With 2019 being the end of a decade, the “best of” lists cannot be avoided. Best of the year, best of the decade, best of all time! The countdowns and collections are simply everywhere. And to be honest, they’re kind of bumming me out!
Every time I read another list of the best books or movies or TV shows of the year or decade, I feel like such a failure. What kind of pop culture connoisseur hasn’t seen 13 of the top 20 best TV shows of the 2010s? How much of a book nerd can I actually be if I have only read two of the top 25 books of 2019? Like all the books and movies and TV shows that didn’t make the list, I just don’t measure up.
Unless I refuse to let someone else’s best of list define my success or qualifications.
After reading one more article about the best TV shows of the year, I’d had enough. And I decided to make my own list. Surely I watched some good shows this year, right? Even if they weren’t the ones on anyone’s list? And I did read some good books this year, didn’t I? Even if I didn’t read the best-selling books certain people said I should?
At first, I thought perhaps I’d find 41 things to put on my own list and start a tradition. (See last year’s list of 40.) But before I knew it, I had more than 90 books, TV shows, movies, and more — and it wasn’t hard at all to get to 100.
Any chance you’ve felt this way, too? Judged (and found wanting) by all the best of lists out there? I hope you’ll make your own list! (And maybe just use the others as inspiration, adding to your to-read list or Netflix queue!)
Without further ado (although I do like my ado), here are the top 100 things that made my list for 2019:
My Favorite Books of 2019:
I’ve been in somewhat of a reading rut for a couple months now, but luckily, I read a TON of great books early in 2019. And though I normally read exclusively fiction, despite my constant attempts to branch out, I read and loved and haven’t stopped thinking about two excellent non-fiction books. (I haven’t changed that much, of course. Everything else is either romance or YA fiction, with a bit of fantasy and sci-fi thrown in for good measure!)
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin
- A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
- Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
- The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
- The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
- The Wicked King by Holly Black
- Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
- The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson
- Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
- Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
- Well Met by Jen DeLuca
- Night Music by Jenn Marie Thorne
- Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
- This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Phillips
My Favorite Movies of 2019:
This is, essentially, a list of almost all the movies I watched this year. Because when I spend the time and money to go to the theater, I’ve almost always done my research and am fairly confident I’m going to love what I see. But also? I just love going to the movies, so when I get the chance to go to the theater, I’m so happy I’m predisposed to liking whatever I saw. It’s a happy little cycle.
A few highlights were seeing Captain Marvel three times in four days, like a complete fangirl fool (which, I suppose I was); seeing Blinded by the Light, The Farewell, and Downton Abbey by myself; laughing so hard I cried in Frozen 2 (and also crying for real, because that is just who I am); and watching Always Be My Maybe (a mainstream romantic comedy starring two Asian-Americans as the lead characters) with a group of Asian-American friends. That one, in particular, was a special movie-watching experience I know I’ll remember long past this calendar year.
- Captain Marvel
- Avengers: Endgame
- Spider-man: Far from Home
- Knives Out
- Blinded by the Light
- Last Christmas
- The Farewell
- Downton Abbey
- Always Be My Maybe
- Plus One
- Frozen 2
- Dora and the Lost City of Gold
- Rewatching Hook, Parent Trap and What a Girl Wants with my daughters
My Favorite TV Shows of 2019:
Despite the overwhelming abundance of television viewing options (both in what we watch and how we watch), I didn’t watch that many new shows this year. Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t watch TV. (Ha!) It just means I mainly watched series I’ve been watching for years or caught up on shows that have been out for a while.
Highlights were Derry Girls and Dead to Me, both on Netflix, both hilarious and dark (though to different extremes and in different ways). I also loved, OF COURSE, the Veronica Mars comeback, and thoroughly enjoyed rewatching Timeless and New Girl with my husband (who was watching for the first time). Here’s what I watched (and loved) this year:
- Derry Girls
- Dead to Me
- Runaways (This show is bonkers. And I love it.)
- Roswell New Mexico (Aliens! Angst! All my favorites!)
- Whiskey Cavalier (Reminiscent of Chuck. Also, cancelled.)
- Private Eyes (Canadian show. So I’m currently waiting impatiently for the next season.)
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (I watched season 2 in 2019 and can’t wait to start season 3!)
- Stumptown (The one new show I really like from this fall.)
- Veronica Mars, season 4 (No, I didn’t like the ending. But I…well, I didn’t hate it, either.)
- A Discovery of Witches (I was so sure a TV adaptation would be too rated-R for me, and I was delighted to find that it was not.)
- Rewatching Timeless and New Girl with my husband
- The Goldbergs (I’m working through this gem slowly because I love it so much.)
- Bob’s Burgers (I’ve just started this one, but it makes me laugh so hard!)
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, final season (Never before have I been more convinced of the truth in Titus’s CATS storyline…)
- Madam Secretary, final season (I haven’t finished it yet, actually, because I’m too sad that it’s ending.)
