Monday, January 6, 2014

My Five Favorite Books & Five Favorite Movies of 2013

I love reading novels and watching good films. Here are my five favorites in both categories.. Keep in mind that they reflect my tastes and that I certainly haven’t read every new book or seen every movie made this year.

Regarding the books: I found all five well-written, original, and captivating. I’d received the first three from Shelf-Awareness, the fourth from Net Galley, and the fifth I bought. I’ll read any book Donna Tartt writes.

1. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer is an engrossing novel about a group of young people whose friendships go back to their camp days. Their relationships take many twists and turns over the years.

2. An American Bride in Kabul: a Memoir by Phyllis Chesler  I remember Phyllis Chelser from the 70’s as an outspoken feminist. I found her memoir truly astounding. As a 20-year-old Jewish girl from Brooklyn, she travels abroad with her new husband and ends up living in his family home in Kabul, where she’s expected to follow traditions she finds alien and abhorrent. Though her passport’s been taken from her, she manages to make her way back to the United States.

3. The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison Jodi and Todd’s story is a mesmerizing read with a powerful ending. I’m sorry the author died before she could enjoy the success of her book .

4. Mrs. Poe by Lyn Cullen I don’t care if the love story told here about poetess Frances Osgood and Edgar Allan Poe is true or imagined. I loved reading about the New York literary scene in the mid-nineteen hundreds. Suspenseful, beautifully written, and thoroughly enjoyable.

5. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt  13-year-old Theo and his mother are in the Metropolitan Museum when she and many others are killed in a terrorist attack. He escapes, taking a valuable painting. The Goldfinch becomes an albatross he keeps with him through his tumultuous life. I’m still reading this amazing adventure.

The movies I enjoyed most this year all have wonderful actors, an interesting story line, and depth.

1. “The Royal Affair” A memorable love story that takes place in Eighteenth century Denmark between Queen Caroline Mathilde and her husband’s physician as they set about bringing the Reformation to the Danish people. .

2. “The Way Way Back” is an exceptional summer coming-of-age story with pathos and humor and memorable characters.

3. “Philomena” Based on a true story, an Irish woman sets out to find her son, who was taken from her fifty years ago. Probably my favorite film of 2013. Not to be missed!

4. “The Sessions” A quadriplegic young man who spends most of his day in an iron lung wants to experience sex. He does, and finds love along the way. Based on a true story. Oddly enough, not prurient.

5. “The Attack” A respected Palestinian physician who lives in Tel Aviv is shocked to discover his wife is responsible for a suicide bombing. Unable to comprehend why she has done this, he returns to his Palestine village where he finds some answers.



Palmaltas said...

I definitely want to see Philomena. Judi Dench is currently my favorite actress. (A far cry from my teen years and Debbie Reynolds.)

lynnerose said...

One of my favorite books from 2013 was "Murder As a Fine Art" by David Morrell, with Thomas DeQuincy and daughter Emily as both investigators and potential victims of a series of crimes mimicking DeQuincy's own work. The writing is fantastic. You can feel the London fog. I also liked "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn, which was intelligent and creepy and layered.
Movies included "Midnight in Paris" with Owen Wilson, "The Great Gatsby" with Leonardo DiCaprio, and -- okay, it's a guilty pleasure -- "Despicable Me 2". Thanks for your list -- I'll have to check these out!

Marilyn Levinson said...

You'll LOVE the movie. I, too, am a Judi Dench fan.

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll be reading GONE GIRL for my book club later this year. I'll check out MURDER AS A FINE ART. Since I write mysteries, I read them all the time.

marja said...

Marilyn, Thanks for sharing your lists. Guess I'd better get busy.
Marja McGraw

Sandy Cody said...

I love lists of books and movies that have touched others. I haven't seen Philomena yet, but it's at the top of my list. I'd have a hard time choosing a favorite book read in 2013, but The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers would be high on the list. I read it years ago and again last summer for one of my book groups. It touched me as much this time as it had the first.

Marilyn Levinson said...

It's nice that one of your favorites held up when you read it again recently. That's not always the case. I remember loving "The Big Sleep" when I'd read it many years ago. I read it again last year when I led a discussion of the book for a book club. I was disappointed. Felt the characters weren't very developed, and so many times Philip Marlowe had a different gun pointed at him. But as I told the group, it was an important ground breaker in that sub genre of mysteries.

jrlindermuth said...

Morrell's "Murder As a Fine Art" topped my list, too. I also liked Alex Grecian's "Black Country;" John Dolan's "Everybody Burns;" Chester Campbell's "Poksu Conspiracy," and Carol Criggar's "One Foot on the Edge."
"Philomena" is on my list of films to see.

Marilyn Levinson said...

I'm so behind in reading all the books I want to, including yours.

Marilyn Levinson said...

J. R.,
I'll check out your list.

Eileen Obser said...

A great list, Marilyn. I hope to read Meg Wolitzer's and Donna Tartt's novels before my eyes give out, and "Philomena" is on my list of movies. I saw and loved "American Hustle" recently and, as for books, I'm reading and loving "The Boy Detective," Roger Rosenblatt's new memoir, "Writers on Writing, collected essays that appeared in The New York Times, and others. Oh, for more time to read!

Donna Coe-Velleman said...

I haven't been to any movies this past year.
I'll have to check out The Silent Wife and The Goldfinch. From what I understand, since the book came out, attendance at the Frick to see the painting has gone up substantially.
I guess that says something for the author.