My 2020, Wrapped

by Caitlin
three baby giraffe standing together on the plain in Kenya
Wow. What even just happened? Is it cold outside because it’s actually still March and none of what I think just happened actually did?

No, here we are – end of 2020. Happy new year?

Since I started this blog I’ve done round up posts at years end. Since this is my third year as a blogess, that means I’ve had two end-of-year round up posts already. Last year, it took the form of a guide to credit cards and frequent flyer miles via the 23 flights I took in 2019. The year before that it was a straight list – cities, states, and countries visited, favorites; numbers summing up a year.

This year, this year is different. I cannot report on my travels because I have been grounded – as any responsible traveler would be this year of pandemic, fear, and chaos. My life is not what I imagined it would be now and I ache for the months of living I lost this year. So, plain and simple, this is what I did – I read, I watched, I listened, and I wrote. And so, that’s what I have to report on in 2020 – my tops in those categories:

While these are the items which find themselves on the top of my lists – they are presented in no particular order.

Books

If you don’t already use Goodreads, I highly recommend it. Not only can it keep track of what you read (though you of course have to update it) but you can use it to rate books and thus get recommendations. Plus, if there are readers in your household that use it, it is a great way to do gift research for them!

By: Ann Patchett

Historical fiction

Goodreads Stars: 4.11/5

After dropping out of my non-fiction course and leaving behind unfinished reading lists, I was a bit desperate to get some fiction in my brain. This was a great place to start.

Spanning several decades, and dancing around through time, The Dutch House is the main character in this novel about family and how it evolves, how we evolve, through time.

By: Ann Patchett

Historical fiction

Goodreads Stars: 4.11/5

After dropping out of my non-fiction course and leaving behind unfinished reading lists, I was a bit desperate to get some fiction in my brain. This was a great place to start.

Spanning several decades, and dancing around through time, The Dutch House is the main character in this novel about family and how it evolves, how we evolve, through time.

By: Chanel Miller
Autobiography

Goodreads Stars: 4.71/5

It’s difficult to put into words how wonderful it is to have this book in our world. Chanel is a survivor, but it is not that alone that makes her, and her words, a gift. It is her honesty, her rawness, her resilience, her.

If I could, I would assign this as required reading to every man, woman, and child, but mostly to every young man as he makes his way through adolescence. Not just for the lessons of consent that it teaches, but for the rawness of that lesson and the reminder of the human that is on the other side of any ‘no’ you will ever hear. A lesson it teaches over and over and over again.

Bonus: Go follow Chanel on Instagram – her doodles are gems.

By: Cormac McCarthy

Science Fiction

Goodreads Stars: 3.97/5

One might think it odd to not only read, but to enjoy such a dark, apocalyptic novel as this, during a time of darkness and apocalypse. But, for me, it was joy and happiness and everyday life that I hated to engage with this year. I didn’t want to see or read about someone going about their cute little lives – that only made me angry and jealous and frustrated. To dive into a world darker than the one I was living in is what I sought most often.

Besides my need for it in this moment, The Road is a pretty stellar read. It is simple, blunt, unfeeling in its writing, and yet makes you feel everything – as love is infinitely expressed throughout its pages.

By: Cormac McCarthy

Science Fiction

Goodreads Stars: 3.97/5

One might think it odd to not only read, but to enjoy such a dark, apocalyptic novel as this, during a time of darkness and apocalypse. But, for me, it was joy and happiness and everyday life that I hated to engage with this year. I didn’t want to see or read about someone going about their cute little lives – that only made me angry and jealous and frustrated. To dive into a world darker than the one I was living in is what I sought most often.

Besides my need for it in this moment, The Road is a pretty stellar read. It is simple, blunt, unfeeling in its writing, and yet makes you feel everything – as love is infinitely expressed throughout its pages.

By: Jacqueline Woodson

Poetry/Autobiography

Goodreads Stars: 4.12/5

When I opened this book I didn’t think I wanted to read it. The words are laid out stanza like on the page, and I am not a poetry person. Oh how wrong I was. While poetic in its storytelling – this is not straight poetry. This is the story of a young Black girl growing up. 

It is categorized as YA literature and it is an easy read, but it is by no means simple nor immature. 

By: Michelle Obama

Autobiography

Goodreads Stars: 4.53/5

Michelle Obama would not like to be called perfect I do not think – and yet that is what I think of her after reading this book – even more so than I did before. Imperfect, yes, but perfect in her imperfectness. I may have cried throughout the majority of this book. This is the American dream – and we lost so much when we lost all Michelle and her husband built for us during their eight years in the highest office in the land.

