My best of 2020: A year in review

By Dann Berg

Published or Updated on

Stay Six Feet Apart - Ft. Greene Park

It’s certainly been quite the year, hasn’t it? It feels weird to be doing an end-of-year wrap up as if it were just any normal year (see 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018). This year has been a year of adjustments thanks to the pandemic. For example, I used to be shocked when I didn’t leave my apartment for days at a time. This year it’s ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Despite all the changes, quite a lot actually happened this year. That’s why I like doing year-end posts like this – 2020 felt like a total wash until I started putting all this together. Now that this full post is compiled, I can see that it certainly wasn’t a wash. Thank you, year-end post.

With this article, we’re going back to the classic format. This post is about my favorite things of the year. It’s both a highlight of my favorite content (both consumed and created) as well as favorite things. It’s for myself more than anything, but I’ve always loved reading posts like this so I wanted to share with you, too.

Note that some of the links are affiliate links. Just a heads up.

With all that said, let’s get into it.

Most viewed blog posts by me

I published three new blog posts this year (four if you include this one). That’s not exactly prolific, but I’m happy I was able to get some new creative output into the world. One of those new blog posts broke into my top five list, which I’m pretty happy about. My older content still gets a fair amount of organic traffic.

Top videos by me

Favorite books read

One area of my life that took a big hit in 2020 was the amount of reading I was able to do. In pre-covid times, my entire commute to work would be spent reading. But at home there are way more distractions, and I just didn’t have the discipline to put in the same number of hours.

With that as a preface, I was able to read some very enjoyable books this year. Here were my favorites:

  • Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein - I read this because it was highly recommended by Ryan Holiday. Interesting thesis paired with interesting stories. I found myself referencing it several times this year.
  • Antkind by Charlie Kaufman - Finishing Antkind was certainly an accomplishment this year. Can’t say it was one of my favorite books ever, but definitely makes the list this year.
  • How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens - I wish I had this book when I was in school. Makes me want to go back (or at least do more independent research)

Favorite Movies

  • The Nightengale - This movie hits hard and stays with you. Some scenes are a bit tough to watch, but overall a fantastic film.
  • Shoplifters - I can’t recommend this highly enough. If you watch one film off this list, make it this one.
  • Under the Silver Lake - I caught an early trailer for this movie and was immediately hyped. But what followed was complete radio silence, followed by the discovery that it had been silently released without any fanfare. I guess A24 wasn’t quite sure how to sell it? Either way, it’s a solid entry into the film noir genre that doesn’t deserve to slip through the cracks like it did.
  • Spaceship Earth - I peripherally remember hearing about the Biosphere experiment when I was a child (and I certainly remember the Pauly Shore parody Bio-Dome). The actual story is crazier than I expected. And much more inspiring.
  • John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch - Silly, funny, and smart. Everyone needs a smile this year.

Favorite TV Shows

  • How To with John Wilson - I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this show, but with Nathan Fielder attached I knew I had to watch. It’s even better than I thought it would be.
  • Ted Lasso - The trailer did nothing for me, but after hearing nothing but praise for this new series I decided to give it a try. It ended up as one of my favorite things of 2020. Jason Sudeikis is a treasure.

Favorite Podcast

Your Kickstarter Sucks - It’s about terrible Kickstarters, but that doesn’t even begin to encapsulate the show. Hosts DB and JF have the sort of dry humor that just warmly washes over you. The episode Fishy Flip is a great place to start, but bear in mind that you may soon find yourself listening to the entire back catalogue.

Notable Objects

  • iPhone 12 Mini - Holy moly, Apple finally released a top-of-the-line small phone again. Thank goodness.
  • Terraforming Mars - I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve played this game. It’s certainly several dozen. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but the strategy is just so deep that every time you play it’s a new game. One of my favorite discoveries, ever.
  • Roam Research - It’s not really an object, but deserves a place on this list. A note taking system that’s been growing on me over the course of the year. I wrote this post in Roam.
  • Nintendo Switch - Nintendo’s console is just plain fun.
  • Canfield’s Chocolate Fudge Diet Soda - Surprisingly delicious and zero calories. Also, pretty hard to find. I used to get this locally, but now it’s only Amazon (when it’s available).
  • Maldon’s Sea Salt - I’ve learned a lot about the nuances of salt this year, and it’s made me appreciate a good finishing salt like Maldon’s.
  • Goodpop Organic Freezer Pops - Those freezer pops from childhood are back! They taste better now AND are lower calorie.
  • Soap Bottle Pump for Dr. Bronner’s Soap - It’s such a small thing, but money spend vs. quality of life improvement was HUGE for these pump tops for Dr. Bronner’s soap.
  • Kava Stress Relief Tea - Stress relief Kava tea that legit relieves stress. It also has a unique and delicious taste.
  • Old Bay seasoning - Why wasn’t I using Old Bay before 2020? It’s now my go-to for both popcorn and chicken.
  • Olive Oil Sprayer - This is now my preferred way to applying olive oil, to anything.

Accomplishments

Plans for 2021

  • Get the Coronavirus vaccine ASAP
  • Publish at least six new posts on dannb.org
  • Turn at least one of my posts into a YouTube video
  • Read more than I read in 2020 (shouldn’t be hard)
  • Send a newsletter every month
My best of 2016: A year in review
My best of 2015: A year in review
My best of 2013