Year-End Roundup: 2015

Some of the questions I receive most often are, “What books should I read if I want to become a writer?” and “What films should I watch that will make me a better filmmaker?”

While I can’t say what books and films will help specific individuals, I can say which have helped me. When I am asked what I read, my answer is always the same: I read everything I possibly can, because I never know how I will use the information in the future. I do the same with films, and like to keep up with “new” actors on new TV shows.

I know that reading and watching films are often not considered priorities.* Sometimes we wish for more leisure time to read—which might get replaced with watching reruns of old TV shows because we’re too tired. It’s understandable. But for me, as a writer, filmmaker, and small business owner, it’s a necessary part of my schedule.

Usually I read about a book a week, and I try to watch at least one film a week. This year I watched more films and read less books—a choice I made based on the type of creative ventures I was pursuing. And this year, I’ve decided to share a list of the books I’ve read and the films I’ve watched.

For the reading list, I have only included books and plays, though I do also peruse magazines, journals, newspapers, and websites, and read screenplays whenever they become available. For the television list, I’ve only included fiction and documentary television series that I treat like films and watch in their entirety, and left out news programs, etc. I’ve also included podcasts that I listen to, and left out podcasts that I listen to in different languages to help me learn those languages (since I tend to miss some of the content!).

Happy New Year!

*Here I am referring to active, mindful reading and film watching as opposed to passive. I treat these things like a discipline—the same way I would treat studying for an exam. As an engaged reader and viewer, I am able to call upon lessons I’ve learned through books and films as I create my own work, whether it’s how certain lighting in a scene affects a film, or how a certain literary style contributes to a story.

What I’m Reading: Books

Dune – Frank Herbert

Tender Is The Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Contagious: Why Things Catch On – Jonah Berger

The Woman I Wanted To Be – Diane von Furstenberg

Content Chemistry: An Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing – Andy Crestodina

An Author’s Guide to Children’s Book Promotion – Susan Salzman Raab

Your First 1,000 Copies: The Step-By-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book – Tim Grahl

The One Minute Manager – Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes – Maria Konnikova

The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories (Family Happiness, The Kruetzer Sonata, Master and Man) – Leo Tolstoy

Buyology – Martin Lindstrom

Skinnygirl Solutions – Bethenny Frankel

Brand Sense – Martin Lindstrom

Brandchild – Martin Lindstrom

Brandwashed – Martin Lindstrom

I Suck At Relationships So You Don’t Have To – Bethenny Frankel

Alone With Others: An Existential Approach to Buddhism – Stephen Batchelor

Swimming Upstream: A Lifesaving Guide to Short Film Distribution – Sharon Badal

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Peig: The Autobiography of Peig Sayers of the Great Blasket Island – Peig Sayers

Monticello: The Genius of Jefferson – Thomas Jefferson Foundation

An Abundance of Katherines – John Green

What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan? – Jill Knapp

Bunny Buddhism – Krista Lester

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondo

Miss Julie – August Strindberg

The Little Black Book of Style – Nina Garcia

A View From the Bridge – Arthur Miller

How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent – Noah Lukeman

How to Write a Great Query Letter: Insider Tips and Secrets for Success – Noah Lukeman

Ask a Literary Agent – Noah Lukeman

The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well – Camille Sweeney; Josh Gosfield

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman – Sam Wasson

Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight – M.E. Thomas

The Martian – Andy Weir

Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me – Chelsea Handler

That Was Then, This Is Now – S.E. Hinton

Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry

Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic – Peter H. R. Green, Rory Jones

Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest For Perfection – Debora L. Spar

A Russian Affair – Anton Chekov

The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson – Kevin J. Hayes PENDING

What I’m Watching: Film (does not include short films seen at festivals, films of friends)

The Wolf of Wall Street – Martin Scorsese

Nebraska – Alexander Payne

Limelight – Billy Corben

In Bruges – Martin McDonagh

In A World… – Lake Bell

Burt’s Buzz – Jody Shapiro

Advanced Style – Lina Plioplyte

Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream – Alex Gibney

The Double – Richard Ayoade

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work – Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg

Le Chef – Daniel Cohen

Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino

Chef – Jon Favreau

Quartet – Dustin Hoffman

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father – Kurt Kuenne

The New World – Terrence Malick

Between the Peaks – Jonathan Ranzino

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson

Last Love – Sandra Nettelbeck

La Bare – Joe Manganiello

Charlie Wilson’s War – Mike Nichols

The True Story of Charlie Wilson’s War – Aaron Bowden, Terrence Henry (writers)

