I could have made my list a lot longer, but I’ve tried to keep it short. I’ve also included my favourite TV, podcasts and purchases of the year. Let me know your favourites with a one line explanation – I’ll then send out the compiled list next week!
Social Physics by Alex Pentland. Finally, the science of why teamwork trumps individual brilliance. It means reward interactions, not solo performance. A must-read for all managers. Full write-up here
Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock. The final frontier for rigorous forecasting: political events. Sick of all the armchair predictions of geo-political eventualities? Tetlock outlines the most reliable way to predict the future: don’t be ideological, make regular updates and be precise in forecasting probabilities.
Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance. A warts-and-all biography of the inheritor of the Steve Jobs crown of tech iconoclast. Punchline: Elon is a brilliant mind, but would be nightmare to work for.
Utopia Experiment by Dylan Evans. It’s easy to critique the consumer economy, so how about setting up a utopian community? Dylan did just that, and we follow him in his painful journey, which nearly cost him his sanity.
Capital by John Lanchester. A great novel covering the lives of a banker, footballer, newsagent owner, pensioner (amongst others) during the financial crisis in London.
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud. A graphic novel of sculptor who can bring his to life, but now only has 200 days to live. His everyday life is followed with touching detail.
John Wick. At last, Keanu Reeves in a good movie – we’ve been waiting since the Matrix! This stylish action movie hits all the right notes and importantly a rare cat revenge movie!
Wild Tales. Very funny Argentine movie. A collection of six stories involving people in distress. Black comedy at its best.
Theory Of Everything. I used to see Stephen Hawking in my college library when I was at university. Back then, I was awe-struck. This movie humanises him with Ed Redmayne putting on a performance of a lifetime.
Bridge Of Spies. Spielberg/Hanks latest and surprisingly subversive movie. The true story about Donovan (Hanks) defending a Soviet spy, despite the public vilifying him. Donovan’s view was that if you don’t give fair trials, you’re no worse than the enemy.
Kingsman. With Daniel Craig’s Bond movies seeming to have peaked with Skyfall thanks to the dull Spectre, Kingsman came as sharp relief in the British Spy genre. A great collection of characters, excellent action scenes (memorably Colin Firth in a church) and humour. The beginning of a franchise no doubt.
Fruitvale Station. The very talented Michael B Jordan (soon to be in “Creed”) puts in a great performance of real life Oscar Grant, who was caught up in a shocking case of police brutality in 2008. It is filmed almost documentary style at the start of Oscar day and ends with his fateful trip to Fruitvale train station. All the more haunting given the Michael Brown and Eric Garner shootings this year in the US.
Humans. The robots are coming .This “near-future” mini series showed the dilemma faced when robots gain “consciousness”. Brilliantly done.
Jessica Jones. There’s been a spate of super-hero TV shows, but my favourite has to be this one. For once, it revolves around a female character, who is gritty and troubled, rather than scantily-clad and a male side-kick.
Babylon. Very entertaining mini-series following the London police force as they hire a feisty American PR agent (the always excellent Brit Marling).
First Dates. Very sweet “reality” show, which shows blind dates meeting in a restaurant. Funny, cringe-worthy and heart-warming at times.
David Guetta – Listen (album). Probably the best Electronic Dance Musician at the moment. The album features great collaborations.
Elina Born and Stig Rasta – Goodbye to Yesterday (single). I’m ashamed to say I watch the Eurovision Song Contest, but I did discover this Estonian act. I got addicted to the track!
Maria Mena – Cause and Effect (album). One of Sam Smith’s inspirations, Mena is from Norway and her songs are breathtaking.
George the Poet – Chicken and Egg (album). Spoken word artist with a social dimension. Art at its best.
Alt-J – This Is All Yours (album). British Indie band with great instrumentals. Mellow and moody.
St Vincent – Strange Mercy (album) and St Vincent (album). One of the most talented musicians around. Super innovative and experimental.
The Good Life Project. I accidentally came across this podcast. It is interviews of people from all walks all life from entrepreneurs to writers on finding meaning in life. I’ve added this to my must-listen list.
Screen Junkies’ Movie Fights. My guilty secret. Debates on random aspects of movies. The latest episode was on whether the new Superman vs Batman trailer was any good. One for movie nerds.
Sheldrake on Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare, especially if it is explained well for a layperson! Sheldrake an actor/teacher gives 15 minute snippets on different facets of the Bard’s plays.
Toggl. An app that tracks each of your activities during the day. It allowed me to realise that I spend too much time on email and dull meetings!
Brain Pickings. Maria Popova’s website regularly features great excerpts from literary and philosophical figures.
Periscope. An app that allows you to broadcast live to all your followers! The future of TV!
Kickstarter. Love the app. I’ve realised that Kickstarter is essentially a pre-ordering vehicle for the next big retail item (check out the G-RO carry-on case!)
Aqua Notes. Followers of my blog will know that I love these waterproof notes that are in my shower. “No more ideas down the drain” is fittingly their motto
Sandqvist rucksack. Admittedly on the pricey side, but I love the school rucksack feel. There’s something quite nice about cloth, rather than the usual “plasticy” feel such bags have.
Boxing Ball/Bag. I picked this up in the UK discount store, TK Maxx, for £20. Perhaps, my best purchase of the year. No screwing a bag to the ceiling – just fill the base with water and box away your frustrations.