The year in Reading and Watching

2009 was a year in which I read more books than in 2008 and watched fewer movies. Oh, I still watched more than I read, but the gap closed a bit. This is a good thing, since I watch far more mediocre movies than I read mediocre books. It’s a matter of sources – I have better recommendations on books, than I do on movies. I wouldn’t call my reading “mainstream” by any stretch, but my movie watching is further outside the norm, truth be told. I tend more to foreign films for instance, and those slated for “limited release”. And a funny thing happened on the way to and from January. But let me tell ‘ya!


I started Shadow Country ~ Peter Matthiessen (#2) in December of 2008 and finished it in early January. It remained the best book I’d read all year, until I got a copy of Richard Powers’ Generosity -An Enhancement, (#1) which I finished over a week ago. I’ve been thinking and thinking about it, but haven’t pulled my thoughts together completely. One thing I do know, it’s the best book I read all year. Powers is a truly brilliant writer, and here he’s playful and serious at the same time. I simply cannot recommend this book enough. It took a lotta book to slide Matthiessen’s totally absorbing reworked epic out of the first slot.

Then the surprise. Right after I finished Power’s book, I read on my Kindle (thanks to an earlier Oprah giveaway) Let The Great World Spin ~ Colum McCann (#3). And damn if that didn’t end up at #3! Imagine. Two of the best three books I read last year I read back to back and within the last few weeks of the year. Who woulda thunk it!

My Booker binge yielded Wolf  Hall ~ Hillary Mantel (#4). A huge book, yet I still didn’t get enough of those characters, so I’m  now gorging on Showtime’s “The Tudors”, which I had not watched at all.

Lastly, at #5, was Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem, which I had never read. Loved it. Loved it far better than his latest, all the way down at #55.

The complete list (61 books) is here.


As usual, most of my movie viewing takes the form of the discs that I slip in the slot. Praise the Lord for Netflix. Consequently, if I only noted those films I saw in theaters, there’d be only six. The exception (not included here) was the Toronto International Film Festival where I saw some superb movies. Here’s the run-down on those films.

Three of my top five I did see in theaters though. Moon at #2, which was a wonderful film in so may ways. Up In The Air which I saw just after Christmas was at #3. HR drones. See it! Required viewing. And at #5 was The Hurt Locker.  An intense and well made film. The latter two will probably garner Oscars. Probably not Moon, although there are ten finalists this year instead of the traditional 5. Not that this makes a difference.

The other two films in the top 5 were the lovely (and #1 for the year) Il y a longtemps que je t’aime (I’ve Loved You So Long). I still have sweet dreams of  Kristen Scott Thomas. Sigh…And #4? A big shout out to PatD for bringing this one to my attention: Let The Right One In, a Swedish vampire film. Oh, yeah! Forget Twilight. This is the one!

Herewith, the full 83!

Now, out with the old and ring in the new!


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