Before we say bye to 2015…

A tram in Lisbon, Portugal

A tram in Lisbon, Portugal.

Happy 2016!

Before 2015 completely fades into the horizon, I wanted to take a moment to appreciate various amazing things I discovered over the year. (Quick note: Some of them were made much earlier, but they took a while to find me.)

1. Books

Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice

How to Get Lucky: 13 techniques for discovering and taking advantage of life’s good breaks, by Max Gunther – I’m an amateur self-help fan, and like how you can pick and choose each author’s advice depending on how it applies to your own life. This book appealed to me especially because Gunther (a one-time journalist) dissects how to make or break your luck in a very rational, straightforward style. So, it’s old but many of the principles hold true. I learned about this on the Farnam Street blog.

I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend (audiobook), by Martin Short – This book has a remarkable amount of depth and humility for a celebrity memoir. My advice: For sure listen to it. Short is a brilliant voice actor and vocally recounting scenes from his life makes the stories still more intimate. It’s cheesy, but by the end you really do feel like one of his best friends.

The Paradox Choice, by Barry Schwartz – Are you a Maximizer or a Satisficer? This book was written in 2004 yet, even today, still spills over with interesting ideas about how the number of options we encounter can overwhelm us. (And perhaps still offer some value.) Regardless of whether you agree with Schwartz’ conclusions, it’s a fascinating way to look at how we make decisions.

2. TV

Friday Night Lights – Honestly, apart from Portugal, this might be my favorite of this whole list. I was late to watch the series, but was in its grips from episode 3 or 4 up until the very end. (That said, feel free to skip Season 2.)

3. Film


Clouds of Sils Maria – When Olivier Assayas does well, he does wonderfully–this movie is a great example. Instead of playing some mysterious European, Juliette Binoche’s character is grappling with very real issues of aging and friendship. Kristen Stewart gives her role complete and utter authenticity.


A Most Violent Year – I’m terrible about watching violence; fortunately this movie doesn’t have much of it. It’s retro and dramatic and thrilling in all the most watchable ways.


Digging for Fire – Having seen a few of Joe Swanberg’s earlier movies, I thought this ran a risk of being too indie and precious. It turned out to be friendly and universal.

4. Travel

Pena Palace, Portugal

Pena Palace, Portugal

Portugal – Somehow everything there managed to be vibrant, historic, and kind. I can’t wait to go back.

 

5. Wellness & Beauty

 

Smith’s Rosebud Salve  – Really, truly moisturizes lips. Finally!

Nutribullet – Makes green smoothies so much easier.

Running an ice cube over your face – Love how it smoothes and tightens skin.

Some Saturday notes

The Tailor and the Giant, by James Kruss

The Tailor and the Giant (by James Kruss and Edith Witt) was one of my favorites growing up.

1. Do you find it hard to meditate regularly, or at all? That’s fine, says Adam Grant.

2. The German movie Phoenix is just great–see it if you get the chance. It has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. (I’m normally a scaredy cat about thrillers, but this one strikes the perfect balance of suspense, melancholy, and history.)

3. This Target boho blouse just nails it–pretty embroidery without being too peasanty. I am wearing it now.

4. During a Q&A at Town Hall the other night, Steven Pinker responded that he’s pro-Oxford Comma and the audience started cheering. (Who can’t love Seattle?)

5. I had no idea Chuck Palahniuk is irrepressibly hilarious until I heard this Live Wire interview.

6. Palace journeys continue: It’s almost time to head over here, hurrah!