Life Movies TV

My favorite TV shows, movies, and music* of 2023

*Also: favorite goal and save! Read on…

Following my post on the standout books I read this year, here’s the best of what I watched and listened to in 2023:

📺 TV

— “Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street” (Netflix) This documentary series reinforced for me not just how shocking his crimes were, but how much his victims suffered.

— “Wham!” (Netflix) George Michael, Andrew Ridgeley, 80s pop music. What more do you need to know?

— “Beckham” (Netflix) An entertaining recap of David Beckham’s career, including the meme-spawning scene (YouTube link) with wife Victoria in which he presses her to admit that she enjoyed an advantaged upbringing.

— “Better Call Saul.” (AMC/Netflix) Though this series ended in 2022, I’m including it here since I finished it this year. A superb show that rivals even the great “Breaking Bad,” from which it was spun off.

🎥 Movies

“Oppenheimer.” Of course. Sprawling, ambitious, polished. Incredible soundscapes. Moves along crisply despite its three-hour length.

🎸 Music

The Hold Steady, “The Price of Progress.” Soaring rock anthems. (YouTube link)

Runner up: Buck Meek, “Haunted Mountain.” I’m in love with the title track (YouTube link).

⚽️ BONUS 1: Best Goal of the Year

As an Arsenal fan, I have to pick Bukayo Saka’s long-range stunner in a 3-2 win against Manchester United in January. (YouTube link)

🧤BONUS 2: And as a (gracefully aging) goalkeeper, I admired Aaron Ramsdale’s dive high to his right to save a deflected Mohamed Salah shot in a 2-2 Arsenal draw against Liverpool. (YouTube link) (Amazingly, Ramsdale’s now out of the side, but that’s a story for another time. Did I mention I’m an Arsenal fan?)


The Best Books I Read in 2023

Here's my annual rundown of the standout books I read this year.

Like in previous roundups, I’m not confining myself to books published in the last 12 months.

My nonfiction picks span the global semiconductor industry, equitable parenting, and – thanks to Netflix – the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

For fiction, I completed a trilogy by my new favorite spy thriller author and took in a sprawling Jonathan Franzen family saga.

As ever, I prefer physical books over e-books. I like the sensory experience of holding books in my hands. I like gazing at the cover art. I like tracking my progress through the pages and flipping forward and backward. And most of all, I like the ability to mark up the pages for future reference.

My reading wasn't as focused on particular topics as it's been in previous years. But I've tried to keep in mind what the great Charlie Munger once said: “As long as I have a book in my hand, I don’t feel like I’m wasting time.”

Here goes:


  • Chris Miller, Chip War: The Fight for the World's Most Critical Technology – This acclaimed 2022 book provides a timely, accessible introduction to the global semiconductor industry. Miller, a history professor at Tufts University, describes how scientists developed the staggeringly complex technology over the decades.

    He also shows why semiconductors are crucial for everything from missiles to smartphones and kitchen appliances. And the book hammers home just how vulnerable global semiconductor supply chains are to geopolitical tensions, and makes clear why Beijing is pouring resources into bolstering China's domestic chip-making capabilities.
  • Russell King, Rajneeshpuram: Inside the Cult of Baghwan and Its Failed American Utopia – Like many others, I enjoyed the 2018 Netflix documentary series “Wild, Wild Country.” I found the series fascinating given my roots in Eastern Oregon and our time in India, so I decided to do some reading on the movement.

    In this book, out last year, Russell King puts his skill as an attorney to work in reconstructing a timeline of Baghwan's life in India. King documents the growth of Baghwan's ashram in Pune, and then his migration to rural Oregon in the early 1980s, where the documentary picks up.

    While the Netflix series is sympathetic to many members of the group interviewed, including the memorable Ma Anand Sheela, Rajneeshpuram includes a fuller account of the group's many alleged crimes and misdeeds in Oregon. They include the poisoning of more than 700 people in a town near the Rajneeshees' ranch that still ranks as the U.S.'s largest biological terror attack, plans to assassinate public officials, the disregard for homeless people brought to the ranch, and the forced isolation of Rajneeshees who contracted HIV.

