2020 Staff Picks

Normally, you might come into the library, talk to someone on staff, get some recommendations, perhaps share a few of your own, and we'd go on our merry ways, content we could engage in a positive social interaction while discussing whatever book, movie, TV show, music, or more that came up.

Art is life and life is people.

But we've not seen most of you since March 13, the last time the Ann Arbor District Library was fully open to the public—and to the staff. While many AADL staffers have returned to the buildings to do important behind-the-scenes work since the summer, many others have been working from home since the closure. And we miss being able to share what we're currently loving not just with patrons but also with each other.

So, to staffers and patrons alike, these are the movies, TV shows, music, books, and more that helped the AADL crew get through 2020. 


Film, Video & TV
This year I relied heavily on television shows, and consumed little other media. This is unusual for me. I love watching films, reading at least 25 books a year, and diving into a diverse range of media options. Seemingly both an excruciatingly long and extremely short year, 2020 has surprised me with television series that provided the perfect amount of distraction and emotional investment that I needed. My preferences shifted toward shorter series and anthologies with fresh and unexpected stories to keep me on my feet.
Lovecraft Country (2020) – A blend of science fiction, horror, and historical fiction, this series was developed by Misha Green and produced by Jordan Peele and JJ Abrams. Based on the synonymously-titled 2016 novel by Matt Ruff, the 8 episode series follows a Black family through a series of horrific, epic adventures set in 1950s Jim Crow America and beyond. The show begins when Tic, Leti, and Uncle George set out on a dangerous journey across the rural Midwest toward “Lovecraft Country”, or Ardham, Massachusetts--the fictional town based on the real-life Arkham, where many of Lovecraft’s stories were set. Upon arriving, they find a family history that none of them bargained for, white supremacists, and other monsters. This sets off a series of seemingly-unrelated events that build a complicated, nuanced narrative that ties together as the show progresses. Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Jonathan Majors both had outstanding performances, as did supporting cast members Jada Harris, Wunmi Mosaku, and Aunjanue Ellis. {HBO Max}
The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020) – The second installment in Mike Flanagan’s anthology series, The Haunting of Bly Manor was a strong follow-up to The Haunting of Hill House. Based on the 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, the season follows a governess from America as she works with two young children that appear to be having encounters with ghosts. Like the first season, the plot slowly unravels to reveal the truth of what is happening at the manor, but not before the audience goes through a series of speculative deceptions. {Netflix}
The Mandalorian: Season 2 (2020) – Somehow, The Mandalorian did not appear in my staff picks last year, despite being one of my favorite shows of 2019. This year, it continues to hold a coveted spot. This season, the backstory of “The Child”, probably better known as Baby Yoda, is explored in greater detail. And this season, we finally find out the mysterious child’s name! Season 2 introduces some classic characters we haven’t seen in live action, and relies less on CGI than the recent Star Wars franchises. Truthfully, I also just really love Baby Yoda, which I will continue to refer to ***** as! {Disney+}
Watchmen (2019) – This came out in 2019, but I did not watch it until this summer. This show seemed to eerily align with 2020 despite having been made the previous year. It takes place in a similar, yet altered reality to ours, offering layers of cultural critique amidst a super-hero driven plot line. Lovecraft Country is often compared to Watchmen, so it is no surprise that I first watched Watchmen and loved it, immediately followed by my weekly installment of Lovecraft Country. The creators said there will only be one season, though be warned, the series ends on a bit of a cliffhanger! {HBO Max}

What the Broken-Hearted Do… by Tim Heidecker (2019) – Maybe you have heard of Tim and Eric, the strange comedic duo who have consistently brought us weirdness via Adult Swim since 2001. Late last year, I had a shuffle list on that brought up Heidecker’s song “Work From Home”, which I immediately decided was the perfect blend of ridiculousness and comedic self-seriousness. Though this song, and many of his songs are wonderful in their own right, nothing makes me happier than listening to the 2019 album What the Broken-Hearted Do… particularly because each song is a distilled reference to genre music, including soft rock. And, in true Heidecker style, the album itself was created as a joke to respond to The Internet’s false accusation of an impending divorce. {Bandcamp}
Music for Cats Album Two by David Tee (2018) – According to Spotify, this was my #1 album for the year. This is fine with me, and my cats. Teie is a cellist for the National Symphony Orchestra, who also creates music for animals to listen to (and hopefully like) based on science! He has worked on his species-specific albums in tandem with the scientific field known as Zoomusicology, which studies the impact of sounds on different mammals, birds, and insects. Teie began working with primates, and has since made music for cats, dogs, and horses! His Music for Cats albums were crowdfunded and made with the intent to please both cat owners and cats. There are pleasant melodies for humans, as well as frequencies that only our animal friends are able to hear. {Website}


The Very Best of Buck Owens by Buck Owens – I'm a sucker for classic country of the 1950s and 60s, and this year, bouncing between the sometimes cartoonishly sad heartbreak tunes and Buck Owens' and Don Rich's loud and clear harmonies were just what I needed. {AADL}

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke – Locke so skillfully layers her suspenseful, multifaceted plots and quickly develops such relatable, compelling characters that I was fully invested before I'd actually decided that yes, I was going to read this book. She's brilliant. See also Black Water Rising. {AADL}
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park – Laura Ingalls Wilder readers will see the Little House books through a new and thought-provoking perspective in Park's middle grade historical fiction novel. I loved Prairie Lotus and couldn't stop thinking about it. {AADL}
Mr. McGinty's Monarchs by Linda Vander Heyden – My family got really into monarchs this spring and summer and spent a lot of time combing the milkweed patch by the garage for leaves with monarch caterpillars or eggs. We ultimately raised and released 12 monarch butterflies and learned a lot about the process and what to expect from this charming and beautifully illustrated picture book. {AADL}

Film, Video & TV
The Carol Burnett Show – Zany, predictable fun, and doesn't require deep thought or a long attention span from the viewer. Just good-natured hijinks and the costumes are a hoot! {AADL}


Normally this list tops out around 20 or more for me in a regular year. It’s not a regular year. But there were four albums (three released in 2020), along with one EP and one single, that I keep returning to. Everything is a bit quiet, sometimes ambient, and comforting — just what I need in 2020. 
Off Off On by This is the Kit (2020) – Ever since I heard a track from This is the Kit’s 2017 Moonshine Freeze, I’ve been a huge fan. Kate Stables’ lyrics and music are really unique and break out of the confines that would be imagined when you think of something from the “folk” genre. The way she uses repetition and overlapping vocal patterns is one of my favorite things in her music, adding complexity to a spartan use of words. The tracks were all written before the pandemic, but really get to the core of many 2020 feels. {Bandcamp
Don’t Shy Away by Loma (2020) – I loved Loma’s self-titled debut (2018), and really looked forward to this year’s release. Standouts on this album include Ocotillo and the title track, Don’t Shy Away. {Bandcamp}
Lean Year by Lean Year (2017) – This album was released in 2017, but one of the tracks (Come and See) was included in episode 7 of HBO’s The New Pope, which aired early in 2020. A friend sent that track my way, and it has been in constant rotation ever since. {Bandcamp}
Lamental by Squarepusher (2020) – This EP, which followed Squarepusher’s full-length release Be Up A Hello, is much more mellow and ambient than his other releases (which are sometimes a little too frenetic for me). Be sure to check out the video for "Detroit People Mover," filmed on the empty People Mover at the beginning of the pandemic shutdown in March 2020. {Website}
Tracy Chapman by Tracy Chapman (1988) – The lyrics from Chapman’s debut album from over 30 years ago still ring true today. A classic — I listened a lot as a teenager, but the album has taken on new depths of meaning since. Especially poignant in 2020. {AADL}
The Boys of Summer by Bat for Lashes (2020) – I admit I’m still a sucker for Don Henley’s original, but I was also equally obsessed by Bat For Lashes’ cover, released in 2020 from a live performance in London back in 2019. The spare, but lush, performance really captures the loneliness and dark mood of the original. Like in her 2019 release Lost Girls, Natasha Khan has a knack for capturing the essence of the ’80s. {Spotify}

Taking frequent walk breaks as a way to get outside for fresh air and change of scenery has been common for many people this year. So, podcasts have been a frequent companion. The top three on this list were new listens this year, while the rest are long-time staples of my podcast rotation. They helped get me through the year and around the neighborhood. 
Floodlines – It’s been over 15 years since Hurricane Katrina, and this podcast investigates the backstory and fallout from one of the greatest natural (and human) disasters in this country’s history. It was released in its entirety on March 11, 2020 — but I didn’t discover it until a couple months later, since we were all in the grips of the onset of the pandemic and subsequent shutdown. This eight-episode podcast, narrated by Vann R. Newkirk II, is so well done with excellent storytelling. {The Atlantic}
1619 – An amazing five-part companion to the New York Times Magazine publication from August of 2019. {New York Times}
This Land – Originally released back in mid 2019, but concluded with one final episode following the 2020 SCOTUS ruling on McGirt v. Oklahoma in July. {Crooked}
Creative Pep Talk with Andy J. Pizza – Being and staying creative generally can be challenging—even more so during a year like this. Creative Pep Talk is often inspirational and funny, and I look forward to the episodes every Wednesday. Sometimes there are guests for a great discussion, or it’s just Andy on his own talking through some techniques and approaches to creative practice that have been really helpful to me personally. {Website}
Pod Save America – Crooked Media has been a constant in my rotation of podcasts, especially this year. They have a fantastic full slate of podcasts focused on politics, current events, and culture, but these two have been at the top of my list. {Crooked
Call Your Girlfriend with Anne Friedman and Aminatou Sou - This podcast “for long-distance besties everywhere” is especially appropriate for this year when we can’t always hang out with our friends. I’ve had their new book, Big Friendship, on my hold list for quite a while—getting closer every day! {Website}
99% Invisible 
Ologies with Alie Ward 
Two other quirky podcasts exploring the curious and random aspects of our world. {Website} | {Website}

Film, Video & TV
Cardboard Loom Weaving with Heidi on AADL.TV
Back in April, AADL.TV premiered a short how-to video on weaving with a cardboard loom. I’d been interested in working with yarn, but knitting never appealed to me. In my work as a designer and artist, I love working with color — so weaving seemed like a good fit! The 40-minute video was a perfect introduction and the supply list included a lot of things I already had on hand. I’ve since made several of my own frame looms, and invested in a small professionally-made loom and some lovely wool yarn. Weaving has become a fabulous new way to be creative and it’s incredibly relaxing.  

Fake Love Letters, Forged Telegrams, and Prison Escape Maps: Designing Graphic Props for Filmmaking by Annie Atkins (Phaidon, 2020) – Annie Atkins’ work is impressive and lovely. In this book, Atkins highlights her detailed, painstaking process for fabricating everything from signage to newspapers for use in filmmaking—you’ve no doubt seen her work in a range of Wes Anderson films over the years. Even if the film’s viewer doesn’t see the full contents of a piece of paper held by an actor, Atkins sees the importance of designing an authentic prop that helps the actor perform their role. My dream is to attend one of Atkins’ workshops at her studio in Ireland someday. Ah, when we can travel again. {AADL}
A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop
The Moosewood Restaurant Table by The Moosewood Collective
The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman 
Before the pandemic rolled around, I’d spent some time with these cookbooks, trying out something new each weekend. And hoo-boy, that paid off once I limited my grocery shopping to once every two weeks or so. Having access to, and being able to cook, healthy food is a profound privilege that I try not to take for granted. While The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen is not a vegetarian cookbook, the Wild Rice Pilaf recipe alone is worth it. {AADL} | {AADL} | {AADL}

Pulp Life
Merlin Bird ID
 app from the Cornell University Lab – We all started trying to identify birds this year, right? This free app is a great resource and tool. {Website}
Parks – I’ve lived on the south side of Ann Arbor for more than 10 years now, but I’ve just this summer really come to appreciate Mary Beth Doyle Park. Tucked in between some neighborhoods, near the Malletts Creek Branch, there is just so much to explore here in all seasons. {Website}


Blackpink –  I think the only people on the planet who had a good 2020 are the four members of Blackpink. But what a year they had! 

For those of you who haven’t been previously acquainted, here’s what you need to know about Blackpink: the group consists of 4 girls: Jisoo, Rose, Jennie, and Lisa. Jisoo and Jennie are Korean born and raised (although Jennie spent several years living in New Zealand as a child), while Rose hails from Australia and Lisa is from Thailand. In South Korea, the entertainment industry consists of three main gigantic companies (think old-school Hollywood style studios), one of which is YG Entertainment. Each of the 4 girls in Blackpink successfully auditioned for YG Entertainment in their mid-teens. From there, the girls left behind their families, friends, and previous lives to move to Seoul for the trainee program, a live-in program that combines strict boarding school with intense daily training in singing, dancing, rapping, popping, and krumping. The girls trained 14 hours a day with only one day “off” every 2 weeks for a total of 4-6 years. Every month the CEO and producers of YG would watch the girls perform a solo song, group song, and group choreography number, and the girls would be graded at each monthly review. Those who didn’t make the grade were eliminated from the trainee program. Trainees are not guaranteed to “debut” to the public whatsoever, so some train for years before being cut. What started as a 9-member group slowly became a 4-member group, perfectly matched and balanced with defined roles. And once Blackpink debuted in 2016, they were met with immediate, unprecedented, and unrelenting success and … well, the rest is history. 

Blackpink has had notoriously little content the past 4 years they’ve been a group, so it’s surprising just how much content was released this year. It began with collaborations with Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, and Cardi B, and a new reality show, 24/365, that began airing weekly episodes in June. Their first-ever full-length album was released on October 2nd, hilariously titled The Album, and in the words of my husband: “I thought it would be good, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so cool”. It’s GOOD! Pop meets EDM meets trap meets rock meets something new entirely. Stand out tracks are “Pretty Savage” (if there’s one track to listen to on The Album, make it this one), “How You Like That” and “Crazy Over You”. As you can tell, I much prefer their “black” songs over their “pink” ones, but “Lovesick Girls”, “Love to Hate Me”, “Bet You Wanna” and “Ice Cream” are sweeter songs worth your while too. In fact, every single track on the album is good—a “no skip” album if you will. Their Netflix documentary Light Up the Sky premiered on October 14th and covers their past 4 years as a group, including never before seen footage of their trainee days interspersed with new interviews. And early next year is The Show, a YouTube livestream concert event taking place on January 31 that I’m beyond excited for.

So … are you looking to dive into the wonderful world of Blackpink? I suggest you start with Blackpink House, their reality show from 2018 that’s free to watch on YouTube. I’ve rewatched this show so many times it’s not even funny. The conceit of the show is that after years of hard work Blackpink has been granted a 100-day vacation, where they’ll live in a huge pink custom-made house and go on mini-vacations together. It’s a fun show that’s easy to watch and really showcases the girls’ personalities. You’ll follow the girls as they celebrate Christmas together, learn to cook, go zip lining, rollerblading, snowboarding, bowling, and battle each other in archery. They visit Jeju Island, Lisa’s home country of Thailand, and spend time with wild animals at Panda World. Blackpink’s early songs play in the background, and soon you’ll be humming along to “As If It’s Your Last” every time it plays. It’s a great program and I learn something new about the girls each and every time I rewatch it.

Blackpink Diaries is great because it features behind the scenes footage of the world tour Blackpink spent most of 2019 on (including Coachella footage, which features the girls hanging out with Will and Jaden Smith backstage, as well as footage of the girls performing their song “Kiss and Make Up” with Dua Lipa). 24/365 was really fun in the days leading to the release of The Album, offering behind the scenes footage of many of their music video shoots as well as fun games and a special Frozen-themed performance of “How You Like That” in honor of the 4th anniversary of Blackpink’s debut. The Netflix documentary Light Up the Sky contained a lot of never before seen footage but having such deep prior knowledge really helped me enjoy it.

Beyond that, if you really want to be as fully immersed in the world of Blackpink as I have been this past year, you can dive into their many appearances on Korean television. They performed half of the songs on their new album on both Inkigayo and Show! Music Core week after week, and were special guests on Running Man and Knowing Bros for the first time since they debuted. They had soooo many new interviews, including on The Tonight Show with Jimmy FallonJimmy Kimmel LiveGood Morning America, multiple Twitter Blue Room Live Q&As, a TikTok Stage, YouTube’s Released, and just about a bazillion radio interviews. The girls played PUBG in a special interview and became the exclusive models for the augmented reality app ZEPETO. Internationally, they participated in interviews with Tokopedia (Indonesia) and Penshoppe (Philippines), and Lisa was a mentor on the Chinese television show Youth With You, which is a weird combination of a trainee program mixed with a show similar to The Voice or American Idol. Lisa’s legs went viral (with the “Did it work?” meme) after she released her third dance routine on her Lilifilm YouYube page. They released the 2020 Welcoming Collection and 2020 Summer Diaries in Seoul, each containing about an hour's worth of new footage respectively, and they did numerous Vlives throughout the year. I’m really looking forward to Rose’s solo and Jisoo’s work as an actress in the coming year. To put it lightly, they’ve been busy! But it’s been a fun rabbit hole to fall into during a year like 2020. 

Movies, Film & TV
The Expanse (2019) – The Expanse is THE coolest sci-fi show I’ve ever seen in my life. Any sci-fi fan needs to check out this show immediately, and I highly suggest everyone else does too. Think Star Trek meets the political intrigue of Game of Thrones meets something entirely unique. The Expanse is based on the series of novels of the same name by James S. A. Corey and is set hundreds of years in the future where humans have colonized the solar system, but major disparities remain. The three main powers are the United Nations of Earth, the Martian Congressional Republic, and the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA). We meet various important characters right away and are thrust directly into the action. The Expanse features incredible world-building. Events in previous episodes and decisions made by the characters have vast implications and consequences that reverberate throughout the seasons. If a character is assassinated, it matters to the other characters. If a hole is blown through your ship, you have limited time, resources, and oxygen to fix it. It feels real, which greatly helps to draw the viewer into the story being told. The production values and special effects are big-budget and top-notch, with each shot beautifully composed and multiple instances of awesome scenes shot in zero-G. Hang in there through the first season, because the series only gets better and better as it goes on, and by the end of the first season you’ll realize you were watching an entirely different show than you thought you were. {Amazon}
Kim's Convenience (2016) – Kim’s Convenience is the story of the Kim family: parents “Appa” (Dad) and “Umma” (Mom) along with their two grown children: daughter Janet and estranged son Jung. The Kims own a convenience store in Canada (it’s a Canadian show), which Appa, Umma, and Janet run, while Jung works at a car rental shop due to his estrangement from the family. Jung’s best friend and co-worker Kimchi and his boss/love interest Shannon are super funny recurring characters on the show. The tension within the Kim family due to Jung’s estrangement as well as underlying issues regarding immigration and generational differences round out the show and keep it from being boring or too similar to shows we’ve seen before. It’s a sitcom that’s smartly written, funny, heartwarming, sometimes uncomfortable, but it always leaves you wanting just a little bit more. I’m very excited for the 5th season, which just finished production (not a small feat in 2020). {Netflix}
The Sound of Your Heart (2016) – I originally found this show because the star Lee Kwang-soo is a regular cast member on Running Man, a South Korean variety show that Blackpink has appeared on three times. I know, I know. But this show is good and it’s funny! The Sound of Your Heart is based on Korea’s longest-running webtoon series, which follows real-life cartoonist (and creator of the show) Cho Seok and the misadventures he finds himself in with his family and girlfriend/wife. It has a great cast that you’ll come to love over the season and features hilarious and sometimes intricately woven plots. It’s only one season long, so it’s a really quick watch. I haven’t seen the 2018 reboot, so I’m not sure if it’s good or not, but the original 2016 season is really great and highly recommended. {Netflix}


Be Here Now, Remember by Ram Dass (1971) – A classic read for mindfulness and a sweet lesson to study during the pandemic season. {AADL}
The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova (2017) – A dark collection of short stories bound together by the common thread of the author's obsessions. The imaginative, macabre universe in the book is made strangely familiar by the author's highly descriptive prose, where she builds a world out of a vast collection of vintage objects. The reader finds themself in a realm that is at times both industrial and fabled, victorian and modernistic, feminine, and horrific. I checked this book out after reading its recommendation in last year's staff picks and still find myself thinking about it's delightful, disturbing brilliance. {AADL}

Heaven Inc. by Shlohmo (2020) – Meditative, dark yet waning, this EP explores the weight of 2020 through the contrast between industrial noise and soothing ambiance. There’s a conversational quality to the juxtaposing sounds as they bend, break, and merge together, which is both elevating and interesting. {Bandcamp}  
Pain by Pay for Pain (2020) – Pay for Pain is a new project from Adam McIlwee, Dennis Mishko, and Pat Brier. The three are all former members of the band Tigers Jaw. The group established Pay for Pain as their outlet for guitar-based music and as a way to return to their roots. Pain is their first release as a new band, it's a lo-fi dive into Americana-esque rock. I really love it and can't wait for future work from the group. {Bandcamp
Microphones in 2020 by The Microphones – It’s beautiful and it’s just one 44 minute track. {YouTube}
New Alhambra by Elvis Depressedly (2015) – A mellow and mesmerizing album that I've been revisiting lately. Some of the subject matter might not be everyone's cup of tea at times, but as a whole, it's just a dreamy, experimental treasure. {AADL}

