Nerdies for Favorite Things of 2009

Hope you all are enjoying the holidays. Me, I’m having so much fun with family, I need more gigabytes in my brain to store all the memories being made.

I get grateful this time of year for 1) making it this far and 2) all the wonderful experiences I had in the last 12 months. So, between all the eating and social gatherings, I present to you my Nerdy Awards for favorite things this year.

Most Valuable Preposition: Up. Apparently, the best way to make sure a movie is good is by putting this two-letter word in the title. Up and Up in the Air tie for best movie I saw this year. Both are perfect blends of comedy and poignancy, light and dark, entertainment and explorations of what makes us human.

Best Reasons for Staying Home Wednesday Nights: Glee, Modern Family and Cougar Town. Wednesday nights are always a party in my house, as I sing along to Glee then laugh my face off with Family and Cougar. You’ve probably heard plenty about the first two but may not know that Cougar‘s cast, led by the game Courteney Cox, has really gelled into one hilarious ensemble.

Most Unique New Voices in Crime Fiction: Chet the Jet from Spencer Quinn’s Dog on It, Pietro Brwna from Josh Bazell’s Beat the Reaper, and Stella Hardesty in Sophie Littlefield‘s A Bad Day for Sorry. The field is crowded with cops and detectives but this year, I met fresh new characters starting with Chet, a dog who narrates the adventures he has while solving crimes with his human partner, Bernie. Brwna is a hit man turned jaded medical intern who uses a deadly weapon I’ve never seen used before. And Littlefield introduced us to a 50-year-old, slightly overweight woman who helps abused women keep their partners in line partly by using S&M restraints. These books are all first in a series so discover them now before the next installments come out (Chet’s new case, Thereby Hangs a Tail, arrives January 5).

Best Noir Debut: Richard Lange‘s This Wicked World. This is Lange’s first novel but it reads like he’s been writing them forever. Worthy of a place on my shelf among the genre’s greats.

Best Avoidance of Sophomore Slump: Gillian Flynn with Dark Places. Her debut, Sharp Objects, was so stunning, I wondered if her second novel would measure up. I was thrilled, then, to find Flynn delving even more deeply into the female psyche’s dark, twisted side in Places. Few writers can write about damaged, prickly women and make them so mesmerizing.

Fattest Books I Finished in Shortest Time: I got lost in Kate Morton’s gothic, 560-page The Forbidden Garden for 3 days, while my eyeballs were glued to the 512 pages in Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire for 34 hours, finishing it in almost one sitting, minus a few hours of sleep.

Most Soul-Shaking Book: Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. This non-fiction tale of a star football-player-turned-soldier gunned down by friendly fire in Afghanistan ripped me apart and made me re-evaluate how I live my life. A searing read I won’t forget anytime soon.

Funniest Person I Least Expected to Be: Brian Williams on 30 Rock. The veteran NBC Nightly News anchor made me laugh hard when he unexpectedly showed up on Rock, telling Tina Fey he wanted to audition for her show within the show by doing a stand-up act. The punchline wasn’t funny at all but Williams’s hammy, goombah delivery was very much so.

Favorite Movie Trend: Women 45 and over kicking ass at the box office. Sandra Bullock had two big hits (The Proposal, The Blind Side), Meryl Streep had three movies (Julie & Julia, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, It’s Complicated), one of which may win her a third Oscar. And Sigourney Weaver returns as sci-fi queen in Avatar. I hope this trend continues so I can stop watching actors get older while their female co-stars get closer to infancy every year.

Best Performance by Any Actor, Male or Female: Mo’Nique in Precious. Not so much a performance as a terrifying inhabitation of a nightmarish character.

Most Memorable Movie Quote: I just met you and I love you.” —Dug the talking dog in Up.

What were some of your favorite things this year?

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10 responses to “Nerdies for Favorite Things of 2009

  1. Glee was one of my favourite new things this year ~ and I’m looking forward to some of your shows that haven’t started here yet, like Cougar Town. Another favourite thing was finding out that I’ll be finally put out of my Lost misery soon! For the past three seasons, I’ve wanted to smack it out of frustration, but I’ve had to keep watching it… {and I don’t smack things, so you can see what it’s driven me to.}

    • Oh, you have more perseverance than I. I stopped watching Lost after season 4 because I lost all patience and didn’t want to hurt my poor TV anymore (I threw a few things out of frustration, too).