  • Subhuti Anand Waight, Wild Wild Guru: An insider's account of his life with Bhagwan, the world's most controversial guru – Next up was this 2019 account by a Bhagwan devotee who left a job in journalism in the UK to live in the guru's Pune ashram, then later traveled westward to the U.S.

    The book provides a sense of Baghwan's appeal to hippies at the time: You can strive to reach enlightenment, he preached, but rather than sacrifice earthly delights as an ascetic would, you can still indulge in all manner of corporeal pleasures.

    Perhaps most instructive for me was to see how a devotee can, after all these years, appear to gloss over the great damage the Rajneeshees inflicted on neighbors and various vulnerable people. The author's message seems to be: We were a religious movement persecuted for being different; sure, there were a few bad apples, but no one knew about their shenanigans; ultimately those uptight Americans just couldn't accept us for being different.

  • George Friedman, The Storm Before the Calm: America's Discord, the Coming Crisis of the 2020s, and the Triumph Beyond. Geopolitical forecaster Friedman in his well-known The Next 100 Years looked at global trends. In this 2020 book he projects what's in store for the U.S.

    Friedman says this decade will continue to prove tumultuous because a historical cycle that governs institutional change is converging with a similar socio-economical cycle. He's bullish on the U.S. over the long term, though, because the country is blessed with a favorable geography, a powerful economy, and an inherent dynamism. We'll weather the storm, he argues.

  • Eve Rodsky, Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live). My wife, who is brilliant and well-read, suggested this 2019 book. I'm glad she did.

    Rodsky, trained as a lawyer, provides a template for couples that encourages men to own their share of work that goes into running a household and raising kids. That way, “shefault” parents — women — can do less of the cognitive, invisible labor that make homes function.


  • Jonathan Franzen, Crossroads: a Novel I didn't expect to find a nearly 600-page-long family saga set in 1970s Illinois and focusing on a minister and his family to be so absorbing, but I did.

    Perhaps that's a testament to Franzen's storytelling skills, or simply my tastes, as I've read nearly everything he's written. In this 2021 work, I loved the characters (particularly the memorable Marion Hildebrandt), I loved the dialogue, I loved the vivid scenes. Apparently the first in a trilogy. I'll be reading the titles that follow.

  • Jason Matthews, The Palace of Treason and The Kremlin's Candidate. Thanks to my friend Stuart H. for suggesting, since I love spy fiction, that I check out 2013's Red Sparrow trilogy.

    The first in the series, called Red Sparrow: a Novel, introduces us to Russian spy Dominika Egorova and her handler, Nathanial Nash. This year I enjoyed the final two books, which came out in 2015 and 2018.

    Matthews spent more than three decades as a CIA officer, mostly stationed abroad and involved in clandestine work, before trying his hand at fiction. The books contain detailed depictions of modern spy-craft, are well-paced, and are imbued with Matthews's take on modern-day Russia. Among the characters, for example, is one Vladimir Putin.

    Matthews also no doubt drew upon his years of experience to portray idealistic but imperfect CIA staff who fight for America's interests. Sadly, he died a few years ago at the age of 69, leaving just the three books behind.

  • Ernest Cline, Ready Player One Some works of fiction are so frequently discussed that you have to read them to know what everyone's talking about. This 2011 book is one.

    Set in a dystopian 2045, it is popular for its focus on 1980s pop culture, such as video games and music, which are of course ancient history for the book's characters. Viewed today, with Mark Zuckerberg and other believers touting the metaverse it's interesting to see how Cline viewed the possibility of future virtual realms taking shape.

My previous annual best books lists: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016.

Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas. Antwerp, Belgium: Interior of Museum Plantin-Moretus, via Wikimedia Commons


The Best Books I Read in 2021

Here are the most intriguing books I read in 2021.

As ever, this list isn’t confined to titles published during the year. And as in previous years, I continue to prefer print books over e-books.