Film, Video & TV
The Pleasure of Being Robbed (2008)
Daddy Longlegs (2009)
Uncut Gems (2019)
Ben and Josh Safdie are independent filmmakers who tell contemporary stories through guerrilla film-making in NYC. Their films often revolve around themes of compulsion, crime, and (well-intended) chaos. There is a quiet nod to their childhoods laced through the films as well as a spotlight on failure and redemption as each story unfolds with the momentum of something being fixed. The three listed are my favorites, but you can find more online! {iTunes} | {AADL} | {AADL}



The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch – So good I finished it and immediately reread the whole thing. Murder, weird time travel loops, but all set from the 1990s which was weirdly refreshing. {AADL}
The Secret Life of Flies by Erica McAlister – Not only did I learn so much about these weird little creatures, I also laughed. McAlister is FUNNY. {AADL}
Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman – Was reading a book set during the Black Death during a pandemic a great idea? Maybe. I would describe this as religious horror with classic good v evil storyline with some fantastic descriptions. {AADL}
A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamil – Lovecraft horror meets family epic. Monsters. Weird and disturbing. {AADL}
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Fantasy based in Mayan myths. Excellent. When you’re done with this I suggest reading the source material, The Popol Vuh: A New English Translation{AADL}
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander – This is an absolutely essential read. {AADL}
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi – This book is a little unusual in its narration style, but so rewarding. It follows a Nigerian woman born straddling two worlds: the “real” world and the spirit realm. This has many layers and deserves multiple reads. It’s about trauma, abuse, mental health, and spirituality. {AADL}
The Fisherman by John Langan – This truly lives up to its description as Lovecraftian. It’s a story in a story about cosmic horrors, grief, and male friendships. {AADL}
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado – I’ve been a fan of Carmen Maria Machado since her first book of short stories, Her Body and Other Parties. In the Dream House is a memoir about her life and dealing with an abusive relationship. It’s nonlinear and feels like walking in her house. {AADL}
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad – This book (and accompanying workbook) is about bringing awareness to your unconscious thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. As Saad says, “You will be overwhelmed when you begin to discover the depths of your internalized white supremacy. You will become intimidated when you being to realize how this work will necessitate seismic change in your life. You will feel unrewarded because there will be nobody rushing to thank you for doing this work. But if you are a person who believes in love, justice, integrity, and equity for all people, then you know that this work is nonnegotiable.” {AADL}

On Being with Krista Tippett: Robin DiAngelo and Resmaa Menakem in Conversation – This episode of On Being is a conversation between trauma specialist Resmaa Menakem and author of White Fragility Robin DiAngelo. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I first heard it. {Website}
Not Another D&D Podcast – Campaign 1 is over (leaving me in shambles), but no fear – there is a miniseries Hot Boy Summer, and Campaign 2 to keep you laughing. Honestly the best and only RPG podcast I care about. {Website}

Pulp Life
1 Second Everyday
 app – This is an app that lets you record one second of video a day and compiles it into your year. I’ve been doing it this year and it’s an interesting way to remember your life. It has made me appreciate the small moments along with the big ones. {Website}


The Yoga Praxis Podcast {Website}
Cabinboyknits {YouTube}
Sidedoor: A Podcast from the Smithsonian {Website}
The Book Review Podcast - The New York Times {Website}

Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf {AADL}
Pride by Ibi Aanu Zoboi {AADL}
Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold {AADL}
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers her Superpower by Brittany C. Cooper {AADL} – I read the book first but then went back and really enjoyed the audio version as read by the author.
Yarn: Remembering the Way Home by Kyoko Mori {AADL}
The Weaving Explorer: Ingenious Techniques, Accessible Tools & Creative Projects With Yarn, Paper, Wire & More by Deborah Jarchow {AADL}
Evelyn Evelyn: A Tragic Tale in Two Volumes {AADL}
Syllabus by Lynda Barry {AADL}
Two That Go Together by Jodi Picoult: Small Great Things {AADL} & Shine: A Short Story {Overdrive}
The Siamese Twin Mystery {AADL}
Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves by James Nestor {Overdrive}

The Pretenders – I really enjoy the entire collection of works, and Pretenders 2 and Learning to Crawl are choice, but I discovered this gem in the AADL collection from 1999, Viva el Amour! {AADL}
This Is the Kit {Bandcamp}
Redinho {Bandcamp}
Check out Dagoretti Records {Bandcamp} for these sounds and so much more:
Dr. Pete Larson and his Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band by Dr. Pete Larson and his Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band {Bandcamp}
Color is not a crime - a benefit compilation by Dagoretti Records {Bandcamp}
Lockdown Tapes #6 by Jim Cherwick {Bandcamp}

Film, Video & TV
Schitt$ Creek – I’m really glad I had never watched this until I started it in April and wow did it get me through those early months of these strange times. I’m very slowly savoring Season 6 at the moment. {AADL}
Daria: The Complete Animated Series {AADL} – I was thrilled to discover this in our collection and happy to revisit the entire series from the late ’90s. 
Cobra Kai {AADL}
Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman {AADL}
The Best of Enemies {AADL}
The Eiger Sanction {AADL} – I also really enjoyed the book.
Belle of the Nineties {AADL}
Detour {AADL}

Pulp Life
The Sunday Artisan Market –  I rediscovered this weekly market in Kerrytown where I was once a vendor, too many years ago. Shop local artisans every Sunday from April - December in the open air market. The brave and hearty artisans will be there even in the snow. {Website}
King Shing – Reliable and tasty Chinese to-go food. They don’t skimp on the vegetables! {Website}
Yoga with Adriene {Website}


Two Minutes to Late Night – Since the pandemic, seeing live music has been impossible, leaving many musicians out of work. This show, originally a spoof of late-night shows, has turned into a collaboration of different musicians jamming together from the safety of their own homes to benefit out of work musicians. Hosted by a corpse-painted Gwarsenio Hall, the performances are a lot of fun to watch. Not only do you get to hear covers of "Dead Man’s Party," "Crazy Train," "The Warrior," and "Dare to be Stupid," but looking at the artists' toys and movie collections featured behind them is pretty fun, too! {YouTube}

Red Letter Media –
 YouTube is full of people reacting to films and shows, but the guys at R.L.M. are smart and funny and know a lot about film, both as fans and creators. They have several shows, but my favorite one, Best of the Worst, features them watching three hilariously bad movies, discussing/dissing each one, and then picking a "best" one, which they then destroy. Featuring occasional guest stars, like Patton Oswald and Macaulay Culkin, it's the best thing to watch when you're stuck at home. {YouTube}

The Last Drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs – Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl host old and new exploitation movies, and provide humorous and informative commentary on old classics like Basket CaseHeathers, and Hell Comes to Frogtown, plus new films like DeathgasmMayhem, and One Cut of the Dead. Joe Bob has an encyclopedic knowledge of film (and obscure Americana) and he and Darcy’s dialogues on their different tastes in films are amusing to watch. {Shutter}
Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017) – A group of children in Mexico try to survive in a city destroyed by drug wars. This is an amazing film by Issa López mixes real-life events, horror, and fairy tales. The children’s performances are so real, it’s a movie I’ll never be able to forget. {Shutter}
Martin (1978) – I re-watched this George A. Romero film after not seeing it for years. It was as good as I remembered. A sad young man has been told his whole life that his family is cursed and he is a vampire. Is he? Or is he not? John Amplas is wonderful as the troubled Martin, a character, like the best monsters, you both feel for and are scared of. The film has Hammer-esque fantasies intercut with scenes of 1970s Pittsburgh, and an impressive house break-in scene which was shot in one take. Out of print, the film is only available on YouTube. {YouTube}
Planet of the Apes (1968) {AADL}
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) {AADL}
Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) {JustWatch}
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) {JustWatch}
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) {AADL}
These films still hold up as serious science fiction, due partly to the amazing make-up and convincing acting by performers like Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter. The first four films get progressively darker, and I found the ending to the fourth one shocking. The fifth and final film isn’t as good as the preceding ones but is still worth watching.

The Monk by Matthew Lewis (1796) – This is a classic of Gothic fiction. It’s about a monk's descent into debauchery and murder, which leads to him selling his soul to the devil. The subtitle of this book calls it A Romance, but those bits are dull with bland characters. The horror parts of the book are excellent though and still hold up. A Bleeding Ghostly Nun, a devious demoness, a murderous gang of cut-throats, and Lucifer himself all appear and make this book a very fun read! {Guttenberg}
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul by Douglas Adams – Wonderful BBC Audio dramatizations featuring stars like Billy Boyd, Andrew Sachs, Jim Carter, and Olivia Coleman. {Overdrive} | {Overdrive}


"Get Lifted" by Joey Blanco – The Latin rapper switched his style from conscious rap to trap music in 2019. He’s since released two projects, Blanco Perico and Who is Who but his best single was released this fall, Get Lifted. It’s a trap masterpiece with a booming bass that gains momentum as it continues to play. It’s his best single yet and a must-listen. {Spotify}
"I’ll Be Home for Christmas" by Corey Strong – I’ve always been inspired by Corey Strong. He has an outstanding voice that continues to grow with grace. This arrangement is charming, whimsical, and has been a constant in my playlist this holiday season. Another highly recommended track. His previously released holiday album, It’s Christmas, goes even deeper into his catalog and is great to listen to for catching the holiday spirit. {HearNow}

Everyday Hustle by Adam Ali – YouTube and social media star Adam Ali has been blogging his life for years. Recently, he started a podcast, Everyday Hustle and it’s very quite enjoyable. Ali covers topics like health and fitness, fatherhood, motivation, entrepreneurship, and more while inviting friends to discuss these topics and more in a casual but enlightening setting. {YouTube}
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah – Trevor Noah is of course known throughout the world for his comedy and late-night talk show but his podcast has been a favorite for many this year as well. Noah expertly covers the events of 2020 like the presidential election, antiracism protests, and the pandemic with appropriate commentary, reflection, and humor. He also interviews celebrity guests and covers extended topics from his late-night show. {Comedy Central}

Film, TV & Video 
Black Is King by Beyoncé  2020 has been a difficult year but for many people, Beyonce has been a favorite part of the year. In Black Is King, Beyonce continues to show everyone why she belongs in the pop culture elite. Not satisfied with merely being a star in the 2019 remake of The Lion King, Queen Bey produced her own soundtrack to the movie, The Lion King: The Gift. This summer, she also released a visual counterpart to the soundtrack, Black is King. The film is visually pleasing, sonically interesting, and full of Black artistic culture: it’s typical of Beyonce’s standard of excellence. Black is King reimagines the lessons told in the Lion King by telling the story of young Simba who grows up amongst royalty but is exiled from his kingdom after his father’s death. Throughout his formative years, he then goes on a journey of self-discovery to reclaim his place as king. The film hosts a group of celebrity appearances from Jay Z, Kelly Rowland, Tina Knowles, Lupita N’yongo, and Blue Ivy Carter among others. I recommend giving this film a watch. {Disney+}
You – You is a show on Netflix that masterfully blends the crime drama, romance, and thriller genres together to make a show that’s highly addictive. A young man searches for love in the city while making desperate and obsessive attempts to find his dream girl. Warning: this show can become dangerously addictive. {Netflix}

The Meaning of Mariah Carey – Mariah Carey has always been one of my favorite artists. Her memoir is full of stories that are as varied as her multi-octave range. In this instant New York Times bestseller, Carey details her life from her unstable upbringing, troubled marriage to music executive Tommy Mottola, to her continuing love affair with Christmas. She also details the story behind her famed 2001 mental health crises among other moments. It’s easily one of the best celebrity memoirs of 2020. {AADL}
Definitely Hispanic by LeJuan James – LeJuan James is a YouTube star and social media creator. In his first book, he details his life as a Hispanic/Latino American and the wonderful family he grew up in. Many topics are covered in the book including family, dating, sports, holidays, and more. The book is equal parts comedy, reflection, and nostalgia and it is thoroughly enjoyable. {AADL}
A Promised Land by Barack Obama {AADL}
I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick D Barnes {AADL}
Counting Descent by Clint Smith {AADL}


The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald – Sebald is such an eloquent and expressive writer that I feel I'd be doing a disservice to his work by throwing together some scrappy blurb for "The Rings Of Saturn", so I'll just quote this one line of his that sums up the book nicely: "On every new thing, there lies already the shadow of annihilation." {AADL}

Film, TV & Video
Safe (1995) – I watched this Todd Haynes film in January. Scio me nihil scire. {AADL}
Dark (2017-) – Do you like Back to the FutureLost, and The Goonies but wish they made you cry? Watch Dark. {Netflix}

Inlet by Hum – Everyone IN THE WORLD has been waiting 22 years for another Hum record, so here they are, returning to Earth amidst the mire of 2020, not even landing on the ground but propelling the spaceship inward. And still heavier than a black hole. {YouTube}

Pulp Life
 – I hope everyone has had the refreshing experience this year of discovering something that you didn't know your brain wanted, an experience that I had in discovering snooker, a sport based on focus, finesse, and, seemingly, acute precognition. It's all about the cue action, mate. {YouTube}


Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka {AADL}
Float Back to You by Holy Hive {Bandcamp}
Purple Moonlight Pages by R.A.P. Ferreira {Bandcamp}
The New Abnormal by The Strokes {AADL}
Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers {AADL}
Siren of the Formless and Goddess of the Hollow by City Girl {Bandcamp} | {Bandcamp}
Maze of Sounds by Janko Nilovic & the Soul Surfers {Bandcamp}
Women In Music Pt. III by HAIM {AADL}
Mordechai by Khruangbin {AADL}
RTJ4 by Run the Jewels {AADL}
Pain Olympics by Crack Cloud {Bandcamp}
Inner Sphere by Voyage Futur {Bandcamp}
Pick Me Up Off the Floor by Norah Jones {AADL}
Love's Last Chance by Taylor McFerrin {YouTube}
Between Days EP by Far Caspian {YouTube}

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found 2020 to be stressful. As a result of living in constant panic mode, most of the past 11 months have been a blur, but I do recall a few highlights.

RTJ4 and Holy Calamavote by Run the Jewels – Killer Mike and El-P’s fourth self-titled collection RTJ4 is a triumph, the best of an already-great discography. Everything is an upgrade — the production more sonically adventurous, the vocal technique defter, and the lyrical content more trenchant and politically apt than ever. The duo’s summer tour should have been a well-deserved victory lap, but like all tours, it fell victim to the covid. Instead of promoting the release in person, Run The Jewels filmed themselves performing RTJ4 in its entirety as part of a telethon raising money for the ACLU and promoting voting awareness, broadcast by Adult Swim and streamed on YouTube. Holy Calamavote is a bristling, hair-raising performance that puts the viewer right on stage as RTJ slams, occasionally punctuated by aggressively weird compere moves from Adult Swim personality Eric Andre and an ideal companion to RTJ4.

Trading live arena stages for the sterility of a television studio might be a let down for Run The Jewels, but I have to admit this approach is extremely convenient for me. I am a man well into the middle of my middle age with a 7-year old son, so let’s face it, there was no way I was gonna find the energy to make that gig (besides, being frisked by security is an indignity at my age). Instead, I got up at 6 AM like always the morning after the broadcast, found it on YouTube and watched it twice in a row, woke up my wife and made her watch it a few times, then continued to let it play constantly in the background as ambient sound while we went about our business for the rest of the day. Then I went online and bought the t-shirt, without queuing up for anything or getting stuck in traffic on the way out of the parking lot. It took some time, but this pandemic finally paid off for me. 

Adult Swim took down the entire concert a short while ago, but you can still see “Walking In The Snow,” easily the highlight of the set, a searing indictment of police brutality and societal indifference, including a moment of silence for those who have been silenced. {AADL}

Mirrors by Peggy Lee – I have always identified with the barren worldview of Peggy Lee’s signature song, “Is That All There Is?” so when I came across the AADL’s copy of Is That All There Is: The Strange Life of Peggy LeeI was all in. Hers turns out to be a story of early glamor and stardom gradually calcifying into Hollywood Babylon-style decadence and wealth — regardless of Lee’s undeniable talent, in her later years she was very much the kind of faded star who shouts “Don’t you know who I am?” at waiters and bellhops. My interest was piqued when the book covered the production of her 1975 LP Mirrors, a collaboration with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the authors of “Is That All There Is?” although this project is light years away from the familiar hits they penned for the likes of The Coasters and Elvis. These are world-weary songs of experience, disillusionment, cynicism, and reluctant perseverance, and Peggy Lee lays herself bare throughout the program, singing with a knowing leer about sex, with resignation about the ravages of age and with sad acknowledgment of life’s inconsistencies. It was not a financial success in its day and continues to not be, although the tracks from the long out of print LP are easily available to download or stream as a collection called Peggy Lee Sings Leiber & Stoller, which includes “Is That All There Is?” and some bonus tracks. {Website}
Forever Black by Cirith Ungol – Almost forgot … these metal pioneers just released their first album since 1991 and the thing is brutal. Check this out. {Bandcamp}

The Good Ol' Grateful Deadcast – Just like pizza, there’s nobody who doesn’t love the Grateful Dead. So I can’t think of any reason why anyone wouldn’t want to listen to this official podcast that takes a weekly deep dive into an individual album track by the band. Sure, it’s just an extended advertisement for the Grateful Dead’s recent CD re-releases of Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, but each hour-plus episode examines the composition process, performance history, and cultural context of a single song through interviews with band members, studio engineers, and other principals. Track by isolated track—check out the bass line to "Sugar Magnolia"—we hear how the band built their songs and made the music that I think it’s safe to say everyone in America agrees is of high quality and means a lot to them personally. Did you know there are two different mandolin parts in “Ripple”? Seriously, your mind will be blown if it isn’t already. {Website}



Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots – Freelance life, but with the villain sidekicks looking for work which brings to question are the good guys really that good. (See my review here.). {AADL}
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – The imaginative, immersive world that Susannah Clarke has once again delivered to us is one book I could not put down. Made famous with her Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell book (and excellent BBC adaptation), she once again pulls the reader into her world. This time it is a labyrinthine building where one man, Piranesi, believes he and the mysterious man, The Other, are the sole inhabitants but there is more to this arrangement than he can comprehend. (See my review here.) {AADL}
The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa – Not just for cat lovers, this book is a beautiful meditation on the interconnectedness of life, whether between humans or with our pet companions. Those who have animal friends will smile at some familiar moments and shed some tears at others. A short book that can be read in one sitting, but will stay with you for a very long time. {AADL}

Film, TV & Video
Pennyworth – Batman’s butler has an incredible & action packed backstory. Excellent acting and well written. {Epix} | {AADL}
Dark – This German series has to be seen to be understood and even then will leave you shaking your head…it can be described as a very complicated jigsaw puzzle, that comes together somehow after watching, but still seems to be missing some pieces but maybe not…See the Wikipedia description here. {Netflix}
Windsors – If you find something funny about the British royal family, then enjoy this soap opera parody of everyone from Camilla to Princess Anne and everyone in between. If you are serious about your devotion, then definitely stay away. {Netflix}
Rake – Need some more biting wit? Check out this series from Australia which is at times dark but so hilarious. Yes, there was an American version with Greg Kinnear but the original is way better. Richard Roxburgh plays self-destructive barrister, Cleaver Greene. A great cast and writing makes this the perfect comedy to catch. {Netflix}
New Unsolved Mysteries – Guilty pleasure but surprisingly much better (not as cheesy) as the original series. {Netflix}
Stargirl – Based on a DC comic superhero; great blend of humor and action, good show for tweens and teens! {CW} | {HBO Max}

The TV shows below are all based on books:
Cursed – An outcast young woman, Nimue, who has magical powers is given a sword to carry to Merlin by her dying mother, but must overcome obstacles along the way. The sword will belong to the one true king or queen. The Lady in the Lake myth reimagined with illustrations by noted comic book artist, Frank Miller. The Netflix series is also worth watching with Gustaf Skarsgard as Merlin (noted for his previous performance in another favorite show of mine, The Vikings, as Floki) and Katherine Langford as Nimue. {AADL}
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – I have not read the graphic novel yet, but I have enjoyed the Netflix series immensely. The final season airs Dec 31. Do not confuse this with Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a kids series from the ‘90s!! This one is dark and moody. Perfect for those long winter nights when you want to watch a spooky, witchy series. Can’t wait for the final episodes! {AADL}
The Expanse – Best sci-fi series in print and streaming? Currently eight books with the ninth and final coming out next year. The sixth and final season comes out soon on Amazon Prime Video. {Prime Video} | {AADL
Good Lord Bird – Another book made into a series which I started watching on Showtime that I will definitely be reading. This is about slavery in the Kansas Territory and one slave, young Henry, who is taken in by John Brown who mistakes him for a girl. He continues to pass as a girl throughout his travels with Brown and his men. Sometimes funny, always thought-provoking. {AADL}
His Dark Materials – I love Philip Pullman’s books and this series is excellent as well but not for little kids; new season on HBO. {HBO} | {AADL}
Lovecraft Country – Excellent book and HBO show! Mixes horror & the dark fantasy elements of Lovecraft adding in the racism experienced by the main characters during the Jim Crow era. Although the show has some major differences from the book, it adds even more to the story overall. Its’ message of freedom from small-mindedness liberates the horror genre from the racism that Lovecraft himself perpetuated in his stories. {HBO} | {AADL}
My Brilliant Friend – I have not read the book by Elena Ferrante but I know she is a worldwide phenomenon (there are 4 books in this series called the Neapolitan novels). If you have had a friendship that lasted from childhood on, I highly recommend watching this. {HBO} | {AADL
Tales From the Loop – Sci-fi series based on an art book from Sweden? Why not!? Also a tabletop role-playing game. {Prime Video} | {AADL
Young Wallander – If you followed either the British or the original Swedish Wallander TV series (both are excellent mysteries), check out his younger self which takes place before any of the books by Henning Mankell but in the present day. {Netflix}


Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener (2020) {AADL}
You're on an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir by Parker Posey (2018) - I've always been interested in the offbeat Parker Posey, and this memoir was everything I expected from her. Through-out the book Posey writes directly to you as if you are a stranger sitting next to her on an airplane in a literary move that is, once again, everything I'd expect from her while also offering you insight into her life that can only come from conversations with strangers borne out of proximity. This is not a tell-all memoir about the film making industry or a reflection of her career, this memoir is Posey entertaining (and perhaps, trapping) you in your window seat while she reflects on her life and her reputation as a go-to "indie"girl. {AADL}
The Secret History by Donna Tartt (1992) - In Donna Tartt's first novel, six college students form a tight bond that leads to murder. This one may be a bit of a cheat since my love of this book goes further back than this year. But, quarantine gave me time to re-analyze this work and figure out why I like it so much. I don't think I've figured it out yet, but I'm more than willing to read The Secret History a few more times until I do. {AADL
These Ghosts are Family by Maisy Card (2020) - This beautiful debut novel by Maisy Card takes a look at the fallout when one man, Abel Paisley, leaves his family after revealing a secret on his deathbed. The novel focuses on the fallout for the women in his family who are now coming in contact with various familial spirits while also reflecting on the story of the Paisley family from Jamaica to Harlem. {AADL}
The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton (2019) {AADL}
Sour Heart: Stories by Jenny Zhang (2017) {AADL}

Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez by Gorillaz (2020) {AADL
Tiger Trap by Tiger Trap (1993) {YouTube}
Hounds of Love by Kate Bush (1985) {AADL}
Come to my Garden by Minnie Riperton (1970) {YouTube}
MAGDALENE by FKA twigs (2019) {AADL}
Post by Bjork (1995) {AADL}
Jacques Dutronc (Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi) by Jacques Dutronc (1966) {Spotify
Cheer Up London By Slaves (2015) {YouTube}
Doorman by slowthai (2019) {YouTube}
Nightmare Vacation by Rico Nasty (2020) {Spotify}
SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama (2020) {Spotify}

Films, Video, & TV
Shirkers (2018) - One of my favorite films I've seen this year! This documentary follows the making of director Sandi Tan's independent stolen film Shirkers, and it's unearthing decades later. This film is every bit a documentary on what would have been as it is an exploration of teenaged creativity and experiencing failure for the first time. {Netflix}
PEN15 - I fully enjoyed the first season of PEN15, but the second season blew me away. I find myself laughing and crying with the two leads as they experience the ups and downs of middle school and family struggles. {Hulu}
Dorohedoro - Dorohedoro was one of the most chaotic shows I've watched this year, and I feel pretty confident labeling it my favorite thing to come out of 2020. The series follows Caiman, who looking to recover his memory and true identity after an encounter with an unknown sorcerer leaves him with a reptilian head. {Netflix}
Crip Camp (2020) {Netflix}
David Byrne’s American Utopia (2020) {HBO Max}
Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (1990) {AADL}
What We Do in the Shadows - I was a bit skeptical that TV adaption of What we do in the Shadows may not capture the same energy of the movie, but I was (thankfully) proven wrong. The show introduces characters that are equally as fun, and frustrating. It's a wacky time all around! {AADL}
The Midnight Gospel {Netflix}
I May Destroy You - Content warning: This series deals with sexual assault. | I've been anticipating a new series from Michaela Coel since Chewing Gum endedand she truly raised the bar with I May Destroy You. This is yet another mini-series I found myself laughing and crying through, and Coel pulls no punches in her portrayal and writing. {HBO Max}
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019) {AADL}



Bluets by Maggie Nelson – A prose poem that is book-length and reads in short, numbered propositions, the author ruminates on her fascination with the color blue while weaving in highly personal and emotional imagery. It is neatly serial but feels narrative, I loved its many lovely sentences that often stand alone in this collage-like work. {AADL}
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë – This novel was my first taste of Gothic Romance and it was unexpectedly perfect for me under lockdown conditions. I loved the scenes of bucolic England being disrupted by a mysterious traveler in a black veil. Developments of both the tragic and romantic arcs of the story are thrilling, this often overlooked Bronte sister had me hanging on her every word. {AADL}

Film, Video & TV 
Baskets – I was emotionally invested in the lead role’s journey (and downward spiral) to fulfill his lifelong dream to become a French clown. The show blends slapstick idiocy with very real sadness and struggle, it’s my favorite dark comedy series of the year. {AADL}
Succession – This show follows a powerful media mogul family whose greed and controversy are eerily parallel to the real-life Murdoch family. Performances are chilling, grand, and sometimes sickly humorous. I adore the central cast so much that I’ve become addicted to quoting and impersonating the characters! {AADL}



Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev (2020) – What starts off seeming like a lighthearted romance novel, becomes so much more. Chef Ashna Raje joins a “cooking with celebrities” reality show to try and save her struggling family restaurant, but ends up paired with an international soccer star . . . who’s also her ex. The novel ticks all the boxes of a great romance novel (it’s loosely based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion, so no surprise there), but about a third of the way into the novel we start to get passages from the point of view of Ashna’s estranged mother, and start to learn of the generations of pain and secrets that the family brought with them as they emigrated from India. Ultimately, it’s not just a novel of romance and the flavors of Indian food, but one of mothers and daughters, and self-determination vs. family legacy. {AADL}
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (2019) – Khai Diep's mother won’t let anything stand in the way of her quest for grandchildren, and so she returns to her native Vietnam to find him a bride. She comes back to California with Esme Tran who, in her own way, has always felt as out of place as Khai does ... not that it makes things any smoother between them. Like Helen Hoang’s first novel, The Kiss Quotient (2018), The Bride Test incorporates in its primary romantic relationship characters on the Autism spectrum, as well as aspects of Asian American immigrant family experiences. These #OwnVoices novels drew me in; they delivered everything a good romance novel should and kept me up way too late just so I could finish the book. {AADL}

Film, Video & TV
Killjoys (2015-2019) – Rewatching this five-season SyFy TV show has been a delight for me this year. Killjoys is a high-intensity science fiction adventure series, full of fight scenes, space travel, and snappy humor. The story focuses on three scrappy bounty hunters who might just save the universe ... after they stop at the bar. All told, the show is a grittier, flashier, stab-y-er version of Firefly. {AADL}
The Great British Baking Show (2010-2020) – Perhaps best known as the reality show where contestants are actually nice to each other, The Great British Baking Show also offers a delightful escape into the world of cakes, biscuits (i.e. cookies), and spun sugar show-stoppers that I can’t get enough of. I’ve even taken to “baking along” with the show—attempting to bake my own creations to the parameters meted out by the judges in each episode. But you don’t have to be a baker to take joy in watching the marvelous creations and heart-wrenching disasters of some of Britain’s best amateur bakers. {AADL}

Home Cooking by Samin Nosrat and Hrishikesh Hirway – Launched in 2020, I can’t get enough of Home Cooking, a podcast whose main premise is people who love food and cooking, talk about food and cooking. You may know Samin Nosrat from her book and TV mini-series Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. She’s perpetually jolly and you can hear the delight in her voice whenever she talks about food. And let’s face it, any podcast that titles Episode 1 “Bean There, Done That” and then discusses ways to cook dried beans, isn’t pretentious or haute cuisine focused. The podcast is homey and down-to-earth but also inspiring and packed with really useful information for those of us tinkering in the kitchen. {Web} {Apple} {Spotify}


The Complete Gardener by Montagu Don – I became hooked on learning about gardening this past year, and while I have consumed a lot of information through the popular show Gardener’s World on the BBC, I very much enjoyed this book by expert gardener Monty Don. The Complete Gardener is laid out just like a well thought out garden. Reading the table of contents alone taught me something about going about dreaming up my own future garden. {MelCAT}
White Nights by Ann Cleaves – This is the second book in Ann Cleaves' Shetland Island Mystery series. For me, it combines just the right bits of mystery, characters I’d like to know (Detective Jimmy Perez), and a setting I’d love to visit. For now the book and series will do. {AADL}
Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood—and Trusting Yourself and Your Body by Erica Chidi Cohen – The title of this book is pretty much everything. Written by doula, health educator, and author, Erica Chidi Cohen (also founder of Loom), this book centers around developing body literacy through journaling activities, self-care, and mindfulness tools for navigating the cycle of change that pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood bring. This book also includes tasty recipes for each trimester alongside a month by month “what’s happening.” {AADL}
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittany Cooper – I read this book twice. First time listening, second time with a digital copy taking notes. While I found I needed to take notes—because there was a lot to think about and keep thinking about—Brittany Cooper has a way of writing that made me feel like I was sitting in a room with her. {AADL}
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jesmyn Ward – Composed in three sections—Legacy, Reckoning, Jubilee—The Fire This Time is a collection of essays by 18 different authors. The final essay, “Message to My Daughters” by Edwidge Danticat, leaves the reader with a quote from James Baldwin: “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world but then you read, or you see, or you weep.” I now have at least 18 more books on my “To Read” list. {AADL}
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo I read this early on in the spring of this year and I keep coming back to this book for the stats and laser clarity that Oluo brings. {AADL}

Seymour Reads the Constitution! by Brad Mehldau – Brad Mehldau’s playing and compositions are works of genius. The title track was conceived from a dream he had of Phillip Seymour Hoffman reading the Constitution. The album is a mix of originals and pop tune covers. {AADL}
A Seat at the Table by Solange - I was four years late in checking out this album (released in 2016). Tracks “Cranes in the Sky” and “Don’t You Wait” are on heavy rotation at home. {AADL}

Film, TV & Video
The Detectorists – I love all three seasons of this delightful and calming BBC series about characters Andy, Lance, and the Danebury Metal Detectors Club. Each season is more heartwarming and cozy than the previous. {IMDB TV} {AADL – Season 1}


Ever New by Beverly Glenn-Copeland (1986) – This song’s earnest words would collapse under a weaker singing voice—instead, they feel like a loving embrace. {Bandcamp}
A Lot’s Gonna Change by Weyes Blood (2019) – In this glorious anthem, Natalie Mering’s voice rests gently against a simple piano melody, then rises to meet swelling synths and exploding percussion. {AADL
"Lonely Onez (Demo)" by Annah Sidigu (2020) – In its liner notes, Annah Sidigu dedicates this song to “all the people sheltering in place, particularly those sheltering alone, during the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.” Again, it’s her voice and how she uses it, twisting its normal clarity into something more searching and raw, that makes Sidigu’s track so unforgettable, starting with the opening lines: “Hey there!/ Is this delusion or grand design?” {Bandcamp}
Awaken My Love! by Childish Gambino (2016) – My first experience of Childish Gambino was “Because the Internet” (2013), which I liked, but not in a turn-this-up-and-listen-straight-through kind of way. That’s what this album is. {AADL}
IGOR by Tyler the Creator (2019) – EARFQUAKE, a bizzaro lovelorn pop song with an entertaining music video, inspired me to listen to this album. It is fun, edgy, and weird the whole way through. Another standout track is “GONE, GONE / THANK YOU”—I’ve never heard a song about a breakup like this. {AADL}
"Dora" by Tierra Whack (2020) – “We don’t deserve Tierra Whack,” wrote the brilliant musician Solange Knowles on Twitter in 2018. This song and its music video prove her point: Whack is shining and subversive. {YouTube}
"L’Orchestrina" by Paolo Conte (2010) – This jaunty and haunting song is sung in Italian except for the refrain: “to be, to be, to be or not to be?” {YouTube
Electro Couch Sessions Mixtape #1 by DJ Civil Poodle – Sometimes you just need to throw a dance party for one. {Civil Poodle}
Motown Legends Gospel Choir live at AADL, February 2020 – I wouldn’t know just how meaningful this event would be to me until later. I’m looking forward to the day when we can gather and enjoy wonderful musical performances like this one in our buildings again. {AADL
Angélique Kidjo live at the Michigan Theater, February 2020 – Fellow staff member Barbara Irene Nagler wrote about Kidjo and clued me in to this UMS concert in last year’s PULP best-of list. Kidjo and her backup musicians got an entire hall of Ann Arborites up out of their seats and clapping as she danced triumphantly through the aisles herself. A rollicking, electrifying performance.

Podcasts (and radio)
Fresh Air with Terry Gross – This daily radio interview show was one of the major grounding forces in my life this year. There are countless great episodes to choose from, but Terry Gross’s interview with actor Andre Holland stands out: he appeared in Moonlight and talks about acting in Shakespeare plays and growing up Black in Alabama. {NPR}
On the Media with Brooke Gladstone & Bob Garfield – This weekly radio show focuses on current events and how they are covered by news media, but it sometimes goes in unusual directions, like on a recent segment titled “How Shakespeare Became an American Hero.” I have a newfound interest in Ulysses S. Grant! {WNYC}
“The Out Crowd” on This American Life – This episode of this long-running radio show explores the repercussions of recent policy changes for immigrants at the US-Mexico border. Its in-depth, on-the-ground reporting earned the show a 2020 Pulitzer Prize in audio reporting, the first ever given for audio journalism. {This American Life
Kids These Days on Michigan Radio – Conceived by and featuring students at Ann Arbor’s own Community High School, this series aired on Michigan Radio over the summer. It’s really cool to hear people half my age reflect on deep questions around love, racism, the quest for perfection (i.e. applying to college), and identity. {Michigan Radio}
The Gayest Generation with Jacob Gorski – This year AADL’s own Jacob Gorski launched a podcast dedicated to uncovering the stories of local LGBTQ elders. The fascinating interview he conducts with Washtenaw County drag legend Maxi Chanel really stands out: Chanel’s description of Ann Arbor’s club scene made me long for “a religious experience on the dance floor” right along with Gorski. {AADL}

Books (and other reading)
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo – This is one of the books in AADL’s Black Lives Matter Discussion series. Oluo draws from her own life experiences to demonstrate how the concept of race can shape people’s attitudes—subtly or not, consciously or not. I valued listening to this book read aloud with my family, and the personal reflections and discussions it generated. {AADL}
Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi – Another book in the AADL Black Lives Matter Discussion series, Stamped is a sweeping survey of how racist ideas have played a part in this land since colonial times through the present, mutating to fit each new epoch. {AADL}
Sick by Gabby Shulz (2016) – Moments of great pain or upheaval can change how we view our lives. A grim tale about suffering a debilitating illness in America alone and uninsured, Sick opens out into a wider analysis of our society and culture. In the tradition of master graphic satirists like William Hogarth, Francisco Goya, George Grosz, and Diego Rivera, Shulz gives an unsparing critique of how we Americans confront (or fail to confront) our social ills. {AADL}
Rusty Brown by Chris Ware (2019) – There is only one way I can read Chris Ware tomes: feverishly, in one or two sittings, left feeling breathless and wrung out. To try to describe the plot of this 356-page book that took Ware over 18 years to make feels laughable and beside the point. Just strap yourself in. {AADL}
Making Comics by Lynda Barry (2019) – Lynda Barry has drawn pictures all her life and has taught older people how to overcome their insecurities and do the same for many years. She’s written and spoken on the subject inventively and often, which earned her a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2019. If you’ve ever sat down to draw and felt stuck, read this book! {AADL}
Redeployment by Phil Klay – Klay draws from his military experience to present several different stories of Americans deployed in wartime Iraq. One favorite is “Money As a Weapons System,” which captures the absurdity of a barely-functioning bureaucracy. There are darker, more serious psychological portraits within these pages, too. {AADL}
"A Community Leader is Tired of Excuses" by Jeremiah Bey Ellison – Written by a member of the Minneapolis City Council a month before the killing of George Floyd, this editorial urges the reader to consider what ‘environmental justice’ means. “Think about why the virus is poised to rip through black neighborhoods like mine.” That gulf between haves and have-nots exists here in Washtenaw county, too, as artist Yen Azzaro shows in her sidewalk art piece Zip “Code,” currently on display in Kerrytown. {New York Times}
"A Poet’s Anguish Vibrates Through Time" by Frances Mayes – This piece explores the young poet John Keats’ mind state on a trip to Italy in October of 1820, a last-ditch effort to cure himself of consumption. It is an inspiring read in our own time of great uncertainties. {New York Times}

Movies, TV & Video
Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project (Matt Wolf, 2019) – A portrait of an intimidating woman whose deep interest and curiosity in human affairs leads to a commitment (or obsession) to record every waking moment of the 24-hour TV news cycle for decades. Her ambition and reclusiveness put her at risk of shutting out her family. {AADL}
Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, 2019) – This documentary transports us to North Macedonia and into the life of Hatidže Muratova, a sparkling person who keeps wild bees alone in the mountains---until a family moves next door and threatens to upset the balance she’s reached with her surroundings. {AADL}
Hairspray (John Waters, 1988) – Ricki Lake electrifies the screen as teenage Tracy Turnblad in 1962 Baltimore, dancing her way onto a spot on The Corny Collins Show and beyond. Hilarity, dancing, love, cornball humor, and racism are all in the mix here. {AADL}
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2017) – To show a person trying to find his way through the world, trying to find love, stand up for himself, and find out who he is—that’s a tall order for storytellers and actors. I rooted for Chiron the whole way through this movie. I still am. {AADL
Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino, 1987) – Based on a vague memory of its promotional poster I had a certain idea of what this movie would be—which was wrong. “And when I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong!” {AADL}
Y tu Mamá También (Alfonso Cuarón, 2001) – Actor Gael García Bernal is irresistible in this joyride of a buddy movie, cruising across the Mexican backcountry. {AADL
Vice (Adam McKay, 2018) – Told in the style of 2016’s The Big Short (by the same director), a star-studded cast weaves brutal facts and imaginative fiction to tell the story of Dick Cheney’s ascent to power, culminating in his helping to launch the Iraq War in 2003. {AADL
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989) – When this story reaches its climax, with racial tensions swelling sky-high in a tight-knit Brooklyn neighborhood, I felt familiar enough with the likable characters living inside this tinderbox that I really wanted nothing to happen. {AADL}
Watchmen (2019) – Maybe other watchers of this HBO series were already familiar with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in which Tulsa’s “Black Wall Street” was bombed and razed, but I wasn’t. Maybe other watchers didn’t appreciate this braiding of real American history with high sci-fi drama, but I did. {AADL}
Fargo, Season 1 (2014-) – This series feels like a cross between the Coen Brothers movie of the same nameTwin Peaks, and No Country For Old Men: brutal, funny, and weird. Great characters abound—some to root for, some to shake your head at, others to loathe. {AADL - Season 1}
PEN15, Season 2 (2020) – The story continues for actor-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, who play 7th-grade versions of themselves in an alternate-universe Y2K amidst actual middle-school-age actors. Somehow all the cruelty, heartbreak, and embarrassing situations this duo experience (and sometimes create or perpetuate) is overcome, or at least beaten back, by these girls’ wit, humor, and care for each other. {Hulu}
Atlanta, Seasons 1 & 2 – An offbeat, at-times bizarre comedy about a rising Atlanta rap artist, his friend, and his promoter/cousin that has me eagerly awaiting Season 3. {AADL & AADL}
Chernobyl (2019) – An excellent, momentous historical drama that illuminates the arrogance, heroism, courage, and tragedy all at play within the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and its aftermath. {AADL}
AADL.tv – At the risk of being self-referential, AADL.TV has been serving up a great variety of interesting programming since March, from recurring programs like Baby Time and World Famous Trivia to one-off videos about what can and cannot be frozenlast-minute Halloween costume ideas, and coping with anxiety and stress. {YouTube
"Chadwick Boseman: Being The Hero In Your Own Story," The Daily Show – The shocking news of actor Chadwick Boseman death this year led me to rewatch the epic 2017 superhero movie Black Panther. This 11-minute interview that Boseman does with Trevor Noah is ostensibly about making that movie, but at times it feels more like a mini-lesson in leadership and how to be a good human. {YouTube


Film, TV & Video
Raised by Wolves – Gripping lower-budget sci-fi.
The Death of Stalin – The definition of dark comedy, all-star cast, and based on the real story of Stalin's death.
Better Call Saul – The Breaking Bad spin-off that has become great in its own right.

