Opioids by Travis N. Rieder - I first learned about this book and its author through NPR's Fresh Air. The author is a renown John Hopkins Hospital medical ethicist who struggled with opioid addiction. If even he can become addicted to opioids after surgical procedures, anyone can. Riveting read {AADL}
United Tastes of America by Gabrielle Langholtz - What a beautiful book! An AADL Librarian first recommended it to me. As an immigrant in the USA, it was a delight to savor every page of this book. I learned about every state as well. {AADL}
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong - A son named Little Dog writes to his illiterate mother. Full of imaginary and poignant moments. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Tales of America by J.S. Ondara - One of my favorite artists from 2019. His first album, Tales of America, tells his story in a very poetic and sophisticated way. He sings to my soul. I cannot wait for AADL to have his album available for you to check out. {YouTube}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Arctic (2019) - This is the equivalent of Robert Redford's movie All Is Lost but on ice. Hold your breath until the very end. {AADL}
Gloria Bell (2019) -  You have to be "ready" for this movie. An anthem for women over 40 for sure. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
7 by Beach House {AADL}
Floating Features by La Luz {AADL}
Jinx (2019) and Locket (2017) by Crumb {Bandcamp}
Miss Universe by Nilufer Yanya {AADL}
All Mirrors by Angel Olsen {AADL}
Con Todo El Mundo (2018) and Hasta El Cielo (2019) by Khruangbin {Bandcamp} {AADL}
Primal Heart by Kimbra {AADL}
Virtue by The Voidz {AADL}
Heaven's Only Wishful (2018) and Some Place Else (2019) by MorMor {Bandcamp}
Heard It In A Past Life by Maggie Rogers {AADL}
Sex & Food by Unknown Mortal Orchestra {AADL}
Singularity by Jon Hopkins {AADL}
Begin Again by Norah Jones {AADL}
On the Line by Jenny Lewis {AADL}
The Now Now by Gorillaz {AADL}
Neon Impasse (2018), Celestial Angel (2018) Somnolent Nova (2019), and Chroma Velocity (2019) by City Girl {Bandcamp}
In Flight by Jinsang {Bandcamp}

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki {AADL} {AADL}
Inside the Now: Meditations on Time by Thich Nhat Hanh {AADL}
Call Me By My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh {AADL
All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life by Winona LaDuke {Haymarket Books}
Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog {AADL}

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1990) - The most British of all butlers reflects on his life's work. That may not sound very exciting, but I promise that it's one of the most moving novels you'll read this year, or ever. Ishiguro is a master at drawing a life in all its painful and tender detail. (Yes, they made a movie of this, and you should read the book anyway.) {AADL}
The Overstory by Richard Powers (2018): - A mildly (OK, wildly) strange epic about trees, this book will get you thinking. Richard Powers is an excellent writer, and over the course of many hundreds of pages he introduces you to a cast of characters as variant as the trees they come to love...only to flip the whole thing on its head and scold the human race for only caring about the dramas of our own species. We aren't nearly as important as the trees, after all; they will surely outlast us, despite what we've done to tear them down. This book got me thinking about environmental terrorism, human extinction, the relationship between propaganda and art, and how plants communicate (did you know that plants communicate??). I'm still not sure if it holds together as a novel because wow there is so much going on here, but if Powers is right, then human stories aren't nearly as important as the vast and ancient world of trees that most of us manage to ignore. {AADL}
He Held Radical Light by Christian Wiman (2018) - Christian Wiman is a profound thinker, intellectual, and poet, whose reflections on faith and art (and poetry and life and death and God) will sear right into you. {AADL}
Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat (2017) - Let's just say that my friends and family know who I'm talking about when I say "my friend Samin." Get this book and let Samin teach you how to cook. She is the best. (You should also absolutely watch her Netflix show by the same name.) {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Game of Thrones - I know I'm behind the times here, but I finally watched Game of Thrones this year and it was worth the binge!! I will love some of these characters forever. {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
The Bible Project Podcast - If you're interested in reading the Hebrew Bible in its historical context, the Bible Project is for you. Tim Mackie is a gentleman and a scholar and this podcast has blown my mind many times over. I highly recommend the series on God--they frame the topic as "God as a character in the ancient text," which helps brush aside a lot of cobwebs and opens up a really interesting conversation about how the ancient Hebrews thought about the spiritual realm. {The Bible Project}

💟Pulp Life 
Beer Cheese Soup at the Old German - Beer-cheese soup is a gift at 117 S. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor. {Old German}

