The best books, tv, movies, podcasts and products I’ve purchased in 2022!
Hello, my friends! I hope that you’re having a wonderful summer! I thought it might be fun to talk about my favorite things (so far) this year.
Personally, I get bogged down with those end-of-year recaps so I thought a mid-year surprise might be a lovely escape for summer.
Please consider today’s list as INTERACTIVE! Please leave a comment and tell me what’s topped YOUR list this year! It can be anything- books, podcasts, apps, recipes, clothing, organizers- WHATEVER. I love and miss the interactions we share in these spaces.
My Favorite Things (So Far) This Year
Please keep in mind, these are new-to-me discoveries and may not have been released this year.
The Best Apps of the Year (So Far)
Two apps changed my mental health journey this year and I’m forever grateful.
I have been struggling with nighttime anxiety and this app came recommended to me by my therapist to help with my sleep anxiety and insomnia.
Friends, it has helped me more than ANYTHING we have tried.
In particular, it has helped so much with my racing thoughts and inability to shutdown.
Throw on a pair of headphones and immerse yourself in these gorgeous interactive sleep stories.
The narrator acts as a guide, giving you directions for coloring in images and you tap the screen to fill in the colors.
As you tap, it has ASMR sounds that are beautifully pleasant as an added reinforcement. Sounds like tapping floor boards, paper shuffling, rocking a chair, or spinning a metal toy- that kind of thing.
The music and narration are just beautiful and will transport you somewhere else.
I don’t use this app only for bed though.
In fact, I’m listening to the work/study music while I type this post.
Other musical options include lullabies, sleep songs, music to wake up to, and calming tunes.
We share an account as a family and every family member has tried (and loved) this app too.
Last summer I decided I wanted to reign in my evening drinking habit and I used this app to help reinforce my commitment to myself.
Can some people do it without an app?
Did I ever honor a commitment that I didn’t invest into and get spelled out to me in black-and-white?
No, I didn’t.
Each week I would make a commitment to the amount I would drink that week and it would coach me every evening to remind me of that commitment I made to myself. It sent me charts on saved money, sleep hours reclaimed, and calories saved.
Gradually, I went from two drinks in the evening (or more) to being a girl who has a glass of wine on special occasions.
Admittedly, the holidays were weird this year and I now notice how I used alcohol to brave social situations.
It was the hardest and best gift I could have ever given myself to feel so aware of my actions.
Alcohol no longer plays a role in my life really at all and it was because of this app.
The Best Podcasts of the Year (So Far)
You know I have to mention the launch of the Book Gang Podcast (subscribe wherever you get podcasts!). The challenge with podcasting has been making shows AND listening to other people’s shows. That said, these are two that I loved this year.
When people talk about podcast hosts feeling like friends, I never really got that. I have always been pretty grounded in the separation in these feelings…that is until this podcast came along.
Fun fact that might change how you feel about me- I deeply despise harmful wellness culture and dieting fads.
These hosts, it turns out, do too, and they debunk and explore the myths around these topics in their show. They tackle everything from fad diets that we perceive as healthy to the problematic Dr. Oz and don’t mind exposing a few wellness influencers and their dramatic demises.
I have belly-laughed through so many of these episodes and appreciate the extensive lengths to their research they go to on why this culture and how fat-shaming is so harmful.
This podcast is going on its eighth season and I’ve enjoyed every single episode.
This takes you through the side door to learn the stories behind the exhibits from the experts themselves.
Each episode is different and utilizes the help of biologists, artists, historians, archaeologists, zookeepers, and astrophysicists to tell the story behind the story.
I promise, you’ll fall in love with this one too. It’s also (relatively) family-friendly, but you can go through episode-by-episode if you have smaller children to pick topics they might enjoy.
I always learn something new and have fun trivia for any dinner party.
The Best Books of the Year (So Far)
If you thought I could narrow it down to just one, I can’t.
These two books that I’m sharing today transported me to a different time and place that I never wanted to end.
They both are coming out this summer so get those pre-orders in.
Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Masterful storyteller Taylor Jenkins Reid serves her readers a healthy dose of love and drama on and off the courts in Carrie Soto is Back.
Carie fights for all of her tennis titles but refuses to be a media darling.
If she’s tough (shrug), that is on you.
She can’t be friendly and kick your ass at the same time.
Her nickname, Battle Axe, was won through her ruthless game.
