My 2018 Recommendations

At the end of each episode of Animal Spirits, Michael and I give our recommendations for things we’ve been reading or watching. I’ve also been known to give a review on Twitter or here on the blog.

So I decided to put together a list of my favorite recommendations for TV shows, movies, and books I’ve consumed over the past year.

Favorite TV shows:

  • Succession (HBO): This is already one of the best business shows ever. I binged this one and it’s the type of show where you feel disappointed when it’s over because you know everything else pales in comparison. Cousin Greg and brother-in-law Tom as my new favorite comedic relief duo on TV.
  • Waco (Paramount Network): The story of the stand-off between David Koresh and the FBI/ATF was wild. I was too young to pay much attention when this occurred so a lot of the story was new to me and nothing like I remembered. Tim Riggins was amazing as Koresh.
  • Bodyguard (Netflix): So good. See my review here.
  • Game of Thrones (HBO): Obligatory. I’ve been with this show since day one and can’t remember three-quarters of the characters names but the dragons were unleashed last season and I can’t wait for the final season.
  • Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu): This might be the best show on right now. It’s dark but if you can get beyond that it’s addicting. The ending to the 2nd season was phenomenal.
  • Dark (Netflix): This show blew my mind, so much so that after watching it by myself I rewatched the entire season with my wife (and picked up a bunch of stuff I missed the first time). It makes your head hurt thinking about it but in a good way.
  • Escape at Dannemora (Showtime): This one gets a premium for being based on a true story — think a real-life Shawshank prison break.
  • This is Us (NBC): My one sappy show. I won’t even lie, I love it. Randall is one of my favorite characters on any show right now.

Underrated TV Shows:

  • Barry (HBO): This is nothing you would expect from Bill Hader but is sneaky good.
  • Casual (Hulu): The fourth and final season of this one about a dysfunctional family was excellent. It took place a few years into the future and had a bunch of smart takes on where things could be headed. Four seasons was a perfect length for this type of show.
  • The Americans (FX): I didn’t love the finale but I came away satisfied and the final season made up for the last two seasons which were a little slow.
  • Forever (Amazon): I can’t explain why I liked this show. It was boring and slow at times but it was so unique I came away liking it after we finished. Considering Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen were the leads it was much different than I expected.

Books (Non-Fiction):

  • The Half-Life of Facts by Samuel Arbesman: This one is applicable to finance in oh so many ways. It shows how facts change as our knowledge gets updated over time through trial and error. Much of what we assume is fact today could very well be proven wrong in the future. This book is full of excellent examples. More here.
  • Rocket Men by Robert KursonHands down the best book I read this year. The story of Apollo 8 would make an awesome movie. Kurson is quickly rising up the ranks of my favorite authors. More here.
  • Peak by Anders EricssonEricsson’s idea of deliberate practice about how to improve your skills in a number of endeavors is one of my favorite new concepts I’ve learned this year.
  • Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-DavidowitzI dog-eared and highlighted as much from this book as any I read this year. Full of counterintuitive examples which use data to show why conventional wisdom on commonly held beliefs are often wrong. One of my favorites was how Super Bowl ads are worth the money.
  • Fortune’s Children by Arthur Vanderbilt: This is one of the best personal finance books that wasn’t meant to be a personal finance book I’ve ever read. It details how the money handed down from Cornelius Vanderbilt did nothing but harm to his descendants. This was some kind of foreshadowing here by Cornelius Vanderbilt: “Any fool can make a fortune,” the Commodore had told his son William, whom he still called Billy, shortly before he died. “It takes a man of brains to hold on to it after it is made.” More here.
  • Factfulness by Hans RoslingIf you need a pick-me-up to remind yourself how much better things are than you see on the news or in social media, this is your book. More here.
  • Born Standing Up by Steve Martin: Martin is such thoughtful storyteller. More here.
  • I Must Say by Martin Short: A great companion book to Martin’s since these two are best friends. More here.

Books (Fiction):


  • A Quiet Place: One of the best thrillers I’ve seen in years and it was only 90 minutes long (most movies are too long in my humble opinion). That’s honestly all I could come up with. Most movies just aren’t very good anymore because it’s all comic book sequels or re-makes (although I did enjoy Deadpool 2). Luckily, TV shows have more than picked up the slack in the entertainment department.

Send your favorite 2018 recs to

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