Best Of 2020


Staff Picks: Best Books, Movies and TV of 2020

A look back at what we've read, watched, and listened this year.

  • December 21st 2020

In a year like no other, we had more time than ever to consume media. Below are some shout outs from the Aspen Ideas staff. Some of our faves are heady and serious, others are unapologetically escapist! In no particular order—and with a nod to some oldies that helped to smooth our frayed 2020 nerves—we hope you’ll enjoy this quirky and not so comprehensive list.


Homeland Elegies Ayad Akhtar

Born a Crime Trevor Noah

An Indigenous People's History of the United States Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

The Overstory Richard Powers

A Promised Land Barack Obama

Home Body Rupi Kaur

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America Ijeoma Oluo

Midnight Library Matt Haig 

Naturally Tan Tan France 

The New One: Painfully True Stories from a Reluctant Dad Mike Birbiglia and J. Hope Stein

Churchill: A Walk With Destiny Andrew Roberts

Eleanor David Michaelis

The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels Jon Meacham

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents Isabel Wilkerson

A Burning Megha Majumdar

Nickel Boys Colson Whitehead

These Truths: A History of the United States Jill Lepore

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz Erik Larson

Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy (Audible version read by Maggie Gyllenhaal)

TV Shows

The West Wing (HBO Max)

Schitt’s Creek (Netflix)

The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)

The Crown (Netflix)

Explained (Vox)

Coastal Elites (HBO)

Derry Girls (Netflix)

Atypical (Netflix)

Seinfeld (Hulu)


Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker (Netflix)

AlphaGo (YouTube)

From Our Family to Yours (Disney+)

My Octopus Teacher (Netflix)

13th (Netflix)

Game Changers (Netflix)

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)

Elf (Hulu)


According to Need 99% Invisible

Guns, Germs, and Steel Context with Brad Harris

Explained: How a Candidate Officially Becomes the President The Lincoln Project

How Do We Add States? Civics 101

Before The Shot In the Arm Planet Money

Rebecca Traister Is Still Good and Mad Undistracted with Brittney Packnett Cunningham

The Case of the Missing Hit Reply All

How Immunity Works Social Distance

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