Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday Five

  1. Spent the Fourth of July weekend with Rachel, Joe and Zeke. Did the same thing in 2009, so it must be a new tradition. I love that even though we both live in the Metroplex, I pack an overnight bag and stay over all weekend. It's like going out of town.

  2. I'm rereading the Harry Potter books, and man, is Goblet of Fire dark and devastating. And knowing what comes next in Order of the Phoenix, Rowling planted the seeds for that oppressive atmosphere perfectly with inaccurate Potter stories in the paper and Ministry staff troubles.

  3. I'm watching the Community marathon on NBC. I love this ridiculously goofy show! The episode "Modern Warfare" was one of the best episodes of TV all season, and "Physical Education" (THE pool game) is still funny. And the college mascot is the Human Being.

  4. Who is enjoying the break in the heat? Saw fireworks last Saturday night and could have used a light jacket. Love it!

  5. Not much else going on. To be honest, I love being lazy on my work-free weeknights. I'm flying through books and catching up on TV shows. And cooking dinner.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Friday Five

I keep forgetting to blog!
  1. So last Thursday I went with some friends to see Idina Menzel at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. That woman knows how to command a stage. She sang "Poker Face" from GLEE, which is not a song you would ever associate with the symphony. She closed with "Defying Gravity" of course. But my favorite song was an a cappella version of "For Good," also from WICKED. She even dropped her mic, so it was just her natural voice filling the Meyerson. I almost cried. And just thinking about it gives me chills. We bought the cheap seats behind the orchestra, but it was worth it, even though Idina's back was to us most of the time. So that is what I was doing last Thursday night instead of blogging. I think you can forgive me. And this Thursday I was working and didn't get home until almost 10 p.m.

  2. By the way, loved doing something social on a Thursday instead of working. I did give up my WICKED ticket last night because of a work conflict, but I have already seen the show. And I've heard this touring cast underwhelms.

  3. I just finished reading the book "Devil in the White City" about the Chicago World's Fair and a charming local serial killer . What I learned: the Ferris Wheel is so named after the engineer who designed it for the World's Fair; Shredded Wheat cereal made it's debut at the Fair; the Pledge of Allegiance originated because one man thought it would be a good idea if all the school children recited something in unison to observe Columbus Day and acknowledge Dedication Day of the Fair.

  4. Loving me some "30 for 30" documentaries on ESPN. I've only seen three, but they've all been excellent.

  5. I finally bought a bookcase for my living room. The absence of boxes make the place feel more like home.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Friday Five

  1. I grew accustomed to not blogging over the last two months, and I forgot to blog last week. Oops. I don't have much life news to share.

  2. Our office was closed Friday and Monday for Memorial Day weekend. Awesome. I didn't have many plans, and that is how I wanted it. After eight straight working weekends and three Relay weekends in a row, it was great to do nothing. The weekend also announced that summer is officially here. Janie and I played tennis and barely lasted 30 minutes. Too hot. So we've moved our weekly game from Sunday afternoon to Friday evening.

  3. Love this photo! Love that the Maldives government held an underwater cabinet meeting to draw attention to the dangers of global warming. Talk about creativity.

  4. The French Open started two weeks ago, and my fave player - Rafael Nadal - is expected to advance to the final and win his fifth Roland Garros title. Yay! Catch some tennis this weekend on NBC. Neither female finalist has ever played in a Grand Slam final, so expect some shaky, nervous tennis.

  5. I need some reading suggestions. If you've read a good book lately, put it in the comments. I devoured the final Lisbeth Salander (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) book over the weekend. Ready for something new.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Five: It's Back

  1. Wow. I haven't blogged since March. Life definitely got busy around that time. Relay consumed me. I've worked every weekend since April and the past three weekends have been Relay events. Relay is from 7 p.m. - 7 a.m. on Friday, so it took a lot out of me. But I think I've caught up on my sleep. Caffeine is keeping me up at night (that hasn't happened since March) and this morning I work up fully rested an hour before my alarm was set. And next week I start exercising again. I really think my strategy of not waking up before 8 a.m. sped up my recovery.

