Monday, January 4, 2010

Making a List

At the close of the twelve month, every year without fail, comes the annual round up of Lists. Every media outlet, it seems, feels compelled to share their collections of best of and worst of, of smashes and flops, most shocking, most scandalous, who is in, who is out - top ten lists that sail in like a fleet of paper ships, loaded down with a cargo of trivia and destined to disintegrate in the tide of real news stories to follow. The Songwriter is not a fan, beleaguered, I think, by the sheer unoriginality of the yearly idea. As for myself, I find them fairly entertaining, much in the same way that I like to read the Proust questionnaire at the back of Vanity Fair magazine and watch the youtube video of a cat trying to work a copy machine.

As we now find ourselves, not only at the end of an ordinary year, but also the end of a decade, I thought it might be rather fun to participate. And whilst I have no idea who’s in or who’s out, and frankly, if it were up to me to compose a list of world-wide scandalous behaviour, I would find it impossible to restrict myself to a mere ten choices, I thought a top ten of notable books and movies would be a better idea all round. Mostly, I was right on this, although I found it best not to take the process too seriously. One is bound to leave something vital off the roster and wonder if it is important enough to get up in the middle of the night to turn on the computer and rectify the situation. I decided it was not. So here are my thoughts as they came to the front of my brain, rather in the same fashion as those old magic eight balls used to provide the answers to our childish questions.

Question is uttered: “Will I marry a prince?”.....

Answer floats up: ”Reply Hazy. Try again”.

Nevertheless, I do hope you enjoy my spontaneous lists, devoid of particular order and highly personalized though they may be. They are a compilation of just some of the movies that made me want to see them twice, and but a few of the books that caused me to travel a bit deeper than the print on the page - all from these last ten years. I also hope this list prompts you to compose your own and remind me of all the ones I left out.


Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

Harry Potter -all, by JK Rowling

The Sea, by John Banville

Homegrown Democrat, by Garrison Keillor

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

The Architecture of Happiness, by Alain De Botton

God’s Politics, by Jim Wallis

The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen

Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout


The Queen -- A near perfect movie

Doubt -- Truth on the screen

Being Julia -- Such witty, wicked fun

Harry Potter and the, well, everything -- Magic

The Lord of the Rings, all three -- Enchanting. More like history than fantasy.

Little Miss Sunshine -- l laughed till I got a stitch in my side

Ladies in Lavender -- Sublime and heartbreaking

Gosford Park -- So many movies rolled into one. Each one utter perfection.

Finding Neverland -- A beautiful portrait of artistic inspiration

Oh Brother Where Art Thou -- Brilliant

Nanny McPhee -- Even the set designs were delightful.

and yes, I realize this makes eleven instead of ten. I told you my lists were highly personalized.


Also, try as I might I cannot remember who the kind reader was who recommended to me the gorgeous book Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels. I took your advice, however, and read it. It is truly an amazingly beautiful book, one that I purchased in hardback to keep in my library. Thank you, and do remind me if it was you!