2017 Favorites: Books, Films, Music

Hey, everyone! Dropping in a few year-ender posts before we officially close 2017. To be honest, it’s not sinking in that the year is actually ending. But here we are—and another year will say hello in a few weeks.
This year was different for me. Apart from working on a new set of projects (and being thrown into a lot of challenging situations in the process), I’ve found that my personal taste and interests have changed over time (see: 2016 Favorites here). I therefore justify that creating some sort of yearly roundup determines the state I am in (life-wise?), and the type of content I like consuming. Here are a few of my favorites, all compiled in this post. Read on to find out more.
Being an author has made me extra curious about authors and the work that they put out. Sadly, I wasn’t able to read much this year—something I vow to change once 2018 kicks in. Blaming it on my inability to focus on analog tools now that I check my phone frequently than ever. (Ugh, social media. Ughhh. Anyway)
Although, for a change, I stopped reading instructional books and settled more on self-help and other things that are far off my range of work (I write non-fiction, instructional books). Here are my favorites:

Flow: Love & Life

Always a loyal fan of Flow because their articles focus on mindfulness and being in the now. Every so often they’d come up with special issues such as this one called “Love & Life”, which I particularly enjoyed. The book tackles about love (lol), friendships, family relationships…I love it. It’s very insightful.

Daily Rituals by Mason Currey

I was arguing with myself in Strand Book Store as I was deciding on getting this book or not. Of course, I got it—and it’s been an interesting read. I’ve always been generally curious about a person’s routine, and this book talks about how people’s daily rituals shape their creative process. The takeaway I got? Most of the prominent artists, writers and musicians take naps. And wake up earlier than the rest of the world does.

*asks self how is that possible*

Things Are What You Make of Them by Adam J. Kurtz

I’ve been reading Adam J. Kurtz’s columns in Design*Sponge since last year and was wondering why it wasn’t turned into a book. (Lol, #marketing much) Well, here it is in book form! I love how this pocket-sized book contains tidbits of advice that I often forget especially since I do creative work 24/7. Also: I got goosebumps reading the last part of the book. It’s that good.

Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

Don’t kill me—I only managed to pick up this book around May this year, despite hearing so much good reviews about it. WHY? I don’t know. But I’m glad that I did—definitely one of my favorite books (of all time) because like Sophia, I was that girl who dreamed big but was underestimated when I started running a business at a young age. X years later, I still remember my 17-year-old self and I’d tell her she did good.

Also: can we all take a moment to love Sophia and her badass self? I think that’s why her business ventures end up being successful (after numerous challenges and obstacles). So much respect for her.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Reread this book as I was doing some “readsearch” and working on my Graphika Manila talk. It’s still one of my favorite creative-centric titles. Always been a loyal fan of Austin Kleon (I read his blog every day!) and this book is always a good reminder to never stop doing art and—wait for it—showing your work. *pun intended*

Lost in NYC

Bought a copy because I was going to New York then (I have, here’s a post about it.)

Definitely a good short read, featuring offbeat places in NYC (not the usual). Also love that there are free postcards at the back!

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

[my only fiction book this year lol]

After sooo long, John Green finally released a new book! Imagine my excitement when this was released last October—I immediately went to NBS to get a copy. I locked myself up for two weekends and finished it and it was just so good.

The story tackles a more sensitive topic—mental health. I think that’s why I appreciated it more. There’s still the whole YA/teenage thing going on but I find that it has more mature thinking and for someone who’s not a teenager anymore (lol) I really liked the book.

Also, trivia: Paper Towns is my favorite but I’m going to go ahead and say this is now my favorite John Green book.

On Love by Alain de Botton

So, I read this for personal reference. Personal reference? HAHAHA

While I’ve never been in love, this book gives a clear account of what it feels to be in love, and the complications that come with it. I started reading this (bought this way back in 2014) in the hopes of getting a better concept of what having a relationship looks like—and it’s definitely not like the movies, for sure.

Series + Films

I have my friends to thank for all the series recommendations. Again, I never really have time to watch series unless I am properly convinced (forced???) to do so. So my attention span probably stayed when I started watching these earlier this year.


Finally, a series about creative professionals!

My favorites are Paula Scher (Episode 6: Graphic Design) and Christoph Niemann (Episode 1: Illustration). Both such inspiring individuals.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Full disclosure: By all means, I am not a fan of dystopian-themed films (except The Hunger Games lol) or series but this one was highly recommended by my best friend (she was like, “Ab! You HAVE to watch it.”) so I gave it a shot and….I finished in 2 days?!?

I think overall the thing about The Handmaid’s Tale is there’s a big probability that it may happen IRL. Which is why it’s so scary (but okay for the record love the color grading and cinematography. And of course, the way the story was presented.)

