Lists, glorious lists

My favourite things of the year. Not all of the things were released this year. In fact, I may have read more newly published books this year than ever before, and I still don’t think I read ten of them to be able to make a top ten. So these are my favourite things that were new to me this year.

(And yes there are a couple of places where I cheat. I’m not even sorry)

Books
10. American Wife – Curtis Sittenfeld.
9. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P – Adelle Waldman. It’s just hung around in my head all year – something about the mood of the novel, I think.
8. The Interestings – Meg Wolitzer.
7. The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell.
6. The Brothers K – David James Duncan. Oh my goooooooood, the things this book did to my heart. Also, it is the book that will get me to read Brothers Karamazov in 2015.
5. Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell. Also, Eleanor and Park, by the same author. They just get being a girl growing up.
4. Tigerman – Nick Harkaway.
3. Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel.
2. Gilead, Home and Lila – Marilynne Robinson. Yes, I’m having all three of them as a set. They’re all beautiful and overlapping parts of the same story – which might just be the story of middle America in the middle of the Twentieth Century.
1. Shotgun Lovesongs – Nickolas Butler. Just because. The paperback is out soon, so if I’ve not talked you into getting this already, I’m coming for you with copies.

Music
With the exception of a few artists, I mostly fail at new music… But this is the stuff I’ve been listening to this year.

10. = Story of my Life – One Direction. I reeeeeeaaaaally love it, you guys. I’m a total sap.
= Lost Stars – Adam Levine, from Begin Again. It’s ~feelings~ ridden soft rock, and I can’t stop listening to it *cries*.
9. = Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack
= Ain’t them Bodies Saints soundtrack
8. Bad Things – Bad Things. Yes, I like Shaun White’s band. I don’t know *how* that happened, but I blame Winter Olypmics fever followed by a California road trip. The album’s really a lot of fun.
7. Reflektor – Arcade Fire. It groooooows. And it’s ace live.
6. The Hanging Tree (Jennifer Lawrence) and Yellow Flicker Beat (Lorde) from The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay, Part 1 soundtrack.
5. The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. Because I-I-I-I-I’m hooked on a feeling, and I have a spirit in the sky, and I can’t not Groot dance to I Want You Back.
4. Make You Better, Lake Song & The Wrong Year – The Decemberists, from their upcoming album What a Terrrible World, a What a Beautiful World, which I am super excited about.
3. The Moon Song – Karen O and Ezra Koenig, from Her. Dear Spike Jonze, I want the whole soundtrack.
2. For Emma Forever Ago – Bon Iver, which I’ve been listening to on a loop since I put it on while reading Shotgun Lovesongs at Easter.
1. Hero – Family of the Year, from the Boyhood soundtrack. This was the song on the trailer, and when Mason went off to college, and it’s gone to the top of my iTunes ‘most played’ playlist since June.

Films
10. Locke. This won out over a cluster of options (Gone Girl, Lego Movie, A Most Wanted Man…) purely because a film about a guy in a car on his phone should not be this tense and this good.
9. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. So much better than I was expecting the film of half of the weakest book in the trilogy to be – they made a smart political film. It was also an exercise in missing Philip Seymour Hoffman.
8. All is Lost. Robert Redford alone on a yacht, with about three lines of dialogue, and it’s completely gripping. I am still baffled about how he wasn’t at least nominated for more awards last season.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy. So. Much. Fun.
6. Calvary
5. Inside Llewyn Davis. Weird, and cold, and sad, and beautiful. A properly Coen-y Coen brothers film.
4. Twelve Years A Slave. So powerful: I thought I’d made it through intact, until I breathed in and out as the credits rolled, and found myself howling at the back of the cinema.
3. Grand Budapest Hotel. Who knew Ralph Fiennes could be so funny? Who knew that cruelty to cats could make an audience laugh so hard? Who knew that a mass audience could embrace a Wes Anderson film.
2. Her
1. Boyhood. That was inevitable, no?

Live (theatre, dance, exhibitions)
10. = A Winter’s Tale – Christopher Wheeldon and the Royal Ballet. Exit, pursued by a bear. This play has a good structure and emotional storyline to work as a ballet. I particularly loved the Bohemia scenes in Act II, where Joby Talbot’s score really comes out to play.
= Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse. Seen at the cinema, becasue getting tickets? Ahahahahahaha.
9. Maxim Vengerov in Recital. He’s my favourite, and I finally got to see him live, and it was loveeeely. Although the main hall at the Barbican is not the venue for a solo recital.
8. Alice in Wonderland – Christopher Wheeldon and the Royal Ballet. Gosh, but it’s much more fun when you have a seat (first time I saw it, I had standing tickets, owwwww). Also, the three act revision works much better than the two act original. The Mad Hatter and The Red Queen are still the highlights.
7. Seth Lakeman, at St James’ Church, Piccadilly. Such a great venue for this kind of music. We were too late to get a pew with a view, but it meant we had space to sit and stand on the ledges around the back of the balcony, and stomp our feet.
6. Electra, at The Old Vic. I was underwhelmed by Medea at the National, so a bit worried about seeing this – but it was really very well done, and Kristen Scott Thomas was just the right kind of on-the-edge-of-bonkers.
5. Manon – The Royal Ballet, featuring Edward Watson and Francesca Hawyard. I ended up taking an afternoon off work because I didn’t register that these two were dancing a matinee when I chose them as my Manon pairing, and it was so worth it. She’s clearly a rising star (and with good reason), and he looked after her wonderfully in her debut in this.
4. John Tavener’s Requiem Fragments and Ikon of Light – The Tallis Scholars at the Proms. I love me some Tavener, and his new (and now posthumous) Requiem Fragments were gorgeous. Also, it was the exact anniversary of the declaration of World War One, so we had Sam West to read us some poetry, a moment of silence, and candlelight from the Prommers. It was beautiful.
3. Arcade Fire, at Earl’s Court. Arcade Fire live is something of a religious experience. They know how to create a special space, even in a barn like a Earl’s Court
2. The Crucible, The Old Vic.
1. Lest We Forget, The English National Ballet. An astonishing meditation on World War One. The last piece, Dust, was performed at Glastonbury – I watched it on BBC and was blown away all over again, and it was so nice to see on Twitter how strongly postive the response to it was. I love what Tamara Rojo is doing with the ENB.

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