Despite being published two years ago, Becoming held steady on the bestseller lists of 2020

By: Michelle Obama

Autobiography

Goodreads Stars: 4.53/5

Michelle Obama would not like to be called perfect I do not think – and yet that is what I think of her after reading this book – even more so than I did before. Imperfect, yes, but perfect in her imperfectness. I may have cried throughout the majority of this book. This is the American dream – and we lost so much when we lost all Michelle and her husband built for us during their eight years in the highest office in the land.

Despite being published two years ago, Becoming held steady on the bestseller lists of 2020

By: Habiburahman

Autobiography

Goodreads Stars: 4.5/5

I visited Myanmar in 2019. Myanmar is a country with a wicked government that is carrying out crimes against its own people – The Rohingya. In preparation for, on, and since my visit, I have taken an interest in the people, their history, their situation, and what we can do to help. I feel it’s important to understand the impacts of your tourism dollar in every country – but especially in those which tax it heavily. 

This is the story of a young Rohingya. A story that should be read, learned, remembered, and understood as a part of the truth of what happens in this world – the atrocities, but also the resilience – in Myanmar and beyond.

By: Viv Albertine

Autobiography

Goodreads Stars: 4.23/5

This is the only one of the books assigned to me on my MA course that has made the list. Viv Albertine was the guitarist for the Slits. But this story is not about her career or life as a musician, it is instead about her life as a person, daughter, mother, and woman.

This is an emotional ride – and its structure adds to the chaos and feelings that Viv carries throughout the book. 

By: Viv Albertine

Autobiography

Goodreads Stars: 4.23/5

This is the only one of the books assigned to me on my MA course that has made the list. Viv Albertine was the guitarist for the Slits. But this story is not about her career or life as a musician, it is instead about her life as a person, daughter, mother, and woman.

This is an emotional ride – and its structure adds to the chaos and feelings that Viv carries throughout the book. 

TV Shows

Outlander

So the reason I started watching Outlander is because of a talk Lauren Lyle did for Blogher. She seemed like a super fun time. She only talked a bit about Outlander and instead focused a lot on her podcast – She’s a Rec.

But even her brief talk of Outlander got me in, and then I was hooked. The premise is this: a few days after VE Day, a WWII nurse accidentally travels 200 years back in time to when the clans ruled the Scottish Highlands. And then… take it away. Mystical though it may seem, I am not one for fantasy, or sci-fi, and besides this bit about time travel, everything else that takes place is historically accurate. 

Historical fiction, gorgeous scottish men with mega abs that are regularly on display, and strong female leads are all reasons to watch this show.

Season 1-5 can be watched on Netflix or Starz.

Woman with black hair behind woman with long, blonde ponytail both looking over they shoulder at the camera against yellow bakground

My Brilliant Friend

It was only season two that I watched this year – with the first season coming out in 2018 – and I was a year late at that.

My Brilliant Friend is based on the novels by Pseudonymous author Elena Ferrante and centers around the life of two young women growing up in a neighborhood outside of Naples. The show is dark, it is depressing, it is sad. It does not move quickly, and it is subtitled, and I am always completely engrossed in every episode I watch.

Seasons 1 & 2 or on HBO.

The Flight Attendant

Easy binge this one is! I sat down with my family between Thanksgiving and Christmas and we quickly made it through the first three episodes before realizing we’d have to wait for subsequent ones to come out. But once they did, we watched them all on the days of release.

Kaley Cuoco is an utter mess as the main character flight attendant who relies heavily on booze and one-night stands to make it through life. Weird things quickly start happening when she finds herself asleep next to her latest one night stand – who has since had his neck slit. There’s some trippy shit that goes down and you’re not always where you think you are – but stick around, this one is a fun ride. 

Season 1 is on HBO.

seven people sitting in a group among green foliage against yellow background

Dear White People

An education for white people wrapped-up in a university drama in which the women wear stunning earrings.

While there is some odd illuminati type stuff happening on campus, the main focus is the university radio show ‘Dear White People’ which examines things like: What happens when frat bros get invited to a black face party? Spoiler alert: they dress up and they go.

Seasons 1-3 on Netflix.

woman looking at camera crying as her head is being shaved

Unorthodox

I watched this through – beginning to end – twice within the first few months it came out. The story of a young Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn, Unorthodox grapples with belonging, community, and coming to terms with one’s history.

I believe the world needs more mini-series, and this is an excellent one to start with.

P.S. watch ‘the making of’.

On Netflix.

Movies

I don’t watch a lot of movies – I find them to be a big commitment as opposed to sitting down and watching ten episodes of a show in one go. That’s the first issue with listing my tops – there aren’t that many in total. The second issue is that I was relying on Netflix to track my viewing history so I could get a littler refresher of what I’d seen last year, but for some reason it stopped tracking in September of 2019 and didn’t start again until about August of 2020 – it’s like a whole year of my life was just…cancelled. Weird.

