Alex Stephens
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2021 Content Roundup


2021 was a fairly light year for me in terms of content consumption, be it books, movies, TV or whatever else. As a result, this list is drawing from a much smaller pool than it might in other years, but I thought it'd be worth writing up briefly just for posterity if nothing else. So, here it is, enjoy!


Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter

Let's not beat around the bush – this is probably my favourite (non-fiction) book, ever. Hofstadter explores ideas surrounding the concepts of intelligence and consciousness, touching on topics ranging across music, mathematics, art, computation, philosophy, language, physics and much, much more. The chapters are interspersed with whimsical fictional dialogues, which provide layered metaphorical introductions to the concepts that Hofstadter then develops in subsequent chapters.

This book was an absolute tour de force, and I can't imagine there is anything else much like it out there. I learned a ton from it, it shifted my perspective on what consciousness actually is, and its uniquely creative approach to structure and form made it an absolute joy to read.

Drawing Hands by M. C. Escher


Inside by Bo Burnham

Bo Burnham was already one of my favourite comedians before this year – I've come back to his specials what. and Make Happy too many times to count and I still love them. I was pretty excited in the leadup to Inside, and oh boy did I have no idea what was coming for me.

The reason I love Inside so much is that it seems to capture so many things that everyone in my generation has been feeling below the surface but hasn't quite been able to express, and makes them all uncomfortably real. Musically and visually, it's absolutely outstanding, and it boggles the mind to think that the whole thing was written, filmed and edited by just one person.

And on top of all of this, it's freaking hilarious! The reaction video skit, for example, one of the many bits in inside that had me both cracking up and thinking, "Damn, how does he come up with this shit?"

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Didn't expect this to be one of the best cinema experiences of my life, but here we are! Saw this on opening night, and besides maybe Avengers: Endgame I've never had a better time in the cinema than I did with No Way Home. This movie was an incredibly well written tribute to the character of Spider-Man, bringing back characters from previous movies not just as cheap fan service, but as genuine major players in the multiverse narrative. This movie felt like it gave satisfying closure to every character that it brought back, and is easily up there with Endgame as my favourite MCU movie.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Remember when we all thought Infinity War was the most ambitious crossover event in history?

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

This one made my list last year, and here it is again! 2021 saw the eight and final season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and I was glad to see that they ended it on a high note. I thought the season was pretty great on the whole, and the final scene between Jake and Holt definitely had me in tears. Outstanding end to a brilliant show.

The Witcher

Since Game of Thrones hit its peak in around season 5-6, I've been craving another solid fantasy TV series to get drawn into, and it's starting to feel like The Witcher might be it. I found the first season was a bit all over the place, but this year I felt that the second season really hit its stride with the focus on Geralt's relationship with Ciri, and I loved all of the parts involving the other Witchers at Kaer Morhen.

From what I've read online, it seems like fans of the book series aren't so thrilled with where the series is going, so perhaps I'm being overly optimistic, but I'm hoping we see some good stuff in the coming seasons... Then again, maybe this is just me trying to make myself feel better about how bad the Wheel of Time TV series has been – those books were some of my favourites of all time, and it was devastating seeing how poorly adapted it was in its first season. Fingers crossed that The Witcher doesn't go the same way...


Global Triathlon Network and Global Cycling Network on YouTube

This one is much more of a pragmatic inclusion on the list, but as far as "content that shaped 2021" goes, this has to be on there for me. Getting into triathlon was one of the highlights of my year, and it wouldn't have happened without these two YouTube channels. I learned a ton from watching their videos, and they made me excited to push myself out on new adventures, so I'm grateful that I discovered both of them and excited to see where they take me next!

Thanks for reading!

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