After winning every title (and facing an injury), a girl should just enjoy retiring.
Well, Carrie refuses to take take the easy road.
She jumps back into training and challenges her body beyond its capabilities to try to win Wimbledon again.
She also discovers that it is okay to be loved and needed by others along the way.
This is CINEMATIC in nature and pure book club catnip.
Sweet, but never saccharine. Bitingly feminist-forward.
It asks us to examine how we think about women in sports.
Why must we be likable?
Why are men held to different standards?
What does it mean to age out?
How can we find joy in the later years?
I held my breath through tennis matches when I care nothing about sports.
I snickered through trash-talk.
I ugly-cried through the ending and then cried again that this was over.
I am trying to be measured with praise and I can’t.
Reid has written another fully fleshed character that makes this book feel like a memoir.
Was Carrie real? Is there a Wikipedia page on her?
Since her debut, I have followed this author and have read her entire backlist in real-time.
I did my homework, and I’m telling you, this is going to be your favorite book too.
This book hits store on shelves on August 30th. Thank you to the publishing house for this sneak peek.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Gabrielle Zevin is a tried-and-true storyteller, but no one could have prepared me for the epic and sweeping journey she crafted for these characters in her latest book Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.
For three decades, we follow two unlikely friends who find each other in a children’s hospital.
Sadie’s sister is receiving treatment for cancer, and Sam is recovering from a series of surgeries after a tragic car accident.
They bond over their shared love of video games in the gaming room of the hospital.
However, when Sam discovers that Sadie has been tallying her visits to fulfill her bat mitzvah service, he feels like her charity project instead of a friend.
It ends the fast friendship abruptly, but they find one another again in college when Sadie shares another computer game she has been developing.
The two decide to develop a game together, which follows their success in the gaming industry with their first game.
It also follows the consequences of virtual world-building when they build a world where all are welcome that ends in violence and the dissolution of their formed partnership.
Sam’s chronic pain from his foot injury are written so beautifully and help us understand the daily challenges of chronic pain and learning to find peace with our disabilities when we face them.
This experience is unlike any other that a reader could imagine because Zevin writes each of the games for this company in beautiful and intricate ways that each feels fully fleshed from idea to execution.
I shared these scenes with my software developer husband, who was equally astounded by this remarkable execution.
One world she built, in particular, left me in a puddle on the ground.
It is a journey within a journey within a journey.
Publishers Weekly put it best when they said this book is a “one-of-a-kind achievement.”
Again, I assure you that this will be your favorite book too.
This book hits store on shelves on July 5th. Thank you to the publishing house for this sneak peek.
Best Movies of the Year (So Far)
I try to see a movie every week (both in theatre and/or streaming).
If you need some inspiration for dating yourself, here is an action shot of me on my weekly solo movie date and you could also try this fun new streaming tradition I’m going to do every year for the awards season.
This is another challenging category to narrow down so I’m going to share three that packed a punch this year.
Everything Everywhere All At Once (watch the trailer)
I can’t recall the last time that a movie has transported me MORE than Everything Everywhere All At Once. We went into this one knowing very little and I am really glad we did.
This is the official blurb for the film- “An aging Chinese immigrant is swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led.”
It pretty much tells you NOTHING.
Keep it that way.
This is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve seen on the challenges of mothering our daughters. It made me laugh and cry- sometimes at the same time.
The film was astonishing and visually spectacular.
It was so visually stunning, in fact, that we felt guilty that we didn’t pay for a live theater ticket to see it.
It also is spectacularly strange as she goes through the different universes.
I loved every minute of it and the statements it made about what it means to be family and to fight for those you love.
Captive Audience (on Hulu- watch the trailer)
I’ve been obsessed with true crime this year, and this series was one of the best I’ve seen.
Honestly, I’ve been surprised that I haven’t heard more people talk about it.
This documentary follows the life of Steven Stayner and his family, diving into the family’s 50-year journey to unravel the tale of two brothers, one deemed a villain and the other a hero.
Don’t Google anything if you are unfamiliar with the case- allow yourself to be immersed in this family’s story (told by their mother).
What made this one so compelling isn’t just the true crime case itself but the unique use of narration they used to tell this story.
The documentarians brought back the made-for-tv cast to read the scenes from the movie that was made about this case.
It sounds cheesy, but these readings were phenomenal, and they also reminisced on their own experience acting in these roles in a really beautiful reflective exercise about how they felt for their own characters.
