For me, December is a depressing month, and not just because of panicked Christmas present shopping. From late November on, I spend about an hour a day reading lists upon lists of the best everything. It’s all stuff that, if I haven’t already, I will never read or watch.
A hundred best books. A hundred best films. I will probably only catch up on a couple of those, if that. End-of-year lists seem to have the sole purpose of guilt-tripping me into making lots of resolutions for the following year. In the past few days I have been persuading myself that I will read 100 books in 2015, which is just never going to happen.
Because I know that many of my friends and colleagues share my end-of-year panic, I will go with only five things for each category – it seems like a manageable number that can be squeezed into all the new stuff coming out in the new year.
As usual, I haven’t bothered with the stuff that has already been in everybody’s list – we get it, it’s good.
This has been the year of journeys through space and time. I have seemingly developed an obsession for post-apocalyptic scenarios, stories that interlace in unexpected ways, non-chronological narrations. Adding up all the five books, there must be hundreds of characters telling the story through their eyes. As I set out to do at the beginning of the year, I took the time to appreciate great women writers and, incidentally, I ended up adoring all three female nominees for the Booker Prize.
Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler)
The Blazing World (Siri Hustvedt)
How To Be Both (Ali Smith)
The Southern Reach Trilogy (Jeff Vandermeer)
Wait, what?! No costume dramas? No animation? This must be the first time in forever that I end up with five films set in modern times and with no animated animals. Oh, and none of them is a musical. It pleases me that two films are very contemporary social critiques, two of them are supernatural flicks with female protagonists, and one of them hits the perfect halfway point. Italian Alice Rohrwacher’s Le Meraviglie is a brilliant half-realist, half-fairytale story.
Dear White People (Justin Simien)
Appropriate Behavior (Desiree Akhavan)
The Wonders (Alice Rohrwacher)
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Ana Lily Amirpour)
When Animals Dream (Når dyrene drømmer – Jonas Alexander Arnby)
FIVE TV SHOWS
Once again, I’m all for the leading ladies/girls. Plus Dave Grohl. I haven’t been watching a lot this year, so I’m actually surprised that I managed to find five series that genuinely thrilled me. I was heartbroken to leave out a TV show so trashy that it almost surpassed Pretty Little Liars: the big absent is faux-Scottish Outlander. I’m sorry, Jamie.
Madam Secretary (CBS)
How To Get Away With Murder (ABC)
Faking It (MTV)
Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon Studios)
Foo Fighters Sonic Highways (HBO)