A Blythe Coach

Inspiring Inputs: 2023 Reading, Listening, Viewing & Media

Having already published a general reflection on 2023 to the blog, A Beautiful Year of Slow Creation and Growth, here I’m recording impressions from my year in books, films, series, songs, and a variety of media inputs. Of course not all were stellar, but it can be fun to look back at the influence my viewing, listening, and reading has in my creative and personal life!

It’s just incredible the access we have to endless information in this day and age, to endless information. I try not to get overwhelmed by all the options, but focus on a mix of what I enjoy and expanding my exposure and perspective.

As a teaching artist, media such as music and video are key to my practice, and I also appreciate how cultural knowledge connects us socially in society.

2023 Media Favorites

This video above is a flip-through of my Reading, Music, and the Media Memories portion of my Monthly Bullet Journal Spreads for 2023.

Along the way I provide some commentary on which books, songs, films, and series I would recommend or enjoy again.

2023 Media Favorites video on YouTube

Tastes vary! What floats your boat might very well vary from what tickles my fancy and not everything I saw or listened to last year became a classic or favorite. Hopefully this provides a fun reference for me in the future, jogs your memory of your own influential media inputs such as past works or future goals like “to read,” “to watch” and other life lists.

2023 Media Faves

Chapter Time Stamps to jump ahead to what interests you:

01:30 Books Read & TBR, Goodreads

03:00 All the books I read in 2023

05:35 Music Playlists

08:30 January Media

11:08 February Media

13:00 March Media

14:45 April Media

15:30 May Media

16:25 June Media

17:30 July Media

19:15 August Media

20:20 September Media

21:50 October Media

24:20 November Media

26:30 December Media

“Navy Blue” Dance Concert by Oona Doherty & OD Works at Schauspiel Koeln in October

Live Performances & Exhibits

Here are the highlights of the year for live special exhibitions, theatre, and dance:

  • “Susanna” at Museum Ludwig was a fascinating exploration of this historic figure in art and culture
  • “Reset: A Day Without Men” was a Theatre Piece with integration of audio and video at Studio Trafique, both conceptually and technically compelling
  • Finally we were able to see “The Nutcracker” ballet, originally scheduled for the year prior to be performed by a Russian traveling company (Russisches Stadtballett), who were replaced by a Ukrainian troupe. The small group of hardworking dancers themselves did a great job, but there was no set design, few props, and low-quality costumes (including some racist and out-of-date references) which failed to add magic to the story. At least our friends, for whom it was their first live ballet performance, were impressed but I was disappointed by the lack of love in the production values, having seen and participated in superior “Nutcracker” peformances over the years.
  • For example, Tanzschule Tanzraum’s “Alice in Wonderland” Ballet, produced by fellow educator Vivi Obadashian in November, was a far better, more magical and experience though an amateur performance. So proud of the work of our students and teachers!
  • “Navy Blue” by Oona Daugherty/OD Works was the standout dance performance of the year, which we were lucky to catch due to tickets from friends. Beautiful, well-polished, politically relevant, emotionally moving. Including an after-show talk which further revealed the diversity and depth of the dancers. I would love to do a full review of such inspiring works, but not in this format.

Sports & Games

These events I enjoyed in real-time but virtually, watching on television or online:

  • Sumo Championship – my parents turned me on to the wild world of Sumo highlights on NHL and now we’re hooked!
  • Eddie Aikau Big Surf Competition – so cool that it got to happen this year! Since the conditions have to be just right, it’s not a given, and wow is it exhilarating and terrifying to watch the competitors ride monster waves.
  • Women’s World Cup Final – very climactic
  • Stray – it is a video game about a cat in a world of robots and though I am not a gamer (watched over Ela’s shoulder as I did last year with Red Dead Redemption), it is a lovingly-rendered scene and adorable characters

Reading & Books

I find books to read all over, including special offers through Bookbub, podcasts like Soul+Wit, YouTube creators such as uncarley, Grace Nevitt, and more.


  • Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling by Matthew Dicks and Dan Kennedy was especially valuable and full of excercises and tools as I prepared to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo/Memoir and continued the journey to compelling writing. Dicks asserts about storytelling, “This is a much more selfless act than conventional wisdom would have you believe. It’s a little like leaving a note in the logbook on the trail that others will be hiking after you, a note that might give the next hiker a clue: ‘Keep your eyes open for rattlesnakes by the bluff at the two-mile mark’ or ‘There’s fresh water at the fire lookout if you’re running low’…” Supplemental materials also available online, such as Dick’s YouTube video How to Tell a Compelling Story
  • The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield I avoided for so long due to the title, but it has a great message for creative people and quick listen as an audiobook. Will refer back to his advice about “going pro” again in the future as a professional teaching artist! A good nugget: “Rule of thumb: the more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
  • Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins is another inspiring business book for creative souls: “Creative people tend to live in the world of ideas and possibilities. Because of this, we might struggle with a lack of focus, but this is not always a bad thing. A wandering mind can be an asset, if you learn how to use it.”
  • The Go Giver and The Go Giver Leader by Bob Burg and John David, which I listened to as audiobooks have a good message of service, though a bit pedantic: “Your true worth is determined by how much more  you give in value than you take in payment.”
  • I also bought a few eBooks as birthday presents to myself, including The Creative Act by Rick Rubin which will continue to be a reference in the future and also has a lot of supplementary promotional materials on YouTube
  • Also purchased Yoga Through the Year by Jilly Shipway “Each of us can reinvent and reimagine yoga in a way that is inclusive and respectful to all genders and the earth.” and
  • Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi, both of which will help me continue to deepen my yoga practice in the future
My 2023 Books Read Bullet Journal Spread



  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo kicked off my year and was a fantastic start! I seem to be hooked by Taylor Jenkins-Reed’s novels, read a couple the year prior as well
  • Carrie Soto is Back also by Taylor Jenkins-Reed, about a tennis comeback and so much more
  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking was delightful, action-packed and adventurous, would be good for scary season though it is for a more youthful audience
  • The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton seemed like my kind of thing, not bad, but not quite up to my expectations
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy we re-read for my 42nd birthday (I know where my towel is!) and it was Ela’s first time in English
  • Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean is a touching Rom-Com that takes place in Portland, Oregon
  • The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna was a heartwarming and modern supernatural mystery tale
  • The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall is a stirring romantic adventure on the high seas
  • Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck is a very dramatically magical witchy romantic comedy
  • Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn, who is also the author of the Veronica Speedwell series that I enjoy, will have to check out more of her writing
  • Thrice the Brind’d Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley was a book I put on hold during spooky season and tons of fun, but unfortunately not the first of the series about this young heroine (I’ve got the first book on hold now)
  • This Book Belongs To is a cute tale of adventure and love, got it for free through Bookbub!
  • Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan is an emotional Rom-Com
  • Yellowface by R.F. Kuang was a psychological thriller with an unsympathetic (to me) main character, which I found difficult to take as a reader but excellently delivered
  • The Mystery of Mistletoe Hall by Benedict Brown was a charming cozy with a youthful hero


  • Veronica Speedwell Cozy Mysteries by Deanna Raybourn are a slow-burn Rom-Com series led by a female Lepidopterist and crime-fighting adventurist, fast moving and fun. In 2023 I finished A Perilous Undertaking, A Treacherous Curse, A Dangerous Collaboration, A Murderous Relation, An Impossible Impostor, and A Sinister Revenge.
  • Mahu Gay Police Crime / Murder Mystery series of five books, which takes place in Honolulu in the 90’s written by a Floridian. It’s not perfect, but it put me in that place in those days and introduced me to a genre I wasn’t familiar with before. Especially delightful to read before, during, and after a trip home!
  • American Royals third in the series by by Katharine McGee, lots of fun as a Rom-Com, well-written.
2023 Bullet Journal Spread of Books Read and T.B.R.

Listening & Music


One of my personal accomplishments of the year in music was that I began transitioning from Spotify to YouTube (Unlimited) Music as my home base for managing music and playlists for teaching and personal use.

It’s been a pain, but is more compatible with the organizations and work I’m doing currently. Below are a mix of playlists old and new that were in heavy rotation last year.

My most-enjoyed playlists in 2023 were:

Songs & Pieces of Music

  • “Float” by Janelle Monae
  • “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus
  • “Bloody Mary” by Lady Gaga
  • “I Wanna Be Yours” by the Arctic Monkeys
  • “I Made You Look” by Megan Trainor
  • “Unholy” by Sam Smith
  • “Never Ending Song” by Conan Gray
  • “Rush” by Troye Sivan
  • “in my head” by mad tsai
  • “Paint the Town Red” by Dojacat
  • “Padam Padam” by Kylie Minogue
  • “Chant of the Islands” by Fiji
  • “Catch a Tan” by Kimie
  • “Big Island Moonlight” by the Brown Boys
  • “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles
  • “Strawberry Bubblegum” by Justin Timberlake
  • “The Sea” by Morcheeba
  • “Swing” by Zero7
  • “Light My Fire” by The Doors
  • “Blue Moon” by Ella Fitzgerald
  • “Ghosts” by Florence + the Machine
  • “Autumn’s Waltz” by Shoshana Michel
  • “This is Halloween” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas”
  • “Season of the Witch” by Donovan
  • “How You Like That” by Blackpink
  • “In the Night” by the weeknd
  • “WAP” by Cardi B
  • “Jealousy” FKA Twiggs
  • “Kelly Watch the Stars” by AIR


Writing this article makes me realize that though a number of Podcasts and YouTube videos were influential for me over the course of the year, I don’t yet have a good system in place for tracking the most valuable works to pass along. Those subscribed to my weekly email newsletter are the first to learn of resources that light me on fire, but after that I tend to lose track.

