Book and Movie of the Year

Books on Bookshelves

About the Award

The True and Pure Book and Movie of the Year award is an unofficial, created-by-me award. I recognize what I consider the best book I read and the best movie I saw in the previous year, along with a runner-up in each category.

I make an effort to choose more modern books, since we can all agree that classics are classics for a reason, and my goal is to help you find amazing media that you might not have heard of or be unsure about. But the award in general is not limited to media that was released this year. I choose out of everything I read and watched in the course of the year, not only things that are brand-new.

You can find previous awards here:

2015

2016

2017

Book of the Year: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley (2015)

Runner-Up: Greenglass House by Kate Milford (2014)

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About the winner: 

Do you believe in magic? Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. (from Goodreads)

If you loved The Night Circus, or if you have any kind of interest in magical circuses, or if you like children’s books that feel deep and meaningful and old-fashioned in the best way, Circus Mirandus is for you. The magical-circus atmosphere is lovely, and the story is wonderful. It doesn’t use magic as an excuse, presenting realities of life in a way that doesn’t deny their weight. But it does it in a childlike way, balancing innocence and hope with the pain.

I’ve been really enjoying children’s books lately, and it’s always a delight to find more recently-published books that have this kind of quality and depth. Unlike the runner-up, this one isn’t a Christmas read necessarily, but the magical feeling lends itself very well to this season. It would be a great family read-aloud, a great one to give to younger siblings, or something to read by yourself on a cozy winter day beside the light of the Christmas tree.

About the runner-up: 

It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House-and themselves. (from Goodreads)

This is another more recently-published children’s book that has an atmosphere very similar to The Mysterious Benedict Society. I love it because it has the innocent feeling of childhood, but yet is a complex and deeply meaningful story with real conflict. The characters are interesting and complex, the family dynamics between Milo and his parents are really enjoyable, and the plot has plenty of twists and turns and different elements that all weave together really nicely. It takes place leading up to Christmas, so it’s a great one for the season, or to read at any point during the winter, and would also make a great family or sibling read-aloud!

Movie of the Year: The Truman Show (1998)

Runner-Up: The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

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About the winner: 

In this movie, Truman is a man whose life is a fake one… The place he lives is in fact a big studio with hidden cameras everywhere, and all his friends and people around him, are actors who play their roles in the most popular TV-series in the world: The Truman Show. Truman thinks that he is an ordinary man with an ordinary life and has no idea about how he is exploited. Until one day… he finds out everything. Will he react? (from IMDb)

This is one of the most thought-provoking movies I’ve ever watched. It’s entertaining, definitely, with plenty of humor and an intriguing premise. But when you start to think harder about the premise, you realize all of the questions that the movie is really raising, and what a serious movie it really is. It leaves you searching, trying to put words to its themes, raising questions of ethics in media, of what reality TV does to our society, of consumerism and entertainment culture. And it does all of this in a carefully crafted story, in which no detail of cinematography, costuming, setting, etc. is overlooked, and in which we are equally made to laugh, cry, and think.

About the runner-up: 

Two young gentlemen living in 1890’s England use the same pseudonym (“Ernest”) on the sly, which is fine until they both fall in love with women using that name, which leads to a comedy of mistaken identities… (from IMDb)

I love this play, and the movie is an excellent adaptation in which everything was done pretty much exactly as I had imagined it. The whole story is an absolutely hilarious comedy of errors, making this probably the funniest period drama that exists. The actors are amazing as well: the cast features Colin Firth and Judi Dench. Overall, it’s just a quality movie that’s full of innocent fun, one that can be watched over and over, on rainy days and sick days, with other people or by yourself, a movie that, at least for me, will never get old.

Have you read/watched my selections? If so, did you like them as much as I did? What are your favorite books and movies of 2018? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Book and Movie of the Year 2017

book and movie of the year edited

About the Award

The True and Pure Book and Movie of the Year Award is an unofficial, created-by-me award. I recognize what I consider the best book I read and the best movie I saw in the previous year, along with a runner-up in each category.

Starting this year, I will make an effort to choose more modern books rather than classics; we can all agree that most classics are classics for a reason, and my goal is to help you find amazing books that you might not have heard about or might be unsure about. Plus this will help me narrow it down a little bit. But the award in general is not limited to media that was released this year. I choose out of everything I read and watched in the course of the year, not only things that are brand-new.

See previous awards here:

Book and Movie of the Year 2015

Book and Movie of the Year 2016

Book of the Year: The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp (2016)

Runner-Up: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (2016)

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About the winner: 

New York Times best-selling author Ann Voskamp sits at the edge of her life and all of her own unspoken brokenness and asks: What if you really want to live abundantly before it’s too late? What do you do if you really want to know abundant wholeness? This is the one begging question that’s behind every single aspect of our lives — and one that The Broken Way – also a New York Times bestseller – rises up to explore in the most unexpected ways.  (from Goodreads)

The Broken Way, if read and digested carefully, is a life-changing book. Voskamp’s writing style is painfully beautiful; her words are filled with hope and joy; the truths that she speaks of are truths that we all need to be reminded of again and again. It is a beautiful book that every Christian should read, no matter your situation, and store up in their hearts for a time when life may be a struggle.