West Wing Weekly - If you can't sit and watch the West Wing for the 10th time with your friends, this is the next best thing. I'm on Season 6 and after about a year, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"Black Qualls"
 by Thundercat – Thundercat has been my favorite Artist since I found his track "Them Changes," and this single off his newest record was my most played track of 2020. {YouTube}
"Phantom (Redux)" by Shirt – Short and sweet. I first heard this track on HBO's Silicon Valley and it has a beat that makes you feel a bit too cool. {YouTube}
"Run Away N" by Death Grips – One of their tamer tracks. It just the ] perfect combination of disjointed, bombastic, and catchy electronic music. {YouTube}
"Assassin" by The Fearless Flyers – Vulfpeck's Joe Dart and Cory Wong revive their fearless flyers side project and add a horn section. Its more rewarding each time I listen to it. {YouTube}
"In My Room" by Frank Ocean – Let's be honest: We have all spent a lot of time in our rooms this year. {YouTube}
"Standing On the Verge of Getting It On" by Funkadelic – A classic for me that has been in heavy rotation this year. This groove could go on for 30 minutes and I'd be dancing from the waist up the whole time.
"Yah Mo B There" by James Ingram – How many songs can Michael McDonald transform with the magic that is a his golden voice? {YouTube}
"Milk N' Honey" by Anderson .Paak – An unreal talent. This track is super sparse but hits hard. I'm also a sucker for songs that tell a story. His two NPR Tiny Desk Concerts are must-watches. {YouTube}
"Early in the Morning" by The Gap Band – We all love The Gap Band but the bedazzled cowboy suits take this one to the next level. This track just gets me going. I can clean a house with this song on repeat. {YouTube}

"Cash Machine" by Dram – His guy is having a great time and you can't help but feel the same way when this song is on. {YouTube}
"Out of Sight" by Run the Jewels – RTJ, the voice of a generation? I won't go that far, but this take on The D.O.C.'s "It's Funky enough" and anything they put out deserves a listen. {YouTube}
"They Say I'm Different" by Betty Davis – And they were right. The then-wife of Miles Davis, thought to have influenced his funk and fusion periods. The grit on these grooves is so deeply funky. Easily 10 years ahead of its time. Several albums' worth of material have yet to be released recently and you can tell why this might have been too in your face for the audiences of the late '60s. {YouTube}
"All I Do" by Stevie Wonder – One of the all-time greats and his '80s output, while not the most consistent, has some real gems. {YouTube}
"Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter" by Nina Simone – This Ike and Tina Turner cover and a live version of her own "Sinnerman" are almost always in my rotation. The intensity Simone can convey with her voice something I keep coming back for. {YouTube}
"Jupiter" by Earth, Wind and Fire – Horns and Ancient Egypt in space? Sign me up! {YouTube}
"Dark Red" by Steve Lacy – Recorded and Produced on an iPhone! The democratization of music production has its ups and downs but I'd put this on the top of the ups pile. {YouTube}
"Love Is the Message" by Yussef Dayes and Alfa Mist – Over the past few years a hip-hop-based jazz sound has been popping up in and around London. Yussef Dayes and Alfa Mist are leading the charge and perform together on this cut. {YouTube}
"Cause We Ended as Lovers" (live at Ronnie Scott's) by Jeff Beck – Jeff Beck covering a song by Stevie Wonder with the most amazing backing band, playing some of the best guitar of his life. {YouTube}
"Needs Deodorant" by Mono/Poly – This is a bit of an unofficial personal anthem. {YouTube}
"You Are in My System" by The System – Another 80's synth groove thatr's too good to leave off the list. {YouTube}
"Fire and Brimstone" by Link Wray – Link Wray? I thought this guy played that one song in Pulp Fiction and then fell off the Earth. {YouTube}
"Time's a Wastin'" by Erykah Badu – Time's a wastin': Google "Soulquarians" now! {YouTube}
"Ride Like the Wind" by Christopher Cross – Workin' on my night cheese. There is something about overproduced tracks blessed by Michael McDonald's voice that I can't help but rock-out to. {YouTube}
"Bartender" by T-Pain – The most pragmatic love song I've ever heard. {YouTube}
"Design" by Corey Wong – With guest vocals from Kimbra (a ridiculous talent in her own right, check out her Vows album), it's a funky layer cake. {YouTube}
"Common People" by Pulp – A perfect post-punk/new wave vibe on this track from 1995 that draws a line in the sand between the slobs and snobs. {YouTube}
"More" by Flying Lotus – The head of Brainfeeder Records released a new album, Flamagra, this year that is so totally unlike anything he's released before. It sounds like he has everybody at the label making one contribution or another. {YouTube}
"Shakin'" by Eddie Money – The tough-guy act set to music. Equally as offensive as it is an earworm. {YouTube}
"Hungry, So Angry" by Medium, Medium – One more from my current new wave phase. {YouTube}
"Hilarity Duff" by Kaytranada – One of my favorite electronic producers and one of the last concerts I went to before the pandemic. {YouTube}
"Just Be Good to Me" by The S.O.S. Band – Give Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis an 808 and a synth-bass and step back. Also check out Patti Labelle's "Stir It Up," Newcleus' "Jam on It," and The Pointer Sisters' "Automatic" for more post-disco/electro tracks. {YouTube}


Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers – 2020 was the year of emotions. Whether you felt too many of them, the wrong ones, or none at all, the soundtrack to those emotions was Phoebe Bridgers’ landmark album Punisher. I would suggest putting your phone on airplane mode while listening because you will, undoubtedly, text your ex. {Bandcamp} | {AADL}
SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama  My favorite pop album of the year (ChromaticaI am so sorryand I’m not even sure how much of a pop album it is. There are EDM tracks, nu-metal dirges, ballads, radio-ready bops, and sad-boy bangers. We stan a versatile queen. {YouTube}
Blackpink  Blackpink is a K-Pop girl group who should be paying me rent for all the space they take up in my brain. Is the music good? Some of it, I think! Are the outfits and choreography and music videos top-tier artistic excellence? They surely are. So go ahead and fall down that YouTube wormhole. I promise you, it is worth it. {Website}
"Boom Boom" music video by LOBODA & Pharoah – To write about this music video is an attempt at holding thunder in your hands. My favorite art is political art that is also stupid and whatever political messaging going on in this video definitely took a dip in the stupid pool. And the world is better for it. {YouTube}

The Gayest Generation Podcast by me! – If you thought for a SECOND that I wasn’t going to plug the amazing podcast that I have been producing with Ann Arbor District Library, then you would be all kinds of wrong. Each episode, we hear LGBTQ elders tell stories from their lives—stories that make your heart smile, stories that bring a tear to your eye, and stories that do both of those things at the same time. The Gayest Generation is content that feeds your soul, which is especially vital during these absurdly grim times. Available on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify, and aadl.org. {AADL}

Pulp Life
Dom Bakeries
 – Hands down the best donut I have ever had. And I continue to have it. Many times a week. Sometimes I will throw a bagel in there just to add that extra razzle-dazzle. Or a danish. Sometimes a danish and a bagel. And a donut! All three with a fresh coffee. And although this Ypsi staple has not been open 24 hours a day as they once were, what is better than an amazing bakery with amazing drive-thru service? {Website}
Antonio’s Coney Island  The first time I ate at Ypsi's Antonio’s Coney Island, I finished my meal and immediately ordered an entire meal with dessert (and some horchata!!) to-go. That is how good the food is. One-part traditional coney island, one-part Central American restaurant, be sure to get your next take-out dinner from Antonio’s. I literally recommend anything off their menu but their pupusas, churrasquitos, and homemade desserts deserve a special shout-out. {Website}
Hola Seoul  2020, among other things, will go down as the year that I learned about Korean fried chicken, and Ann Arbor's Hola Seoul is the place to get it. Whether you are getting popcorn chicken, kimchi fries, or some of their giant dumplings, eating Hola Seoul is eating happiness. {Website}

I Can’t Date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux  A laugh-out-loud collection of essays about being Black, gay, and southern, I Can’t Date Jesus is a deeply personal and politically vital look into one man’s journey towards self-acceptance. {AADL}
The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell  It is rare for a book to make me feel joy, sorrow, discomfort, and appreciation all at once. The Death of Bees is a worthwhile read because it forces you to see the world from multiple complex perspectives. Any reader is sure to fall in love with the book’s cast of quirky, fully-rendered characters—even if they are a bit rough around the edges. {AADL}
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin  Young adult and middle-grade literature tends to get to the truths of life more directly than fiction written for adults. The Thing About Jellyfish is no exception. When an autistic girl’s best friend drowns, she cannot accept that this tragedy happened for no reason. She sets out on a journey to find an explanation for all the bad things that happen in the world, which leads her to very unexpected places. I found this book to be especially helpful during these trying times. {AADL}

Film, TV & Video
The Queen’s Gambit  This fictional Netflix limited series about a female chess champion in the 1950’s entertains the mind, body and soul of anyone who watches it. Anchored by incredible performances and exceptional writing, The Queen’s Gambit is the perfect escapist piece of media that doesn’t skimp on substance. {Netflix}
I Know This Much Is True  Based on the novel by Wally Lamb, I Know This Much Is True is the heartbreaking account of a man doing his best to care for his schizophrenic twin brother. If you like sweeping family dramas or being emotionally traumatized by HBO, this is the show for you. And when I say traumatized, I mean it—I haven’t been so rattled by a film since Precious. With career-defining performances by Rosie O’Donnell and Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True will stick with you long after the last episode. {HBO}
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) – Sometimes I just want to have fun. Sometimes I just want to be entertained. Sometimes I just want to escape into a story, live there for ninety minutes, so I can return to the real world with a skip in my step. That is exactly what Birds of Prey does. Yes, it is a superhero movie and it breaks my heart to say that more often than not, I find that big budget superhero movies are loud and hollow. Birds of Prey is anything but. Be prepared to giggle, gasp, and guffaw as you watch a rag-tag group of women take down the injustices of the world they inhabit. And I promise you, Jared Leto’s Joker doesn’t appear in the film a single time. Thank God for that. {Just Watch} | {AADL}



The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – This was a fascinating look into the lives of two twins who chose different pathways in life. After running away from home together, one returned with a daughter and one vanished, cutting all family ties to pass for white. How much do you really know about your own family? What risks would you take to find them, or to leave them behind forever? If you like Toni Morrison or James Baldwin, I think you’ll like The Vanishing Half. {AADL}
Still Life by Louise Penny – My sister recommended this series of cozy mystery novels to me. Louise Penny has a knack for complex characters that keep you thinking long after you’ve finished the book. I loved the setting of Three Pines, a small town in Quebec with a thriving arts scene. I can’t wait to follow francophone chief inspector Armand Gamache to the next set of clues in A Fatal Grace. {AADL}

Film, TV & Video
Madame Secretary – There is something so likable about Elizabeth “Bess” McCord and her family that even if you’re not usually into politics you might love this show. McCord (played by Téa Leoni) is Secretary of State and navigates all kinds of global crises. When her husband Henry McCord (played by Tim Daly) takes his glasses off, you know you’re either in for a theology lesson or a glimpse into the couple’s spot-on chemistry. They eat ice cream out of the carton with forks, and they’re always there for their kids. {AADL}

Pulp Life
Pinckney-Silver Lake Trail Hike 
 My partner and I are always looking for lightly-trafficked hiking trails for our two dogs. We love driving up to the Pinckney Recreation Area for weekday morning hikes. We watch the sunrise over Silver Lake, and then do a 2 1/2 mile loop on the Pinckney-Silver Lake Trail. There’s a great view from the bridge at Pickerel Lake, and a 19th-century stone fireplace and cellar on the way back. Follow the trail markers starting from the upper parking lot in this order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7. You can easily do longer hikes on the Potawatomi or Crooked Lake trails. {Michigan Trail Maps}
Pittsfield Preserve Walking Trail – If you want to leave town without driving far, Pittsfield Preserve North is a great spot. I usually park at the Marton Road lot. Loops A, B, D, and E are wide and grassy (good for horses, too) and wind through open fields and ponds. The woodsy section of loop C can get muddy, and you might see a garter snake. I think it will be a beautiful area for winter walking, too. {Website}
Beat the Blerch Virtual 10k – I’ve never been a runner, but 2020 was not a good year for team sports! So my partner and I have been running, even though we hate it. The Oatmeal—a hilarious cartoon blog that you need to read if you haven’t—sponsored a virtual race called “Beat the Blerch,” with proceeds going to charity. We entered and ran a 10k. It really helped to join a virtual community with a bit of an attitude. But if you’re good at self-motivating (unlike me) you can always train and race for free! {Website}



The Lady Sherlock Series by Sherry Thomas  I’ll admit it, if it is a Sherlock Holmes spinoff, I’m in! This series of five books has been a wonderful surprise and is very addictive. The main characters are mostly women and there is plenty of female to female dialogue that is frequently missing in many of the more famous mystery bestsellers. Don’t read the dust jacket or reviews if you are planning on delving into this series. The less you know, the better. {Website} | {AADL–Book One: A Study in Scarlet Women}
The Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz – Horowitz has brought back editor Susan Ryeland to solve another murder in their new book, Moonflower Murders. Horowitz continues the format of a book within a book that I found immensely entertaining in Magpie Murders. It is fascinating to see the writer totally change their writing style depending on which story you are reading within the book. There are many twists and turns and both books take you on quite a ride! {AADL–Magpie Murders} | {AADL–Moonflower Murders
The Mysterious Bookshop – I love a good, clean mystery novel. When our state first shut down in March, I got by with several digital books. But after a month or two I craved the satisfaction of turning a page, seeing my progress, and bringing a book with me from room to room. Thanks to the Twittersphere, I stumbled across a rather famous bookstore, The Mysterious Bookshop in New York. I subscribed to their weekly emails and am now getting recommendations on new mystery authors, as well as notifications about classic rereleases. The Mysterious Bookshop also has “Crime Clubs” if you want to automatically have a book sent to you monthly in the mystery genre of your choice. Some of the genres are Historical, Hard-boiled & Noir, and the Unclassifiable Club. The store publishes a series of short Bibliomysteries. A few authors that have written for this series are Simon Brett, Elizabeth George, Anne Perry and Megan Abbot. Each story features books and/or those who write them, buy them, read them, collect them, sell them or are in some way involved with them. I’ve read three of their Bibliomysteries. Each one is unique and I have found them to be a fun, quick read. {Website

Enola Holmes  Enola Holmes is the bright and underestimated little sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. Her mother disappears in the beginning of the movie and Enola sets off on a quest to find her. This movie is based on a youth fiction series of the same name by Nancy Springer. The actress playing Miss Holmes is Millie Bobby Brown (from Stranger Things) and was so much fun to watch on screen. If my kids were even remotely into mysteries, this would be a wonderful family night movie or a fun series to read aloud together since the film is based on Nancy Springer's YA book The Case of the Missing Marquess. {Netflix}


Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia After receiving a frantic, disconcerting letter from her cousin Noemí heads to High Place—the once-flourishing estate in the distant Mexican countryside where her cousin lives with her new Englishman husband. Noemí, a glamourous and modern debutante born and raised among the Mexican social elite, is out of place in the quiet, drab High Place. Noemí soon finds herself becoming seduced by the madness of High Place and worries she may suffer the same fate as her cousin. Mexican Gothic is a moody slow-burn and Moreno-Garcia does a phenomenal job creating this atmosphere. I sense a strong inspiration from the short story The Yellow Wallpaper. Moreno-Garcia also curated a Spotify playlist to set the scene for the story. And good news if you enjoy this book—the author is developing the story for a series on Hulu. {Spotify} | {AADL
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel by Grady Hendrix Described as "Steel Magnolias meets Dracula" this story is equal parts funny, suspenseful, and gory. Patricia Campbell is a homemaker taking care of two kids, a mother-in-law with dementia, and an aloof husband. She seeks a book club for some "me time" and finds something much more sinister. Following in the same vein of his other book My Best Friend's Exorcism Hendrix really shines mixing soap opera drama with gore that somehow makes you laugh out loud. {AADL}
Wow, No Thank You: Essays by Samantha Irby If Samantha Irby writes something I will read it. There were many times a laughed until I was in tears, which was extra appreciated this year. {AADL}

Film, TV & Video
The Good Place  I've been a fan of this show since its premiere in 2017 and have re-watched all 4 seasons over the last couple of months. On its face, it doesn't seem like it should work—a show set in the afterlife while discussing existentialist philosophy and mortality. But the writing and acting is superb and it is equal parts hilarious and heartwarming. {AADL}
The Americans – Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys play Elizabeth and Philip Jennings—a couple who run a small travel agency and live with their two children in the suburbs. But they are actually Russian spies who are truly playing the long game, living and working as Americans under their assumed identities while everyone else around them is none the wiser. The show takes place from just after Reagan is inaugurated to the signing of the arms treaty between the US and the Soviet Union. The show flew under the radar and didn't receive a lot of ratings while it was on air, but I believe it deserves a seat at the table with the other "prestige TV" shows like The Wire and Breaking Bad. {AADL}
McMillions  I remember the craze of the McDonald's Monopoly game from when I was growing up, but I had no idea how huge of a scandal it was - involving the FBI and the mafia. The story was so outlandish, this is truly a case where fact is stranger than fiction. {HBO}
The Repair Shop  Like many of us this year, I've also turned to TV as a place of comfort and respite. I had run through the baking shows and discovered this gem on Netflix. It is a British show where talented craftspeople lovingly repair antiques and family heirlooms for people. Comfort viewing at its finest. {Netflix}
Anna and the Apocalypse  A zombie Christmas musical. Do I have to say more? {AADL}
Knives Out  A really enjoyable modern whodunit. And what a joy to see Daniel Craig as a private investigator with a slow, sweet (surprisingly well done) Southern drawl. {AADL}

Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple – After a long eight years since her last album, Fiona Apple released Fetch the Bolt Cutters in April this year. It was worth the wait. Her impeccable songwriting and interesting instrumentation and unique vocal style are what have gotten me through the majority of the quarantine. {AADL}
Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers  Bridgers' sophomore solo album is another that that been on repeat for me this year. I don't have words for it—just listen. {AADL}
Djesse Vol. 3 by Jacob Collier  Jacob Collier is an otherworldly musical talent. He composes complicated jazz pieces and catchy pop tunes with equal musicality and uniqueness. I've never heard anything like his in mainstream music before. {Spotify}

No Such Thing As a Fish – This podcast is presented by 4 researchers of the popular BBC show QI. Every week they each share their favorite fact they've learned in the past 7 days and funny and enlightening conversations happen. Great if you love trivia! {Spotify



The Beadworkers: Stories by Beth Piatote – The first book I read in 2020 and it stuck with me throughout the year! Piatote, a Nez Perce professor and author, creates intimately detailed renderings of contemporary Indigenous individuals, families, and communities. I loved the way she played with genre and form in these stories. They felt fresh and lush but were still compact, everything a short story should be. The writing here is luminous, descriptive, powerful, and often funny. Themes include love, family, friendship, return, community, and culture. {AADL}
Real Life by Brandon Taylor – A campus novel about Wallace, a Black, gay, Ph.D. student at a Big 10 university. As a reader, you’re submerged in Wallace’s mind as he experiences microaggressions from colleagues and friends and tries to decide what he wants out of life. I was immediately drawn to Taylor’s precise use of language––every sentence felt so perfectly constructed. This book also includes some dreamy scenes of everyday activities, like playing tennis and cooking meals, that I really enjoyed. {AADL}
The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, trans. Ruth Martin – Clocking in at a whopping 944 pages, The Eighth Life was the book I needed in the beginning stages of stay-at-home––sprawling, immersive, pseudo-historical, and deeply thoughtful. The (incredibly dramatic) story spans the 20th century. Haratishcvili uses the Jashi family as a starting point, expanding in circles beyond them to cover 100 tumultuous years of the Russian Empire and its many iterations. I was fascinated by Haratischvili’s exploration of truth—the way it’s manufactured, experienced, and enforced on personal and statewide levels. This book is a love letter to storytellers and a testament to the power of stories themselves, but it’s also an indictment of abuse of power and authoritarianism. {Bookshop.org}

Film, TV & Video
Rushmore (1998), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Bottle Rocket (1996) – As a huge fan of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, I embarked on a journey to watch all of his movies. I was not prepared for how DELIGHTED I would be by his earliest work and its unpolished humor, heart, and whimsy. It’s also really fun to see how the members of the entire Wes Anderson Extended Universe grow and change throughout the years. {AADL}


Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers – A 2020 favorite of a close friend and one of the best recommendations of the year, this album has a wide and powerful span of emotions and music; a dark and moody opening, surprising horns sounds reminiscent of The Waterboys, the simple beauty of a fiddle and banjo and a primal finish. All tied together with her sweet and delicate voice. A tip: Buy the vinyl and get the beautiful inner book with lyrics and hand-drawn illustrations. {AADL}
The Sun and Her Scorch by Dizzy – A good weekend afternoon album, this band from Oshawa, Ontario won the Juno Award (think Canada’s Grammys) for Alternative Album of the Year in 2019 with their debut record, Baby TeethThe Sun and Her Scorch is a beautiful follow-up that shows the maturing of a band.
Whole New Mess by Angel Olsen – Last year Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors was one of my staff picks. This year Olsen released a stripped-down version of the songs on that album, the way she had originally recorded them. Softer and less produced the strength of her voice carries through on every single track. Mellow and soothing, a beautiful, late-night album. {AADL}
Songs and Instrumentals by Adrianne Lenker – Lead singer of one of my favorite bands, Big Thief, Adrianne Lenker seems to have mellowed a little in her lyrics. Recorded early in the months of the lockdown, these two albums were recorded in a one-room cabin in the woods of Massachusetts. Beautifully raw and intriguing, just her voice, her guitar, and a mic. This album will undoubtedly become a favorite through the long winter days. {Bandcamp}
Playlists by Marianne Taylor – Yes, that’s right. This year of being home way more than anyone ever wanted to be has become a year of making playlists. Listening to the radio led to new personalized playlists that satisfy all moods and times of the day, like old mixtapes. Here is a quick rundown of a few songs that will always remind me of this unforgettable year. "Loudest in the Universe" by Isaac Vallentin, "Doubtmouth" by For Esme, "Wolves Don’t Live by the Rules" by Elisapie, "Velvet Gloves and Spit" by Timber Timbre, "Hello, I’m in Delaware" by Genevieve Racette, "The Talking Wind" by Great Lake Swimmers, "You’re With Me" by Beatrice Deer, "All That Reckoning" by Cowboy Junkies, "House of Cards" by Radiohead, "Wide Lovely Eyes" by Nick Cave, and "Did What I Did" by Jon Bryant.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles – This little book was recommended to me by a patron when it first came out. I should have read it immediately instead of four years later. Set in the late 1800s, this heartwarming story shows the softer side of Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd who is tasked with delivering Johanna Leonberger back to her people, after she was kidnapped six years earlier by the Kiowa. Reluctant to leave what she sees as her family, Captain Kidd forms a bond with the 10-year-old that may bring tears to your eyes. {AADL}
Normal People by Sally Rooney – After watching the Hulu series, I decided I needed to read this book and I’m so glad I did. A love story that isn’t a love story, I couldn’t decide who was more damaged, Connell or Marianne. They just need to realize that they love each other. Up and down and all over, Rooney weaves an incredible story of the deepest kind of love, having each others’ backs. {AADL
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – This was a hard decision to make, should this be a staff pick or not? If you read the controversy over American Dirt you will understand why. I liked this novel and yet I feel guilty about that. Can an author write about an experience that isn’t their own and can they do it in a way that brings attention to the issue as it should be? {AADL}

Pulp Life 
Shopping locally – As we look for silver linings in this pandemic one that I turn to is my renewed commitment to shopping locally. Small business owners need us more than ever and shopping locally is a way we can help to keep our favorite shops get through this difficult time. {Main Street Ann Arbor} | {Kerrytown}
Puzzles – For those looking to spend a quiet while each day, a puzzle will surprise even the most skeptical. From easy to challenging, the results are fulfilling and beautiful. Beware though ... you’ll get hooked.  
Home cooking – Out of love or necessity, everyone spent more time in the kitchen this year. A friend and I have compiled a list of our favorite recipes and even have virtual dinners together. It’s about turning a chore into something fun and exciting again. Two recommended cookbooks: One Pan & Done: Hassle-Free Meals From the Oven to Your Table by Molly Gilbert {AADL} and Mastering Spice: Recipes and Techniques to Transform Your Everyday Cooking by Lior Lev Sercarz {AADL}.


Folklore by Taylor Swift – I’m the kind of person who gets obsessed with an album and just plays it over and over again for months on end. This year, that album is Taylor Swift’s Folklore. I’ve always liked her music and thought she was a fantastic songwriter, but this album really blew me away. Swift has been working steadily since she was nine years old, and nonstop since she was 14. The strict quarantine months of the pandemic must have been the first time she’d ever been forced to slow down, and we all get to benefit from that stillness. Folklore has some of the best lyrics I’ve ever heard, and my new favorite Swift song, “The Last Great American Dynasty.” {AADL}

This Might Get Weird – This is a great comedy podcast by original YouTube stars Mamrie Hart and Grace Helbig. Both women are hilarious storytellers and it’s just fun to listen along to their adventures. {This Might Get Weird}

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh – Between my kids and my job, I read very few adult fiction books, and most of the ones I read this year were mysteries that sort of went in one year and out the other. But this book of comics by Hyperbole and a Half author Allie Brosh really stuck with me. She had a heartbreaking series of years, but she writes about them here with such delicacy and humor that by the end I felt grateful to be human, pain and all. The perfect balm for this time. {AADL}
Hilda books by Luke Pearson – My four-year-old, Abe, got really into the Hilda graphic novels this year. There are also chapter books (which I personally think pale in contrast to the graphic novels) and a Netflix series (which is great, but only one season). Unfortunately, there are no merchandised toys yet, so when he desperately wanted a stuffed Twig (Hilda’s pet deerfox), I made him one! {AADL}
Freddy the Pig books by Walter Brooks – Abe is also currently obsessed with the Freddy the Pig books by Walter Brooks and it’s been wonderful to enjoy them along with him. These funny books about a farm with talking animals who go on adventures are very old—my dad read them when he was little, then I did, and now my kids are enjoying them. They are full of offhand remarks about the lives of animals, which I just love. Did you know that deer love gossip or that ants tend to be short-tempered? If you want Charlotte's Web stripped of the sentimentality, or Animal Farm for kids (I know how weird that sounds!), Freddy is for you. You can read them in any order, but Freddy the Detective is my personal favorite. {AADL}
Quill Soup by Alan Durant – This retelling of Stone Soup had some of the best illustrations I saw all year. {AADL}

Film, TV & Video
Hamilton – I loved the soundtrack to this but never got to see it live. Seeing it on the screen made me understand and love it even more. {Disney+}
Happiest Season – I never thought I’d get to see a big-budget Christmas movie about lesbians, so this was a real treat. It’s not a perfect movie (among other things, it’s extremely white), but it’s funny, romantic, and has a great soundtrack. {Hulu}


Film, TV & Video
Green Porno, Seduce Me, and Mammas – Oh Isabella! What a creative sense of humor you have! These three shows feature Isabella Rossellini reenacting mating and birthing in the animal kingdom, especially of insects and aquatic creatures. Each short episode features a sparse but wonderful set of costumery, giant props, paper construction, puppets, and sound effects. And always that knowing smirk from Isabella: "Is he seducing me?" It's like if Mummenschanz showed up in your health class to make sex ed even weirder. {YouTube}
The Handmaid's Tale – I guess my year had a lot of Handmaid's Tale in it. I watched the first season of the show with the amazing and prolific Elizabeth Moss which blew me away. I was so satisfied with the storyline after one season that I didn't want to go any further and risk wrecking the experience I had had. Then I read the book which I had missed all these years. I really enjoyed it but found the show even more gripping. Finally, I ended on the 1990 Natasha Richardson/Robert Duvall/Faye Dunaway movie version. Why would I watch this? {AADL}
What Happened, Miss Simone?  Watching a biography of someone you admire so much is always risky. Once the surface is peeled back, do you still look up to them? What Happened, Miss Simone? shows the life, struggles, and musical genius of Nina Simone. All of her passion is here, with her beautiful, beautiful voice. It's not always a happy story, but I left with more admiration than ever. {AADL}
Star Trek: The Next Generation – When this series was first on television, I was living in a house literally under a highway, opening envelopes for a bank at night to make money. There was almost no furniture in our house, let alone a TV. Now that I am living a respectable, settled life, I thought it was finally time to give Next Generation a try. How and why was I led to believe it was more modern than Kirk trying to seduce a woman every time he beamed down to a planet? In so many ways, this show is more sexist and worse than the original. Of course, Patrick Stewart is mesmerizing on the show, and I eventually warmed to the episodic nature of the stories, but I didn't have it in me to see what delights awaited me in season 2. {AADL}
Pain and Glory – A great Almodóvar movie leaves me feeling both invigorated and drained. Pain and Glory is Almodóvar's most recent and tells the story of a retired film director looking back on his life. Antonio Banderas has never elicited more emotion from his acting than he does here. His performance is world-class. {AADL}
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries – This is a romantic, fun series about an Australian flapper who is also a clever detective and a sharp wit. Occasionally, I was left scratching my head with the sudden introduction of several new characters or a plot twist, but I seldom cared. It's not really the story that matters anyway, but the characters. {AADL}
My Octopus Teacher – I haven't seen a more humane and humble movie all year than My Octopus Teacher. This is the touching true story of a diver who visits the same octopus every day off the coast of South Africa. The underwater photography is as beautiful as the movie's rumination on life. What a relief it was to watch this and feel such a deep connection to the real world. {Netflix}
Sharp Objects – Everything about Sharp Objects I loved: the acting, first of all, with Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson, the theme music that changed every episode, the writing and pacing of this show, and the fact that it tells a well-thought-out story that all makes sense through the twists and turns. One of the very best things I watched all year. {AADL}
Filmworker – A documentary about Kubrick's right-hand assistant Leon Vitali. {AADL}
Candyman – A 1992 creepy genre-bending horror with music by Philip Glass. {JustWatch}
The Hate U Give – I was emotionally exhausted after watching this and loved Amandla Stenberg's powerful acting. {AADL}
Escape Room – A surprisingly fun horror film for fans of real escape rooms. {AADL}

Pulp Life
Decode Detroit 
 Covid has, of course, limited everyone's ability to do all the fun things that make this part of Michigan so great. But places like Decode Detroit showed exceptional flexibility with their outside puzzle Around the World at their Ann Arbor location on Packard. The puzzles were exactly the right level of difficulty and we cheered when we successfully solved the last one. I should have known how much fun this would be. {Website}
Ford/Wyoming Drive-In  While the movie theaters suffered this year, the Ford/Wyoming Drive-In in Dearborn (once more the world's largest?) was booming. It's always a treat to see that lurid hot dog dance around during the concessions cartoon break between movies. {Website}
Detroit Curling Club  Before covid, I was lucky enough to get a rare afternoon slot at Ferndale's Detroit Curling Club. This is an expensive outing, but it's also a unique chance to dive into this weird and goofy world. {Website}

Aaron Jonah Lewis
 – Also before quarantine, I was truly fortunate to see Aaron Jonah Lewis at The Ark. Here is an absolute master of old-timey instruments like the fiddle and the banjo that he plays with such joy and humor. {Website}


KiCk i by Arca – The music video for "Mequetrefe" was the only thing keeping me going the week I lost my second job. Glitchy and poppy, KiCk i is Arca’s most mainstream pop album yet. But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not good. {Soundcloud}
Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple – It’s Fiona Apple. {AADL}
Mirror Moves by The Psychedelic Furs – The Psychedelic Furs wrote the soundtrack to my summer. I can’t really explain why I think you should listen to this (like most of the things I’m recommending) but trust me. How could you go wrong with a band called The Psychedelic Furs? {YouTube}
Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers – Sometimes you just wanna feel sad, ya know? {AADL}
Hounds of Love by Kate Bush – I remember listening to "Hello Earth" on a bike ride to the botanical gardens and realizing for the first time how off everything felt. It was only a few days later that the library—and then the rest of the world—started to shut down. {AADL}
ALIAS by Shygirl (2020) – Sometimes you just want to feel sexy, ya know? {Soundcloud}

Film, TV & Video
Pen15 (2020) – Pen15 is a look into the life of two middle schoolers (played by two 30-year-olds who somehow look they are in fact 13) who do cringy middle school things. Despite being born the year the series is set, every single moment was relatable. Middle school awkwardness truly is what binds us all. {Hulu}
The Social Dilemma (2020) – I didn’t find The Social Dilemma to be particularly great or riveting but it did serve as a confirmation of things I had been thinking myself for a while now. The Social Dilemma is part documentary and part drama about the dangers and trappings of social media, straight from the mouths of those who built them. {Netflix}
House (1977) – A wild, psychedelic, absolute riot of a horror movie. There is a deeper meaning behind the film but it’s worth watching for the insane dream-like story and visuals alone. {JustWatch}

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – You’ve probably read or heard of The Song of Achilles already but lemme heap more praise on the book. This is not only a retelling of the Illiad but a beautiful, beautiful love story between two of the characters. Seeing Madleine Miller earlier this year at the library was one of my favorite memories in an otherwise bleak year. {AADL}
A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara – Utterly devastating and endlessly bleak—perfect for 2020! A Little Life follows the tragic life of Jude and those connected to him. One of the few books to make me cry. {AADL}
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata – It’s hard to find an accurate and relatable portrayal of autism in any medium but Convenience Store Woman is the closest I’ve found yet. The book is about a woman and the convenience store she has worked at for the past 18 years, despite the disappointment and worry of those closest to her. A quick and quirky read, Convenience Store Woman left me thinking and understanding more about myself and the weird things I do—and maybe it will for you, too. {AADL}
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – This book is about an island where things disappear from the memories of those who inhabit the island, enforced by a mysterious and draconian Memory Police. Released in 1994 but published in English for the first time in 2019, The Memory Police feels ever more pressing today. {AADL}



Critical Role  An inadequate but practical description of this episodic podcast/YouTube stream might be something like “it features very competent voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons.” A less inadequate description involves me gesticulating wildly and screeching something akin to “it’s like reading a fantasy novel, watching a movie, and going on an adventure all at the same time!” There are hundreds of hours of content, which may have accompanied me during my bookshelf-bound shifts at the library. Nothing makes organizing cookbooks by categorical and in author’s-last-name order more exciting than listening to a battle against an ancient dragon while you’re at it! {Website}
Business Wars  A podcast by Wondery which explores the history of well-known brands so that we may know how they came to be! I didn’t think I’d be enthralled by stories of competing pizza chains but I was. Maybe it’s the dramatization of marketing meetings, the humanization of the personalities behind the brands, or maybe it’s because the show is well-researched. Regardless, I now know too much about how many dollars are poured into market research about pizza toppings and the blood, sweat, and tears shed for the sake of food, blue jeans, and creating the perfect dating app algorithm. {Website}
The Ezra Klein Show  By Vox Media. Hours of civil discourse on relevant topics. The thoughtful discussions have been a balm. It is a fabulous example of how to have productive conversations about topics near and farm from my own preferences. {Website}


Film, TV & Video
The Dress Up Gang (2020) – A comedy set in a kinder Los Angeles, about two roommates helping each other out with their childlike problems. This was a nice distraction during the early days of quarantine. {TBS}
How To With John Wilson (2020) – A documentary filmmaker, John Wilson films everything then stitches together a funny but also sincere poetic narrative of life in New York City. Nathan Fielder produces, so if you're a fan of his work this may be for you. {HBO}
First Cow (2019) – Set in 1820, a traveling chef creates a buzz of attention with biscuits made with the milk of a local dairy cow—a secret ingredient that could be too dangerous to reveal. {AADL}

Office Hours Live with Tim Heidecker – A live call-in show from the other half of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! With audio drops by DJ Douggpound and Vic Berger. Doug and Vic also create funny videos on YouTube. {Anchor.fm} | {YouTube}

Bridge to Quiet by Animal Collective (2020) – An EP that draws similarities to the quieter side of Merriweather Post Pavilion. Recorded pre-pandemic but mixed and released during the quarantine. {Bandcamp}


Unlocking Us with Brené Brown - I have never been much of a self-help person. Something about this year made me, at first, not even a bit concerned with any kind of self-help. I was more into numbing and drowning my sorrows than dealing with them. But for some reason, maybe all the extra time I had with myself, made me turn some kind of corner. All of a sudden, I was ready for some help. It was clear I needed it. This podcast has been a great intro to the self-help genre. Not only is Brené a well-known professor and researcher of human emotions and patterns, she is also an honest and grounded person who has had many struggles in her life. The episodes consist mostly of interviews, some with folks who have done research on the human psyche and others who have lived extraordinary lives, with a few episodes laid out by Brené with helpful tools for getting at the root of communication issues, both with yourself and others. If you are looking for a little levity, a little gravity, and some useful tips on living your best life, I recommend this podcast. {Website}

Hot Pink by Doja Cat (2019) – Truly so much fun and very catchy, her songs are interesting enough to not be passed over as just "pop." She is a great rapper and her style is super trendy, as evinced by her rise to stardom through TikTok.
Lion King: The Gift (2019) by Beyoncé  If you have not heard this album, please do yourself a favor and get to it! This is truly a gift from Queen Beyoncé (you can skip through the interludes from the movie). It bumps the whole way through. This album came out as a companion to the reboot of the Disney classic The Lion King (2019). It is the actual soundtrack to the 2020 Disney+ movie release called Black Is King {Disney+}. If you have the subscription, do check it out. It has an incredibly diverse cast and is a beautiful visual album, following in the style of her 2016 masterpiece Lemonade{AADL}
Khruangbin – This band is the vibe. Most of their albums will be chill enough to mellow out to, but with a beat that keeps you moving. Their new album, Mordechai {AADL} goes from disco and R&B to chill-hop and Latin groove. This and their previous album, Hasta el cielo {AADL}, are a little more upbeat than their earlier work. I highly recommend turning this band on when you are trying to clean your house, or doing an intricate cooking project. They will help you get it done.

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in The Old South by Michael Twitty (2017) – This book is heart-wrenching, fascinating, and very funny at times. Twitty's tone is matter-of-fact as he describes his journey into the history of the food of enslaved people in the United States by way of uncovering his own ancestry and the difficulty of tracking this information down. He is decisive and cutting as he traces slavery and racism through the history of our country and how it contributed to the diversity and delectability of different Afircan American cuisines. It is a long book and a hard topic, but extremely readble and totally required reading for anyone interested in "American Food". Twitty is a fascinating human and is incredibly well-researched. He one of the only people to approach this topic in his detailed and deeply personal way. {AADL}
Summer Kitchens by Olia Hercules (2020) – This is my favorite cookbook of the year. She is of Ukrainian descent, and her cookbooks are like an ongoing love letter to her home country. She also includes Serbian, Russian, and other Slavic cuisines represented. The name of this cookbook is in reference to the kitchens most Ukrainians use in the summertime so their houses don't heat up with seasonal cooking and pickling projects. There are many vegetarian recipes, as well as a full year of cooking in season, not just summertime. There is a lot of fermentation too, as summer is the season to preserve all the fresh bounty to eat into the winter months. The photos are beautiful, of food and the countryside as well as the folks that live there. So far the AADL has her first cookbook in the catalog, Kaukasis {AADL}. I also highly recommend her other cookbook, Mamushka. {Website}
Initiated: Memoir of a Witch by Amanda Yates Garcia (2019) – New to the world of real-life witchcraft, I found this book a great place to start my journey. Yates Garcia tells the story of her life, growing up with a mother in The Craft, following her path that led her away and then back to this practice. As witchcraft becomes more visible in popular culture (especially on Instagram and TikTok), younger and older generations are finding the path of paganism, and specifically witchcraft, to be an accessible spiritual calling and practice. A wonderful story and some very interesting food for thought if you are considering this form of spirituality. {AADL}

Pulp Life
Loomi Cafe 
 Nestled into a corner of the Kerrytown Market building, is a no-nonsense New American Ethnic restaurant with a long counter full of old-school stools and a chalkboard menu. This place isn't super new (it started as a food cart in 2018 and then moved into its current spot in 2019, replacing Kosmo's), but the buzz keeps coming. With an ever-changing menu full of surprises, I find that every time I eat at Loomi I am thoroughly satisfied and satiated. The menu is set up so that there is a slot for a few different types of meat proteins and one veggie option, each comes with a side and a choice of starch (so hard to choose between homemade flatbread and their incredible potatoes ... or rice), along with some sides and bomber drinks. The Loomi Burger is a newer option created during the pandemic, very delicious. Notable are Shawarma Thursdays (which starts at noon and sells out VERY quickly), and homemade donuts on Sundays. {Website}


Film, TV & Video
Jeopardy! – So our stream-centric home has discovered broadcast TV during the pandemic, and the sad passing of Alex Trebek suddenly made Jeopardy! a weeknight ritual we didn't know we were missing. Similarly, Cash Cab has been showing new and classic episodes, although it's harder to watch people crowding into a cab than the already socially distant Jeopardy! From the AADL collection, we have an odd documentary about supercomputer Watson's run on Jeopardy! and you can get in line for Trebek's memoir, "The Answer Is...: Reflections on my Life."

 – This musician does video game covers, the ultimate light listening. Expert arrangements of familiar happy tunes, some very faithful and some taking delightful liberties. Qumu is in particular a master of perfectly fitting references to other songs into places you'd never guess they'd fit. {YouTube} | {Spotify}

I've managed to read two books this year.
Agency by William Gibson – This was, of course, an incredibly gripping and well-constructed follow-up to The Peripheral, but probably not that great an idea to read a book with a future that talks about the past pandemics as in plural. {AADL}
The Last Emperox by John Scalzi – The final book in the Interdependency series and it delivered an excellent end to this funny and engaging space empire series. {AADL}

Pulp Life
– A good way to break out of doomscrolling is to follow @warpdoor (or warpdoor.com ) for near-daily links to unusual independent games, many free and in-browser. But as ever, nothing soaks up time like my beloved Kerbal Space Program. Build and fly rockets containing little screaming green people with real orbital mechanics. Since we can't travel, I've been building a whole tourist scene across the Kerbolar System. Getting marooned on another planet is still tourism, right?


Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – This was by far my most anticipated book of the year after reading Gideon the Ninth twice in 2019. Muir does not disappoint. I spent most of the book incredibly confused and enjoying every second. If you’re looking for absurd sci-fi/horror featuring unforgettable characters, necromancy, space stations, sword fights, lots of emotions, soup, and countless memes, look no further than this trilogy. {AADL Catalog}
Real Queer America: LGBT Stories From Red States by Samantha Allen – Part travel memoir, part investigative journalism, this book follows writer Samantha Allen as she road-trips across the United States to find out how queer communities connect and organize in traditionally conservative parts of the country. Along the way she shares her own experiences with these places as she began transitioning, met her wife, and found a community of her own. Uplifting, ultimately hopeful, and much needed. {AADL}
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – In this epistolary novella, two spies from opposing sides of a war for the control of time leave letters for each other in increasingly complex ways. But what starts as taunts and boasting eventually turns to something else, as each begins to question the cycle they perpetuate. Incredibly imaginative with beautiful writing. {AADL}
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado – Machado is one author whose writing I will read every bit of until the end of time, and this book is no exception. This memoir bends the genre by incorporating horror tropes to examine Machado’s relationship with a psychologically abusive ex-girlfriend. The result is lyrical, unique, horrifying, and necessary. {AADL}
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – A funny, feel-good sci-fi novel about an interspecies motley space-ship crew headed toward the outer reaches of the galaxy. This lighthearted trilogy was a much-needed reprieve from this year. {AADL}
Underland by Robert Macfarlane – A beautiful meditation on the meanings we assign to underground spaces. {AADL Catalog}

Use Me by PVRIS – PVRIS (pronounced Paris) got their start in the early 2010s as a metalcore band, but under the vision of front-woman Lynn Gunn their sound has evolved into something that toes the line between alternative rock, pop, and punk. Use Me is Lynn Gunn at her best when it comes to writing, vocals, and production. I eagerly await the day when I can see this album performed live. {AADL}
WOMB by Purity Ring – On their third album, Purity Ring is poetic and ethereal as always. Despite the lyrics exploring heavy topics ranging from gendered expectations to healthcare disparities, the overall sound is warm and comforting. I kept this album on heavy repeat while stress-sewing masks in mid-April. {YouTube}
INDUSTRY GAMES by CHIKA – In her debut album, Alabama-born rapper CHIKA reflects on the pressures of sudden fame while looking to the future with optimism and fierce determination. Every song is an absolute banger and deserves to be played at full volume. {YouTube}
Dreamland by Glass Animals – Glass Animals was one of the many bands I enjoyed as an angsty teen, but they’re one of the few that has managed not to prove a major disappointment as I’ve gotten older. This album shows yet again that they can create bizarre, dark, earworms of songs that explore a variety of emotions. "Your Love (Deja Vu)" and "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" are particular favorites. {YouTube}

Ear Hustle – Created by a Bay Area artist and inmates from California’s San Quentin State Prison, this podcast shares daily life in the prison and the stories of those incarcerated there. Funny, emotional, and eye opening. Would highly recommend the episodes Looking Out, Down Low, Snack Money, and Respect the Paper. {Website}
Imaginary Worlds – A sci-fi/fantasy podcast that explores how fictional worlds are created and how they shape us. The production is fantastic and includes interviews with creators from a variety of mediums. Some favorite episodes include "Solarpunk the Future," "The Mysterious James Tiptree," and "Imaginary Deaths." {Website}


Epidemics and Society by Frank M. Snowden (2019) – This year, for no reason in particular, I got really into books about pandemics. This book, although essentially a college course and over 500 pages long is incredibly interesting, covering Black Death through SARS. It was also a great comfort to me to read about worse pandemics than ours. {AADL}

Film, TV & Video
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) – This was the last movie I saw in theaters before the pandemic shut down Michigan, and it was a great one to end on. Upbeat (mostly), colorful, and with a great soundtrack, I enjoyed every minute. {AADL}
The Old Guard (2020) – Based on the 2017 graphic novel of the same name, this movie follows five immortal mercenaries fighting to protect humanity. While ostensibly an action film, it’s really a nuanced look at a (very violent) found family. {Netflix}

ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits (1992) – In this relentlessly bad year I needed a pick-me-up and I got it from the works of ABBA. I blasted their music to stay positive during the library closure earlier this year, likely annoying my roommates. I have no regrets. {AADL}
Bardcore – This year gave us a new genre of music: medieval takes on modern songs. While they are of dubious historical accuracy, they provided this year with some much-needed fun, and make great background music for DnD Campaigns. {YouTube}

Pulp Life
Call of Cthulhu
 - I wasn't able to spend time with my friends in person, but we stayed close with Zoom RPGs. Our favorite was Call of Cthulhu, a welcome reminder that as bad as things get, there aren't any eldritch deities to worry about. {Website} | {AADL–Keeper Rulebook} {AADL–Investigator Handbook}



Horse Crazy by Sarah Maslin Nir
While it appears to be just another girl-loves-horses story, journalist Nir asks the horses throughout her life to speak for her in clear, precise language. Horses from all over the world, competitive breeds to broken-down nags, perform with the truth and dignity that commands our respect and empathy for the rider. Nir makes the case that women who can ride horses are badasses. The real deal. This is a personal story told through the trust given back to Nir by horses. It is outstanding. {AADL}


I was in Colorado when the lockdowns started, while I was exploring Manitou Springs I got the email saying that we would not be returning to work until further notice. My week-long vacation turned into three months, though I wouldn't exactly call it a vacation. As did most of us, I spent the majority of 2020 trying to find any form of escapism I could find. The majority of which came in the form of TV shows, books, and movies. These ones stood out among the rest:

The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris  These books were the inspiration for the True Blood series from HBO. I had started reading them when that series ended so that I could try to extend it as long as possible but life gets busy and there are a lot of books in this series. With there being so many novels, this is a series that will keep you busy for a while and because it is based on the supernatural world it is the perfect escape from reality, at least for a few hours a day. {AADL}

Film, TV & Video 
Shrill  This TV show streams on Hulu and unfortunately, it is not something that the library circulates so if you were able to take advantage of Hulu's awesome Black Friday deal or you already have a Hulu account, this is definitely one to add to your watchlist. This show was inspired by Lindy West's Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman, which I have yet to read but if we have learned anything from things inspired by books, the book is always better. Never have I had a TV show make me feel more validated and seen while also making me laugh out loud, it was truly a breath of fresh air. Whenever I need a quick pick me up (the episodes are only about 25 minutes long) I watch s.1 ep.4 "Pool," which was written by Samantha Irby who has written several collections of essays. {Hulu}



The Night Country by Melissa Albert – This is the sequel to The Hazel Wood, and I LOVED getting lost in this world. It’s a dark twist on fairytales that gave me just the right amount of heebie-jeebies. Plus, the book of fairytales that the series is based on is being published in January and I absolutely can not wait. {AADL}
Frankly in Love by David Yoon – Wow, this book! It gave me layers, henny! I came for the cute love story with Asian-American representation and stayed for the refreshing and open discussion of race. It was fun and funny and heartwarming. Yoon’s writing was a delight. {AADL}
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – After not being able to read for most of March, I picked up this book and read it in two days. It’s a fun enemies-to-lovers romance between the son of the (FEMALE!) president of the United States and the prince of England, filled with smart, compassionate characters. {AADL}
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng – This is a very sweet middle-grade book that was adventurous, loving, hopeful, and dealt with some surprisingly deep issues. I’ve been recommending it right and left since I finished it. {AADL}
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – I don’t know what to say about this book other than it was the perfect book for me at the perfect time. I loved every single thing about it, and read it in one sitting. {AADL}
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – I did the opposite of what I usually do, and I saw the movie before I read this book. I really enjoyed the movie and was not surprised that the book managed to be even richer and better. {AADL}
Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby – Samantha Irby is my queen. She had me cracking up throughout this book with her honest, overdramatic, self-deprecating writing style. After finishing it, I followed her on Instagram and signed up for her email newsletter where she recounts what happened on Judge Mathis. {AADL}
Shit, Actually by Lindy West – This is the quarantine book everyone needs. It’s a collection of essays, where West gives you a play by play review of why really popular movies are actually terrible, and it had me cry-laughing. Full disclosure: Her reviews did send me on a Nicolas Cage deep dive. {AADL}

The West Wing Weekly – I’m rewatching The West Wing for maybe the fourth time and listening to Hrishikesh Hirway (podcast creator and long-time West Wing fan) and Joshua Malina (who plays Will Bailey on the show) recount each episode. They bring in cast and crew from the show as well as politicians or experts in whatever field an episode is discussing, and some of the episodes were taped live in front of an audience. It’s a real treat, it’s educational, it’s behind the scenes, and there are terrible jokes made throughout. A must for West Wing nerds. {Website}
Homecooking – This podcast was created by Hrishikesh Hirway and chef Samin Nosrat, who wrote Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, as an advice show for what to make with what you’ve got on hand while staying at home during the pandemic. I don’t like cooking, but I enjoyed the podcast for the company. It gives the feeling of being surrounded by friends. {Website}
Partners – Each episode of this podcast is the origin story/love story of creative partners, where they explain how they met, how they work together, and how their relationship has grown. My favorite episode is with creative collaborators/best friends Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. {Website}

Film, TV & Video
The Great British Baking Show (series 8) – I am so late to the game, I didn’t start watching the show until this November, and I got very invested in the contestants very quickly. I’m glad there are so many past seasons for me to catch up on. {Netflix}
Middleditch & Schwartz – Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz perform three long-form improv specials that are made up on the spot. They came through with some lighthearted, well played goofs. {Netflix}
Avatar: The Last Airbender – I watched this over a decade ago when it was on TV, but rewatched it beginning to end multiple times since it was put on Netflix in May. It may be a kids' show, but it’s got all kinds of moral and life lessons in there. {Netflix}
Elementary – I enjoy the different iterations of Sherlock Holmes on screen. This one felt more modern and casual. I loved Lucy Liu as Watson, and how they put a spotlight on Holmes’ addiction. {AADL}
The Half of It – Maybe the only good movie I watched this year? {Netflix}



Film, TV & Video
Steven Universe – This summer my cat died and I sprained my ankle two days later. (Would not recommend. 0 out of 5 stars.) With my leg propped up and not much to do but feel sad, I decided it was time to finally watch Steven Universe. I watched all 160 episodes in order, plus the movie that came out last year, plus Steven Universe Future, the short epilogue series that finished its run in March. It was a balm. If you are a person of any age looking for a tender, goofy fantasy world where people can state their needs and talk about their feelings without being crushed into oblivion, Steven Universe may be your ticket. {Cartoon Network} | {AADL}

Pulp Life
The Diplodocus Could Grow up to Seventy-Five Feet Long by Charles R. Knight – It just delighted me to no end to have giant framed dinosaur art on my wall. You might think of Charles R. Knight as the John James Audubon of pre-historic painting. His work was groundbreaking and his style is great, even if we now know that the way he depicted many of the creatures in his paintings was incorrect. {AADL}
Backpacking – I took refuge in the outdoors a lot in 2020, partly due to the pandemic. This was the year that I learned to love strapping 30 pounds of camping gear, water, and dehydrated food to my back and walking for miles in the woods. Somehow this form of survivalism is very soothing compared to dodging the virus back home. I particularly enjoyed the Manistee National Forest, which is about three hours northwest of Ann Arbor. Unlike state parks, National Forests allow for dispersed camping rather than confining you to established campsites, meaning less potential contact with other people.  
The Ann Arbor Sun – Did you know that Ann Arbor had its own militant hippie rag? If you’re interested in local history or 1960s and 70s politics and culture, do yourself a favor and get lost down the neon paisley rabbit hole that is the Ann Arbor Sun. Dig it. {AADL Old News

The Fire Next Time and No Name in the Street by James Baldwin – Having read a few scattered pieces by James Baldwin, I took a dive into his books this summer. The Fire Next Time is probably one of his most often-quoted pieces of writing, which mixes a memoir of growing up in Harlem, an analysis of anti-Black racism in the US, and the story of Baldwin’s encounter with the leaders of the Nation of Islam. I recommend reading it alongside No Name in the Street, written in the aftermath of the assinations of three of his friends: Medgar Evars, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, as well as the unjust imprisonment and sentencing of his friend Tony Maynard. It is unfortunate that the analysis of racism and inequality in these books is still so applicable today, but they were inspiring and sobering texts to read in 2020. {AADL} | {AADL
Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi – The author's main premise is simple: a racist idea is any idea that a racial group is inherently superior or inferior to another racial group. From this simple definition, he unfolds a complex history of anti-Black racist ideas from 15th-century travel narratives to 21st-century tweets. I consumed this book in audiobook format and by the time I finished listening to all 20 hours, I felt like my understanding of history—and the daily context in which I live—had been deeply changed. {AADL
The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty – This book is rich and undefinable; a narrative of people, food, power, and identity that feels painful to read in the way it does to wash a wound. Michael W. Twitty combines food history, his family genealogy, and the memoir of his life as a Black, Jewish gay man to tell the story of how enslaved people resisted the system that would destroy them by creating a new cuisine: Southern cooking. {AADL
The Art of the Fold by Hedi Kyle – This is the paper folding manual of a lifetime. Meaning that lifetimes of knowledge went into it, and lifetimes of knowledge could be derived from it. Although not for the beginning paper or book artist, the projects here are explained with amazing clarity. I have checked this book out multiple times this year. {AADL}
Bound: 15 Beautiful Bookbinding Projects by Rachel Hazell – AADL has quite a collection of manuals and inspirational books on bookbinding. But this one really stood out to me this year. None of the projects are very complex; most can be done in a single sitting. But the instructions and photographs are very well done. It was even pleasant to read about projects I already knew how to do. I was inspired to make a couple of AADL.TV videos from the projects here. If book and paper arts are something you’re interested in, I’d definitely recommend this book as a starter. {AADL}

Unlocking Us with Brene Brown – Brene Brown, the renowned researcher on shame, vulnerability, courage, and worthiness, just happened to launch this podcast a few weeks before lockdown began. It’s been a big dose of calm and reassurance. I have enjoyed her rotating cast of insightful guests as well as her takes on the events of 2020 as they unfold. {Website}
Dear Prudence – I used to read Slate's "Dear Prudence" back when it was written by Emily Yoffe, as advice columns are definitely a guilty pleasure for me. However, I was delighted to discover (four years late, as it turns out) that Dear Prudence is also now in podcast form hosted by Daniel M. Lavery, who has given it a delicious LGBTQ twist. {Website}
The Feminist Survival Project 2020 with Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski – Two funny and highly educated twin sisters, one a choral conductor and the other a sex educator, talk about evidence-based emotional and psychological strategies for “surviving the sh*tshow that is 2020.” I am sure their insights will continue to apply in 2021. This is essentially the extended-play version of their book Burnout. {Website}


Wow, No Thank You: Essays by Samantha Irby (2020) – Did you know one of the funniest people alive lives in Kalamazoo? {AADL}
The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis (1983) – I hate myself for typing this but—the book was better. {AADL}
The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein (2017) {AADL}
Normal People by Sally Rooney (2019) – I’m a sucker for Irish authors and sad stories. {AADL}

Film, Video & TV
Black Monday {Showtime}
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson {Netflix
Killing Eve {AADL}
The Vow vs. Seduced: Inside The NXIVM Cult – I spent nine hours watching HBO’s The Vow only to learn that the story being told by ex-NXIVM members had a pretty severe selective memory and neglected to reveal some of the most heinous interworkings of the cult and its leader. If you’re a True Crime fan and are looking for more reliable narrators, I’d recommend the Starz four-part series on this multi-level marketing organization/cult over HBO’s lengthy tale. {Starz} | {Hulu}

Sasami by Sasami {AADL}
Three States: Rarities by Dear Nora – A 60-song collection of demos, B-sides, and a cover of Missy Elliot’s “Hot Boyz” by Katy Davidson and their insanely undervalued Portland band from the early aughts. {Bandcamp}
Dream Erosion (Synthesizer Songs) by Fred Thomas – This year has been terrible but the calmest I’ve felt was the 40 minutes spent listening to Fred’s atmospheric synth songs. Favorite track: "Backstroke." {Bandcamp}

Game of Roses2 Black Girls 1 RoseChatty BroadsDate Card  Yes, these are FOUR separate Bachelor / Bachelorette recap podcasts, but they find a way to deep dive into their love of this insane show without being afraid to address the franchises incredibly problematic elements and have real dialogues about social justice issues and the role social media plays in the perplexing world that is “Bach Nation.”



Film, Video & TV
Tangled: The Series/Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure – I’m sure most of you have seen Disney’s Tangled, but did you know the story didn’t end there? Tangled: The Series (renamed to Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure during its second season) brings back all of the original cast and introduces some new faces. The pilot episode shows Rapunzel adapting to life as a princess, but feeling like she just traded being stuck in one tower for another. To help relieve some of her stress, Rapunzel’s lady-in-waiting, Cassandra, sneaks Rapunzel out of the tower to experience some freedom. However, they come across the location of where the magical flower that was the source of Rapunzel’s magic hair originally was, and when she reaches out to touch a mysterious black stone spike, a blast of magic blows Rapunzel away, and she finds herself with long, blonde hair again!

The series grows from within the walls of Corona to exploring the world around, all in search of answers to what the magical black spikes are, and why they seem to be connected to Rapunzel’s hair. The friendship between Rapunzel and Cassandra grows to sisterly love, and as the series progresses we are introduced to new characters and locations full of magic and danger. We even find out a bit more about Flynn Rider/Eugene’s mysterious past. All of the characters grow and develop in a very mature way, making this show great for viewers of all ages. My 7-year-old, my wife, and I spent the last year watching episodes every “Tangled Tuesday.” I may have gotten more into it than she did. {Disney+} | {AADL–Pilot}

Pulp Life
Virtual Tabletops (VTT)
 – In 2020, playing role-playing games together around a table may have come to a halt, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop playing completely! Gather your friends virtually around a virtual tabletop (VTT). There are a number of virtual tabletop options out there to let you keep playing your favorite role-playing game with your friends online.

Roll20.net is a popular, free option with basic features to give you access to a grid map and tokens for all your RPG combat needs. You can set what type of game you’re running, such as D&D or Pathfinder, and rules and information will be accessible through an online Compendium. Some of the options are limited to what game companies have released for free, with the option to purchase add-ons or a subscription to Roll20 to access those. {Roll20}

Another option is Foundry Virtual Tabletop. This program has an up-front cost of $50, but it has a full suite of built-in, powerful tools for running your game. I’ve recently switched from Roll20 to this system, and some of my favorite features are things like dynamic lighting, and line of sight rules. When a player clicks on their token, their map will only show what their character can see within a certain range. The Game Master can even set up walls and things to block the line of sight of the players and keep things hidden. With access to a number of modules created by users, you’ll be able to find everything you need to run a game for any system you want. I highly recommend this program to those who know we’ll be running games online for a while. {Foundry VTT}

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything by Wizards of the Coast – This supplemental book for the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons is a must-have for all players and GMs. It expands many character options, as well as introducing ways to customize your character’s race and heritage. Maybe you don’t want to take those stat bonuses to Strength and Constitution abilities when building your half-orc character because they were raised by nimble elves, so instead your Dexterity and Intelligence are higher. That’s just one example of the many new tools to customize your D&D character to make them even more unique at the table.

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything also includes a plethora of new (and some old) subclass options for your character. Maybe you’d like to be a Wild Soul Barbarian, with access to a Wild Magic random table similar to the Wild Magic Sorcerer, or maybe your wizard is in the Order of Scribes, which includes your very own talking spellbook! Players aren’t the only ones to get spoiled by cool new options. DMs can make use of the new Patron options and the rules for Sidekicks originally introduced in the Essentials Kit.