So, I went through lists of movies that came out in 2020 and tried to remember which I’d seen and enjoyed – here’s what I came up with.

The Way I See It

Starring: Pete Souza

Documentary

I’m not sure when I started following Pete Souza on Instagram – but his is an account we should all be following. Besides being an exceptional photographer who has been privy to some of the biggest and most intimate moments in U.S. history, he is (now) an outspoken anti-Trumper and uses humor to show it.

The film, made by Laura Dern, is a moving documentary that will bring any decent American to tears remembering what we once had. While the focus is on Pete, and brings us through his career from start to present day, it centers around his years with Obama, the intimate moments and the huge, world-altering events, and what it was like to be in the room for it all.

Watch on Peacock.

Oh, and if you don’t already have it – his coffee table Obama book is absolutely stunning.

Starring: Pete Souza

Documentary

I’m not sure when I started following Pete Souza on Instagram – but his is an account we should all be following. Besides being an exceptional photographer who has been privy to some of the biggest and most intimate moments in U.S. history, he is (now) an outspoken anti-Trumper and uses humor to show it.

The film, made by Laura Dern, is a moving documentary that will bring any decent American to tears remembering what we once had. While the focus is on Pete, and brings us through his career from start to present day, it centers around his years with Obama, the intimate moments and the huge, world-altering events, and what it was like to be in the room for it all.

Watch on Peacock.

Oh, and if you don’t already have it – his coffee table Obama book is absolutely stunning.

Film camera projecting four different multi-colored scenes in triangle away from lens

Miss Americana

Starring: Taylor Swift

Documentary

Is this quality viewing? Not really. Is it some fun insight into the life and musings of my favorite singer? Yes, absolutely. 

Watch on Netflix.

Lost Girls

Starring: Amy Ryan

Drama

A bit of a heavy hitter, Lost Girls tells the story of the families of murdered prostitutes as they attempt to seek justice for their loved ones.

Dark, and shocking in its accuracy at how corrupt our criminal justice system is, this will leave you angry and frustrated. But it has brilliant acting and is a must-watch.

Watch on Netflix.

Starring: Amy Ryan

Drama

A bit of a heavy hitter, Lost Girls tells the story of the families of murdered prostitutes as they attempt to seek justice for their loved ones.

Dark, and shocking in its accuracy at how corrupt our criminal justice system is, this will leave you angry and frustrated. But it has brilliant acting and is a must-watch.

Watch on Netflix.

Woman's face above title 'Let Girls'

Jojo Rabbit

Starring: Roman Griffin Davis

Comedy

This may be my favorite from this list – proving the arbitrariness with which I number these things. I saw Jojo Rabbit in theatres back when you could safely breathe the same air as humans you didn’t live with.

Jojo Rabbit is dark comedy. A young German boy has an imaginary friend – Hitler. But when he finds out who his mother is hiding in his home he questions what he thinks to be the truth about a people.

Watch on HBO.

Music

Thanks, Spotify, for making this list easy to produce.

Taylor Swift

I told you she was my favorite. And shit, girl went into lockdown and came out with two full albums – if she ain’t a modern day Shakespeare. 

Sad story – I was supposed to have seen her in July in Hyde Park.

Mumford & Sons

Forever a favorite. Mumford & Sons is happy and sad to me. They are winter and summer, memories and tomorrow, Ireland and America.

Man with long hair and black hat singing into microphone and playing guitar

James Bay

Straight up don’t know who this is, but apparently his song Let It Go was my most streamed of 2020 – I blame the algorithms.

Black and white photo - man in white shirt singing into microphone

Frank Turner

Frank, too, released an album while in lockdown – but it’s a bit more of a sit-at-home-and-zoom-a-friend-and-make-whatever-the-fuck-happens-into-an-album situation. But I still like it.

Another sad story, Frank was on tour in the UK just before we went into lockdown. I was supposed to go see him the Monday before the country officially shut down, but I had decided it was not a good idea to go and planned to stay home regardless, it was the first show of the tour he cancelled. It would have been my third Frank concert on the third continent.

Ed Sheeran

I don’t know, I’m a basic bitch.

Posts

So this top list is about you, not me. I’m not gonna tell you anything about these posts, cause you can click through them and find out what they’re all about on your own – plus, maybe they’re at the top of the list cause you’ve already read them!

Instagram

To close things off here are a few top IG posts – the giraffes at the top of this post took first place – here are second and third. 

woman with long hair and wearing a black jacket sitting amongst yellow daffodils

O.K. well – here’s to more travel in 2021. Shit, here’s to fewer pandemics, fewer conspiracy theories, fewer deaths, and fewer overrun ICUs in 2021… and beyond.

How was your 2020?

Keep Reading

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More