My Best of 2010 (Things Read, Viewed, Heard…)

Better late than never, a list of things I enjoyed in 2010. In the interest of time and space, these are just the things that really stood out (in a good way), with little commentary…

Books

I read a number of books this year, but these are the few that especially moved me…

Fiction

Let The Great World Spin (Collum McCann) – Especially the virtuosic passage in the middle, wherein the highwire artist trains for his biggest performance.

Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It (Stories) – Maile Meloy

Tomato Red (Daniel Woodrell) – Not a great book, but a great new voice, like none I’d read before. A smart portrait of haves vs. have-nots. I chose this title because the library didn’t have a copy of Winter’s Bone on the shelf.

Nonfiction

Crazy Like Us, The Globalization of the American Psyche (Ethan Watters) – How America exports its notions of mental illness in order to peddle its so-called cures. More importantly, what we might learn about finding “meaning” in what we perceive as illness.

Essays, Blog Posts & Articles

The pieces I talked about, tweeted and recommended most in 2010…

This Is A News Website Article About A Scientific Paper

This Is Broken (Video)

Daniel Ellsberg on the Limits of Knowledge

The Truth About California

The Shadow Scholar

Manufacturing Contempt, or The Commoditization of Practically Everything (a good companion piece to one of my favorites from last year – Better)

Errol Morris on The Postmodernity of the Electric Chair – In a commencement address to graduates of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism

What Good Is Wall Street? – Much of what investment bankers do is socially worthless

The Case For Revolutionizing How We Teach Web Design

Letting Go – What Should Medicine Do When It Can’t Save Your Life?

The Trafficker – The decades-long battle to catch an international arms broker

Television

I didn’t watch a whole lot of TV in 2010. That said, these are the shows I made time for…

Louie

Deadwood (complete series, on DVD) – Absolutely one of the best things ever produced for the small screen.

Mad Men (season 4)

The Closer (season 6) – I hate one-hour procedural dramas as a rule, but this is one of two exceptions. The Closer doesn’t take the kinds of absurd, intelligence-insulting shortcuts that are staples of Law & Order and its ilk. And it doesn’t dabble in hype and headlines it doesn’t understand (e.g. Twitter & Facebook). Finally, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The Good Wife (season 2) – This is the other exception. A lawyer procedural that isn’t afraid to develop sub-plot threads that span seasons.

Also, generally… 60 Minutes, 30 Rock, The Office, The Daily Show, Colbert

Movies

Didn’t see The Social Network, Toy Story 3, Black Swan or most of the other movies on most people’s best-of-2010 lists (and I didn’t like Inception). In fact, I hardly saw any films released in 2010, or many movies at all for that matter. So the following list includes things I watched on DVD last year (not necessarily released in 2010). The short list of standouts…

Planet B-Boy (Netflix Instant)

The Hurt Locker (on DVD)

3:10 To Yuma (on DVD)

District 9 (on DVD)

Food, Inc. (on DVD)

The Horse Boy (Netflix Instant)

Exit Through the Gift Shop (Netflix Instant)

Winter’s Bone (DVD)

True Grit

Podcasts

To The Best Of Our Knowledge (TTBOOK)

Difficult to choose just a few from all the segments I enjoyed this year, but here’s a selection…

Boots on the Ground (four-part series)

Science & The Search For Meaning

Reality

Lost In The Supermarket

This American Life

Nummi

The House On Loon Lake

Others

WTF With Marc Maron (always great)

iPhone Apps

Angry Birds

Harbor Master

Instapaper

Epicurious

Also… Evernote, Twitter

Art, Websites & Miscellany

Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, Portraits – Something hypnotic and surprisingly moving about this piece of performance art (almost installation) and the resulting photographs.

If we don’t, remember me – Gorgeous animated GIFs like you’ve never seen, taken from iconic films.

Unhappy Hipsters – Pictures from Dwell magazine recontextualized. My favorite Tumblr of the year

Visualization: Choose Your Own Adventure

Absolutely the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (Recipe) – Pro tip: Make the dough three-days ahead. For some reason, aging it a bit gives the cookies some extra magic.

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