They are better for making notes in the margins, being able to flip through them aids in the learning process, and I appreciate the ability to pick them up off the book shelf to consult later, after I’ve read them. And I just love the tactile sensations of holding them in my hands.

My nonfiction picks spanned tech, history, current affairs, philosophy and art. For fiction, I found pandemic-era solace in revisiting a genre I have always loved: spy thrillers.


  • Martin Gurri, The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium This book by Gurri, first released in 2014 and since updated, has been hailed presaging the election of Donald Trump and the success of Brexit. Gurri’s thesis: Technological forces like the internet and social media, which have resulted in an exponential explosion of information, by nature undermine civil institutions and traditional figures of authorities. This democratization of information has exposed elites’ flaws, Gurri writes, sapping their ability to control once unquestioned narratives. Distrust now abounds.
  • Steven Levy, Facebook: The Inside Story. I enjoy books that tell the stories of singular tech companies, such as Brad Stone’s comprehensive looks at Amazon (“The Everything Store”) and Airbnb and Uber (“The Upstarts”), Duncan Clark’s book about Alibaba, and Ken Auletta’s look at Google. This 2020 work provides a comprehensive history of how Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, how it expanded quickly in the U.S. and then abroad, and how its emphasis on growth has created massive successes – and more recently, challenges – along the way. Useful as a backgrounder in understanding a company I did a lot of reporting on during the year.

  • Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck, Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman’s Ruthless Quest for Global Power. A painstakingly researched, deftly told, utterly fascinating look at the Saudi crown prince, and what his rise means for his nation and the world. A rarity in nonfiction: a page turner that informs. By Hope, formerly of the The WSJ, and my current, supremely talented WSJ colleague Scheck.

  • Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. A wonderful book centered on ten timeless ideas from various cultures about human flourishing and what makes for a good life: why love and work are important, the benefits of adversity and reciprocity, why we’re all hypocrites on some level, and why happiness comes not just from within, but from without.

  • Janet Malcolm, The Journalist and the Murderer. How and why journalism can be a messy business. Controversial. Extremely meta. I’m not sure I agree with its central claim that journalism is inherently psychopathic, but it is a quick and thought provoking read.

  • Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. Worthy of its cult classic status. Meditations on why making art is hard, and why you just have to battle through what Pressfield calls “resistance”: fear, anxiety, laziness, whatever keeps you from articulating your creative vision. You just gotta sit down and do the work.

  • Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. After largely conquering disease, war and famine, humans are becoming increasingly individualistic, powerful, humanistic, liberal. Next up: seeking immortality as we make gains in artificial intelligence and biotechnology. (See also: Harari’s earlier book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.)

  • Jason Fung, MD, The Obesity Code – Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss. I’ve long been interested in nutrition and find the research showing the benefits of low-carbohydrate, high fat diets to be compelling. In this straightforward book, Fung, a nephrologist who has had significant success treating diabetics with fasting and carb restriction, shows that weight gain is driven by high-carb, sugary foods that cause spikes in insulin. In short: sugars and starches are the problem, not fats or even calories. (See also: Nina Teicholz’s suberb The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.)

  • Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life I’d never read anything extensive about the brilliant, complex, dedicated, whimsical Franklin – the “founding father who winks at us,” Isaacson writes. Franklin had so much to do with with the U.S. became.


  • David Ignatius, Agents of Innocence: A Novel. I love spy thrillers but had never read this excellent novel from the Washington Post columnist. Set in Beirut in the 1970s, the protagonist is a CIA officer working to gather intelligence on the PLO. This book, Ignatius’s first, led me to some of his others…

  • David Ignatius, The Quantum Spy: A Thriller. The U.S., China, and quantum computing. Lots of fun.

  • David Ignatius, The Paladin: A Spy Novel. Cyber-security, media manipulation, deep fakes, financial fraud. Another page-turner.

  • Ken Follett, Eye of the Needle. Speaking of spy thrillers, I decided to re-read this classic, set during World War II, which I first encountered more than 20 years ago. What a read: wonderfully paced, strong characters, high stakes.

