Monday, January 6, 2014

2013 Favorites

My Three Favorite Books of 2013

3. Someday, Someday Maybe, Lauren Graham

A sweet, simple charmer, Someday tells the story of Franny Banks, an aspiring twenty-something actress in mid-1990's New York. She was such a fun protagonist to spend time with, and I enjoyed all of the details of her less-than-perfect life. However, I think my overall experience of reading this book was elevated by the fact that I listened to it read by its author, Lauren Graham. Her performance here added such a sweetness and an extra layer of humor to Franny's story that I don't think I would have experienced without her.

I must work harder to achieve my goal of not seeking approval from those whose approval I’m not even sure is important to me."

2. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

There is a reason that Agatha Christie is the queen of the mystery genre. Even though I've seen both a play as well as a movie adaptation of this story prior to reading And Then There Were None, I was still enthralled the entire time. Sometimes you just can't beat a classic whodunnit, and this one will keep you guessing. Each murder revolves around a line of a terrifying nursery rhyme, such as, "Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were six." Clever, creepy, and a quick read. Put this one on your list!

"From now on, it is our task to suspect each and every one amongst us."

1. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy Kaling 

It's no wonder that everyone who reads this book comes away wanting to be Mindy Kaling's best friend. She is absolutely hilarious, an extremely intelligent writer, and nearly everything she says causes you to exclaim "ME TOO!" All I wanted to do was read excerpts of this book aloud to everyone I know and say "I thought I was the only one who did that!" Really I just need to own a copy so I can highlight my favorite parts (so basically the whole book) and sleep with it under my pillow, because it is just that wonderful.

"You should know I disagree with a lot of traditional advice. For instance, they say the best revenge is living well. I say it’s acid in the face—who will love them now?"

Two other books I read this year deserve special mention, if for nothing else than their density and the sheer amount of information I learned. The first was Dave Cullen's Columbine, which was an intensely in-depth look at the 1999 tragedy, focusing mostly on the shooters and the subsequent investigation. The second was Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler, one of the lengthiest, most detailed biographies I have ever attempted. I feel like I know a ton about him now, but overall it was probably a little too exhaustive.

My Three Favorite Movies of 2013

3. Catching Fire
I really surprised myself by giving this film one of my top spots. But it was so well-made, and stands as the most faithful book to movie adaptation that I've ever seen. Jennifer Lawrence is just fantastic to watch, and her work, along with a smart script, exciting new characters, and solid direction demanded a repeat viewing from me.

2. Frozen
What a fantastic movie. I don't remember being this taken with an animated film since 2009's "Up." The music is fantastic, the voice cast is brilliant, and it really is laugh-out-loud funny (not to sound like a cheap critic trying to get their name on the movie poster). But perhaps my favorite thing about "Frozen" is that it's a story that centers on two sisters and their relationship and abilities, not on trying to land a dude. Yes, there is a love story aspect, but it's incidental, and not the main storyline.

Also I saw it four times in theaters.

1. The Way, Way Back 
I absolutely LOVED this movie. My very favorite movie of the year, and quite possibly one of my all-time favorites ever. So sweet, funny, and well-written, with so many wonderful performances. I don't think I'll ever get tired of it. Between "The Descendents" and now "The Way, Way Back," I can't wait to see what screenwriters Nat Faxon and Jim Rash pen next. You must watch this. If nothing else, see it for Sam Rockwell. He is The Best.

My Three Favorite Events of 2013

3. Ramin Karimloo has played many big roles in musical theater, including the Phantom in the 25th anniversary production of The Phantom of the Opera (which you can watch on Netflix!). I first learned about Ramin when he played Enjolras in the 25th anniversary performance of Les Miserables. He was the best part of that particular production—and that's saying something. He is also the nicest guy you've ever met.

I got the opportunity to see him in concert TWICE last spring, and besides being endlessly entertaining on stage, he is also incredibly kind, funny, and gracious. He signed my copy of the Les Mis DVD, posed for pictures, and even showed us how he put on his guyliner for the role of Enjolras (hilarious). Not to mention, of course, surprised my roommate at her school and sang Music of the Night for all her students! He has the most beautiful voice I have ever heard, and his concert is the BEST I've ever attended. No contest. The entire experience of meeting him and hearing him sing live—I just can't even fully express how wonderful that was.

2. Maddie's Adoption
John and Lori had been waiting for OVER A YEAR to adopt their daughter, and finally this September she officially became Madison Elise Redfearn! I love Maddie dearly, and am so beyond blessed to have her in my life. The Redfearns not only live down the street from us, but Maddie is my roommate's niece! So I get to see her quite a bit, and was privileged to go to the courthouse that day to witness Maddie getting her forever family. I am so thankful for this sweet, giggly girl who loves to dance and watch "Winnie the Pooh" and calls me "BAL." She's pretty awesome.

1. Norah Ann Ciminello
I almost can't put into words how special and amazing it is to be aunt to this squishy little bundle of cute. Norah came into the world on my brother's birthday, July 13th! (We are a family who loves to share birthdays—my dad and I have the same one too.) She instantly became everyone's favorite, and hardly a day goes by when I don't get a picture or video of her from my sister, who is thoughtful enough to keep everyone updated, since Norah is all the way in Arizona! I'm grateful for the time I've already gotten to spend with her, and can't wait to hug and squeeze her more in 2014!Love this kid. 

My #1 Girl


SKMorbys said...

This makes my heart sing with happiness over all the joy it exudes! Thank you for sharing your loves!

Ginger said...

HEART SWELL. Now going to place a hold on Mindy's book...

Nancycim said...

Now I know who Norah looks like!

dc said...

You're precious. I love this list!

Joey said...

I added your #2 and #3 books to my reading list, thanks for the recs! I have the Mindy Kaling book and 100% agree with you.

shannonmichaelis said...

Love it all! Norah, adoption, and Frrozen...