For now, noting that the information is only as good as my ability to apply it to my life and share with others, so this will be a goal for the future. Noting in my Bullet Journal helps, but I imagine my monthly review blogs which I started in 2024 will also be a good home for such information.

Stay tuned!


Here I have more of a log of what we watched without further commentary, but in the video I provide more context:


  • “White Noise”
  • “Puss in Boots” (Gestiefelte Kater) in the theater
  • “You People”
  • “A Girl Called Birdie”
  • “Sea Beast”
  • “Your Place or Mine”
  • “Superstar” an oldie/cult classic that I saw for the first time in 2023
  • “Murder Mystery II”
  • “Empire of Light”
  • “They Cloned Tyrone”
  • New “Guardians of the Galaxy”
  • “Renfield” (new Dracula movie)
  • “Elemental” Disney Pixar
  • “Barbie” in the theatre
  • “Bruised” by Halle Berry
  • “We Have a Ghost”
  • “Love Hard”
  • “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight”
  • “Moonshot”
  • New “Indiana Jones”


  • “White Lotus”
  • “Only Murders in the Building”
  • “Florida Man”
  • “Killing Eve”
  • “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
  • “Schitts Creek”
  • “Dragonfly Lane”
  • “Alaska Daily”
  • “What We Do in the Shadows”
  • “Oroville”
  • “Golden Girls”
  • “Naked and Afraid”
  • “Queer Eye” Season 7
  • “American Gladiators: Muscle & Mayhem”
  • “Godless”
  • “Sex Education”
  • “Forensic Files”
  • “Last Stop Larima” Netflix Series
  • “The Case of Jenna…
  • “Down for Love”
  • “Bodies”
  • “Download”
  • “Rick and Morty” Thanksgiving Episode
  • “Princess Charming” German Lesbian Reality Series
  • “The Ultimatum: Queer Love” Reality


  • Never Too Small Channel is our favorite place for minimalist and space-saving design
  • Coffeehouse Crime Channel has a bevy of true crime
  • World Ballet Day streamed live on YouTube, and I wanted to write up observations about what I saw and possibly record video and publish an article. That hasn’t happened yet, but these folks did post their own World Ballet Day highlights and I look forward to next year!
  • “All My Homies Hate Skrillex” YouTube Documentary is a great one about the evolution of music and popular culture
  • JashiiCorrin Channel for Bullet Journaling
  • Mark Your Pages Channel (formerly Men Who Bullet) for Bullet Journaling
  • HAY! Studio Channel for Bullet Journaling
  • Erin Smith Channel for Bullet Journaling

Media Goals for 2024

My big-picture, long-term goals haven’t changed this year, but I will be continuing to pursue them in patient, persistent, and strategic ways. I’ve chosen Twenty-four 24’s for 2024 and some have to do with inspiring inputs as well as consistent output.

Having already declared a Word of the Year in this article, next up will be jumping into action and creating systems to support the journey of the coming year. Glad to be on this journey together!

A little birdy told me we are going to fly in 2024!

Questions for Reflection

  • Do you keep track of the books you read or want to, films and series to watch, music to listen to, games to watch or play?
  • What are you enjoying and looking forward to in terms of media, reading, listening, and viewing?
  • What outstanding books did you read last year or recently?
  • Which films, series, or pieces of music have most impacted you?
  • How do you reflect on the year past?

Resources for Further Exploration

I’ve got oodles more free resources for you here on the blog, on the A Blythe Coach YouTube Channel, on social media and live! The best way to keep up-to-date on everything I’m coaching, teaching, creating and sharing as well as my favorite work from other creators is to subscribe to my weekly email newsletter. Would love to be connected to you there, here, on social media, online or in-person!

Blythe Stephens, MFA & Bliss Catalyst
she/her or they/them
Creator of A Blythe Coach @ablythecoach
helping multi-passionate creatives dance through their difficulties,
taking leaps of faith into fulfillment through coaching, yoga & dance education

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