CYOO #37: 2020 Media Superlatives

A recap on books, music, dance, art from this year

Most of this year was spent indoors, which means a lot of time was spent consuming media. Here are my most notable mentions, broken down into three categories—books, music/dance, and art (my TV and movie consumption is relatively sparse, so I left that category out).

I would love to hear all about your favorites from this year, as well as any spicy book takes! 🌶️

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Books I Read:

Most Likely to Recommend: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. A universally appealing novel with an equally attractive cover that is my favorite of the year.

Most Touching: Almond by Won Pyung Sohn. Not only is this novel about a teenage boy with a rare neurological condition quick to read, it’s very impactful and sweet! Would make a great movie someday.

Most Reminiscent of My Life: Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang. Though I'm not in journalism or in an interracial relationship or living in Ithaca, this novel felt very evocative of my friends’ and my interior thoughts and experiences. Read if you’re into millennial literature.

Most Timely: Intimations by Zadie Smith. This essay collection written during early quarantine did not disappoint (I think I prefer Zadie Smith’s nonfiction to her fiction). “Something to Do” is my favorite of the six essays.

Most Likely to Have Slipped Under Your Radar: For Small Creatures Such as We by Sasha Sagan. Written by Carl Sagan’s daughter, this book highlights secular rituals that mark the passage of time and give meaning into our lives. Read to feel awe and joy and gratitude for being alive.

Most Titilating: The Idea of You by Robinne Lee. A middle-aged divorcee starts dating her daughter's favorite boy band member. Someone recommended this novel in The Lounge community and I had to read it immediately! It is a very fun book with a bang of an ending. Read if you like romance and celebrity.

Most Highlighted: The Lonely City by Olivia Laing. I finally got around to reading this 2017 book and enjoyed reading about NYC based artists such as David Wojnarowicz and Edward Hopper. One of my favorite quotes below:

When I came to New York I was in pieces, and though it sounds perverse, the way I recovered a sense of wholeness was not by meeting someone or by falling in love, but rather by handling the things that other people had made, slowly absorbing by way of this contact the fact that loneliness, longing, does not mean one has failed, but simply that one is alive.

Most Disappointing: Tie between Luster by Raven Leilani and Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee. This category is here because I don’t give low ratings on Goodreads but I need a place to dump my salty reader feelings. Luster is well-written and has intriguing plot points, but the protagonist Edie felt completely flat as a character. Anna K, a modern Gossip Girl-esque retelling of Anna Karenina with a half-Korean protagonist, was a hot mess—I might’ve enjoyed a different version of this juicy YA story, but the drama and stakes of Anna Karenina do not blend in well with this high school setting.

Music/Dance I Listened & Moved To:

Dance Cardio That Gave Me the Most Joy: Fitness Marshall and team, with their beginner friendly choreos and big laughs. Amy Jo Burns' essay on surviving grief through Fitness Marshall videos is a wonderful primer on the joys of this Youtube channel. And below is my favorite song to dance to lately (backbends and flashing pirates, need I say more?!)

Tiktok Dance with Most Swag: “Go Crazy” by Chris Brown, choreography by Jillian Webber. Damn did it take long to learn this fifteen second dance, but it feels so good to be able to move like this!

K-Pop Group That I Most Want to Join: ITZY. Consistently great choreographies with iconic point moves (the shoulder dance, the not shy hands).

FIFA 20 Song I’m Most Likely to Miss: “Fado” by Milky Chance. E got into playing FIFA during quarantine, and now we can recognize almost every song on this soundtrack. This song is perfect background music that will always remind me of 2020.

Meme I’m Most Likely to Miss: “Gang” by Rain. This 2017 song, mostly unnoticed when it was released, went viral earlier this year as the internet flocked to laugh at the scathing Youtube comments making fun of the song’s dance and lyrics. Thus the “1 Gang a day” meme was born along with plenty of remixes. The true winner of all this is Rain, who catapulted back into the spotlight by handling the internet mockery with humility and gratitude.

Artists I Discovered:

Most Introspective: Gabriel Isak with melancholic surrealist photography.

Most Intricate: Cecile Davidovici with detailed thread paintings.

A post shared by CECILE DAVIDOVICI 🧵 (@ceciledavidovici)

Most Calming: Alexandra Kehayoglou with tufted nature landscapes rife with green.

Most Playful: PearFleur with Youtube tutorials in a variety of mediums.