Previous lists: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016.

Books India

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2018


Here’s the best of what I read in 2018.

As in previous round-ups, some of these titles came out this year, while others were published in years past.


  • Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World,” by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope. The first of two astoundingly good books by WSJ colleagues this year. Even if, like me, you’ve followed the 1MDB scandal, you’ll find here a ton of surprising, colorful, mind-boggling details, not to mention memorable characters. I think this will go down as a narrative nonfiction business classic.
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,” by John Carreyrou. The second book by a WSJ colleage. The crazy story of Theranos, founder Elizabeth Holmes, and a cautionary tale about how investors can be duped by powerful personalities.
  • The Other One Percent: Indians in America,” by Sanjoy Chakravorty, Devesh Kapur and Nirvikar Singh. A rigorous work, full of data, that explains the factors that have contributed to the remarkable success of Indians (and Indian-Americans) in the U.S. My Book Notes entry is here.
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” by Yuval Noah Harari. A compelling, accessible, intriguing look at our species. Worth all the attention it has gotten since its 2015 publication. My Book Notes entry is here.
  • Man’s Search for Meaning,” by Viktor Frankl. I’d heard about this book for a long time. The first half is a harrowing Holocaust survival memoir. The second is a guide to Frankl’s theory of logotherapy. I understand now why so many people say this is the single book that has affected them more than any other. “The meaning of life is to give life meaning,” as Frankl writes.
  • India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy,” by Ramachandra Guha. An exhaustive (it’s more than 900 pages long), impressively researched work: everything you need to know (and then some) about India since independence. I will keep a copy on my desk for reference. On the one hand, the level of detail can make for slow going; on the other hand, India’s history is so complicated that there can be no short cuts in a book like this.
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” by Katherine Boo. A moving introduction to the plight of India’s poor.
  • The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires,” by Tim Wu. A timely read, given the rise of powers like Facebook and Google. Book Notes entry is here.
  • Fiction

    Last year I noted that I’d read just two memorable novels that year. My consumption of fiction this year, sadly, has again been low.

    I am always tempted to read nonfiction books related to work – India, tech, business – and I sometimes forget that in tackling both the universal and the particular, novels have a unique power. They build empathy and communicate truths in ways that sometimes nonfiction cannot. For example, take my favorite novel of the year, by Mohsin Hamid…

  • How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel,” by Mohsin Hamid. I just recently finished this novel. It was stunning. It’s a parody of a self help book, told in a unique fashion.
  • It succeeds as a page turner, as a thrilling rags to riches tale, as a romance, and also as a realistic look at society, money, power and corruption in South Asia.

    (It is set in an unnamed country that appears to be Hamid’s home country, Pakistan, but there are many echoes of India.)

    This is the first book my Hamid that I’ve read, and apparently some feel it’s not even his best. You can bet I will be reading his other works. Highly recommended. (Thanks, Michael, for the gift!)

  • Moby Dick,” by Herman Melville. It had been years since I’d encountered this book back in school, and I decided to pick it up again. I must have read it at some point, but I can’t remember when.
  • I’d forgotten how vivid the prose is. I highlighted this sentence, about Captain Peleg, which I really loved:

    “Though refusing, from conscientious scruples, to bear arms against land invaders, yet himself had illimitably invaded the Atlantic and Pacific; and though a sworn foe to human bloodshed, yet he in his straight-bodied coat, spilled tons upon tons of leviathan gore.”

    Tons of leviathan gore!


  • The 10 Best Books I Read in 2017.
  • The Best Books I Read in 2016.
  • Categories
    Newley's Notes

    In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Our India ‘Demonetization’ Video; Best Books and Albums of 2016; Chapecoense’s Final Flight

    Newleys notes

    Edition 74 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers yesterday. It’s pasted in below.

    To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them here, sign up at this link. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe.

    Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter where I share my stories and links to items that catch my eye.