If you are highly sensitive, the storytelling is compassionate and beautifully told.
The Best TV of the Year (So Far)
I am REALLY having a hard time today with this category because television has been so exceptional this year.
I’m narrowing it down to the best in ensemble casts and outstanding women’s lead performances today.
The Thing About Pam (on Peacock- watch the trailer)
This true crime tv series is based on the 2011 murder of Betsy Faria that resulted in her husband, Russ’ conviction. All along, Russ swore his innocence, but who else could have done it?
Well, it turns out this brutal crime was committed by her weird friend, Pam Hupp, who has felt MORE than entitled to a few of the finer things in life.
Again, narration wins for this one as it utilizes Keith Morrison, the journalist who first covered the mystery in a 2016 episode of Dateline as the narrator for this saga.
This dark comedy of errors could not be illustrated better and Zellweger deserves every award she receives for playing this role.
Abbott Elementary (on Hulu- watch the trailer)
My friend Kelly recommended this show as one of her favorites, and we devoured this first season.
This adorable mockumentary series follows a group of teachers as they navigate the financial challenges of one public school.
This has so much heart and humor to it.
You can really tell that Quinta Brunson has been a powerful observer in her own mother’s teaching career.
It mimics, I’m sure, the challenges that so many of today’s teachers face. It also showcases brilliantly creative ways teachers work around budget constraints in the show’s thoughtful details.
The Dropout (on Hulu- watch the trailer)
Our fascination with con artists knew no bounds this year, did it?
I think I’ve watched every single con documentary and film that has come out this year. This is the one that I enjoyed the most though.
This limited tv series, chronicles Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’ attempt to revolutionize the healthcare industry after dropping out of college and starting a technology company.
Thanks to all of this coverage on the case, I felt like I knew this story inside out.
Still, nothing prepared me for the performances of these actors or the way that they would tell this story.
It is such a binge-worthy series that you will have a hard time stopping once you start it. The writing of this story is so thoughtful and there are jaw-dropping performances in this cast too.
Amanda Seyfried could not have been more perfectly cast as Elizabeth Holmes.
The Best Purchases of the Year (So Far)
We continue to embrace minimalism. The purchases that I make and share about will always be authentically chosen. These are the things that have made my life better this year.
For the record, I’ve never owned an air purifier, but since I bought this I cannot imagine a day without it.
This gadget came highly rated by NYT and has done a phenomenal job not only reducing the odors in our home, but it also has reduced our difficulties with allergies.
The biggest glow-up from this device is when I am cooking. It has an eco-friendly setting that kicks on to clean out detected odors quickly. While I’m cooking, it efficiently cleans up smells before we have even sat down to dinner.
It also does a stellar job with pets, teenagers, sweaty workout smells, and trash.
I had been dealing with unbearable shoulder pain this year and never thought a poorly fitted bra could have contributed so much to this pain.
I had one bra, in particular, that was my go-to, but they went through some pandemic manufacturing changes that really affected the quality (and my body, it turns out!).
This company boasts half-sizing on bras and smart inclusions like a soft-back detail that doesn’t hurt and ways to adjust pads if you have two different cup sizes.
I can’t believe how much better I feel and imagine there might be a few others out there who haven’t seen a bra update since the pandemic that might benefit from a switch too.
I’m not sure why it is so hard to find a cream blush with staying power, but my quest ended when I discovered this product this year.
Do you recognize this brand owner? (I had no clue until my daughter told me this fun fact today)
The hue (Glowing G) adds a natural flush that lasts all day. Although it is a little bit pricier than my usual drugstore options, the tiniest bit goes a long way without any need for a second application.
Our home has been so disorganized since the pandemic and part of the problem is that so many of our organizing systems have been failing us.
I implemented some of these organizing systems in our poorly functioning bathroom closet, pantry, and laundry area with REAL success.
Particularly, we had been stockpiling a lot of canned food during these past couple of years and these stacked tiers have stopped me from buying repeat purchases.
It’s all about communication-free communication at our house. This magnetic dishwasher sign lets everyone know if things are clean or dirty, reducing the stacked dishes with people claiming they couldn’t figure it out.
If you need one more communication-free communication strategy, here’s my final hot tip.
Tell me, what have been your favorite things (so far) this year? Are you going to try anything from today’s list? If you love this list, be sure to sign up for my newsletter for a weekly dose of this fun!
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other things we are loving this year: