My 2020 reading and listening list

I started 2020 as I ended 2019, with a stack of books by my bed, a load of queued up podcasts, websites bookmarked to read and a stack of magazines to read and one or two of all of above on various wish lists.

Here are 20, a few from each, that I’m excited to join me on my journey through the year ahead.


Apartamento Magazine

I’m a big fan of Apartamento Magazine – well-done interviews with creative people in their homes, with lovely photography and weird and wonderful homes and beautiful design. I have a subscription to the mag but the website sustains me in between issues. It’s lovely and I’ll look at it once a week or so through 2020.

Lego Ideas

Lego is the best. And Lego ideas is where very creative people pitch new Lego sets with incredibly detailed images and people vote for the ones they love. Once a year they’ll select a handful of these sets to be made and it makes me very very happy. This year I’ll buy a Lego model of the International Space Station which started as an idea a couple of years ago in a Lego fanatics head, then onto the Lego Ideas website and into the world in 2020.

A Sense of Place Blog

Our mate Ronnie’s blog, A Sense of Place is a treasure. It is Liverpool as Ronnie sees it, and in his perfectly human way as he wanders around he tells the story of the city and many of the people and places that I love here – many of which I’ve discovered as a result of Ronnie’s blog.

Liverpool Long Reads

My mate, Robin Brown, launched Liverpool Long Reads last year with a series of 4 long articles, one of which I wrote. Liverpool Long Reads will return this year and I’m thrilled that it will because at least 3 of the 4 articles from the first series were brilliantly written and skilfully edited by Robin. Liverpool Long Read articles look at things that really matter here and take the time to report on them thoroughly. I can’t wait for the next season of them.

Atlas of the Future

‘Discover the talent and energy solving tomorrow’s challenges’ at Atlas of the Future. The Atlas is full of hopeful stories of people and projects doing things that improve the world in responsible and sustainable ways. What a joy.


Palaces for People, Eric Klinenberg

This has been on my reading list for ages after I listened to a podcast episode by the same name by 99% Invisible. Libraries are important and their closing all over the place and so how can we save them and turn them again into places that might be perceived as palaces for people – I’m very hopeful there are answers in here.

Our National Parks, John Muir

I bought this on holiday in Boston last year and it’s been sat on my bedside table ever since. By putting this book on this list, I’m committing to finally reading it. I love the fact that the national parks in the states have been called, ‘America’s Best Idea’. I think national parks are a great idea, too.

School of Life, On being nice

If everyone was a bit nicer more often, the world would be a significantly better place. This book can get you, or the meanest bastard you know, started.

My Name Is Red, Orhan Pamuk

I was introduced to this book during a great conversation about Istanbul, a city I am desperate to visit, with Roy from Pacific Stream/AYCH. The last book he recommended to me, Lake Wobegon Days, was great and so I instantly ordered it and have it sat in the pile on my bedside table. I have no doubts it’ll be wonderful, and if it isn’t I’ll think twice about Roy’s book recommendations next time. I’ve committed to reading one fiction and then one non-fiction book in a row as a system this year and so this is next up in my fiction list.

EPA Graphic Standards System, Manual Standards

The EPA is very important and this book is very beautiful. This one is still on my wish list and my birthday is at the end of March. Just so you know. There is also a National Parks graphics standards system by the same publisher which is also on my wish list. And Christmas will be here before we know it, too. Just so you know.


99% Invisible

Extremely well-told stories about the way things are built, made and the hidden design and architecture and technologies that we often overlook but are actually incredibly fascinating. I listened to one this morning about Vantablack, the blackest black colour that reflects no light, one yesterday about the importance of shade in cities and maybe my favourite podcast episode in the last year was a 99% Invisible episode about the Great Bitter Lake Association.

Radio Diaries

Radio Diaries episodes are first person audio stories and historical tales. They mainly document ordinary life, a perspective on a thing that happened. I’ve listened to stories about Nazis in Manhattan, Ski troops in the war, prison guards, Spiro Agnew and his attack on the press, Someone who dropped a wrench in a nuclear missile silo and the working tapes of Studs Terkel, a historian that documented the lives of workers across the states in the 70s. The stories are varied, but always well-told and fascinating. Excited to see what they have lined up for 2020.

People Fixing the World

A podcast by the BBC that looks at projects from around the world that solve problems in surprising and interesting ways. I have loads of these saved on my podcast app and I’m planning on spending a very enjoyable weekend morning soon with good coffee and a load of episodes in a row.

Cautionary Tales

We learn by making mistakes and Cautionary Tales tells the stories of human errors and catastrophes from history and what we might learn from them. These are very well-told stories, engaging and at times funny stories. Over Christmas I listened to stories about airship races, jazz music, blitzkrieg and the Wall Street Crash – thoroughly enjoyed them all.


Radiolab stories are an eclectic mix of stories that look at the world in a way that only Radiolab podcasts do. Sciency (sic), intelligent and fun radio. They’ve been doing Radiolab since 2002 and so it’s very very well done.


Whalebone – Space Issue

I have been following Whalebone on Instagram for a while and bought a copy of the Space Issue for someone recently. I’ve been impressed by the look of their issues, the design and the stories and the way they sell it and talk online. I’m going to the states this year and shall return with as many back issues of this as I can get my hands on. That space issue is a thing of beauty.

The Heritage Post

I committed to buying myself more issues of this as I put this list together. The Heritage Post has many things that I like in it – cool old bits that people collect, weird old fashioned brands and good denim and workwear. The one issue I have is beautiful and every time I see a new one online I tell myself that I should treat myself to it and then forget. By the time you read this, I will have the latest issue on order.

Positive News

Positive News is brilliant and we should all be reading more constructive journalism – it is good for our brains and better for our souls. I’ve enjoyed all that I’ve read, online and in print, from Positive News and it is the type of magazine that we should celebrate and keep going.

Scottie Press

We were fortunate to work with Scottie Press editor, Joel, on the newly redesigned Scottie Press issue 445 at the end of last year. Scottie Press is Britain’s longest-running community newspaper and Joel has a vision for it that I’m very excited by. Community newspapers are very important and the Scottie Press is a gem of a community newspaper.

Gentle Rain

The best city mag in existence – Gentle Rain magazine is a magazine about Hamburg, Germany. I have all four issues of this, buying each one on release, and I love them. Lovely stories, great design and photography. Hamburg looks amazing and my only reference for this is Gentle Rain magazine. Nicely done.

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