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My 2013 Favorites (of Everything Else)

Last month I debated on putting together a cheat sheet of my favorite “things” from all of 2013. Then I got busy (life happens…especially with a one year old to follow around the house, picking up a tornado of toys in his wake) and forgot about it. Then my sweet friend (and former bride!) Valerie made a comment about how much she was looking forward to said lists.

So, Val, maybe this post (my LAST about 2013 folks, I PROMISE) will be making its way to an audience of one, but dang, it’s been fun to look back on the year in pop culture that was. Here below are some of my favorites from 2013 in books, film and television. Ready for some “homework”? ;)

FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2013

The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth: Friends, you MUST have at these. The hottest YA series since The Hunger Games and the first in the series, Divergent, is coming to the big screen this spring. Theo James as Four? YES PLEASE.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: It’s impossible not to fall in love with these two. The end of this leaves room for a sequel and let’s hope so — these two characters are too hard to part with!

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer: When people ask me about my favorite read in 2013, this novel — which follows a cast of interesting characters through the latter half of the 20th century and does it SO DAMN WELL — is it.

Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey: The YA dystopia thing has about been done to death, but I promise you there’s room for one more — this time with a young protagonist named Cass who’s taking on an alien invasion. SO readable.

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes: Speaking of readable, you will NOT want to put down this tear-jerker of a love story.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson: This book isn’t perfect, the plot could drag at times, but it’s one of the most original stories (both in concept and structure) I’ve ever laid my hands on.

The Circle by Dave Eggers: Imagine if the world’s most powerful social media-tech companies combined (think Google, Facebook and Apple) and you’d have the makings of the plot for this brilliant book. It’s CHILLING to think we might be headed in this direction, folks. Like a modern 1984 for the 21st century. (and now that I’ve read this book, I think of it every time I see news like this — soooo eerie).

You can check out more of my reads from 2013 here on GoodReads.

FAVORITE TV SHOWS

Arrested Development (2013 season): When Netflix agreed to bringing the Bluths back, I was SO on board. They didn’t disappoint, bringing their hilarity back in a mind-bending handful of new episodes that kept viewers on their toes trying to keep up (the Tobias-as-predator storyline was my favorite)

Orange is the New Black: Oh man…this show. Is it raunchy at times? Yes. But does it also look at a fascinating world few of us know little about? And look at said world well? Hell yes. SO good.

Scandal: So Scandal wasn’t new in 2013, but I feel like THIS was the year that EVERYONE started watching. With good reason, of course. Fellow gladiators, suit up! :)

Top of the Lake: I was THRILLED when Elisabeth Moss (Peggy from Mad Men) won best actress for her role in this incredible BBC miniseries. Catch this on Netflix when you’re looking for something new (it’s a 5-episode miniseries).

Orphan Black: Nick and I ended 2013 falling HARD for the actress Tatiana Maslany who plays, like, seven clones in this fascinating series that’s one big game of cat-and-mouse. Probably my favorite TV show of 2013.

FAVORITE ALBUMS

Lorde—”Pure Heroine”: HOW is this girl only, like, 16? Talk about talented. My pick for favorite album of the year.

Lucius—”Wildewoman”: The way these ladies harmonize is perfection. Loved pretty much every track on this album.

Tegan and Sara—”Closer”: My taste in music in 2013 swung radically away from the folksy sounds of bands like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers to indie rock and pop and anything involving synthesizers (as evidence by this entire list). It all started last January when I fell HARD for this album from these twin talents (the album came out in Sept 2012, but I blame childbirth the next month for my late discovery! ;) )

HAIM—”Days Are Gone”: Another sisters act, HAIM ended 2013 as the year’s coolest band. If you haven’t listened to tracks from “Days are Gone” yet, well, get thee to iTunes and start downloading. Start with “The Wire” and go from there.

Chvrches—”The Bones of What You Believe”: Talk about the ultimate discovery for lovers of synthpop. The first time I heard Chvrches was an interview they did with NPR. I immediately came home and downloaded their debut album. “The Mother We Share” is probably in my 10 most listened to songs of 2013.

Vampire Weekend—”Modern Vampires of the City”: These boys are my FAVORITE. (and I still think about how incredible they were in concert). Their 2013 album release was probably my most listened to album of the year.

Beyoncé—”Beyoncé”: Speaking of genius, Beyonce dropping this new album of hers two weeks before Xmas with a slew of insane videos that were like …WHOA. Overall, though, this album is brilliant (and I’ve listened to it LOTS this past month), even if half of the tracks/videos made me blush.

2013 PLAYLIST

And for those of you interested and on Spotify (and if you’re not already, well, make THAT a New Year’s resolution), here’s a 2013 playlist I put together with singles from these acts above and SO much more!

FAVORITE MOVIES of 2013

Warm Bodies: This film was just so sweet to me. But really, I loved it because of my age-inappropriate crush on the tremendous British actor Nicholas Hoult. He’s so great in this.

The Great Gatsby: I didn’t LOVE this film, I admit, but yet, I had so much fun seeing it at the theaters with my girlfriends in 2013 that I had to put it on here. And you know what I did love about it? THOSE PARTY SCENES. Where’s my invite, huh?

Identity Thief: I think I had more fun with this title (which is really just so-so) because I remember watching it with my mom and collapsing together into hysterics. But it’s Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy and in the funny department, together, they’re some of my faves.

The Heat: Another fun flick of 2013 with Melissa pairing this time with Sandra Bullock. Those two together had crazy awesome buddy chemistry. I have a girl crush on Sandra. I mean, that woman is going to be FIFTY this year. Watch this film and tell me she’s not redefining that age for women!

The End: Oh this film is ALL boy. Raunchy raunchy boy. But I got to see it over a holiday with Nick and my brother Jeff and I think I had more fun with it because it let me get in a little laugh-’til-we-cry bonding with one of my siblings more than anything else. The cast though….pretty hysterical.

The Spectacular Now: A spectacular film, start to finish. When y’all fall in love with Shailene Woodley this year (thanks to Divergent and Fault in Our Stars), go back and see this if you haven’t already to keep the girl crush alive.

Enough Said: So sad that this was James Gandolfini’s last film. He and Julia Louis Dreyfus are just adorable together in this in such a way that feels so true to life.

The Bling Ring: I spent two hours after this movie chasing down all the real details behind its absurdity. SO fascinating.

Before Midnight: I held out on watching the last film of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy because I loved Jesse and Celine SO much and hated to part with them. This last film sees their perfect on-screen coupling hit rocky times, but man, even THAT they do well. Brilliant acting from Julie Delphy and Ethan Hawke. Never seen an on-screen couple with more REAL chemistry in my life.

About Time: Fell SO in love with this Richard Curtis film. Thanks in large part to Bill Nighy’s touching performance and a storyline that pulled hard at my (parental) heartstrings.

42: Who doesn’t love a good sports movie? This Disney flick about the late Jackie Robinson will give you goosebumps like, every 10 minutes. PERFECT family film.

Catching Fire: I mean, come on, didn’t we ALL see this in 2013? And didn’t it cement our love of Jennifer Lawrence that much more? (Also…hellooooo Finnick. Perfect casting there ;) )

American Hustle: David Russell may have tried to make Christian Bale look fugly in this, but his eyes were still mesmerizing to me …as mesmerizing as every other member of this talented ensemble cast. Wowzers.

2013 MOVIES I CAN’T WAIT TO WATCH in 2014

And here’s a peek at those films I didn’t get to see in 2013, but that will be a priority in the new year! I LOVE award season – so much good art to take in at the cinema or at home on DVD!