Read my earlier review: The Broken Way: Finding Beauty in Brokenness and Suffering.

About the runner-up: 

Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny?

Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost. When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around? (from Goodreads)

Vinegar Girl is just so much fun. It’s a touching, sweet, funny romance novel that doesn’t feel like a romance novel at all, taking The Taming of the Shrew and perfectly transplanting it into modern life. This is one of those books that I will probably reread over and over, and recommend to everyone. It’s especially perfect if you’re looking for a light, enjoyable beach read that still has substance.

Read my Goodreads review: Vinegar Girl.

Movie of the Year: Les Miserables (2012)

Runner-Up: Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical (2017)

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About the winner: 

Jean Valjean, known as Prisoner 24601, is released from prison and breaks parole to create a new life for himself while evading the grip of the persistent Inspector Javert. Set in post-revolutionary France, the story reaches resolution against the background of the June Rebellion. (from IMDb)

Note that I have not read the book, so I won’t be able to compare quality in that regard; but I watched Les Miserables for the first time back in January and absolutely loved it. It is a serious, rather dark, sometimes hard-to-watch movie, but it has a beautiful, hopeful conclusion that is missing from so much of today’s media. The music is so powerful as well, and adds to the development of its soaring themes. (Warning: there is some content that you may want to research beforehand. Most of it is easily fast-forwardable. Overall I wouldn’t recommend this movie for those under 14.)

About the runner-up: 

Set in New York City at the turn of the century and based on a true story, Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a ragged band of teenaged ‘newsies,’ who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies newsies to his side. (from IMDb)

This played in theaters one evening this year, and my sister and I went to see it with some friends. It was awesome. We love the musical, and it was so great to get to see the whole show with all the epic dancing! Best of all, I think it’s on Netflix now, so if you’re looking for a feel-good musical to brighten your winter, go check it out! I definitely need to watch it again soon.

 

What do you think? Have you read/watched my selections? If so, did you like them as much as I did? What are your favorite books and movies of 2017? I’d love to know! 

love, grace

 

Book and Movie of the Year 2016

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It’s already time for another book and movie of the year post! I had so much fun doing this last year and so I’m excited to do it again.

The choice, especially for books, was slightly agonizing, but I’m happy with the titles I’ve picked. In the end I just had to go with a gut feeling about which books most deserved this title.

Disclaimer: I am not getting paid to promote C.S. Lewis. Futhermore, this blog is not sponsored by C.S. Lewis, who happens to be no longer living anyway so how he would sponsor my blog, I don’t know. 

All jokes aside, I was a little concerned about choosing another C.S. Lewis book for my Book of the Year (last year’s was That Hideous Strength), but what can I say? C.S. Lewis is truly one of the greatest authors ever, and out of all the books I read this year, this one was the best. I do not take this choice lightly, and I didn’t want to choose a lesser book simply so that I wouldn’t have the same author two years in a row.

(It’s my award. I make the rules. And I say that the book can be by the same author two years in a row.)

So with that out of the way, I present to you…the 2016 Book and Movie of the Year! 

Book of the Year: The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

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Runner-up: The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart 

The Last Battle is the final book of the Narnia series, the culmination of every plot in the other books. I had definitely read it before, but I was so young I didn’t remember, and this year was the first time that I sat down and read the whole Narnia series, from start to finish within a few weeks, on my own. The Last Battle blew me away.

The endings of the other books are all so bittersweet, with the children returning to the real world, unsure if they will return. But not this one. This one displayed the great climax of human history and the great resolution of final peace and joy. The ending is made even sweeter because of the previous books, all of the characters reunited in eternal happiness. This book somehow captures what the feeling may be like when Christ returns, and it is a picture of heaven that I will never forget.

The runner-up is a whole series, because taking one book out of the series robs it of its magic. The four books together make The Mysterious Benedict Society series what it is: a wonderful story of friendship and good defeating evil. While a children’s book, it has such important messages for all ages, and is a story that everyone can enjoy. It is a happy story that is deep and meaningful at the same time, a rare find in this age of dark and depressing or light and fluffy books.

Movie of the Year: Big Fish (2003)

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Runner-up: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) 

I don’t think Big Fish is a movie that can really be explained. I can’t explain what it’s about, or why it had such a huge emotional effect on me, but I’ll try anyway.

The movie is the story of a father and son, shown in the present and in flashbacks through the father’s life. All during the son’s childhood, the father told wild stories about his own life, passing them off as truth. As an adult, the son greatly distrusts his father and resents those stories.

The movie explores their relationship, especially when the father becomes very sick. It explores the power of stories and the lasting effect they have on our lives. The ending had me crying my eyes out, and the whole movie is fun, humorous, entertaining, deep, beautiful, and sad all at the same time.

And yes, more Narnia as the runner-up. This year I watched a Narnia movie for the first time, and was really pleased with how well it was adapted! The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is visually gorgeous, well-cast, and stays very true to the book. I’m hesitant to watch the rest of the movies from things I’ve heard, but this one at least did a very good job and left me happy and satisfied.

 

What do you think? Do you like my choices? What are some of the best things you read and watched in 2016? Tell me in the comments!