You also won’t want to miss Tasha’s snarky comments scattered throughout the book. You can check out a copy from the library. {AADL}


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – I’d heard good things about this book, lots of praise, but I never really even looked at the description of the book, so I wasn’t prepared for the plot of the book. However, I think it was for the best. I probably would’ve been more reluctant to read it had I realized the plot. I read it right after George Floyd was killed. It was a real eye-opener and a phenomenal book! The range of emotions I felt while reading was like very few books before it. Usually I can separate my emotions from what’s happening in a book, not this time. I laughed, I cried, I got angry, the whole gambit. It was a terrific book and even tho’ it’s rated as Teen literature, you shouldn’t let that put you off reading it. Grab it, read it, and experience all your feelings at once! {AADL}
Hiding Cracked Glass by James J. Cudney – This is the sequel to Cudney’s very first book, Watching Glass Shatter, which came out a few years back. However, this one is so much better than the first one. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Watching Glass Shatter. It was one of my favorite books of 2017, but Cudney has become an even better author since publishing that first book three years ago. His prose is that much more powerful though he still has a tendency to over-describe things. This book continues the saga of the Glass family with new secrets that will be revealed and new drama to come. Hiding Cracked Glass takes place all within about 16 hours of one specific day in the life of the Glass family. Gripping, emotional, and a page-turner. If you do decide to read it, it will make more sense if you read Watching Glass Shatter first! {Author Website}
Amish Candy Shop Mysteries by Amanda Flower – I love cozy mysteries and this year I discovered the Amish Candy Shop Mysteries by Amanda Flower. Assaulted Caramel is the first one in the series and the books are just delightful! There’s five full-length novels, three novellas, and the sixth full-length novel comes out next year. I love cozy mysteries because they’re fun, light-hearted reads that still come with a mystery. I love mysteries but not all the blood and gore that’s sometimes described in traditional mysteries. This series follows Bailey as she moves to Ohio to help her Amish grandmother run the family candy shop after her grandfather passes away. I love the characters and the fact that while the protagonist takes some chances, she stays aware of the danger and doesn’t just rush headlong into things that could get her killed. Check out this series if you love cozy mysteries! {AADL}

The Women Who Raised Me by Kandace Springs – This is a great vocal jazz album by Kandace Springs. If you like Norah Jones or Diana Krall you should check out Kandace Springs. She’s got the same great vocal quality and is just as smooth to listen to. {YouTube}
10 by The Piano Guys – This is the 10th album for The Piano Guys and it’s just as stellar as their other albums! I love how they blend classical and popular music together in their own unique sound. Not many cellists out there can get the great quality of sound out of their cello like Steven Sharp Nelson—not just the cello notes themselves, but the way he uses it for percussion and other instrument sounds is just terrific! {YouTube}



The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay (2018) – A family is on a cabin vacation when a group of strangers take them captive, claiming the world is ending. The characters, and readers, find themselves wondering what is real and what is not. {AADL}
The Institute by Stephen King (2019) – Another great read by the king of horror. A gifted youth, Luke, is kidnapped from his home and delivered to an unknown institute. Immersive and unforgettable. {AADL}
Cool Beans by Joe Yonan (2020) – Joe Yonan couldn't have picked a better year to release a cookbook focusing on our favorite pantry staple: beans!. I loved his "Falafel Salad" recipe, a take on Lebanese fattoush. {AADL}

Film, Video & TV
Hannibal (2013) – I might be late to the game here, but 2020 is the year I discovered the horrifying delights of the series Hannibal. The show is a disturbing game of cat and mouse, as FBI Special Investigator Will Graham grows closer to catching the notorious "Chesapeake Ripper." It's worth noting that this show is rated R for very good reason—parents or sensitive viewers be warned! {AADL}
Parasite (2020) – The Korean film Parasite explores themes of income inequality through a surreal, dystopian-esque lens. Simultaneously unsettling and entertaining. {AADL}



A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet – A group of kids, teens, and adults meet up at a summer house somewhere in the Northeast. In a turn of the usual events, it is the adults here who misbehave in all ways, while their children look on in disgust. Things go downhill quickly when larger events like a climate crisis take over. The title plays out in scenes and characters borrowed from the Bible: a Moses character, a baby born in a stable, a flood. Events play out in a way that seems all too real, but it’s hard to look away. {AADL}
Everything Sad Is Untrue: A True Story by Daniel Nayeri – The elevator pitch for this autobiographical middle-grade novel would read something like; boy and family must leave Iran when boy is four, they spend time in a refugee camp in Italy, and then move to Oklahoma, where boy perpetually struggles to fit in. He relays all this as he stands in front of Mrs. Miller’s 7th-grade classroom. But that would only scratch the surface of what Daniel Nayeri has given us, his readers, in Everything Sad Is Untrue. As an adult, Daniel looks back on his experience as a refugee from Iran, first to Italy, then to the U.S., and he weaves together these moments with tales of Persian folklore, harrowing stories that happened to family members, and the banal details of everyday childhood. Nayeri features storytelling as a means to survive and remember, threading myth through history to spin a nonlinear fabric that is reminiscent of Scherezade telling stories to save her life. {AADL}
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – The dystopia depicted by Ogawa is one of erasure, where items, and then the idea of these items, are disappearing one by one. The Memory Police exist to make sure that the erasures are complete. Orwellian, creepy, quiet, beautiful. {AADL}
Likes by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum – A collection of nine perfect and varied short stories from a beautiful writer whose two earlier novels are also worth a read. The blend of fantastical, almost fairytale-like quality of some stories contrasted with the stark realism of others works to make this an extremely compelling read. {AADL}
The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug by Steffanie Stradthee – A case of what seems like food poisoning strikes Steffanie Stradthee’s husband while they are traveling, but it quickly turns into something critical. He spends months in intensive care fighting one of the most dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world. What ultimately saves him is the revival and use of phage therapy, an old process of using one bacteria to fight another. This book was a fascinating blend of science, medicine, and memoir. {AADL}
The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World by Patrik Svensson – The subtitle here says it all. Eels are mysterious and, as I learned in reading this, endlessly fascinating. All eels, whether European or American, are born in the Sargasso Sea (a fascinating place) and metamorphosize four times in their lives on travels to and from the Sargasso Sea to freshwater. Svensson alternates scientific facts with the portrayal and importance of eels in literature, their role in certain economies, philosophy, and psychology as well as including his own personal connection with eels gained from fishing with his father. I couldn’t put this down and it had me talking about eels for weeks! {AADL}



Film, TV & Video
Doom Patrol, Season 1 – Superhero fatigue hasn't really set in yet. This year I discovered Doom Patrol, the new(er) TV series from DC. It started out as a spin-off introduced on an episode of season one of their already established TV show Titans, but it surely found its rightful place pretty soon. Boasting an all-star cast that includes Brendan Fraser, Matt Bomer, Timothy Dalton, and my personal favorite, Alan Tudyk (of Firefly and Tucker & Dale vs Evil fame, among others) as well as newer faces like Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, and Joivan Wade, the show is not afraid to push the envelope with very out-of-the-box stories laced with a quirky sense of humor that doesn't disappoint, breaking he fourth wall constantly. It is action-packed, touching, goofy, socially conscious, and irreverent, all in one. This show is for mature audiences. {AADL}



Know My Name by Chanel Miller – “Know My Name.” Chanel Miller bravely holds her head up and not only declares that her name is known, she demands it. Her account of her brutal rape at the hands of Brock Turner shocked us when he was sentenced to only a few months in jail. The incident went viral although she remained anonymous until she divulged her name in this memoir. Miller manages to not only describe the minutiae of what led up to her assault but does so sardonically and at times with humor. The rhetorical questions that she asks herself are later voiced in court in an exhaustive list of things she suffered through, from dietary to clothing choices that she made on that fateful night. Her victim’s statement went viral and should be required reading for all high-school students and defense attorneys. I listened to the audiobook in March when we were just closing down the country. The backdrop of the pandemic and its alternate-reality of hoaxdom fueled my anger as I listened to her speak her truth. Later, I checked out the book to reread some passages and I couldn’t put it down. Her writing is gorgeous. She doesn’t mince words. This is a memoir that everyone should read, especially males, says me. {AADL}
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid – This fiction novel was very on-trend for 2020. It covered themes of racism, privilege, parenting, and what happens when stories “go viral”. The story is about an entitled, well-to-do white couple that employs Emira, a young black woman as their Nanny in Philadelphia. An incident occurs at the neighborhood grocery store where Emira is accused of a crime as she is basically shopping while black with a white toddler. Things get dramatic with this being the center of the plot. Subplots focus on themes of wealth disparities and image branding, and gentrification. One aspect that carried the story was the parenting style of driven-by-image Mama Alix. The author deftly illustrates the bond between Emira and toddler Briar with cringe-worthy parenting gaffes on the part of Alix. She’s not a very likable character at all. Nor was her husband, in my opinion. There was an out-of-left-field coincidence that gets revealed well into the story that made things culminate very awkwardly. The coincidence itself felt like it would be impossible to really happen. I had mispredicted that a big faux pas would get revealed. It never did. Still, the storyline was character-driven, albeit formulaic to a degree, along with societal situations that are apparently commonplace, like lying through one's teeth as a way of life! {AADL}
In the Country of Women by Susan Straight – In this memoir, author Susan Straight is addressing her three biracial daughters. She’s telling them and by extension us readers, stories of how her mother came to the USA from Europe. She goes on to share the origin story of her mother-in-law, Alberta, who was the heart of the story, aunts, and her husband’s relatives as well. She does so with beautiful, honest prose. The women who Straight writes about had to endure a lot in their lives but were strikingly resilient. Straight describes her relationship with her husband and his family in great detail. You could imagine the driveway-style family reunions and the large family gatherings that she became part of when she started dating Dwayne. I loved her telling of her and Dwayne’s drive to Amherst for Straight to begin her MFA under the tutelage of James Baldwin. Along the way, they stopped to visit relatives of Dwayne’s. It seemed like then is when she realized that she would come to write about their ancestors. Baldwin told her as much himself when she was getting to know him. As I read this book, I wondered if it was possible for Straight to authentically tell the story of her daughter’s black ancestors and experiences being a white woman. Her retelling of an incident involving one of a caravan of cars traveling on the 405 getting pulled over was fraught with anxiety. The car was carrying her daughters and some friends who could clearly be seen as young black males through the car windows. The fear was palpable in her suspenseful telling of that incident. She’d already seen what could happen when black males get pulled over on the 405. She and Dwayne pulled up to the shoulder along with the other vanload of folks. They knew the drill; Susan would be the spokesperson for both vans being the white woman amongst them. Straight shared other stories of relatives being shot for driving while black in L.A. As many black Americans may find relatable. {AADL}
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: The New Frontier-112 Fantastic Favorites for Everyday Eating by Ree Drummond – Just before AADL closed its doors in March I snagged a bunch of books to get me through the period. Not knowing, of course, that it would be months! One of those was The Pioneer Woman Cooks. It kind of became my bible for most of the shutdown before I got my own copy. There were many delicious dishes that Ree shared, always with some variations and suggestions to make her forgiving recipes easy to make. I hadn’t made any sheet pan meals until I saw hers and now many of her dishes are on our regular rotation of meal-making. {AADL}
Educated by Tara Westover – One last memoir that I read in 2020 but it feels like I read forever ago. This memoir read like fiction. Raised by a large family of survivalists, Westover had never set foot in a classroom until she was 17. Some of the abuse she endured was hard to listen to, but her story is a remarkable one that I encourage you to read. {AADL}

A year unlike any other, and yet, another list from Matt G that is rife with heavy metal, and a few not-so-metal things. Half of the fun of writing these things is going back through and relistening to the stuff that really grabbed me, so I’ve ordered them chronologically, based on when they found/grabbed me.

Luan by Ripped to Shreds – Chainsaw ripping death metal at it’s finest, featuring one of my long-time best friends, Justin Bean, on drums. Fun fact: I engineered his drums for this release in my basement in late 2019, before sending it off to the great Andrew Lee to record his mountains of riffs/vocals, and then be masterfully mixed by Greg Wilkinson. Though released in April, the final mixes of this were the soundtrack to still working at my desk downtown in January/February. {Bandcamp}
The Eternal Resonance by Sweven – Sprawling, gorgeous, impossible-to-assign-to-a-subgenre metal, rising from the ashes of Morbus Chron. This was the first new piece of music that I heard after beginning to work from home, and it broke through the murk/shock of the reality we were thrust into. Also, the soundtrack to aggressively raking up the pine needles around my yard in late March. {Bandcamp}
Devouring Ruin by Wake – About half chaotic grind/death, and half stunning, lush melodic passages. This was the soundtrack to raking the long-winters-muck out of the flower beds in late March. {Bandcamp}
Chants from Another Place by Jonathan Hulten – Sparse, haunting folk from one of my favorite songwriters (check out his other work in Tribulation, a truly exquisite metal band). This was released the very day I found out we were going into quarantine and was the soundtrack to mulling over existential dread on walks in mid-March. {Website}

Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts by Nine Inch Nails – Score-quality, truly cinematic greatness from the master. A free release at the beginning of the pandemic, this was the soundtrack to coming to grips with the weight of what was ahead of us in late-March. {YouTube}
Rex by Vampire – Tragically overlooked and underrated icy, blackened thrash from Sweden, with just a touch of classic heavy metal harmonies to keep things sneakily melodic. This was the soundtrack to my long walks in April. {Website}
Shadow of Life by Umbra Vitae – A true-blue supergroup of members from The Red Chord, Converge, and a handful of other Massachusetts-based hardcore/death metal bands, fully living up to (and surpassing) the expectations that come with such a strong pedigree. This was the sound of lifting weights/racing on the stationary bike for most of early May. {Bandcamp}
V by Havok – Excellent, forward-thinking riffs from one of the best bands hammering out thrash these days. The musicianship is so blindly great (check out that drummer and lead guitarist, and *gasp* LOUD BASS) that it’s very easy to ignore some of the *truly* stupid conspiracy-laden lyrics. This was the soundtrack to running the lawnmower for the first time in May. {YouTube}
Tailwinds by The Fearless Flyers – Jubilant, bouncy, panicked sounding funk. The songs were released one at a time over several weeks, and I was delighted with each premiere. This was the soundtrack to cleaning the house for most of May/June. {Bandcamp}
Death Posture by Caustic Wound – Gritty, grind, and, yes, caustic. Fans of old school death metal and grind will find a lot to love here. This was the soundtrack to running my leaf blower in June. {Bandcamp}
Mortal by Necrot – Maybe the best old-school death metal record of 2020, and certainly a high-water mark for these Oakland, California monsters. This was the soundtrack to completely emptying and reorganizing my garage in the sweltering heat in July. {Bandcamp}
Despicable EP by Carcass – Razor-sharp riff perfection from one of my top-three all-time favorite bands. It’s hard to believe, but these four songs were the throwaway tracks from the recording sessions for the COVID-delayed full length, Torn Arteries (now releasing sometime in 2021). Seriously—listen to Bill Steer’s guitar work. This band rules. This was the soundtrack to trying to do 40 pushups every morning in late October. {Bandcamp}
The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo by Mr. Bungle – A true gift from the gods—a modern re-recording of an ancient thrash demo from a decidedly-not-thrash band, featuring my favorite vocalist Mike Patton, my favorite drummer Dave Lombardo, and the frightening guitar duo of Trey Spruance and Scott Ian. If you had told 16-year-old Matt that the scratchy, unlistenable demo he had on a badly beaten CD-R would be done this justice later in life, he would have fainted. This was the soundtrack to finding new walking paths in my neighborhood while the leaves changed in October. {Bandcamp}
Ravening Iron by Eternal Champion – These guys write traditional/power metal songs mainly about swords, battles, keeps, etc. One glance at the artwork, and you can immediately hear the sound of clanking iron. I’m honestly not even trying to make jokes here—this stuff rules and the songwriting is truly epic. This was the soundtrack to having to start wearing hats/gloves on my long walks, and raking up the last of the leaves in late November. {Bandcamp}
Djinn by Uada – Epic, towering, tremolo-picked black metal from the Pacific Northwest. This popped up late on my radar and was the soundtrack to putting together this list in late November. {Bandcamp}



The Losers' Club: A Stephen King Podcast – I’m a loser and this is my favorite podcast. The quirky and smart hosts are well-versed in the King universe and discuss his books and movies at length, and I mean LENGTH! I've listened to nearly all of it. The hosts also drop mentions to other things l’m obsessed with like Twin PeaksThe X-Files, and Stranger Things. {Website}
Dolly Parton’s America – This mesmerizing podcast got me through the middle of the spring quarantine and I loved listening to it on walks and while taking a bath. There’s a great soundtrack! {Website}

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak – I’ve had this 2002 YA novel on my to-read list for a decade and I finally read it—and instantly fell in love with it. Ed is a teenage cabbie who robs a bank and gets tasked with following a list of clues that involves him helping people around him. It’s fantastic. {AADL}   
Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis – This 1995 Newbery Award-winning children’s book set in Michigan was one of my favorite reads of the year. It’s 1936 and young Buddy escapes his most recent foster home with a suitcase and poster in hand, searching for his father. Buddy is an unforgettable character, and you can’t help but smile and wish the best for him. {AADL}
On Writing by Stephen King – I devoured this book while sitting on a beach on Lake Michigan this summer. I’m not a writer by definition, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a great read for fans of King or good books. {AADL}

Film, Video & TV
Paul Newman
 – I decided to watch all the Paul Newman movies in AADL’s catalog this year and these were my top three: The Hustler (1961), Cool Hand Luke (1967), and Absence of Malice (1981). All classics, and a great trio to get yourself acquainted with the prettiest blue eyes on screen. 
My Bloody Valentine (1981) – My favorite horror film I watched this year. It’s a gory slasher film featuring miners, teenagers, and a deadly Valentine’s Day party. Slashers are not my favorite horror subgenre, but this one hit the spot. Do NOT watch the remake. {AADL}
Wolfman's Got Nards (2020) – This documentary is a must-see for fans of 1987’s Monster Squad. It goes behind the scenes of the film and tells the story about the movie’s initial negative response and its later resurgence and cult film status. {Website} | {AADL}
American Utopia (2020) – The combination of David Byrne and Spike Lee did not fail. This is Lee’s live concert film of American Utopia, Byrne’s Broadway version of his album of the same name. It is a treat for the eyes and ears. There’s also a book to read. {HBO
Cobra Kai (2018) – Daniel Laruso and Johnny Lawrence are back 30 years after the original Karate Kid. It sounds lame, but it’s actually really, really, really good, and everyone I know who has watched it has loved it. It has the perfect blend of nostalgia, humor, and new adventure with their teenage kids. Did I tell you it is very good?! {AADL}
I Know This Much Is True (2020) – This six-part series tells the story of identical twin brothers portrayed by Mark Ruffalo, who won an Emmy for his amazing performance. In short: Dominick feels the weight of the burden of caring for and worrying about his paranoid schizophrenic brother Thomas. The show is so dark and deep, but that’s no reason not to watch it. Just be ready to feel ALL the things. Based on the bestselling book by Wally Lamb. {HBO}

Pulp Life 
PictureThis: Plant Identification app – I lived in my backyard for most of 2020, and I treated myself to this paid app and it came in very handy identifying plants, trees, and fruits in my yard and on my walks. It was like having a wizard in my pocket. {Website}
Belle Isle, Detroit, Michigan – I visited Belle Isle for the first time in 20 years, and before that I’d been just once in my life. This past summer and fall I went a few times, hiked around, had a picnic, and cleaned up litter at one of their volunteer events. It’s so big and beautiful and easy to explore without running into other people if you know where to go. Keep an eye out for the two bald eagles that nest there! {Website}


The Memory Policy by Yoko Ogawa  - Of all the books I read this year, this one stayed with me long after I finished it. It's a powerful dystopian drama that makes us remember that memory, freedom, friendship, and love are all left under a totalitarian regime. {AADL}

Not Your Muse by Celeste – She is a British-Jamaican soul singer who won the BBC 2020 breakthrough artist. Lose yourself to my favorite song from her, "Strange." {Website}
Saint Cloud by Waxahatchee – Katie Crutchfield's new album, Saint Cloud, came out in March just before the lockdown, and her song "Fire" fills me with optimism. 
Vagabon by Vagabon – This cool chick is a Cameroonian-American who is an autodidact and multi-instrumentalist. Her song "Water Me Down" keeps me moving at any time of the day. {Website}

NPR-Hidden Brain, "Loss and Renewal" episode – This episode focuses on starting anew and reaching new heights after loss. A wonderful episode, it will leave you with energy to start fresh any forgotten project. {Website}
The Peter Attia Drive Podcast - This podcast is outstanding in analyzing physical and mental health. The Alzheimer's episode made me see this disease with new eyes. {Website}  
Song Explorer – As a big fan of All things Considered, this podcast it's a natural option. Learn about old and new artists and their creative process by decomposing a song from start to finish. {Website}   
Poetry Unbound with On Being Studios – Immerse yourself in a single poem per episode; a deeply moving meditation on life. Host Pádraig Ó Tuama is an Irish poet and theologian whose voice relaxes me and goes directly to my core. {Website}   

Film, Video & TV
Better Call Saul – I binged watched the whole series during the lockdown. It gets better and better and becomes as exhilarating as the best episode of Breaking Bad. Waiting on season 6 at some point in 2021. {AADL}

Pulp Life
Outdoor life in A2
 – The one activity that kept me sane during the lockdown was spending time outdoors in our city. I started doing walks in my neighborhood and little by little went further afield. The Border to Border Trail made me fall in love with this town all over again. Park on Fuller Park and bike all the way to The Matthei Botanical Garden or park on ArgoCanoe and Kayak and do the loop to Bandemer Park and back, a two-mile walk. Beautiful! {Website}


Saga – This year, I finally had the time to get around to reading this graphic novel series that seems to be on everyone’s top picks list. It instantly became one of my favorites! {AADL}

