2018 Year in Review: Favorite Books


Here’s my annual list of my ten favorite books read in the year.  As always, this is merely the best books I read this year and not necessarily books published in 2018  For previous years see 20172016201520142013201220112010200920082007 and 2006. You may also want to check out My Favorite Books of All Time or see Every Book I’ve Ever Read cataloged in Library Thing.

In alphabetical order:

Books Read in 2018

The books are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 stars with links to summary reviews. (A) is for audiobook.

Here’s a thumbnail of what the ratings mean:

  • 5 stars – all-time classic (I’m very stingy with these)
  • 4 stars – a particularly interesting, well-written, or important book
  • 3 stars – a good book from start to finish
  • 2 stars – not a good book on the whole but has some good parts
  • 1 star or less – basically a bad book with no redeeming values

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October 1918

November

December

2018 Year in Review: Favorite Songs – The Top Five


If you haven’t read  Part 1 and Part 2 of this list, check them out for the full countdown before continuing.

And Now… The Top Five Songs of 2018!

5. “Nameless, Faceless” :: Courtney Barnett
4. “Make Me Feel” :: Janelle Monáe
3. “Tremelo” :: Young Fathers
2. “Black Willow” :: Loma
1. “No Going Back” :: Yuno

 

 

 

Favorite Songs by Year, 1973-2017

1973 1974 1975 1976
1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992
1993 1994 1995 1996
1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014 2015 2016
2017

2018 Year in Review: Favorite Songs – Part 2


Read Part 1 of this list for Songs 25 to 16.
15. “Mambo Rapidito” ::  Orquesta Akokán

14. “Gallipoli” :: Beirut

13. “Sisters” :: Natalie Prass
12. “The Queen of New York” :: Tancred
11. “Once in a Lifetime” :: Angélique Kidjo
10. “Colonizer” ::  tUnE-yArDs
9. “Everybody Wants To Be Famous” :: Superorganism
8. “Nobody” :: Mitski
7. “Sleep” :: Hatchie

6. “Mujeres” :: Y La Bamba

 

What will be my #1 favorite song of 2018?  You’ll have to wait with breathless anticipation for my final post with the top five songs of the year!

 

Favorite Songs by Year, 1973-2017

1973 1974 1975 1976
1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992
1993 1994 1995 1996
1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014 2015 2016
2017

 

2018 Year in Review: Favorite Songs – Part 1


It’s that time of the year for my list of favorite songs.  I’m doing things a little differently this year.  First, I have 25 songs to recognize this year (plus one honorable mention).  Second, I’m ranking them.  Third, I’ll be publishing the list over three posts today. I’ve limited the list to one song per artist, lest I just list the entirety of Dirty Computer.

Let’s get started!

Honorable Mention: “BAMM” :: Milo Manheim, Meg Donnelly, Kylee Russell (from Zombies)

25. “Hollywood (feat. Snoop Dogg & Jamie Principle)” :: Gorillaz

24. “Baby Luv” :: Nilüfer Yanya

23. “Tear Me to Pieces” :: Meg Myers

22. “Loneliest Girl” :: Princess Chelsea

21. “May Your Kindness Remain” :: Courtney Marie Andrews 

20. “Semicircle Song” :: The Go! Team 

19. “Future Me Hates Me” :: The Beths

18. “Under the Wheels” :: Calexico 

17. “In Your Beat” :: Django Django

16. “Before the Waters Get too High” :: Parquet Courts

Stay tuned for part two!

Favorite Songs by Year

1973 1974 1975 1976
1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992
1993 1994 1995 1996
1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014 2015 2016
2017

2018 Year in Review: Favorite Albums


It’s the time of the year to list my favorite albums!  What follows are my ten favorite albums listed in alphabetical order by the artists.  Links in the album title go to my full review of the album.

Check out my lists of favorite albums from 20142016, and 2017 as well.


Tell Me How You Really Feel by Courtney Barnett

Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa by Jeremy Dutcher

Sugar & Spice by Hatchie

Remain in Light by Angélique Kidjo

Acrylic by Leikeli47

Roza Cruz by La Mecánica Popular 

Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe

Orquesta Akokán by Orquesta Akokán

Wide Awake! by Parquet Courts

Cocoa Sugar by Young Fathers

2018 in Review: Favorite Podcast Episodes


Are you on holiday break and looking for something to do in your spare time? Well then, check out this list of my 25 favorite podcasts episodes of 2018 for your listening pleasure!  These are arranged in chronological order having been culled from my Podcast of the Week feature:

1. Hang Up and Listen :: The 200 Seventh Graders Versus LeBron Edition

A whimsical year-end look at some sports conundrums such as how many seventh graders would you have to put on the court to defeat LeBron James playing solo.  Or, what would a NFL field or NBA court be like if they were built with the irregularities common in baseball stadiums.

2. LeVar Burton Reads :: “The Truth About Owls” by Amal El-Mohtar

A sweet story about a girl from Lebanon who immigrates to England and finds her place through the study of owls and Welsh mythology.

3. The Memory Palace :: Hercules

With Washington’s Birthday coming up, a reminder that our first President held people in bondage because he enjoyed what their labor provided without having to pay for them.  The story of Hercules, a talented chef, who successfully escaped slavery.

4. The Truth :: Nuclear Winter

 A spooky story set in an outdated nuclear missile silo.  Don’t worry, it’s fictional!

5. Afropop Worldwide :: Roots and Future: A History of UK Dance

Caribbean music traditions and US dance beats come together in the only place they can: the United Kingdom.  A history of jungle, garage, drum & bass, and grime.  This made very nostalgic for the dance tracks of yore

6. The Truth :: The Hilly Earth Society

A stunning one-person audio drama told entirely in voice messages from an angry recluse to a persistent journalist.  There’s a couple of interesting twists at the end, only one I saw coming.