    Morgan Stanley Fund Cuts Valuation of Its Holding in India’s Flipkart. The story begins:

    A Morgan Stanley investment fund has reduced the valuation of its holding in Flipkart Internet Pvt. by 38%, as India’s leading e-commerce firm faces increased competition from U.S. rival Inc. and others.

    In a U.S. regulatory filing this week, the Morgan Stanley Select Dimensions Investment Series fund said for the quarter ended Sept. 30, it held 1,969 Flipkart shares, which it valued at $102,644, or $52.13 a share.

    Meanwhile, on a separate topic, a colleague and I recorded a Facebook Live video on India’s “demonetization,” the government’s move to eliminate its biggest-denomination bills. Watch it on the WSJ Facebook page here; the video has been viewed more than 65,000 times.


    Top Lesser-Known (but Good) Sci-Fi Movies of 2016

    On the Importance of Reading Books to Understand the World

    Why We Gain Weight Over the Holidays


    1) Can a lowly reporter become an Instagram star? Bloomberg’s Max Chafkin embarked on a humorous quest to become an “influencer,” commanding cash for his posts:

    The plan, which I worked out with my editor and a slightly confused Bloomberg Businessweek lawyer, was this: With Saynt’s company advising me, I would go undercover for a month, attempting to turn my schlubby @mchafkin profile into that of a full-fledged influencer. I would do everything possible within legal bounds to amass as many followers as I could. My niche would be men’s fashion, a fast-growing category in which I clearly had no experience. The ultimate goal: to persuade someone, somewhere, to pay me cash money for my influence.

    2) People are really into boring video games in which they drive tractors and trucks. A look at why people play games with titles like “Farming Simulator 17” and “American Truck Simulator.”

    3) Meta-list: Best Books of 2016. Jason Kottke has a round-up of the year’s top releases.

    4) The 100 best albums of 2016. A list compiled by music writer Ted Gioia.

    5) The story behind Chapecoense’s tragic final flight. This heartbreaking WSJ story explains how the Brazilian championship contenders came to be flying on the charter plane headed to Colombia, and why it went down.

    Thanks for reading.


    P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here.

    Books Life Movies Sports

    2015 Media Picks: My Favorite Book, Album, Movie, TV Show — and Goal and Save

    2016-01-04harrisjpgBook: “Waking Up”

    I read a lot of really great books this year, most of which were published prior to 2015.

    The one that comes closest to qualifying for this list, however, since it was published in late 2014, is Sam Harris’s Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.

    Harris, a neuroscientist, illustrates that our perception of the world quite literally dictates the quality of our lives. He discusses eastern and western religions, consciousness, the illusion of the self, meditation, gurus, and psychedelic  drugs.

    “Our minds are all we have,” he writes early on in the book. “They are all we have ever had. And they are all we can offer others.”

    Highly recommended.

    Album: “Meamodern Sounds in Country Music”

    2016-01-04_sturgillAgain, I’m kind of cheating here. Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” came out in mid-2014. But it’s too good to ignore. I blogged about it back in February.

    Unfortunately, it’s not available on Spotify — my current pick for music streaming given Rdio’s demise and my brief but ultimaely ill-fated dalliance with Apple Music — but you can listen to it on Amazon or YouTube.

    Movie: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

    2016-01-04SWSerious “Star Wars” nerds may have their quibbles. But as a casual fan — as in, I like the movies, I really do, but I don’t live or die by them — I found “The Force Awakens” to be thrilling and fun.

    It’s great to have the crew back again.

    TV show: “Fargo”

    2016-01-04fargoHoly shit, “Fargo.”

    Season one was fantastic. And so was season two, which just concluded.

    It seems crazy, the idea of replicating, for TV, the setting (mostly) for one of the finest films ever made. But it works. And there’s more to come!

    Goal: Messi vs. Athetic Bilbao

    Okay, so a goal represents the greatest achievement in the world’s greatest game (except for saving a penalty), and isn’t a piece of media, exactly. But it kind of is, when it’s reproduced. Like it is here. I don’t care.

