2019 Is Almost Over! What I’ve Been Doing Other Than Blogging: Favorite Books, Shows, Podcasts

What It’s REALLY Like To Be Self-Employed on Ambergris Caye (For Me)

Or, perhaps more fitting-  FAIL:  How NOT to Stay Focused While Working From Home

Ahhh to be self-employed on an island in the Caribbean…sounds like heaven, right?  Yes.  It is.  Very much so.  And I am eternally grateful and totally surprised to be in that position today.

But…AND it’s a huge BUT for someone whose inner workings can be best described by this graphic:

As you can imagine there are distractions that would make self-guided work hard on Ambergris Caye. 

Luckily taking pretty pictures of pretty things IS some of my work.  (Above is the view I see 2-3x a day as I walk the dogs.  Distracting, right?)

But then – there are BOOKS.  (My favorite thing in the world is to read a book in a hammock or in bed…)

And as you can see…I’ve spent a good amount of time reading books.  (Yes, that says 67.)  But in my defense…I do 90% of my reading to fall asleep or when I wake up in the night.

And in 2019, I discovered podcasts.  Yes – the same podcasts that most people discovered 5 years ago.

AND, since the major upgrade in the internet on Ambergris Caye not THAT long ago (the end of 2017/beginning of 2018 brought a fiber optic cable to the island and speeds capable of supporting Netflix and other streaming services) – it’s been my first full year of streaming SHOWS.

It’s honestly pretty amazing that I get anything AT ALL done.

So I thought, since I spent what seems like a huge amount of time on these things, I’d share with you my favorite books, shows, and podcasts – the ones that really got me OBSESSED in 2019.

What I’ve been doing when I’m not writing my blog, or wasn’t working on my book (published as an Ebook in July and then as a paperback at the very end of October – and has sold over 950 copies on Amazon so far) or running back and forth between home and my home away from home – Jeff’s full time job, his flyfishing camp.

My Favorite Books on 2019

I’ve owned a Kindle for a few years now and while I fought it for too long, I now can’t imagine living without it.  I love owning books – real books – but living in Belize?  It’s just really really hard to get them down here.  (Try asking your friend to bring down 10 books in her luggage – it is NOT received well.)

This year I decided I was going to stop reading only “bargain books” – freebies or just books on sale – and spend money on the thing that I love most.  Buy the best sellers or books by authors that I love – even if they cost $10US or more.  Priorities.

Here are the books I gave 5 stars to over the year.

Know My Name – by Chanel Milller*

The Dearly Beloved- Cara Wall

Three Women – Lisa Taddeo*
The Girl with Seven Names – Hyonseo Lee
Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid *
Ask Again Yes – Mary Beth Keane
Dry – Augusten Burroughs (re-read)
A Sky Painted Gold – Laura Wood
Heavy: An American Memoir – Kiese Laymon
Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give – Ada Calhoun
Manhattan Beach – Jennifer Egan
The Woman in the Window – AJ Finn
Washington Black – Esi Edugyan *
Leopard at the Door – Jennifer McVeigh
The Idea of You by Robinne Lee (smut but I could not put it down) *

Please send me any book ideas that you LOVED.  I’m ALWAYS looking for a great book.

I LOVED all of these…but I put an asterisk next to the books that I’m still thinking about…

My Favorite Podcasts of 2019

I got into podcasts SO quickly…like I went from 0 to 100 on them.  And I now listen to them while driving the golf cart down from mile 7 north (where we live) to about Mile 1.5.  I then take off my headphones so that I’m not distracted while driving in more traffic close to town.

Here are the one that got me obsessed:

The Daily by the New York Times

I wish that the host of this podcast, Michael Barbaro, was my life coach.  He is an expert interviewer and so insightful as he expertly guides me thru BIG topics like Anti-Semitism in America or BREXIT in about 25 minutes.  My day is not complete if I don’t listen to this – it makes me feel smarter.

And then I became obsessed with true crime.


It’s about a murder in a small “shit town” in Alabama but mostly it’s about the main character – one of the weirdest, most fascinating person I’ve ever “met”.

The Mysterious Mr. Epstein

The more you know, the angrier it makes you.  Jeffrey Epstein totally didn’t kill himself.  This podcast digs deep!


I purposely know very little about American football – I can’t stand it.  But this story about Aaron Hernandez and how big football operates?  I CAN’T BELIEVE I DIDN’T KNOW THIS STORY BEFORE.  Holy crap.

More crime I was glued to:  To Live and Die in LA and The Shrink Next Door

And just other good ones:

Family Secrets

Oh I loved this…and it really made me think.  It’s about how secrets are like poison – even secrets that are kept for the best intentions.  Each episode is about how we keep secrets from friends and family (secrets like sexual abuse or adoptions) and keep secrets from ourselves and how that is almost always life altering.

Just fun and funny:  Armchair Expert and Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend

My Favorite TV Shows of 2019 (many of these are older but…new to me!)

I’m sure I’m missing some here…but I am so thankful for the ridiculously great amount of great shows that are on Netflix.  It’s silly.

The Crown (SO GOOD), Orange is the New Black (the middle few seasons are…they lost me.  But I went back and the last season is SOOOO great), Ozark, Sex Education, Narcos, Ray Donovan (so dark…so many awful characters…hard not to watch), Game of Thrones (duh), Unbelievable (coolest women cops ever), Peaky Blinders (first few seasons…goes off the rails later) and then true crime, again!  The Keepers and Making of a Murderer

Corny but great (meaning Jeff watched them and loved them but will be embarrassed I told you):  ATypical, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Grace and Frankie

And don’t even get me started on my favorite blogs or instagram accounts.  I can really bore you that way.

Please let me know what you loved this year – I’m ALWAYS looking for new favorites…

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