My favorite books and movies of 2018

2018 is about to end, but before it does, here are the books and movies I enjoyed the most this year.

Books:

  • Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins. Self-improvement from first principles. While some meditation techniques and philosophies like Vipassana and stoicism teach you how to become robust to emotions and thoughts, Tony shows how to use them to your advantage (antifragility). I find both approaches complementary and I’m getting great results from both.
  • Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. Collection of habits from world-class performers, and ideas from people who are highly successful or are on the bleeding edge. A feast for curious minds.
  • The Food Lab by Kenji López-Alt. Cooking for scientifically-minded people. If you have ever tried to learn how to cook, but you’ve got puf off when you got instructions like “Just put enough salt” or “You will see when it’s ready”, you might like this book which explains what actually happens at the physical and chemical level. It’s opened the doors of cooking for me.
  • The Lifetime Guide to Reading & Learning by Gary Hoover. An overview of how to read effectively. If you want to read more effectively, start with this book and then move to “Breakthrough Rapid Reading” by Peter Kump (speed) and “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer Adler (depth).
  • Give & Take by Adam Grant. The closer I get to death, the more I want to give. This book has examples of how to give effectively.
  • Essentialism by Greg McKeown. How to get closer and stay close to what truly matters. Given the tendency of everything to become messy, noisy (as opposed to signal), and disorderly, and also given the increasingly connected world we live in, everyone would benefit from reading this.

Movies:

  • Arsenic And Old Lace (1944). I laughed non-stop. If you haven’t seen too many movies from this era, this is a great starter.
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Massive villain. Massive number of heroes. Massive number of things going on. Massive amount of special effects. I really enjoyed the movie once I stopped listening to the little critic in my head.
  • Black Panther (2018). If Avengers was “massive”, Black Panther was “rich”. I loved the setting (Africa), the characters, and the plot and conflict.
  • Blades of Glory (2007). Two male skating rivals, a sex addict and an effeminate blonde, are forced to work together to get back to the top.
  • Catch me if you can (2002). The life of Frank Abagnale, a con-man from the 1960s, who made millions by taking advantage of people’s trust and impersonating a lot of people.
  • Deadpool 2 (2018). F*****g hilarious (but not for your grandparents).
  • Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018). I don’t know how, but the series keeps getting better. And Tom Cruise, at 56, is still doing many of his own stunts.
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). I can’t have enough of The Force, and I found Solo less serious and more interesting than Episode VIII The Last Jedi.
  • Tag (2018). What if a group of friends kept playing “Tag, you’re it” well past college? A funny story about friendship and play.
  • The Seven Samurai (1954). A black and white movie from the 1950s, about samurais set in Japan in the 1580s. The plot, the acting, the photography are like nothing I’ve seen before. Now I understand why it’s ranked 20th in the IMDB Top 250.