    THAT MESSI GOAL against Atheltic Bilbao, which I mentioned back in June, was outrageous:

    Save: David De Gea vs. Everton

    Again, we have to go back to late 2014, but it’s worth it.

    As I blogged at the time, De Gea was exceptional against Everton. The save he pulls off at the one minute mark here is just…I’m speechless.

    What a year.


    The 20 Best ‘Best of 2014’ Lists

    1. Best Books of 2014WSJ
    2. The books Quartz read in 2014 — Quartz
    3. The best books of 2014 — The Economist
    4. 10 best nonfiction books of 2014 — Stephen Carter at Bloomberg View
    5. The 10 Best Books of 2014NYT
    6. The Best Books of 2014 — Amazon
    7. The Best Book Covers of 2014NYT
    8. Longreads’ Best of 2014 — Longreads
    9. The Best Movies of 2014 — Richard Brody at The New Yorker
    10. Best movies of 2014 with behavioral economics themes — Cass Sunstein at Bloomberg View
    11. The 20 best movies of 2014 — A.V. Club
    12. The Best Movie Posters of 2014 — MUBI Notebook
    13. The 10 Best TV Shows of 2014 — Vulture
    14. Best TV Of 2014 — NPR
    15. Best albums of 2014 —
    16. The 100 Best Tracks of 2014 — Pitchfork
    17. Best iPhone photos of 2014 — iPhone Photography Awards
    18. Top physics breakthroughs of 2014 — Physics World
    19. The Best Tech Quotes of 2014 — Vauhini Vara at The New Yorker
    20. Embedded above and on YouTube here: Top 30 Goals World Cup 2014, by HeilRJ.

    Some favorite albums, books, TV shows, movies, and in-depth stories from 2013

    Here’s a look back at some of my favorites from last year.


    My pick: “Modern Vampires of the City,” by Vampire Weekend.

    Here’s “Obvious Bicycle“:

    And “Diane Young“:

    Runner-up album:

    Beta Love,” by Ra Ra Riot. Here’s the title track.

    Honorable mentions: Sky Ferreira’s “Night Time, My Time,” Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” and Lorde’s “Pure Heroine.”


    Of the books I read last year, two stand out, not least because they were written by pals.

    First: Matt Gross’s “The Turk Who Loved Apples: And Other Tales of Losing My Way Around the World.”

    2014 01 08 turk who loved apples

    This may not come as a surprise, since I’ve written about Matt’s work before.

    The New York Times called the book “a joyful meditation on the spontaneity and unpredictability of the traveling life,” and said:

    Gross ruminates on the loneliness of the road, the evanescent friendships that occasionally blossom into something deeper, the pleasures of wandering through cities without a map. Now settled in Brooklyn with his wife and daughters, he leaves little doubt that all his years of near-constant travel have only whetted his appetite for more. “The world,” he writes, has become “a massively expanding network of tiny points where anything at all could happen, and within each point another infinite web of possibilities.”

    Worth checking out.

    And second: “The Accidental Playground: Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and Unplanned,” by Dan Campo.

    2014 01 08 accidental playground

    The Times included the book in a piece called “Suggested Reading for de Blasio,” and wrote:

    Daniel Campo, a former New York City planner, considers the serendipitous development of Williamsburg and concludes: “In contrast to urban space produced through conventional planning and design, the accidental playground that evolved on the North Brooklyn waterfront generated vitality through immediate and largely unmeditated action. The waterfront was there for the claiming, and people went out and did just that without asking for permission, holding meetings or making plans.”

    Indeed, it’s worth a read.

    TV shows

    2014 01 09 breaking bad

    There can be only one.


    I haven’t yet seen many of the year’s most talked-about films, but I liked “Gravity” and “This is the End.” 2013 films I still intend to watch: “12 Years a Slave,” “The Act of Killing,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and “Computer Chess.”


    And finally, here are some in-depth stories, blog posts, reviews, and other pieces of writing I liked this year: