The other week, a friend asked me to list my ten favourite books. The first five came to me easily, but then I ran into problems. I just could not make up my mind, coming up with more recently read books and forgetting lots of other things. It was difficult. To pick my top books of 2019 was a lot easier, since I had a fixed list to work from. When it came to selecting the favourite films of 2019. I have only selected from the ones I saw at the cinema (can you remember all the TV/Netflix shows you have seen?) to keep the choice simple. As for podcasts, I have chosen from those I consistently return to rather than the serial type podcasts, of which there have been many good ones this year (like Fake Heiress and The Missing Cryptoqueen). Anyway, here are the lists.
Favourite novel: Siri Hustvedt’s Memories of the Future which I loved. A terrific read I could not put down, I really enjoyed her writing as much as anything. I am a fan of her work anyway, so it was good to see her keep up her standard.
Favourite non-fiction: Astrid Lindgren’s War Diaries, is a fascinating account of family life in Stockholm during World War II. Daily life is beautifully described, as well as her thoughts on reading and hearing the news of the war. I decided after much consideration, that this was my favourite book of 2019. Do look out for it.
Favourite book by a New Zealand author: I was lucky enough to manage to get to a reading of Anne Kennedy’s The Ice Shelf at the end of 2018, and knew immediately I would find it interesting. I had really liked her book The Last Day of the National Costume, and was not disappointed in this Wellington set novel with an (deliberate) unlikeable protagonist.
Favourite book of short stories: I read the collection Your Duck is My Duck by Deborah Eisenberg on one of my work trips and enjoyed each piece, not always the case with a short story collection.
And…my favourite rediscovery of 2019 was Nancy Mitford’s Don’t Tell Alfred. What an absolute joy of a book, that made me think I really ought to spend part of 2020 re-reading books from my shelves and further rediscovering old favourites.
The top three films I saw at the cinema were:
Woman At War This 2018 Icelandic film tells the story of Halla, an environmental activist and her determination to protect Icelandic nature. This is a very special film and well worth seeing.
Sorry We Missed You Ken Loach’s latest film shows the dark side of the so-called gig economy.
Little Women Beautiful to look at, this is a film not to be missed this coming year. Quite wonderful.
There are quite few to look forward to next year such as the latest version of Emma with a script by Eleanor Catton.
The top three podcasts were:
99% Invisible (again) which never fails to deliver interesting podcasts on all sorts of topics.
Out to Lunch with Jay Rayner is an entertaining interview style podcast taking place over lunch at a restaurant.
Keep Calm and Cook On because Julia Turshen’s voice always soothes and relaxes, as well as the interesting people in the food world in the US she interviews.
Best individual podcast episode was on Table Manners with Jessie Ware when Jessie and her mother cooked for Rick Astley. He came across as such a lovely person, it was a joy of a podcast.
(Of course, the best audio has been The Archers, the long running BBC Radio soap opera, on the go since 1951. Fans will understand).
What were your favourites this year? Do let me know so I can try out some of your suggestions.
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