Tuesday, January 5, 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!


  1. If I were to make a list of my favorite PT & E posts it could not possibly be limited to 10.
    I so wholeheartedly agree with you about Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell and have written down the rest of your book list to enrich my 2010 reading.
    And a resounding "Yes" to your movie list, all beautifully crafted films with excellent dialogue. Beside my desk are dvds I sometimes put on while painting, ones you have listed plus Wit, Master and Commander, and (older ones) My Brilliant Career and A Man for All Seasons.
    Happy New Year,

  2. Fun and entertaining! Thanks for reading and Netflix ideas...I missed a couple!

  3. I have no idea who, what films and what books are in or out. But I must tell you if I were to list my top ten blogs...yours would be on that list. And your list is going to be most helpful in my persuit of some good films to order and books to read. Thank you Pamela.

  4. I am rather surprised, but pleased to see that Nanny McPhee made your list. I loved the books as a child, and even though I found the movie version utterly predictable and the plot and acting quite ordinary, I was enchanted with the artistic quality. The sets, the costumes, the makeup; almost Tim Burton meets Van Gogh by way of Dr. Seuss. Brilliant.

  5. I shall pull a title from your book list and take on my vacation at the end of this month!

    Great post!

  6. Oh good idea! I will add some of yours to mine, I have a running list of books and movie too!
    Thanks for new ones.

  7. I loved the movie "The Lives of Others".
    I agree about "O brother" it was excellent.
    My book recommendations include almost everything on the Persephone publications list -- mostly re-issued British women writers from the mid 20th century. I really think you would enjoy them as excellent reads.

  8. Great list, have read and watched several and wholeheartedly agree! Love new suggestions...thanks!
    Jeanne :)
    PS..thanks for stopping by!

  9. I have seen al of the films on your list, Pamela and all are great. I love the house in Nanny McFee. I would never dream of painting my Victorian house in such colours but, doesn't it look amazing ?
    I want to thank you for the book recommendations. I can go into a book shop and be so overwhelmed that it is so lovely to be given something to use as a starting point. I love to read so I will start at the top of your list and work down !!!! XXXX

  10. Your lists inspire me to seek out these books and movies.

    I so look forward to following your blog in the New Year.


  11. Have to agree with you about 'Little Miss Sunshine'. I laughed till I cried and then saw it again.
    A Happy New Year to you, Pamela.


  12. I would add "The Lives of Others" and "Pan's Labyrinth" to the movie list. Those two are in my favorite top 15 movies of all time.
    And I agree with the other commentators who expressed their love of your blog. I would say it's in my top five.

  13. Thank you Pamela, for the list of Books and Movies. I have enjoyed watching a few of these and reading some of the books.
    I will take up your recommendations and work through your list.
    Your blog is always a delight to come and visit, many thanks.

    Happy New Year

  14. I have to agree with the book list as far as Harry Potter. Have them all and bought all the DVD's after recording them on VCR tapes. I would add Miss Potter and Cold Mountain. Far and Away was pretty good too. Guess I am more into the Classics and had to watch To Kill a Mockingbird several times along with Moby Dick and My Secret Garden. I also love The Labrinth with David Bowie.
    I just wanted to add, I think I told you about a dog that I had that looked just like Edward but was a little lady. I have posted a picture of her on my blog if you want to see what Edward's lady twin would look like. She unfortunately got hit and killed by a hit and run driver. It's very good that I could couldn't catch him as I would probably still be in jail. Her name was Sunshine

  15. mmmmm, I did not recognize any of the books, except the harry Potter series, which I only read the first one, alas, but I will definitely search out your list - all of the films, yes and on my top ten was Nanny Mcphee - a visual treat :)

  16. I like your lists Pamela
    better than resolutions... just happy lists of objects of joy. I'll have to look at the few movies I don't know here... but Finding Neverland... what a wonderful, yet heartbreaking movie... truly something special.. I first saw it whilst on a plane and had a hard time trying to control my tears. hehehe

    Hope the new year has been good to you.. x Julie

  17. Gosford Park and Ladies in Lavender are two of my favourite films and we now have DVDs of both. Love also the Harry Potter films seen at our local cinema within the city museum and now have on DVD at home:)

  18. Love the art on your blog. Are they your works?

  19. Perfect list!

  20. I'm taking a good look at your lists. I see some matches with my own lists and that has made me curious about what I might be missing.

