What have I been reading & watching? January 2021 edition.

Over the past year or so, I have been attending a monthly (originally weekly) virtual hangout session for Planners through the Illinois chapter of the American Planning Association. It has been a little savior of my sanity, being able to tackle the day-to-day life of planning in a pandemic with a diverse core group of planners from across the state. As a long time, self-diagnosed sufferer of imposter syndrome, there is something wonderfully reassuring about being able to connect with folks going through a markedly similar experience to yours.

We begin every session with a question that kicks off what quickly becomes a freewheeling discussion. In January, we discussed our goals for the year, which leads me to this. 2020 was all too easy to write off as a terrible, no-good, horrible year, and with good reason. But in the face of overwhelming disappointment, and a list a mile long of everything we didn’t get to do this year, it became all too easy to overlook the things we did get to do. So, my goal for this year is to capture the things I get to do that I enjoy. I’m starting small, with the movies, TV shows, and books I consume. Like the true plan-nerd I am, they’re all going into a big Excel spreadsheet.

For the books, I’ve already taken up the habit of writing a more detailed journal entry for each one that I complete. I think this really helps me to reflect and digest the lessons learned. For TV and movies, I want to produce a once-a-month recap, which is what this is. The rules are simple. If I didn’t finish it, it doesn’t count. For TV shows that means seasons/series, not episodes.

 So, what are the scores on the doors for January?

Books: 3

Ecocide: Kill the Corporation Before It Kills Us – David Whyte: Read my journal entry here.

Why We’re Polarized – Ezra Klein: Read my journal entry here.

Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari: I haven’t written a journal entry on this one yet but when I have, I’ll update the link here.

Movies: 9

Wonder Woman (2017):

I watched this just because I wanted to watch Wonder Woman 1984 while it was free on HBO Max. It’s a pretty fun movie, but I feel victim to looking at other reviews and blogs on it and they somewhat ruined it for me in that (spoilers) the twist ending doesn’t really land. It comes very close to making a good point that war in general is bad actually, and that there are a lot of reasons why the military industrial complex keeps on turning, but then it changes it’s mind and decides that actually all war can be stopped if we just kill the right big bad man.

Wonder Woman 1984:

I wanted to like this so much more than I did, but it just wasn’t as fun as I wanted it to be. Wonder Woman is a badass and feminist icon so I didn’t feel super great about the majority of the plot being about making her weak for a man? Pedro Pascal is a treasure though in everything he does.


This was adorable, and a great Pixar film, even if it followed the Disney tradition of having a Black character be transformed into something non-human. I thought the general message about finding your spark is something that we probably all needed to hear last year.

My Scientology Movie:

I love Louis Theroux. He is a national treasure and must be protected at all costs. This movie is terrifying and fascinating all at once. I’m still not fully sure I understand Scientology, but I’ve probably already said too much.

The Chronicles of Narnia Trilogy:

These were better when I was a kid and didn’t realize I was being slapped in the face with religious metaphor. Also when Prince Caspian loses his accent in the third movie it’s just weird.

The Social Network:

Pretty terrifying to watch this one after we’ve seen the terrifying things social media can do to our society, not going to lie. I’m someone who believes in social media as a great connector rather than a great divider, but it’s hard to not acknowledge the truth that’s staring us in the face as misinformation has gone unchecked, radicalizing many and forming a breeding ground for white supremacy. Probably what I’m least in favor of is the deification of big tech moguls like Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. It’s nice to have a movie that shows that these people are human, after all.

Oh, also not a good week to watch an Armie Hammer movie.

Enola Holmes:

This was cute and fun, and I like to see the cast of Torchwood in more things. It needs a sequel though, far too many loose ends.

TV Shows: 3

30 Rock:

This is kind of cheating because I definitely only had two episodes left of the final season when 2021 began but that’s when I finished it so in it goes. I like comedy and this was pretty much the last major comedy show I had yet to see (Only Sunny is still on the list, too). It was good but hasn’t aged well in parts. Kenneth Ellen Parcell was an absolute standout.

What We Do In The Shadows:

This was a recommendation from my boss and I am glad I listened. This had me in stitches. Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak, and Nate from The Office in the same cast is outstanding. I did not expect to like this as much as I did.

Schitt’s Creek:

This show filled the Good Place and Parks and Rec shaped whole in my heart. I’m just a sucker for sitcoms with characters that actually care about each other. I came into this one backwards, I actually decided to watch it after seeing Dan Levy in Happiest Season over Christmas and liking him a lot. This show is warm, and safe, and funny, and adorable. I have already purchased a “I am positively bedeviled with meetings et cetera” sticker for my day planner.

So that’s pretty much all the media I consumed in January. A lot of binge watching of safe, fun shows, because January is cold and I have been busy and tired. 3 books down for the month isn’t terrible, but I’d like to do more because I have 134 unread books between my physical shelves and my Kindle. If you’d like to take a look at them, check out my Goodreads profile. If you have any thoughts on what I should read or watch next, let me know!

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