This Is Us

I don’t remember exactly what made me watch this. A friend was giving me suggestions on series to watch and he mentioned This Is Us and Person of Interest (below). So I started watching and…my feelings were out of hand. Doesn’t help that some episodes were centered around fathers (I lost my dad at an early age). So yeah. But it’s really amazing; I highly recommend it. Great cast, amazing story (and plot twists omg), beautiful message. I’ve yet to finish Season 2 but I’m saving my feelings (lol) when I’m ready (aka: when I have time).

Person of Interest

Again, full disclosure: I don’t watch action series or things that involve murder or police investigations (does Castle or Chuck count?) but I managed to watch POI after much convincing. I actually liked it? I’m just on season 2 though. I still have 3 more seasons…so, we’ll see.

But also: I have a soft spot for series with good music. So there’s that. And for using New York as the setting. Me and New York…yep.

Fight For My Way

I was initially planning to put Weightlifting Fairy here but let’s be real, I liked Fight For My Way more. Mostly because I’ve reached a maturity level (lol I’m an old soul tbh) that made me appreciate this kdrama more. Also, adding to the fact that the characters here are adults already and the topics covered are more close to home—such as getting a job, surviving adulthood, etc. Can we also talk about how cute the lead actors are? After 20+ years of friendzoning each other it finally dawned on them that they’re actually perfect for each other. *insert cheese emoji here*

As for films, I managed to watch different genres this year. Here are some on my list:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

While I will always be a Moonrise Kingdom loyalist, this film is probably Wes’ best film EVER. The overall Wes Anderson aesthetic is clearly portrayed in this film, as well as the different scenes that encapsulate the storyline. I love the fight scenes accompanied with the witty musical scores! Also: A+ for typography, always.

5 to 7

This has been on my hard drive for the LONGEST time but I never bothered to watch, until my friend (hi Maka!) told me to watch because we were going to discuss after. Haha. I love that it’s set in New York, and that the characters’ complexities are shown in the film. Not to spoil but this is surprisingly a good ending. One thing definitely led to another (in a good way!).

Everything is Copy

No idea how I encountered this documentary but I copied it from a friend’s HD (hi Koko!) and found out that Nora Ephron is the screenwriter for When Harry Met Sally, and a lot of popular romcom films (Julie & Julia was one of her recent ones before she passed away). This documentary talks about the beginnings of Nora, how her career has shaped her life, and the beauty of inspiration turning into her success as a writer.


Everyone says this is the best Pixar film. While I disagree to that (I have my favorites!), I have to say: Coco is AMAZING. As in. All the graphics, the plot, everything. Doesn’t help that it talks about loved ones that have passed away…I am a fragile person. Huhu. But really, worth watching. Disney knows how to tell stories, hands down.

Loving Vincent

Being a huge fan of Van Gogh made me watch this film. But also because it took six years for this film to be produced because every scene is handpainted (!!!) in Vincent Van Gogh’s style (which I now know is called Impasto painting).

The Founder

A gem I found while on the plane to New York. A must-watch if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or business owner. Also: love McDo 5ever lol.


Let’s be real. I’m a pop junkie, among most things. I love my music though: from alternative to indie to acoustic. But this year, pop ruled (haha). Here’s my 2017 Wrapped (according to Spotify):

To add to that: I really loved these albums which were released this 2017:

  • Ed Sheeran’s Divide (Hearts Don’t Break Around Here is my favorite!)
  • Paramore’s After Laughter (Fake Happy, Rose-Colored Boy)
  • Lorde’s Melodrama (Supercut, Hard Feelings/Loveless)
  • Taylor Swift’s Reputation (End Game, Getaway Car, Delicate)

*Check out my 2017 playlist: Your Top Songs 2017

My favorite indie songs:

  • Someone To You – BANNERS
  • NYC Girl – The Orion Experience
  • We’ll Grow – Libby Kash
  • Killer Whales – Smallpools
  • Into The Night – Carousel

*ABCDiscover playlist can be found here. Yep, all those indie songs above are there. 🙂


While most people like watching TV, I like watching talks. It’s my way of learning and getting new ideas, as well as to hear words of wisdom from people in the creative industry. I’m a loyal watcher of TED talks, Creative Mornings, and 99u videos. Here are two of my favorites:

(99u) Debbie Millman: Anything Worthwhile Takes Time

Debbie Millman: Anything Worthwhile Takes Time from 99U on Vimeo.

(99u) Christoph Niemann: How to Overcome the 3 Fears Every Creative Faces

Christoph Niemann: How to Overcome the 3 Fears Every Creative Faces from 99U on Vimeo.


My other guilty pleasure is saving lots of articles and reading them on my free time. Here are a few notable ones:

That’s it for my roundup this year. Hope you find something you end up consuming too—because after all, these things are meant to be shared. 🙂 Let me know in the comments below if you find something similar in your own list!

Always be creating,


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