  2. Oh, definitely Bouchercon…it wasn’t Bouchercon’s first Bouchercon, but it was MY first Bouchercon and it was the BEST!!

    Best debut I’m giving nods to Brad Parks on.

    TV I’ve been without for over a year, so I can’t comment on that front. I watch shows on DVD but they are ones I already know I like from before.

    I’m with you on Chet. Love him, love him, love him. And Stella – it’s the 45 and older trend in books, too! ;)

    Also loving the women’s 45 and older crowd shining on the big screen.

    My favorite line didn’t actually come from 2009, but I read it for the first time in 2009. It’s “After a full sweep of the dance floor, I bent down to kiss the U-shaped scar at her hairline and attempted to keep time to the counting of my blessings.” – ANOTHER MAN’S MOCCASINS (Craig Johnson)

    Best audio book reading goes to my boy, George Guidall for Johnson’s THE DARK HORSE. Anyone willing to sing “Cattle Call” gets bonus points! Of course, I still say everyone needs to start their Monday morning listening to him sing “Ruby” as Walt Longmire. These are times I almost had to pull off the road I was laughing so hard!

    For me, 2009 was simply the best year of the decade. Looking forward to 2010 being even better!

    • Jen – Great quote from ANOTHER MAN’S MOCCASINS! (Love Craig Johnson) Every time I come across a great quote in a book, I think I’ll remember it. But, of course, I never remember it precisely or where to find it. I’m thinking I should keep some small post-its close by to mark the pages, yeah? Although, with some authors, that’ll make the novel look like a college textbook!

    • I still haven’t experienced Bouchercon yet but look forward to it in 2010!

      I’ve never read Craig Johnson but based on the beauty of that line, I’ll have to look into his work.

      Did I ever tell you how impressed I am you’ve been without a TV for over a year?

  3. We were intrigued by BEAT THE REAPER once we saw the Davis-Kidd employee’s recommendation which stated something like, it was so good, it made her shins hurt. So, with an endorsement like that (SQUIRREL!)……and reading the first few sentences of the book, we had to buy it! Great purchase. (And, yes, our shins did indeed hurt.)

    Didn’t see many movies this year, but guess which one you mentioned that I absolutely adored? ;-p

    • My shins throbbed for days! My teeth hurt, too, from my gritting them while Brwna was, ah, acquiring his weapon of choice.

      POINT! I love Dug!

  4. Thank you for that wonderful list and all the best for the New Year.

    I’ve read all of Winspear’s Maisi Dobbs novels this year and enjoyed them tremendously.

    Fattest Book was Middlemarch by George Eliot though it took me more than 3 days to read it.

    Favourite quote from a movie was from “Les Invasion des Barbares”: “I am sensitive myself and besides highly intelligent.”

    Favourite quote from a book was from Alan Becket’s “The Uncommon Reader”: “O get on with it!” (The queen’s comment on Henry James.)

    All time favourite quote by Tom Lehrer:
    “It is people like this who make you realise how little you’ve accomplished. It is a sobering thought for example that when Mozart was my age he had been dead for two years.

  5. Oh PCN, how happy am I to have appeared on this list!!! So honored…I will limit myself to favorites of the non-mystery/crime sort:

    favorite women’s-fiction author I hadn’t read until ’09 – Marisa do los Santos

    favorite web site I hadn’t visited – hulu (without which i would watch absolutely no tv at all)

    favorite cult-like program under whose spell i fell – 100 Pushups

    favorite libation I never drank until now – Laphroaig

    favorite new (very new, and sparsely practiced) habit – think snarky thoughts, but not saying them

    and yeah, how happy am i that in ’10 I get to DRIVE to bouchercon, hopefully with a carful of friends and eighty pairs of shoes?!

  6. This was a fantastic list, PCN. The reason I love reading your blog is because of the intelligence, wit, and passion you bring to whatever you choose to write about, Elyse. It’s a rare combination, which makes you an uncommon person in my book. If this post is the last for the 2009 year, it is exemplary… and fun. And since you asked, I placed my favorite things in today’s post. And a couple of your things made it in there. Happy New Year, Elyse.

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