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Jan 23, 2020 1:00:17 PM

My Favorite Books, Movies, Videos, and Podcasts of 2019

Brian Beckcom

Brian Beckcom

Jan 23, 2020 1:00:17 PM

Every year I try to compile a list of my favorite media from the year before. A long time ago, the only media I consumed was books, movies, and television shows.

Now we have a million different streaming services, unlimited entertainment on our smartphones and tablets, and more great new TV shows than I can keep up with or watch. I predict YouTube will have as much or more impact as the printing press, only for the spoken word.

From the comfort of your couch, you can see how to cook eggs like Gordon Ramsey, learn a new language on your iPhone, or learn physics in your free time after work, from your couch, for free.

Absolutely incredible.

So making these lists has become harder and harder, because there’s so much more to choose from.

With that said, the following are some of my favorite media from 2019:


TedChiang_ExhalationBookImage(01.23.20)   Ted Chiang, Exhalation: Stories

I'm a science fiction nerd, and for science fiction, it doesn't get any better than Ted Chiang. All his stories are phenomenal mind-benders. This collection is incredible. Must read. 




RobertACaro_ThePowerBrokerBookImage(01.23.20) Robert Caro, The Power Broker

I read a lot of biographies and nonfiction books this year, probably more than 40 total, so this category is harder (Da Vinci? Einstein? Franklin? Teddy Roosevelt?). In the end, this book is a monumental work of genius. The book took more than a decade to write, it's more than 900 pages, and it's riveting from start to finish. 




I am keenly interested in how the human mind works. One tool for studying the human mind is meditation and mindfulness. 

MakingSensePodcast_Image(01.21.20) Sam Harris, Making Sense Podcast

This podcast is an intellectual feast for those interested in hard, complex topics like mindfulness, neuroanatomy, ethics, morality, mediation, spirituality, and current events. Sam is a neuroscientist by training, and his podcast talks about neuroscience and a lot more.

For those interested in meditation, Sam's meditation app "Waking Up" is the best I've found. Highly recommend. 


Blog Posts & Articles

So many to choose from. Here are two I read this year that I remember being particularly influential on my thinking: 

SirWinstonChirchill_Image(01.21.20) Winston Churchill, The Scaffolding Rhetoric 

Winston Churchill saved humanity from the scourge of Nazism. And he saved the world using nothing but words. As he says in the article, those who are skilled at oratory are more powerful than any general or any head of state. He was right then. He’s right now.


ASickGiant_TheMediaMatrixImage(01.21.20) Tim Urban, The Sick Giant

Tim Urban started his blog “Wait But Why” to write long articles about deep subjects. The Sick Giant is part of a series of long blog posts that seek to explain why human beings do what they do. Is there any more interesting question? The articles are long and take some mental work. Nevertheless, every article on the site is worth reading this year.



BrianBeckcom_CrispImage(01.21.20) 3 My own professional biography video

Okay, okay, it’s more than a little Donald Trump-ish to claim that your favorite video is a video of you. That said, some of the stuff I talk about in this video is stuff I have never talked about publicly, and it was difficult to do for a variety of reasons. I’m happy with how it turned out.


Screen Shot 2020-01-21 at 1.34.09 PM Hyper-Reality 

A beautiful and bizarrely realistic look at what the future of technology may hold.




MarkBowden_TedTalkImage(01.21.20) 2 Mark Bowden, Why You Should Be Inauthentic

I don’t want to ruin the video by saying too much about it. Just watch it. Trust me.



TV Shows

My wife and I have watched a number of very good TV series this year.

TheMorningShow_Image 2The Morning Show on Apple TV+ 

I thought The Morning Show was timely. Jenifer Aniston and Steve Carell play morning news anchors in an unapologetically candid drama that's been nominated for three Golden Globes already. 



NetflixOzark_Image(01.21.20) 2 Ozark on Netflix

My wife and I really enjoyed Oazark, a show about a nerdy financial advisory from Chicago who's forced to move to the Missouri Ozarks where he must launder $500 million in five years to appease a drug boss. 



BabyYoda_Image(01.21.20)  The Mandalorian on Disney +

What talk about 2019's hottest shows would be complete without mentioning the beloved baby yoda? Aside from becoming the most sought-after icon in meme culture, baby yoda and the Mandalorian are a must-watch for science fiction fans. 




What were your favorite books, movies, TV shows, podcasts? I'd love to know!

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