Gone Girl – David Fincher

Seven Pounds – Gabriele Muccino

X-Men: Days of Future Past – Bryan Singer

His Girl Friday – Howard Hawks

Breathe In – Drake Doremus

Sleepless In Seattle – Nora Ephron

An Affair To Remember – Leo McCarey

Charade – Stanley Donan

Monkey Business – Howard Hawks

Houseboat – Melville Shavelson

Kiss Them For Me – Stanley Donan

A Coffee In Berlin – Jan Ole Gerster

Mommie Dearest – Frank Perry

Secrets of Chatsworth – Susannah Ward

Haute Cuisine – Christian Vincent

Notting Hill – Roger Michell

The House I Live In (short) – Mervyn LeRoy

Neighbors – Nicholas Stoller

The Bloody Olive (short) – Vincent Bal

Wasp (short) – Andrea Arnold

300 – Zack Snyder

How to Steal A Million – William Wyler

Somm – Jason Wise

Entourage – Doug Ellin

Afterlife – Virág Zomborácz

Maps to the Stars – David Cronenberg

Funny Games – Michael Haneke

Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show – Des Doyle

The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe – Yves Robert

Krásno – Ondřej Sokol

Magic in the Moonlight – Woody Allen

Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State – Laurence Rees

The Imitation Game – Morten Tyldum

To See the Sea – Jiří Mádl

Erotikon – Gustav Machatý

Dallas Buyers Club – Jean-Marc Vallée

The Monuments Men – George Clooney

Digging For Fire – Joe Swanberg

Miss Julie – Liv Ullmann

La Haine – Mathieu Kassovitz

How To Marry A Millionaire – Jean Negulesco

Ex Machina – Alex Garland

All About Eve – Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Another Woman – Woody Allen

People Will Talk – Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Goering’s Last Secret – Linda Parkhurst

A Secret – Claude Miller

Good Will Hunting – Gus Van Sant

The Martian – Ridley Scott

Sunset Boulevard – Billy Wilder

The Artist and the Model – Fernando Trueba

The Virgin Suicides – Sofia Coppola

Pineapple Express – David Gordon Green

Despicable Me – Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

Woody Allen: A Documentary – Robert B. Weide

Anthony Jeselnik: Thoughts and Prayers – Adam Dubin

Love Actually – Richard Curtis

The Family Man – Brett Ratner

The Social Network – David Fincher

White Christmas – Michael Curtiz

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – J.J. Abrams

Jupiter Ascending – Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

What I’m Watching: Television

American Horror Story: Asylum – Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk (creators)

House Of Cards: Season 3 – Beau Willimon (creator)

American Horror Story: Coven – Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk (creators)

Mr. Selfridge: Season 1 – Andrew Davies (creator)

Mr. Selfridge: Season 2 – Andrew Davies (creator)

Mr. Selfridge: Season 3 – Andrew Davies (creator)

Transparent: Season 1 – Jill Soloway (creator)

Mad Men: Season 7 – Matthew Weiner (creator)

Sherlock: Season 1 – Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat (creators)

Sherlock: Season 2 – Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat (creators)

Sherlock: Season 3 – Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat (creators)

Black Mirror: Season 1 – Charlie Brooker (creator)

Black Mirror: Season 2 – Charlie Brooker (creator)

Orange Is The New Black: Season 1 – Jenji Kohan (creator)

Orange Is The New Black: Season 2 – Jenji Kohan (creator)

Orange Is The New Black: Season 3 – Jenji Kohan (creator)

Breaking Bad: Season 1 – Vince Gilligan (creator)

Breaking Bad: Season 2 – Vince Gilligan (creator)

Breaking Bad: Season 3 – Vince Gilligan (creator)

Breaking Bad: Season 4 – Vince Gilligan (creator)

Breaking Bad: Season 5 – Vince Gilligan (creator) PENDING

Poirot – Agatha Christie (creator) PENDING

The Royals: Season 1 – Mark Schwahn (creator)

The Royals: Season 2 – Mark Schwahn (creator) PENDING

Finding Carter: Season 2 – Emily Silver (creator)

The Men Who Built America – Patrick Reams, Ruán Magan (directors)

What I’m Listening To: Podcasts

Freakonomics Radio

Philosophy Bites

The Psychology Podcast with Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman

Welcome to Night Vale

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by Kaitlin Puccio