- Jane the Virgin, final season (Same as above. I don’t want it to end!!)
- Speechless, final season (I hated for it to end, but they ended it well.)
- Watching Disney Channel shows with my girls: Raven’s Home, Girl Meets World, Sydney to the Max, Stuck in the Middle, Coop & Cami Ask the World, Just Roll With It. I can’t deny it; I like kids’ TV!
My Favorite Music of 2019:
I listened to the least amount of new music this year than ever before. At least new, current, top 40 type music. I enjoyed a whole lot of Spotify lists that other, more song savvy people have created. And I willfully ignored the bro-country music my tween has become obsessed with. But I did love the poppiest pop songs of the year (and just a few others):
- If I Can’t Have You by Shawn Mendes
- Sucker by Jonas Brothers
- I Don’t Care by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber
- Boys in the Band by NKOTB (I know, okay? I KNOW.)
- Lizzo’s Tiny Desk Concert at NPR
- The Highwomen album
My Favorite Stand-Up Specials of 2019:
Netflix has really leaned into the comedy special, and I like it. I’m on a mission to find more clean(ish) comics to watch this year!
- Jim Gaffigan: Quality Time
- Adam Sandler 100% Fresh (He gets real raunchy toward the end, but then does a sweet tribute to Chris Farley. Fast forward is your friend if that bothers you [like it did me].)
- Ryan Hamilton: Happy Face
- Seth Meyers Lobby Baby
My Favorite Video Content Creators:
I couldn’t bring myself to say, “my favorite YouTubers,” okay? But of course that’s where you’ll find these folks:
- The Holderness Family (I know some of you find them annoying. I do not.)
- Dude Perfect (My girls are ALL IN on this group of guys. I can’t blame them.)
- Pammie Plus Parks (She reassured me I’d enjoy Disney World even though I didn’t lose weight like I wanted.)
- Amber Says What? (This segment from Late Night with Seth Meyers is one of my favorites!)
My Favorite Newsletters of 2019:
Back in the early blogging day, I loved my blog feed reader. I went there every single day, reading the latest blog posts and clicking over to comment as often as not. But while I’m (obviously) not on the “blogging is dead” train, I do read blogs a lot less often and a lot less consistently than in years past. Instead, this past year, I really got into newsletters. Weekly or monthly, I look forward to all of these (even though they may sit unread in my inbox for a few weeks):
- R. Eric Thomas
- Two Bossy Dames
- The Swipe Up by Erin Moon
- Sectional Healing by Knox McCoy
- MomAdvice.com by Amy Clark
- Top Ten with Jen by Jennifer Dukes Lee
- One Last Thing by Emily P. Freeman
- 5 Quick Things by Tsh Oxenreider
- The Lazy Letter from Kendra Adachi
- Sarah Bessey’s Field Notes
- Jen Hatmaker’s Newsletter
- What’s Up in YA and The Kids Are All Right by Book Riot
- Pop Culture Happy Hour from Linda Holmes at NPR
- Nicole Knows by Nicole Cliffe
My Favorite Podcasts of 2019:
Why don’t I have more time to listen to podcasts? I subscribe to SO MANY. But these are the ones I actually listen to on a regular basis:
- The Popcast with Knox and Jamie
- Deck the Hallmark
- The Lazy Sisters Podcast
- Sorta Awesome
- Lolo & MaeMae
- Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd
Things That Happened in 2019:
This was a big year. Milestones. Anniversaries. Opportunities and disappointments. Shaken faith and countless blessings. Road trips and doctor’s appointments. This was 2019.
- Mark and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary (and the 25th anniversary of our first date).
- I started a podcast.
- My second traditionally published book was released.
- Adrienne started kindergarten, and Annalyn started middle school.
- I started considering going back to school. I’m still thinking about it.
- The kids tried volleyball, t-ball, soccer, archery, and a ninja class.
- I began serving as coordinator for Mercy House Global Ambassadors.
- I turned in manuscripts for two books (one to come out in 2020, one to come out in 2021).
- I spent several days in Estes Park, Colorado, for the (in)courage writer’s retreat.
- I spent a lovely weekend in Kentucky with some of my closest friends.
- Mark and I saw Hamilton on stage in Chicago.
- I made new friends, reconnected with old ones, and learned quite a bit at the Blissdom Conference.
- My family spent the week after Thanksgiving on vacation to Disney World (and Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal).
- Turning 40 brought a renewed determination to take care of myself, which meant my first mammogram, a sleep apnea diagnosis (and CPAP prescription), talking to my doctor about some pain I’d been dealing with for a while, and finally trying to follow Jamie B. Golden’s recommendations for a skincare regimen.
- I forced myself to delete unwatched shows from my DVR and return unread books to the library. It was both freeing and horrifying.
- I watched a handful of movies at the theater by myself. It was delightful.
So, that’s my list! Now I’d love to hear what’s on YOUR year-end or decade-end list! What was your favorite book or TV show, movie or song? What was the best thing that happened in your life this year, big or small?