Medallion Status by John Hodgman (non-fiction, audiobook)
I really enjoyed Hodgman's previous book, Vacationland, when I read it in January 2018, and his follow up didn't disappoint. This was the first book this year that I found myself making time for, rather than it just being the thing that played when I had time to listen.
It's all about voice and tone. Hodgman is self-effacing, funny and just honest enough not to stiffle that humour.
Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa (novel, audiobook)
Tonally, this comes across as a comedy in a tragic setting (contemporary Syria). It lets you slip into this world, and follow Bolbol and his siblings as they try and transport their father's corpse across the war zone, bear its frustrations and absurdities, and experience something of what it is like the have civil war take root in your country.
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (novel, audiobook)
It's very interesting to hear Vuong talk about the use of biographical fact for this novel and the power derived from this.
As a standalone work, it is powerful. It doesn't have a traditional narrative drive, which is probably what I was looking for at this time of year / in my mental state.
Doggerland by Ben Smith (novel, audiobook)
Smith tells his tale of the near future (probably a couple of decades hence) in simple prose. The protagonist is referred to as the boy. The business that he and his grandfather work for, maintaining an offshore windfarm, is The Corporation. But at a certain point this simplicity becomes vagueness - the social / economic / environmental breakdown that has occurred isn't ever really explained. And so the lasting memory of this book is one of vagueness.
FILM & TV
The Leftovers Season 2 - so gooood. The best description I've read about season 2 is that it's Damon Lindelof doing fan fiction based on Tom Perrota's novel (which season 1 was based on), just as he used the Watchmen graphic novel as a base to riff away and come up with the single season of goodness that was "his" Watchmen.
Silicon Valley Season 6
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Toy Story 3*
And a bunch of other forgettable movies watched at other people's homes during the summer break :)