A quick end-of-year retrospective, with selected media I consumed (and enjoyed) throughout the year. This is not limited to things that were published this year. Overall, another year in which I hardly listened to any new music – probably just Kanye?, but I managed to squeeze in a decent amount of books and games.

Books

  1. The Floating Opera, John Barth. To me, this is simply a masterpiece.
  2. Hyperion & Fall of Hyperion, Dan Simmons (re-read). Top notch sci-fi, especially the first one with its Decameron/Chaucer-style narration.
  3. Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card. As I write this, I’ve just realized there’s a interesting parallelism between the Ender’s piggies and the cruciform people of the priest’s tale in Hyperion, silent in their inscrutable ways.
  4. A Judgment in Stone, Ruth Rendell. “Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.”
  5. Limonov, Emmanuel Carrère. He’s a great pen for sure. I wasn’t overly fascinated by the subject.
  6. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett
  7. Eureka Street, Robert Wilson McLiam
  8. Second Hand, Michael Zadoorian

The biggest letdown of the year was Fall; or, Dodge in hell, latest novel by Neal Stephenson, that really tested my perseverance.

  • Portugal, Cyril Pedrosa
  • El Eternauta, Héctor Germán Oesterheld
  • Patience, Daniel Clowes
  • La Republique du catch, Nicolas de Crécy

  • How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg.
  • Infinite Powers, Steven Strogatz.

Both are good, but I found Ellenberg’s work way more interesting for my taste; more fun anectodes and curiosities, more ecletic.

Around technical books, I really liked Fluent Python by Luciano Ramalho, that became my reference for the language; skimmed through Data Science from Scratch by Joel Grus – I like the guy and his quirky takes, but I wouldn’t recommend the book; read Deep Learning with Python by François Chollet, which can be a good practical intro for newcomers (but not much more).

Games

  1. Disco Elysium. Dialogue-driven RPG with exceptional writing.
  2. Subnautica. Lone survivor of a spaceship wreck, stranded on a planet covered by water where you can literally lose yourself. This game never ceased to amaze me, from start to finish.
  3. Elsinore. Find your own way out of the Danish tragedy using rumours and gossip.
  4. Into the breach. Delightfully quick turn-based mech battles on a tiny 8x8 chessboard.
  5. Superhot. Super-fun mechanics. FPS puzzles that play a bit like Portal.

Movies and shows

  • Parasite, Bong Joon-ho. Give this man an Oscar already.
  • A marriage story, Noah Baumbach
  • The Irishman, Martin Scorsese
  • J’ai perdu mon corps, Jérémy Clapin
  • Once upon a time… in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino

This was the year I finally binged Breaking Bad and Neon Genesis Evangelion (totally worth it).
Couldn’t bring myself to watch the new Black Mirror episodes, and that says it all.
I did keep up with the latest seasons of Mindhunter and Bojack Horseman.

Podcasts

A lot of NBA (especially The Lowe Post) and a lot of The Ringer content.
A special place in my heart for Exponent.

I’d like to find something math or AI related which is really compelling – all I tried so far didn’t stick.
Maybe 2020 might be a good time to try some audio books?