🎥Film, Video & TV
My Hero Academia (2018-present) - In a world where 80% of the population has superpowers, or Quirks, what does it really mean to be a hero? This anime TV series follows a boy named Izuku Midoriya who was born without any powers but still dreams of being a hero. A chance encounter with the number one hero, All Might, starts his journey into the world of schooling for Pro Heroes. This show (and the manga its based on) is very entertaining, especially if you’re a fan of the superhero genre. The Quirks range from powerful to just weird and are all used in increasingly creative ways. I’m also a big fan of its examples of what makes someone a “true hero” with or without powers. The show includes messages of helping others, working hard towards a goal, and respecting your rivals, along with all the fun and action you could ask for. The show is ongoing, so catch up now! {AADL}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Roll for Topic - Now defunct, this podcast featured a couple of local role-playing game (RPG) game masters (GMs) would land on a randomly determined topic to discuss related to tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons or Blades in the Dark. If you attended AADL’s RPG Day, you may have already met one of the hosts (and a couple of their guests). {Common Room Radio}

💟Pulp Life
8 Ball Saloon - I don't go out to bars that often, but 8 Ball is quickly becoming my favorite. Located beneath The Blind Pig, it's a bar focused around bar-games including an arcade, several pool tables, and darts. I like its vibe: not too posh, not too grungy, very relaxed. I might be a big fan just because I won every game I played the last time I was in; we'll see how this next weekend goes. {8 Ball}

♫ Music & Podcasts
Critical Roll - I've been DMing for a long time, and after a full year of pleading done by a good friend, I finally decided to give this podcast a listen. I was not disappointed. The stories are rich and often hilarious: e.g., the party disguising themselves as flying cows. And the episodes are long meaning that I won't run out of material for a long, long time to come. {Critical Roll}
Camila by Camila Cabello - This is the debut album by the artist who did the hit song "Havana." It's brilliant and sad and beautiful all at the same time. I've listened to the album so many times I've lost count (and teared up a few of those times, too). {AADL}

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown - I picked this book up in 2018, but I love it SO much that I had to include it here. I'm still rereading it and have the opportunity to make it my next book club's book. It's emotionally challenging, but in a very very good way. I could rant about this book for hours and, as my friends know, I have. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - A co-worker introduced me to this movie this year and I LOVED it! It's cute, sweet, and very well made. Definitely a movie for both adults and children. {AADL}

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden - Tillie Walden won an Eisner at age 22 for her 2017 autobio graphic novel Spinning and in 2018 released On a Sunbeam, a massive, gorgeous, pseudo-utopian, teen love story in space. Her art is unbelievably expressive, with each page having its own restrained palette, but it's the subtle worldbuilding and exposition that really grabbed me and wouldn't let go. This book takes place in a complicated, foreign but familiar, spacefaring society of humans. Part of the story takes place at a boarding school, and the details about the world are teased through classwork that the characters in the story barely pay attention to, because it's so boring to them. It feels so deft and natural and gives you what you need to understand the emotions of the story and leaving you wanting more. Such a refreshing alternative to the typical sci-fi trope of pages and pages about how its world works. {AADL}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Promare - Over-the-top anime masters Studio Trigger's first feature film had a single Fathom screening in 2019, and was screened again in early December. You know how sometimes people just get so stressed they explode? Well, what if they actually exploded? Of course, you'd need a motley crue of charismatic, mecha-piloting firefighters with big exciting hair to fight those fires, right? Promare has super-high production value and a very unique graphic look while unquestionably staying within the rules of anime-land, in that it looks and sounds great, and almost makes sense. Watch for this one to hit the AADL collection on Blu-ray in 2020. {Fathom Events}

♫ Music & Podcasts
MEUTE - German techno brass band MEUTE (say it "Moy-tuh") does high-energy covers of techno hits using only marching band instruments and percussion. My household cannot pass up any band that includes a Sousaphone, and MEUTE's October show at El Club in Mexicantown is still reverberating in our heads and on our turntables! If this is your sort of thing, NYC subway phenoms Too Many Zooz play El Club in February and brother act Lucky Chops hits there in March. {YouTube}


