Wednesday, 30 December 2015

My 2k15 in culture

Another year over, and a new one not quite begun. To continue quoting John and Yoko, I figured this was as good a time as any to ask myself 'and what have you done?'

I might not, sadly, have done much to change the world. But I did read a fair few books, watch plenty of films and, according to Spotify, racked up at least 25,000 minutes (the equivalent of 18 whole days!) listening to music. Fo realz:

Well, at least no one can say that monthly Spotify Premium bill isn't money well spent...

In an attempt to make those 18 days of my life even more vaguely worthwhile, I thought I'd share my musical and other cultural highlights of 2k15. Not an exhaustive list by any means, but here are the things that stick out from the year of Caitlyn Jenner, #PigGate, Corbyn mania and Adele's big comeback...


Julia Holter - Have You In My Wilderness 

Richard Hawley - Hollow Meadows 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit And Think, Other Times I Just Sit 

Jamie XX - In Colour 

Laura Marling - Short Movie

Drake - If You're Reading This It's Probably Too Late

Alabama Shakes - Sound & Colour

Tame Impala - Currents

TV shows

My favourite new season:
Aziz Ansari's Master of None

Best returning TV shows: Channel 4's Catastrophe and Peep Show

Still loving:
The Mindy Project

Catching up on 'cause I was behind the times: House of Cards
The Wire
Arrested Development

Just started and enjoying so far: Narcos

Christmas TV highlight: the BBC adaptation of Agathie Christie's And Then There Were None. Aidan Turner in a towel - need I say more?


Not actually a conscious decision, but an all female shortlist, yes!

My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante

A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara

Lila - Marilynne Robinson

A God In Ruins - Kate Atkinson

A Career of Evil - Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)

The Versions of Us - Laura Bennett

A Spool of Blue Thread - Anne Tyler


Lena Dunham's Women of the Hour

London Review of Books

(As ever) Desert Island Discs - my favourite castaways of the year include Keith Richards, Judi Dench, Mark Rylance and Noel Gallagher.

Serial - the phenomenon returned with a bit of a collective sigh really, but I've listened to the first couple of episodes and I'm still enjoying it.

Non-fiction books

I'm cheating here a little as not all of these books were released in 2015, but they were the ones that stuck out from my reading this year:

Why Not Me?
- Mindy Kaling

My Age of Anxiety - Scott Stossel (I recommend this to anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety - it explains a lot of the science and history in a way that's understandable even for cretins like me)

My Salinger Year - Joanna Rakoff

Bedsit Disco Queen - Tracey Thorn

This New Noise - Charlotte Higgins

The Lady in the Van - Alan Bennett

Late Fragments - Kate Gross (a brilliant and life-affirming book, it would make for a really good present)


Carol - the most perfect festive release, all smoky windows and Cate Blanchett's incredible face.

Brooklyn - released at the same time as Spectre, I don't think this film got the attention it deserved. Saoirse Ronan puts in an Oscar-worthy performance as an Irish immigrant adapting to American life.

Inside Out - Amy Poehler's character Joy really is joyful, but it's the film's focus on growing up and losing your childhood innocence that made Inside Out so good.

Ex Machina - Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson really cracked Hollywood this year, appearing in this sci-fi film before another one that quite a few people seemed to have enjoyed...

Other movie highlights included:

Star Wars 



Mistress America


I realise that putting a bunch of Instagram accounts into a list of cultural highlights is a little dubious, but the amount of time I spend scrolling through it has probably earned it a place in my annual round up.

I follow hundreds of people but here are some of my favourite accounts for fashion, darling:

Brittany Bathgate

Pandora Sykes (seen on the left here)

Katherine Ormerod 

Ropes of Holland 

Leandra Medine

Natalie Hughes