  21. I'm going to check out some of those books Pamela! I have one for you as well - The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Incredible account of her childhood. Kind of reminded me of mine....kind of;)

  22. Than you for your lists Pamela, I will make a note of the ones unfamiliar to me, your word is commendation enough.

  23. Dear friend how I love your blog. It is always so dreamy and lovely and magical.

    We love many of the same books and movies, not hard to figure out why.

    Happy New Year and I love your lists.

    Love Renee xoxo

  24. I like lists, too -- and Proust's Questionnaire, for that matter! Olive Kitteridge seems to be appearing on everyone's "favorites" this year, but that may be the company I keep. (I loved it, too.)

    Will you see the film of The Road? It is about to open in the UK, and about an hour ago I read a Proustian Questionnaire with Viggo Mortenson. He has a decidedly philosophical bent.

    Thank you for this consistently pleasurable, beautiful and witty blog, Pamela. Happy New Year to you!

  25. I loved, loved, loved Olive Kitteridge, and now I have to go add Nanny McPhee to my Netflix queue.

  26. I agre with your selections, Willow. Of course, there were several books and almost all of the films that I know nothing about.

  27. Oh; I love your film list,....so agree with the Queen movie!!!
    Absolutely loved that one too!

  28. Happy New Year Pamela!
    I'm always making lists in my life...
    I will now make a book and a movie list for 2010.;)
    Very Best wishes. Jo.

  29. I like your movie list and agree, I have seen all but a couple.

    I believe it was I who recommended Fugitive Pieces, since it is my favorite book and I recommend it where I can. It is the one book that convinced me I don't need to write a novel, when such a one as Anne Michaels wrote exists. I'm so happy you felt its beauty too.

  30. I am so behind on reading and movie watching for the millenium - I am going to spend the next decade catching up.

  31. Hello P&E, Happy New Year!

    If only I could remember what I have seen and read over the past ten years! I enjoyed reading your list and your posts on resting and wings. I look forward to more of your richly descriptive posts in 2010.

  32. Great film list Pamela. TLOTR x 3 does it for me everytime. Love Harry Potter, The Queen and Nanny McPhee too. Will have to try out some of the others. Happy New Year to you.

  33. Thanks for these suggestions. I would have to have The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield at the top of my book list. Loved it. I have seen all but two on your movie list so must check into them this year.

  34. Love your list...and I REALLY LOVE Edward..love alot of the same books..and movies...."Little Miss Sunshine"...I think I have it memorized...soooo funny....

    My dog is so tiny..a red toy poodle...but we both send BIG Happy wishes for 2010...

    Kary and Buddy

  35. Pam,
    I really would make a list as yours but I need some time to think about all my favorite books and movies! It is nice to see your list because then I say : "Hey, yes this is the book, or the movoe I wanna read or see one more time!"
    Thank you for sharing!!

  36. I love your lists! I always like to see what I should be putting on my reading list or movie list! Thanks! And Happy New Year!

  37. you have great taste/ taste very like mine! I love most of those books and films. I'm chomping at the bit to see the film of the road- apparently McCarthy likes it and it has Viggo Mortenson in it and he has so much intergrity it hurts. Very exciting.

  38. I loved "Ladies in Lavender" too. Partially because Judi Dench and Maggie Smith can act the pants off young actors, and partly because the Cornish photography was delightful.

    "Gosford Park" was also wonderful, although more intense, complex and slightly darker. Steven Fry, Helen Mirren, Clive Owen and Jeremy Northam are amongst my all time favourites.

    Did you see "Dean Spanley"? Peter O'Toole, Jeremy Northam and Sam Neill were sublime, in a rather dark and tragic story of post-Boer war Britain.

    Do you notice a trend here? All films set in the Edwardian or Inter-war periods.

    Happy New year
    Art and Architecture, mainly

  39. I was so excited when I read this. I thought I had recommended Fugitive Pieces but I see it was Ruth.(I featured it on my blog amidst a lost of other books when we emptied the bookshelves last January.) Thats even more exciting because I can now discuss it with two people! I am so glad you enjoyed it. It was teh book that made me confront my fear of flying so that I could visit Greece, The descriptions were so powerful and beautiful.
    I agree too about 'Oh Brother'.


I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!