♫ Music & Podcasts
Music for Meditations v.1 by Ahrkh Wagner - I listen to a lot of ambient music and it's usually just that: background ambiance. But Ahrkh Wagner's Music for Meditations v.1 sounds inspired and distinctive. Recorded in a church in England, the duo of A.P. Macarte (Gnod) and Mark Wagner (H.U.M.) used field recordings and loops -- adding shamanistic and Sufi voice overdubs later -- to create the music, which taps into the exact frequencies your brain needs to relax. But this was not an active music session: Macarte and Wagner meditated as their self-generative music played on and on and on. {Bandcamp}
Better Oblivion Community Center by Better Oblivion Community Center (2019) - This collaboration between Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst is my favorite thing either of these folks have recorded, which is saying a lot: Bridgers' 2017 debut, Stranger in the Alps, is an all-timer for me, and I like this Better Oblivion record so much that I went back and explored all the Oberst I've ignored, which is a lot (both my ignoring and his prolific output). This album's mix of indie-rock, folk doldrums, and sharp production never left my car CD player in 2019. {Bandcamp}
Dead Man's Pop by The Replacements - The Replacements' 1989 album, Don't Tell a Soul, was the group's go-for-broke moment, and during the mixing stage, the band allowed the record to be bathed in 1980s studio production, which turned off many fans. Not me; I'm a geezer who likes big drums. If Phil Collins could sit in my bedroom and wake me up with the "In the Air Tonight" drum fill every morning, I'd be pleased. But the knee-jerk reaction to Don't Tell a Soul means that people missed one of the strongest collections of 'Mats tunes -- not the best songs in the band's career, but the most consistent collection of compositions they put together for a record. (I'm the lone guy waving that flag, but wave I must.) Dead Man's Pop is a box set that features Don't Tell a Soul recording engineer Matt Wallace's original mixes of the record, as well as outtakes -- including some terrible drunken jamming with Tom Waits -- more alt versions, and live recordings from the era.
Rituals of Power by Misery Index (2019) - Ph.D. political dissertations set to what is ostensibly death metal, but it's far less Cookie Monster, way more crust punk, full of massive riffs and face-melting musicianship. It's the perfect album to blast as you drive by the White House. {Bandcamp}
Heard It in a Past Life by Maggie Rogers (2019) - I was introduced to Rogers via her Saturday Night Live appearance in November 2018. At that point, she just had some singles out -- this album didn't release until January 18, 2019 -- and her SNL performance got off to a rough start according to some viewers, who were trying to figure out if she was singing off-key at the start of "Lights Out" (she was, just barely and briefly). Then she came out later and performed "Falling Water" -- and the opening line out of her mouth was a gospel-fueled blast that definitively announced that, in fact, she's a great singer, so all y'all need to go back and tweet some updates. Add in Rogers' completely guileless dancing and overall joyful demeanor and it felt like an important new artist announced herself to the world that night. Heard It in a Past Life is a terrific mix of folky melodies and electronic production held together by Roger's fully-formed vision. It's the rare pop record where you will not want to skip a song. {YouTube}
Wrecked by Zonal - Hip-hop as blotter acid. Former Techno Animal bandmates and longtime friends Justin Broadrick (JK Flesh, Godflesh) and Kevin Martin (The Bug, King Midas Sound) release their second album under the name Zonal, the first in 19 years. With the wildly psychedelic raps of Moor Mother festering through Martin and Broadrick's dank, claustrophobic soundscapes, Wrecked lives up to every bit of its name. {Bandcamp}
"Night Sweats" by Lloyd Cole - I've stanned this songwriter for 33 years, so he's gonna make my list whenever he puts out new music, as he did in 2019 with the fab, electronic-dunked album Guesswork. But the first single has the best opening line of any song I've heard in a minute. All complicated MFers will agree. {YouTube}
"Now I'm in It" by Haim - The sister trio of bass-face renown have been releasing singles this year, from the "Walk on the Wild Side"-inspired "Summer Girl" and the recent Dixie Chicks-ish "Hallelujah," but the nervy pop of "Now I'm in It" is the clear winner -- and one of the catchiest songs about a major depressive episode you're likely to hear. {YouTube}
"Burrito" by Czarface - Best rap song about indigestion ever. Maybe the only one, too. Czarface is a project between 7L & Esoteric along with Wu-Tang Clan's Inspectah Deck -- the trio released three records in 2019 and every one is worth a listen, especially if you like underground hip-hop from the mid-1990s. {YouTube}

"Pollyanna" by The Kelseys - I think I listened to this song more than any other in 2019 -- and it just so happens to be by a quartet of U-M undergrads. An expertly played, New Wave-y meets AAA rock-radio anthem that acknowledges a friend's difficult time and urges her to keep pushing on. The fantastic music video, also by U-M undergrads, takes place during the 2019 Polar Vortex in Ann Arbor and stars dancer Victoria Briones. Keep it bookmarked for a pick-me-up during this winter (and all others). {Pulp}
Dagoretti Records - A feature on Dr. Pete Larson's Dagoretti Records will be on Pulp soon, but in the meantime, go to the label's Bandcamp and check out EVERYTHING. U-M researcher Larson spent time in Kenya for his job studying the spread of infectious diseases, but while he was there he learned how to play the nyatiti, a traditional plucked-string instrument. Dagoretti's now released all sorts of music from Kenya, from folk to electronic, as well as American free jazz (Heart of the Ghost) and sundry other left-field styles. Two great places to start are Nairobi Music by Dave Sharp Worlds with NDIO SASA and Misiginebig by Dr. Pete Larson and his Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band. {Bandcamp}
Axe to Grind podcast - Three guys sitting around talking hardcore, plus some punk and metal, for hours at a time. Great rapport. {Axe to Grind}
Trumpcast - Host Virginia Heffernan is a fantastic writer, primarily penning op-eds and cultural criticism. But she's also a tremendous interviewer and podcast host, and even as she's expressing her own anxiety about the treachery entrenched in the White House, she asks pointed questions to really smart guests who do their best to make sense of the bizarro world in which we currently live. {Trumpcast}
The Eugene S. Robinson Show Stomper! - The confrontational singer of longrunning art-punk outfit Oxbow is also one of the first people to ever cover mixed martial arts. Show Stomper also reveals Robinson to be one of the best off-the-cuff speakers I've ever heard. He riffs for about an hour at a time, usually about MMA, but he also delves into cultural topics, books, music, and more with erudite insights (and incites). An American treasure. {YouTube}
Deepspaceradio - For whenever I need a jolt of Detroit techno, this online station delivers the boom boom boom boom. {Deepspaceradio}
Wrestling Observer Radio - Dave Meltzer is the G.O.A.T. pro wrestling journalist and his instant recall of minute details from regional wrestling events from 1972 is mind-boggling. Plus, dude is genuinely still excited to watch wrestling (and MMA) after all these years, and sometimes he's brimming with so much info that he wants to share, it spills out of his piehole in the most beautifully circuitous way. {Wrestling Observer}

🎥Film, Video & TV
Mystery Science Theater 3000's The Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour - The final touring event with MST3K founder Joel Hodgson touched down at the Fox Theater in Detroit to roast 1986's No Retreat, No Surrender, a Karate Kid rip-off that features a pre-verbal Jean-Claude Van Damme as the baddy. Netflix's great reboot of MST3K wasn't renewed after the second season, which deeply disappointed my hyperverbal children, who also yammer during movies NONSTOP. {MST3K Live}
Stranger Things - I watched the entire series this year, which my whole fam loved -- even the tonally very different third season, which was jarring compared to the first two and made especially obvious during my back-to-back binge. Season three mostly moved on from the spooky '80s tropes and went wholeheartedly into the kids-thwart-nuclear-power-countries-all-by-their-li'l bitty-selves trope. I was into it. WOLVERINES! {Netflix}

Jazz From Detroit by Mark Stryker Jazz From Detroit, which came out this summer on University of Michigan Press, is an authoritative chronicle of the city's jazz legacy from the 1940s to the 21st century and shows how Detroit's contributions to the music were essential to its development. Former Detroit Free Press critic Stryker is the rare jazz journalist who can not only explain the intricacies of the music in technical terms but also paint a picture of what's in front of him with literary prose. Jazz From Detroit is filled with numerous examples of him breaking down sounds in ways that are educational for musicians, but there are also engaging, scene-setting narratives that put readers right in the room even if you're someone who thinks a chromatic scale is something you weigh yourself on in the bathroom. {AADL}

💟Pulp Life 
Turning a bazillion years old in France, then having back surgery to counteract turning a bazillion years old in France -- but not before playing songs in Michigan for the first time in 26 years by my long-defunct band Veronica Lake, all while hopped up on painkillers and lying on the dusty basement floor of Ziggy's in Ypsilanti before we went on because I could barely stand-up. Hero. And I'd do it all again in a second, especially the back surgery since I feel like $75 bucks now. A rich man, indeed.

➥ 2018 AADL Staff Picks
➥ 2017 AADL Staff Picks
➥ 2016 AADL Staff Picks