7. Code Switch :: Location, Location, Location

The history of housing segregation and how it underlines every serious social issue in America today.

8. BackStory :: Shock of the New

The history of World’s Fairs fascinates me and this episode commemorates the 125th anniversary of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, with special focus on women’s and African American perspectives on the fair.

9. 99% Invisible :: Curb Cuts

An important history of the disability rights movement and how curb cuts ended up benefiting society in a broader sense than originally intended.

10. Upon Further Review :: What if Tom Brady Never Became the Patriot’s Quarterback?

Backup quarterback Tom Brady became a Patriots legend when he took over for injured starter Drew Bledsoe midway through the 2001 season and lead the team to their first Super Bowl victory. This “what if” podcasts takes us to a world where that never happened in the form of a spot-on parody of a Boston sports radio call-in.

11. Decoder Ring :: Clown Panic

A history of clowns and how they’ve gone from funny to terrifying.

12. HUB History :: Immigration in Boston

Present day anti-immigrant prejudice and hysteria has long historical roots as seen in these three stories from Boston history: the Sacco and Vanzetti case, Chinese tongs in Chinatown, and the destruction of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown.

13. Have You Heard? :: The Problem with Fear-Based School Reform

Do schools work better when they’re “run like a business” and teachers and administrators are forced to work in a culture of fear where they’re expected to get results or else?  Or do we recognize the nurturing mission of schools and support reforms lead by educators who know the children best? And how much of so-called “education reform” is rooted in anti-labor sentiment anyway?  These questions and more are discussed on “Have You Heard?”

14. Hit Parade :: The Feat. Don’t Fail Me Now Edition

The history of the “featured artist” credit on number one singles.

15. AirSpace :: The Ninety-Nines

A group of 99 women banded together to advance the cause of women in aviation in 1929 with Amelia Earhart as their first president. There’s some fascinating stories of the accomplishments of women in this organization that still exists today!

16. Afropop Worldwide :: Skippy White: A Vinyl Life

Checking in with a legendary soul & R&B record shop owner and entrepreneur, Skippy White.  His shop is located in Boston’s Egleston Square, not far from where I live, but this is the first I’ve heard of him!

17. To The Best of Our Knowledge :: What’s Wrong With Work?

Work is bunk.  Find out why employment is meaningless and “work ethic” is just there to control us, along with some more human alternatives.

18. Hidden Brain :: Bullshit Jobs

Another podcast goes in depth on how meaningless work is wearing us down.  I sense a theme.

19. The Memory Palace :: Lost Locusts

The sound design of this podcast really sells the panic and hopelessness of plagues of locusts in the 19th century plains, and a good explanation of why they ended.

20. Twenty Thousand Hertz :: Classic Cartoon Sound Effects

How sounds effects for cartoons are made, reused, and become iconic signifiers.

21. 99% Invisible :: The Worst Way to Start a City

What if a city was born by just having 100,000 people show up at once and claim their spot?  That’s the weird story of Oklahoma City.  Listen to this just for the “Oh, Joe – here’s your mule!” part.

22. RadioLab :: Tweak the Vote

RadioLab explores how ranked choice voting makes elections more representative of the people and more civil in practice.

23. 99% Invisible :: Devolutionary Design

The story of how an image of legendary golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez ended up being used for the cover of legendary rock band Devo’s first album.

24. Code Switch :: The Story of Mine Mill

The history of a radical leftist union that organized miners and millworkers in Birminham, Alabama, bringing together Black and white workers at the height of Jim Crow in the 1930s-1960s.

25. 99% Invisible :: The Accidental Room

The absolutely true story of a community of artists secretly building a condominium in a vacant space within a shopping mall.

Some podcasts are of a specified length focusing on a single topic, a mini-series if you will, and worth listening to in their entirety:

    • Believed – the story of how Larry Nassar sexual abused women and girls at Michigan State University and with US Gymnastics, and the women who brought him to justice
    • Last Seen –– an investigation into story of how the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum was robbed of 13 priceless works of art in 1990 that still have not been recovered.
    • Nobody’s Home – an exploration into vacant homes in America’s cities and their effect on the larger community.
    • Slow Burn – forgotten history of the Watergate scandal as it played out at the time.
    • Unobscured – the story of the witch hysteria that emerged from Salem Village in 1692.
    • Upon Further Review – a tie-in with Mike Pesca’s book of the same name which dramatizes alternate universe stories of great moments in sports’ history.

Here are all the podcasts that were recognized as a Podcast of the Week with the number of their appearances:

  • 20 – 99% Invisible
  • 14 – Hub History
  • 11 – Twenty Thousand Hertz
  • 9 – BackStory, Planet Money
  • 8 – Hit Parade, WBUR News
  • 7 – Hidden Brain
  • 6 – RadioLab, To the Best of Our Knowledge, Code Switch
  • 5 – Have You Heard?, Memory Palace, Smithsonian Sidedoor
  • 4 – All Songs Considered, LeVar Burton Reads, Start Making Sense, The Truth
  • 3 – Afropop Worldwide, Decoder Ring, Fresh Air, Household Name, More or Less, Risk!, This American Life
  • 2 – Smithsonian AirSpace, Disney History Institute, Radio Boston, Re:Sound, Scientific American Science Talk, Snap Judgement, Sound Opinions, 30 for 30, Upon Further Review
  • 1 – Anthropocene Reviewed, Believed, Ben Franklin’s World, Hang Up and Listen, Last Seen, On the Media, 60 Second Science, Slow Burn, Song Exploder, The Sounds in My Head, StarTalk, StoryCorps, Tiny Desk Concerts