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In this week’s newsletter: my annual top 100 list, a New Year’s Greeting, books I loved, and more...

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A newsletter from the desk of Austin Kleon
in this new life you will be changed

Hey y’all,

If you’re reading this, you made it to the year 2021. Congratulations! It was no small feat. Here are 10 things I thought were worth sharing on this very first day of the new year:

  1. 100 things that made my year: 2020 edition.
     
  2. In case you missed it: 20 great books I read in 2020. (For this week’s Bookshelf, I wrote about Charles Portis’s True Grit.)
     
  3. If you’re ambitious and you made a New Year’s Resolution other than “try to stay alive,” here’s a 31-day challenge chart to help you get started. (Just remember that February resolutions are just as good.)
     
  4. The best thing I read this week was Lawrence Wright’s “The Plague Year,” a riveting 30,000+ words about the USA’s failed pandemic response. (Even more reading: Ted Gioia’s list of favorite online essays in 2020 and Oliver Burkeman’s list of wisdom for 2021.)
     
  5. Happy Public Domain Day!
     
  6. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much TV, but I ended up with a handful of posts about filmmaking: how Elf was shot with forced perspective, the art of the “gross ups” in Spongebob Squarepants, and how Frederick Wiseman makes his documentaries.
     
  7. Ear candy: two new Four Tet albums, Parallel and 871; a random Kraftwerk remixes album; a 1995 Arthur Russell show; BBC Radio 6 takeovers with Billy Nomates, Sleaford Mods, Iggy Pop, Robyn, and others; SFJ’s year-end list, and a pink oyster playing a modular synthesizer.
     
  8. Eye candy: My wife installed this smart LED light in my son’s noise nook and it is so cool.
     
  9. RIP to the great MF DOOM. I loved his stuff. (I was just enjoying XMAS DOOM last week.) When I lived in Cambridge, England in 2004, I used to walk to college with “Crazy World” (off his King Geedorah album) on a loop. Madvillainy, his collaboration with Madlib, is a total classic. (Time to re-read this Ta-Nehisi Coates profile from 2009.)
     
  10. Please enjoy this New Year’s message from our backyard. (Skip to the Instagram video if you don’t want any spoilers.)
Thanks for reading. This newsletter is free, but not cheap. To show your support, forward it to someone who’d like it, buy a book, buy some of my favorite gear (I get a cut), or buy a t-shirt.

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xoxo,

Austin
a new year's message

Austin Kleon is the author of Steal Like An Artist and other books.

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