We've already covered travel. What else was awesome in 2015? I thought about doing a more traditional Top Ten list but haven't seen enough of the new stuff and most of my favorites for this year came out before 2015... Slow to the party.
- Last Five Years - A nice precursor to Hamilton. I watched the film version right before leaving for Germany, at some recommendation I saw on Pajiba. While my mom and I like musicals, we've never really seen a modern one. The closest is probably Rent, which everyone in my dorm became obsessed with freshman year. Anyway, my only complaint is that the story sides more with Jamie than Cathy, though that's probably because the real-life Jamie equivalent wrote it. That aside, I thought the movie was a nice adaptation and the story and music itself is great. My favorites are "Summer in Ohio" and "The Schmuel Song." Thematically, "If I Didn't Believe In You" might be the most successful. The idea that Jamie can't dampen his own success just to make her happy. And "Nobody Needs to Know" is referenced in Hamilton's "Just Say No To This," which is nice. After seeing the movie, I bought both the Original Broadway Cast recording and the film soundtrack. There are a few changes that are fun ('These are the people who cast Linda Blair in a musical' becomes 'These are the people who cast Russel Crow in a musical') but overall the film adaptation seems true to the show. I listened to both albums often while in Germany and Last Five Years is always going to remind me of riding the ICE train across Europe.
- The Martian. I read the book in less than 24 hours. The story just grabbed me and I couldn't put it down. A few months later, I saw the film version. The casting for this is perfect. The audience spends a huge portion of the time with just Mark Watney and no one has the right amount of charm, charisma, and intelligence to pull this off except Matt Damon. There were several things removed from the novel, though probably to the benefit of the film - there were several times reading the book that I got exasperated - can't this guy catch a break? While I prefer the novel, both are enjoyable and just geeky enough.
- Master of None. More previous thoughts. It's been a few weeks since I've watch it. Aside from recommending it to several people, it's also stayed with me. Some shows, I forget as soon as I finish the last episode. This one is sticking around. It even made me finally give Sherlock a try!
- Hamilton. Late to the bandwagon but now fully committed. I'll just refer to this.
- All The Light You Cannot See. I randomly picked this book up in a German bookstore (in English, mein Deutsch ist schlecht) so that I would have something to read my last week in Deutschland and on the plane home. I picked well. The book is incredible, the story of two children in World War II, one a German soldier and the other a blind Parisian girl. The novel is heartbreaking and lovely.
- Goodbye Jon Stewart. I was in Germany when the announcement was made. My immediate thoughts - what the hell are we going to do without him? Aside from a random Bruce Springsteen interlude, his goodbye episode was perfect (Colbert said everything we wanted to). I have to say, nothing has really replaced him. Sure, I watch Trevor Noah but not with the dedication I watched Stewart. I tried to get into Larry Wilmore's show but gave up. Colbert isn't on Hulu so I just watch the episodes which have guests I'm interested in. His interview with Biden was great but here's Lin-Manuel Miranda with a follow up to Hamilton! That aside, I miss Stewart and can't imagine the 2016 election without him.
- Discovery of Non-Fiction. I've always been a strictly fiction girl, only venturing into Non-Fiction when school required it or my manager strongly recommended it (Lean In, Malcolm Gladwell anything). This year, though, I made the jump to reading non-fiction for enjoyment. I picked up Devil in the White City. Erik Larsen knows what he's doing, interweaving the lives of two infamous men in Chicago's history. It was also exciting to go to Chicago after reading it. The reality of it added a level of excitement and interest. Afterwards, I picked up Larsen's Garden of Beasts, about Berlin during World War II, as well as histories of Paris and Berlin. Then there's Chernow. I'm reading his Hamilton biography, thanks to the musical, of course, but am honestly really enjoying his style. This is not my high school history text books. I've also picked up his Washington biography. His writing is very readable and accessible. And I feel slightly less guilty when I'm avoiding packing or writing or work to read a biography of our Founding Fathers as opposed to a Shopaholic novel.
- Chick Lit: Royal We, Girl on a Train, Luckiest Girl Alive. On the other side of things, chick lit! I wrote about Royal We already. For the others, I preferred Luckiest to Train, but the latter seems to be more popular. There's a film adaptation coming out of Train starring Emily Blunt. She doesn't really fit the character at all, but yay more interesting work for Emily Blunt! I recommend all three of these books for some light reading, but they're definitely not Edith Wharton. A good beach read.
- Friday Night Lights. Another extremely late bandwagon joiner here. I randomly started watching it one weekend when I needed something in the background while I worked around the apartment. No work got done that weekend. I was sucked in on the first episode - what terrible things are going to happen to Jason Street?? It's the only show both my grandma and brother like. Fun for the whole family! I simultaneously want Eric and Tammy to adopt me while also wanting their marriage. It's also the most realistic depiction of high school I've seen. It's not 'Do I go to Harvard or Yale' but 'Do I go to college at all?'
- Game of Thrones. I'm sure I will get into this more when the new season starts up again, but this season was great. Questionable Sansa treatment and crappy Dorne aside, the Jon Snow story and anything with Arya were great. And Tyrion and Varys should have their own show. Well, really Tyrion and anyone - he was also incredible with Jorah and Dany. I reread the books after the season ended and am so thrilled for next season. The show has caught up with almost everyone except the Iron Islands and Lady Stoneheart (not giving up on her ever), so we will officially be in new territory for Arya and Jon, my favorites. There are a few internet rumors that the new book might come out right before the show. It would be nice to give George RR Martin one more go at the story before the show takes it away from him, but I really just want to know what happens to Jon, in whatever form. Sorry George.
There's the stuff that stuck with me from 2015. Things I'm forgetting... Inside Out was typical Pixar-perfection. I cried (thought it doesn't take much). Ex Machina was such a unique film, definitely worth checking out. I've really tried to get into Big Little Lies several times now but am officially giving up. And as always, I need to watch The Wire.