I love reading end of year lists. They’re an easy way to discover new books, movies, and apps. Below are a few of my favorite things from 2015.
Mad Max: Fury Road
I saw this movie twice in theaters, which I almost never do. My wife generally doesn’t like action movies but loved Mad Max. George Miller, the writer/director of Mad Max (and Babe!), blew me away with everything in Mad Max. I’ll stop gushing now.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Funny, touching, and has a great cast.
In some ways, creating a great sequel is harder than creating an original movie, which is why most sequels are disappointing. Creed features great acting from Stalone and Michael B. Jordan as well as creative directing, especially during the boxing matches.
I love Charlie Kaufman movies. They’re funny, thought provoking, and creative like no other movies. Anomalisa is funny, though definitely not a “feel good” movie.
What We Do in the Shadows
I’ve donated to two movies on Kickstarter. One was a massive disappointment and one of the least funny movies I saw in 2015. The other is What We Do in the Shadows which is the funniest movie I saw in 2015.
This is the first time I’ve seen a movie and couldn’t figure out who was the villain. I’ve had debates with friends about who the “bad guy” was. The trailer is below, but I recommend not watching the trailer if you plan to watch the movie.
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
This is a weird movie that most people won’t “get” or enjoy, but if you enjoy weird and have a dry/dark sense of humor, you might enjoy it. The first scene in the trailer kills me. A guy has a heart attack right after paying for his food and beer. When the guy slowly raises his hand, I giggle every time.
Making a Murderer (on Netflix)
I already raved about this, but I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s the most compelling thing I’ve watched in a long time.
Favorite Books I Read in 2015
I read 82 books in 2014. This year I read about 48 (some unfinished), and most were about writing and storytelling.
Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational ARC by Dara Marks (link)
I’ve likely read more than 20 books on storytelling. As you read more books on a subject, it becomes more difficult to be impressed. A book that would have been amazing if it was the first I read on the subject could be mediocre if it’s the 20th. All of this is to say I give Dara Marks high praise for writing an excellent book.
Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories That Resonate by Brian McDonald (link)
All great stories are about one thing. Everything in the story, from supporting characters to locations to plot points, relates to that one thing. Brian McDonald is an expert at simplifying something that often feels complex.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (link)
I decided to read this after reading that it was one of Elon Musk’s favorite books. This ended up being one of the funniest books I’ve read.
Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari (link)
Before and After: How to Design Cool Stuff by John McWade (link)
Everyone should learn the basics of design. While the examples in this book are cheesy, the design principles are explained clearly.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed (link)
While her advice might not always be great, her writing is phenomenal. If you want to learn how to become a better writer, buy this book and one of Gary Provost’s books and read them at the same time.
Favorite Websites and Apps
I love discovering new gadgets. Product Hunt makes it easy.
I dreaded piano lessons as a child, but I could use the SimplyPiano app for hours. It’s amazing how quickly I learned how to read sheet music.
Get a Google Cardboard headset and download Vrse.
I love gifs. This app lets me send them in text messages.
Makes it easier to focus.
I started using this two years ago, but I have to include it again. How much of your life do you want to spend thinking about passwords?
Improving one’s grammar is hard. Grammarly makes the learning process a little bit easier.
Have a favorite I didn’t include? Leave a comment.