Film, TV & Video
Betty: They Say I’m Different – An intriguing documentary on the amazing Betty Davis. This film kicked off my deep dive into the Funk Goddess. {AADL}
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – The sets and costumes are lush, the dialogue fast and witty, and the acting top-notch. Everything about this show hit 10/10 for me. {Amazon}
What We Do in the Shadows – A documentary-style TV show following four vampires who live together. I laughed hard through every episode, and it was one of the rare occurrences where I wanted to start the series again as soon as it was finished. {AADL}

Dolly Parton’s America – I went into this podcast not knowing much about Dolly Parton other than her being a feminist, country-music icon. It was so entertaining. I loved listening to Dolly tell her life’s story in her own unique way. Now, I’m a big Dolly fan. {Website}

Hello, I’m Dolly by Dolly Parton – From listening to her podcast, I was drawn to this album time and again for its simple and catchy tunes. {YouTube
Nasty Gal by Betty Davis – This album is all funk, energy, and attitude, and I kept it playing on repeat. {YouTube}



The Memory Police
by Yoko Ogawa – I read this dystopian novel much earlier in 2020, but it has most certainly stuck with me. A strange phenomena of things disappear and are collectively forgotten, save for a few individuals. They are targeted by the imposing Memory Police, whose role is to ensure things that have disappeared are truly forgotten. {AADL}
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – I absolutely loved this book, as well as her follow up Children of Virtue and Vengeance. The characters, plot, and setting are complex, engaging, and epic. I'm definitely looking forward to Adeyemi's future releases. {AADL}
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – If you're a fan of the Hunger Games, this prequel is a really interesting take on Cornelius Snow's story. At times sympathetic, we see how the choices he makes leads to who he is during protagonist Katniss' time and the shape of the Hunger Games years later. {AADL}

Film, TV & Video
The Girl With All the Gifts
(2017) – Based on the book of the same name by M.R. Carey, I immensely enjoyed this movie. The story is fascinating and brings up a lot of thoughtful questions that I normally don't experience with other zombie-style movies. {AADL}
The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020) – As you might guess from the name, this Netflix show is very spooky. What I wasn't prepared for was how emotional this show would make me. If you're a sensitive romantic, like me, I highly recommend keeping tissues nearby. {Netflix}
The Umbrella Academy, Season 2 (2020) – It's hard not to fall in love with these bizarre superheroes. Based on the graphic novel series by Gerard Way, the show expands the characters and their story in a phenomenal way. {Netflix}

Ghost of a Podcast by Jessica Lanyadoo – As someone interested in astrology, this podcast is an absolute delight. Her progressive takes interspersed with astrological advice makes it both a fun and thought-provoking listen. {Website}

Pulp Life
YALLWrite – YALLFEST, an annual Young Adult Book Festival that typically takes place in South Carolina, went virtual in 2020. Authors participated in panels and provided advice for fans and aspiring writers. My personal favorites of the two-day event were “Love, Fate, and Fandom: A Marissa Meyer Fan Meet-Up,” as I absolutely love her books, and VE Schwab's class, “The Story Corpse.” Schwab taught a helpful metaphor of creating stories to the parts of a human body. {Website}


Welcome to Hard Times by Charley Crockett – The title of Charley Crockett’s latest album, which was released earlier this year, certainly seems fitting for describing 2020. But Crockett’s modern take on honky tonk features lots of tinkly piano and an almost soul-music feel, making for a more upbeat album that than title implies. Sure, his lyrics can be a little cynical at times, but far from depressing me, Welcome to Hard Times comforted me a great deal this year. I found myself dancing in the kitchen more than once to my favorite track from the album, “Don’t Cry,” and I played the title track nearly constantly for a few months when driving anywhere. Welcome to Hard Times—and Charley Crockett in general—is not just a take on country music for country music fans, it’s a take on country music for all music fans. {AADL}

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – I was completely immersed in The Vanishing Half practically from the first page. The book is about two light-skinned Black twin sisters who take very different trajectories in life—one living with her Black daughter in the same town they grew up in and the other attempting to pass as white in a wealthy California suburb. The book touches on important and extremely thought-provoking issues of race, and goes beyond these too, to explore how the entire history of America shapes who we all are. How are we influenced by the past, both our own, and the collective one? How do we each define what family means? What pulls us all to become things that we aren’t? These questions and more are what kept me frantically turning every page to find out what would happen next, both to the characters in the book, and because of these universal questions, in some way, to me. {AADL}
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel – Many of us know St. John Mandel from her 2014 book Station Eleven, which had me glued to every page. Her 2020 title, The Glass Hotel, had me equally riveted—and admittedly, a bit relieved that, unlike Station Eleven, it didn't feature a global pandemic. The Glass Hotel follows several different characters, but mainly an estranged brother and sister, through a variety of atmospheric developments in their lives and in the world, in particular the 2008 financial crisis. I love the beautiful style of St. John Mandel's writing that is somehow distanced and yet incredibly immersive. I truly felt like I traveled the world with the characters in The Glass Hotel. The book is complex in a way that makes it difficult to describe, but deeply compelling to read. Fans of Station Eleven absolutely must pick this one up (there are even a few characters from Station Eleven that make minor appearances!), but I really think readers of all genres should give The Glass Hotel a shot. {AADL}



Pulp Life
Ann Arbor's Outdoors - Like countless others, my family adopted a 2020 rescue pup but hadn’t factored in the zero to 60 upsurge in our outdoor time that came with her. The happy result was a rekindling of our love for local nature areas in NE Ann Arbor and the discovery that most of these areas are replete with uncharted stretches. The North Campus area bordered by Plymouth Road, Huron Parkway, and Green Road contains a stretch of woodland where one can traipse for an extended period, but if you look at any online map, you would never know! Take any path into the woods near the Traverwood Branch and you can find yourself skirting a golf course, winding up behind the Leslie Science and Nature Center or connecting with the Black Pond Woods Nature Area. Check out nearby Oakwoods Nature Area or head east to the Arbor Hills Nature Area. There are simply so many spaces—Marshall Nature Area, Folkstone Park, Narrow Gauge Way Park, Oakridge Nature Area, Glazier Hill Park, Buttonbush Nature Area—to name just a few! In almost every case, opportunities for adventure and discovery extend well beyond what the maps reveal. For some historical information about the area, check out the book Footloose in Washtenaw: A Walkers' Guide to Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. Meandering down uncharted paths is at least half the fun, so put on your walking shoes and explore your neck of the woods!


Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas (2018) – This was 2020's Washtenaw Reads and I wish I read it before this year. Do yourself a favor and read this book! {AADL}
The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert (2020): A realistic youth fiction with a historical/mystery twist. {AADL}
Frankly In Love by David Yoon (2019): This is classified as a teen romance, but the themes in this novel run much deeper. {AADL
The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker (1997): A non-fiction book that delves into the importance of trusting your gut. Perfect for people who consume too much true crime media. {AADL}

Dreamland by Glass Animals (2020) – If you're into "psychedelic pop" then Glass Animals is the band for you! And if you're not sure what "psychedelic pop" is, then Glass Animals might ALSO be the band for you! "Heat Waves" is a bop for sure. {YouTube}
Saint Motel – This band is just a straight up good time. Give 'em a listen! {Website}
Folklore by Taylor Swift (2020) – This album is a perfect rainy (or snowy) day listen. Cozy up and listen to what I personally think is the best of Taylor's Swift's artistry. It's storytelling through music at it's finest. {AADL

Not Another D&D Podcast – I didn't think a Dungeons and Dragons podcast could make me frequently laugh and cry but here we are. {Website}

Film, TV & Video
Schitt's Creek (2015-2020): Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I can't put into words how much I love this show. I have rewatched it three times this year. The first season starts slow, but once you start to get a feel for the characters all you'll want to do is grab a glass of Herb Ertlinger's Fruit Wine and enjoy the ride. {AADL}
The Mandalorian (2019-): Not only does this show pay it's respect to the Star Wars lore, but BABY YODA. C'mon. I have no choice but to stan. {Disney+}
Middleditch & Schwartz (2020): A friend pointed me to this Netflix three-episode special and it had me laughing all the way through. {Netflix}
Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008): I watched this show growing up and revisited it when it came out on Netflix earlier this year. To say it holds up is an understatement. This is much more than a kid's show. {AADL
The Queen's Gambit (2020): The scenes, the costumes, the music, the PLOT! I was 100% invested and this show did not disappoint. Chess knowledge not needed. {Netflix
The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020): When The Haunting of Hill House came out I recommended it. This next step in The Haunting series is less jump-scary as it's predecessor but nevertheless a welcome addition to the family. {Netflix}

Pulp Life 
Animal Crossing New Horizons
 on Nintendo Switch (2020) – Y'all, when I say this game has gotten me though this year that is not an over-exaggeration (though it may be called an obsession). Sometimes all you need is a virtual island getaway full of cute animals and to do fake chores while ignoring real life chores. {Website}  
Cooking (Dawn of time-) – I encourage you to go out on a limb and try making something you never have before. The results may surprise you, but if they disgust you feel free to have a backup pizza ordered.


The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin (2015, 2016, 2017) – I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys fantasy but is looking for something different and new. This is not Middle Earth, but a whole new version of Earth! It’s definitely a powerful story and deals with a lot of intense themes. I got through all three books in just a few weeks. {AADL links: The Fifth SeasonThe Obelisk GateThe Stone Sky}
Sherlock Holmes: His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1917) – I had sporadically read the Sherlock Holmes stories throughout my life, but this summer I made the decision to read them from start to finish. I hadn’t actually realized that there was a collection published as late as 1917. The stories in this collection were all new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed them. The final story sees Holmes and Watson coming out of retirement to serve England during the war and it was really interesting to see them out of their normal Victorian element. {LibbyOnline}
Anne of the Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery (1915) – I read Anne of Green Gables when I was younger but wasn’t able to relate to a more grown-up Anne in the later books in the series. During the lock-down, I returned to these books and found that I could relate a lot more to Anne’s experiences in college and looking for a job. Anne of the Island is all about her adventures while she attends college at Redmond. There are some more serious moments but overall, it’s a light-hearted and fun read! {AADL}
The Revenant Express by George Mann (2019) – This is the latest installment in the Newbury and Hobbes steampunk series. While it wasn’t my favorite book in the series, it definitely is a good read with lots of mystery, action, and suspense! {MelCat}
The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L’Engle (1965) – Although this book is categorized as youth fiction, I still found it an enjoyable read! A Wrinkle in Time is one of my favorite books and this year I decided to read some of the other books by L’Engle. It is a fast-paced book that has a spy thriller feel with a dash of science fiction. {AADL}

Film, TV & Video
Ghosts: Season One (2019) – This is a fun sitcom about a house haunted by a bunch of quirky ghosts and the couple who inherits the house. One of the pair can see the ghosts and, basically, chaos ensues when the ghosts realize they can actually communicate with someone who is alive. I found myself quite literally laughing out loud at some of the situations they found themselves in! {HBO Max}
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) – This is a heart-warming coming of age story by the wonderful Studio Ghibli. It’s all about a young witch trying to find her place in the world and discovering the importance of friendships and that, sometimes, it’s okay to just pause and take time for yourself to rediscover your passion. {AADL}

Shatter Me by Lindsey Stirling (2014) – All of Lindsey Stirling’s albums are great, but this one has some of my favorite tracks on it, like the title song, “Shatter Me,” and “Roundtable Rival.” I’m always blown away by how talented she is and she does things with the violin that are just a world apart from the traditional, classical sound I’m used to. I also recommend checking out the music videos that she has because those are pretty awesome too. {AADL}


Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer – Book one in the Market of Monsters series. Nita helps her mother hunt and dissect monsters to sell on the black market, but after she helps one of them escape, Nita ends up being placed on the black market instead. {AADL}

Ink – A man (Chris Kelly) must save his daughter from a world where the forces of light and darkness wage war. A thought provoking story about the struggles between hope and self-doubt inside ourselves. {JustWatch}

The Silver Scream by Ice Nine Kills – A heavy metal album that greatly got me into the Halloween spirit. Each song is inspired by a classic horror film or movie monster (HalloweenEdward ScissorhandsNightmare on Elm Street, etc.) {Bandcamp}

Pulp Life
Resin art
 – I got super interested in this medium during the summertime after going through some old arts and crafts videos in a YouTube playlist that I made when I was a teen. I’ve experimented with 24-hour curing epoxy resin and light-curing UV resin in the past several months, and I have found my spontaneously creative side with both. Mixing colors and glitters, pouring resin into molds, and not knowing what the final piece looks like until it’s finished has been an exciting and relaxing pastime for me. I learned a lot from the Resin Obsession blog and YouTube resin artists Artsy Madwoman, AmyMade, and Seriously Creative.
Unus Annus – Unus Annus, meaning "one year," was a YouTube channel collaboration between YouTubers Markiplier (Mark Fischbach) and Crankgameplays (Ethan Nestor). The channel was created in late 2019 and was created with the goal of uploading daily videos for one year before being deleted forever, without any preservation of its content. The idea behind the channel was that some of the most treasured experiences lie within fleeting moments and memories, and not everything can last forever. The channel had 4.58 million subscribers before being deleted on November 13th 2020, exactly one year after it’s creation.



Tomboy: The Surprising History and Future of Girls who Dare to be Different by Lisa Davis – When I was little, I was often described as “just a tomboy.” As I aged, however, that energetic behavior was tolerated less and less, and I was expected to change, which I found confusing. A lot of the people Davis speaks to in her book have similar stories. Many of their words really resonated with me. What is a tomboy? Does that term still serve a function, or is it damaging? Davis explores these questions from all angles. {AADL}
The Lady From the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O’Meara – Milicent Patrick was “one of Disney's first female animators and the only woman in history to create one of Hollywood's classic movie monsters,” the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Beautiful and talented, Patrick’s career was cut short by a jealous male colleague and her contributions to Hollywood tragically forgotten. {AADL}
Life Isn't Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between by Alex Iantaffi, Meg-John Barker – It is all too tempting to see the world in terms of this/that either/or, but real life doesn’t work that way. This book uses several examples to illustate this point and offers suggestions on how to view life differently and more openly. {AADL}
The Groom Will Keep His Name: And Other Vows I've Made About Race, Resistance, and Romance by Matt Ortile – This book would be enjoyable in any format, but I particularly liked Ortile’s casual, almost conversational, tone as he read the audiobook. It’s like he’s pulled you aside at a party to tell you his story. I laughed a lot, but I also learned a lot about the modern immigrant experience. {Overdrive}

Film, TV & Video
Where'd you go, Bernadette – I read this book when it came out in paperback and I loved it. The movie did not disappoint! Cate Blanchett is the perfect Bernadette. The story is funny, heartwarming, and at a time when we can’t do much traveling, the gorgeous shots of Anarctica are an extra treat. {AADL}
Good Omens  Full confession, I did not particularly enjoy this book. But the TV show is excellent! Sometimes when it feels like the world is ending, the best you can do is hang on tight and go with the flow. The bond between Aziraphale and Crowley is a joy to watch. {AADL}


Strive to Survive Causing Least Suffering Possible
 by Flux of Pink Indians (1982) – Words to live by. Scratchy, agitated, and often-catchy overtures from the first wave of anarcho-punk. {One Little} | {YouTube}
Crassical Collection reissues by Crass (1978-1986) – Loaded-up reissues of every Crass album and compilation, sometimes with bizarre new mixes, or new free-jazz interpretations by modern musicians. Drummer and bandleader Penny Rimbaud went buckwild on these anarcho-punk blueprints, for better or worse. But that’s freedom for you. {Bandcamp}
Beat Down Babylon expanded edition by Junior Byles (1970-1975) – The two-CD reissue of this 1972 Lee Perry-produced classic reggae LP includes the 40 other tracks Scratch cut with Junior Byles, a sweet-voiced soul singer whose mind was tortured by the political and social strife that surrounded him in Jamaica. {Doctor Bird} | {YouTube}
Sir J.J. Special: J.J. Johnson’s Ska and Rock Steady Productions 1966-1968 and Reggae Power – Two two-CD collections compiling 104 J.J. Johnson-produced tracks between 1966 and 1972, an era where it seemed like almost every soul in Jamaica who stumbled past a studio ended up cutting top-notch jams. {Sir J.J. Special} | {Reggae Power}
Nightmares of the West by Strike Anywhere (2020) – An excellent return after an 11-year break. Nobody writes catchier political hardcore-punk songs than Strike Anywhere, except for maybe singer Thomas Barnett’s other band, Great Collapse. {Bandcamp}
Fourteen Years EP by Le Volume Corbe (2020) – Quirky French singer Charlotte Marionneau, who some may know as the scissors player (!) in Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, returned under her Le Volume Corbe moniker for the first time since 2015. Gallagher, along with Specials/Fun Boy Three singer Terry Hall, guests on this EP's sweet cover of Daniel Johnson's "Mind Contorted," but the slinky title track is my fave. {Bandcamp}
Live in Seattle 05.28.2018 by Power Trip (2020) – Power Trip blended thrash and hardcore like few others, creating a massive sound that was enhanced even more by the charismatic presence of singer Riley Gale, who died in August at age 34. {Bandcamp}
“Volcano” by Guided by Voices (2020) – I think GBV released 16 albums in 2020, but this was my favorite song from any of them. {YouTube}

"Extraordinary Life" by Gordi (2020) – Our Two Skins was released soon after Phoebe Bridgers' Punisher phenomenon and Gordi's album kinda feels like it was lost in the shuffle. This song is about unabashed loved. {YouTube}
"The Closer You Move Away From Me" by Trashcan Sinatras (2020) – Indie-rock geezers still kicking out beautiful tunes. {YouTube}
"Mark Zuckerberg" by Nap Eyes (2020) – So many villains in 2020 and one of the biggest got an ultra-catchy song written about him. "Is Mark Zuckerberg a ghost? / Maybe, maybe / And where are his hands / and why don't you ever see them in public?" {YouTube}
@Birmingham_81 on Twitter – This Brit finds all the best obscure audio and video from 1980s and 1990s new wave, punk, reggae, dance, hip-hop, and more. {Twitter}
Trading old funk and hip-hop tracks with Matt Dubay – His list up there speaks for itself.
Trading metal links with Matt Gauntlett – His list up there speaks for itself.

Film, TV & Video
Joe Pera Talks With You – A sui generis series about a sweet, bumbling, ultra-earnest middle school music teacher in Marquette, Michigan, and filmed on location. Every 11-minute episode of this Adult Swim series is a charmer, but the “Joe Perra Reads You the Church Announcements,” where he discovers The Who, is one of my favorite things of all time ever. Pure joy. Music, man. {Adult Swim} | {HBO Max}
How To With John Wilson – The perfect mix of Nathan for YouHeavy Metal Parking Lot, and Joe Perra Talks With You but also existing on its own planet, aka New York City. A brilliant, low-key examination of the human condition cobbled together via hours of documentary video footage shot by Wilson. {HBO}
Shudder – By the end of 2020 I think I had signed up for 47 streaming services. But Shudder’s curated selections of horror films, from classics to modern-day exclusives, almost always hit the mark. Plus, it means no more guessing whether that crappy-looking scary movie on Netflix is actually crappy—it prolly is. {Website}
Dope, Hookers, and Pavement and Creem – Early ‘80s Detroit hardcore punk and thee early ‘70s Detroit rock ‘n’ roll mag get the documentary treatments. {Detroit Hardcore Movie} | {Creem}
Be Water – As a once-avid reader of Black Belt, I figured every bit of info on Bruce Lee had already been regurgitated in that magazine since every issue they produce—to this day—seems like a tribute to The Little Dragon. But this ESPN 30 for 30 documentary was incredible and filled with all sorts of nuggets. {ESPN}
Sherman’s Showcase – A hilarious parody of Soul Train whose fake songs are so good they might as well be real. {IFC}
Derry Girls – Set during Northern Ireland’s Troubles in the early to mid-’90s, this LOL comedy shows how people go about living their daily lives even as things are (literally) blowing up around them. Also, it’s taught me so many new words like “wain,” “craic,” and “scoots.” {Netflix}
Watching comedy classics with me wains – Introducing the kids to quality comedy through marathon viewings of Parks & Rec, The Office, Arrested Development, The Simpsons, and any movie starring Leslie Nielsen.

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (2019) – Pair with the Derry Girls TV show for a well-rounded immersion into The Troubles. {AADL}
The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho Punk 1980 to 1984 by Ian Glasper (2007) – It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall. {WorldCat}
Seeds and Stems by Simon Hanselmann (2020) – A collection of self-published works from 2016-2019. The funniest cartoonist this side of Johnny Ryan—with just as much disdain for decorum. Hanselmann updates his Instagram with 10 new panels of comics every day—a dark humor and pathos machine. {AADL}
Marseilles Trilogy by Jean-Claude Izzo (1995-1998) – French neo-noir with prose so rich and salty you can taste the Mediterranean. {AADL}

Pulp Life
Working Class History
 – Daily doses of reality. The struggle now was the struggle then is the struggle in the future. {Website}
Sending my friends links to all the things during quarantine – Sharing is caring. 

AADL Staff Picks for previous years:
2019: https://pulp.aadl.org/node/401386
2018: https://pulp.aadl.org/node/386791
2017: https://pulp.aadl.org/node/370797
2016: https://pulp.aadl.org/node/352712