Saturday, December 26, 2015

Best Books/Films/TV of 2015


Reading books, watching TV, and seeing films in the cinema are some of my favourite ways to spend my downtime. Some of these are shared activities, and some of these I do solo. I love recommending these to friends and family, so why not share it with my blog readers?




BOOKS

With Maya's sleep patterns becoming more steady, I finally have evenings to myself to relax. I love to read, but after having a kid it is hard to find the time. Luckily, after my daughter goes to bed, I do just that - for hours on end. This year, I set a goal to read 20 books, and instead I read 42 books! (Next year, I'm going to set my goal a little higher!)

THE BEST. The best book I have read in a long, long time. I loved the central theme of the book being star-crossed lovers who drift apart, experience life and find their way back to each other. This novel was so multi-layered in its dimension - it talked about race, culture, immigration, relationships, intercultural relationships, writing, and had some really keen observations about leaving one's own homeland and living in a different country, and attempting to find one's own place/ sense of self in that country. After reading this book, I immediately went to the bookstore and bought ALL the other books by this author!  

The Nightingale
This book is a great work of historical fiction, but also celebrates the role that women played in the war, their resilience and their reinvention after. What women did in the war were not written in history books.
This book was a beautiful tale of survival and reinvention. It made me think of my grandmother so much, who was also a wartime child soldier. I was just a kid when the Yugoslavian war took place but I remember adults around me talking about it in hushed voices. Through reading this novel, I learned a bit more. I loved the structure of this novel - first the narrator was a child, and then an adult, and then coming back to her home country as an adult. These view points were very poignant. I also loved how the author weaved back and forth in time, but not too much. It's hard to believe this was her debut novel - she is an amazing writer.

When I picked up this book, I didn't know exactly what I was getting into. I suppose I was attracted to the beautiful floral pattern (which they later changed) and the anecdote about being "a good wife - mostly". This novel turned out to be the most erotic novel I have ever read and I couldn't put it down. I sent it to my MIL as a surprise - I hope she doesn't hit me over the head with it! Ha ha!

I don't often read memoirs but this one was fascinating. Quite a feminist novel, the author documents her career as a wartime photojournalist. It is truly a profession that is very difficult for women, with photography being an all-boys club. I have so much respect for the author as she has gone to every country that is extremely dangerous for women. I especially loved her love story and how her husband always encouraged her on her missions - that in itself was incredible.

The best thriller of the year! This novel was so creepy with the voyeurism/stalking/obsession aspect of it - but in a suspenseful way. A well plotted psychological thriller.

This book talks deeply about women's rights around the world, in particular how "culture" is given as an excuse by men to oppress women. Very detailed, very deep, and a must read. I will probably read this book again and again.

I am a Mindy fan because I watch her show, The Mindy Project, but I wouldn't say I was a crazy fan girl. I like her, but I don't loooove her. But then I read her book and now I absolutely love her. She is just so darn witty and cute - definitely the voice of a generation.

This was a really moving novel with deep multi-dimensional female characters. I especially loved the storyline of the Blindian relationship; and the Indian immigrant feeling lonely - intercultural themes that we can really relate to in many ways. A lot of plot twists, multiple perspectives of storytelling, and deep flawed characters. The storyline was also quite unconventional. The language was so crisp that I zoomed right through the novel. Love, betrayal, secrets, childhood, relationships, cross-cultural themes...it was an interesting novel. [Read my author interview with her HERE!]



FILMS

On our weekly date nights, husband-ji & I always see a new film. This is our thing. But I also like to see films with my mum, and I have also been known to sneak into a film solo while my daughter is at school (an exhilarating experience!) I also love watching my Netflix at home. [Guys, how embarrassing is this: I thought the saying 'Netflix & Chill' meant sitting at home and watching Netflix and relaxing! I was going around saying this for weeks before I found out what it really meant!!! Mortified!!!]

By far, the best Hindi film of the year. I loved this storyline of a woman finding herself and her confidence abroad. Absolutely a fun, feel-good film. I love Kangana (almost as much as I love Vidya Balan!)

If you've ever been a young person moving to a whole new country, this movie is for you. It was a really beautiful film about having one's heart in two countries, and it has a really sweet intercultural love story.

I found this film on Netflix and it was excellent. It is about a boy and girl in love who are separated by the West Bank barrier. Without giving out spoilers, there are LOTS of twists and turns!

NOT THE ONE WITH JULIA ROBERTS. The original one in Spanish!!!

First Position
This documentary is on Netflix and it chronicles talented teenage dancers in the world of ballet. I was interested in this because my daughter takes dance classes, and it is a real eye opener.

I saw this film in the cinema with my mum, and the entire audience was crying, including the elderly Chinese man behind us. It is a truly incredible film about war, loss, art, and justice. In my eyes, Helen Mirren can do no wrong!

Somehow we always see films where the entire audience is elderly people - except us. This was one of those films, as Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow's mum) played her first role as a leading lady. Better late than never, because she killed it!

I watched it when husband-ji was out of town and it was literally the best girlfriend movie ever! Thanks to Magic Mike, I did not miss husband-ji at all! Amazing dancing - totally Bollywood. The next sequel should star Hrithik Roshan though! Joe Magianello in the gas station scene was literally the highlight of my year!
This film had my new favourite actress (Carey Mulligan) in it. I loved the storyline of the independent woman with 3 suitors. I honestly had no idea which guy she'd end up picking - if at all. In that sense, it was like the educated, historical fiction version of The Bachelor! I also loved the English countryside scenery - so beautiful.



TV

I love a good TV series - either drama or reality - that hooks me in. TV is for the times where I don't have the attention span to watch a movie. Husband-ji and I have very different tastes in TV shows, so I usually watch them on my tablet. He prefers to watch boring shows such as  How It's Made or Border Security, and I'd rather watch something with more flavour!

I got hooked on this series because I kept hearing raves about it online, and I love the creator, Shonda Rimes. I am glad it is on Netflix because I binge-watched the entire thing within a week! It was just too good. This is one that I can't wait to show my MIL. I love the diverse cast of characters and the never-ending suspense of a who-dunnit.

Earlier this year, we were actually on a flight with the actress Ruby Rose from this series, so I thought I'd check it out. Everyone kept talking about it, and my TV addict mum just raves about it. I spent a few weeks binge watching it when I was sick and it became my new guilty pleasure! I love how in each episode, you find out more about why each character landed behind bars, through flashbacks. (Husband-ji absolutely HATES this series!)

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What were your favourite books/films/TV of this past year? 
Let's share recommendations!
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3 comments

  1. Alex, I was wonderering if you watch and read tamil fiction too ? - Pad

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really enjoyed Queen too! And Brooklyn was also one of my favourites of the year, I could definitely identify!

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Alex

    Kangana Ranaut has carved a niche for herself. Her roles are mostly of a spunky girl. I suggest you to see her latest movie "Tanu Weds Manu Returns" where she has a double role. She plays two completely different characters with different looks. This movie is a sequel to "Tanu Weds Manu". Both the films are quirky comedies. Kangana hails from the State of Himachal Pradesh in India, and has that local accent which adds that extra zing to her dialogues.

    BTW, have you explored old bollywood movies or novels by Indian authors. I suggest you watch the movies of Hrishkesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee of 1960s and 1970s. Very clean comedies. Films liked "Golmaal", "Chupke Chupke" and "Anand" are available on Youtube with subtitles. Here are the three movies

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LpNKtJlAkc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0D99D6bNLA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cY3O-lTXVL4

    ReplyDelete

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