  2. Here are a few pictures from my last Relay. We had to move indoors because of inclement weather, but everyone still showed up. It was great! It would cross into the awesome category if I had achieved my income goal. (If anyone has a spare $50,000 they would like to donate to the American Cancer Society, you can be my BFF.)

  3. I did see Patty Griffin in concert in April (?). She was awesome! She closed with "Up to the Mountain," my favorite song. Ready to see Indina Menzel at the Symphony next month.

  4. Despite all my night meetings, I have managed to keep up with all the TV shows I watch. Random thoughts. Cannot believe LOST is ending on Sunday. It's the end of an era! So not in to the Office this year. Haven't watched the last three episodes, including the finale. I don't think I like the new Doctor (Who). Something about this character is unlikeable, which I never felt about David Tennant's Doctor. Loving Party Down this season. And loving that you can stream it free on Netflix. Still bothered by the recorded musical numbers in GLEE because background noises - clapping, stomping, cast reactions - aren't included and take away from the authenticity of the performances. That said, the Madonna episode was awesome, as was NPH and the entire "Dream On" episode. Joss Whedon is a TV god.

  5. Haven't been reading. Anyone have any recommendations for me?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Five

  1. Saturday is Passport Day! I have a firm belief that everyone should possess a valid passport. You never know when the opportunity to travel will present itself, and you always want to be able to GO! On Saturday, passport agencieswill be open from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., no appointment necessary. (Not all agencies are open on Saturday and usually require appointments.) Take advantage of this opportunity! If not for the opportunity to travel, then for the cost. The State Department has proposed new passport fees, and if they go into effect, new passports will cost $135 (instead of $100) and renewals will cost $110 (instead of $75.)

  2. I had a birthday dinner with my family last Saturday. Because I was skiing on my actual birthday, I thought I had missed out on my annual cookie cake. I may be 31 years old, but I still require a cookie cake for my birthday. For my 30th, I had two! Thanks to my Mom for remembering.

  3. I encourage you all the buy the new She & Him album, Volume Two. In full disclosure, I
    have not listened to it yet. (I thought I downloaded it twice, but iTunes had a glitch. Imagine my disappointment two mornings in a row when I planned on listening to the new album on the way to work.) But I love, love, love Volume One. Listening to their music is like being transported to Paris in springtime. Who doesn't want that? The She of She & Him is actress Zooey Deschanel. One more reason to love her. Just go ahead and buy both albums. You won't regret it.

  4. In just over a week, Lent will be over and so will my fast of caffeine and carbonated drinks. Last week I was bored of drinking water. This week I'm used to it. But I am looking forward to having my first Diet Dr. Pepper from Sonic after 40+ days.

  5. I don't know if I have mentioned on this blog how much I love the Vulture blog from New York Magazine. For all you LOST watchers, they have an episode recap AND compile a list of their favorite LOST theories. Check it out. WARNING: They did not like this week's episode.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Five

  1. College Humor does a nice job making fun of several of the Oscar-nominated movies in this collection of posters. Check it out.

    Honest Movie Titles: Oscars 2010 on CollegeHumor

  2. Had a great time skiing last weekend. Trip was cut short by a winter storm expected to bring 18 inches of snow overnight. We decided to not stick around for that. I love skiing. Want to do more of it.

  3. Finally, in the eleventh week of 2010, I read my first two weeks of the year. Can't believe it took me so long. One I started the final week of 2009. So I turned that into a streak and made a trip to the library. Here's hoping the reading continues.

  4. In honor of Kathryn Bigelow's success at the Oscars, I'm watching all her previous films. Through this process I have voluntarily subjected myself to a Keanu Reeves film. I had no idea he starred in a movie with Patrick Swayze. Kathryn creates suspense well and frames scenes well.

  5. Micheal and Darryl simultaneously saying, "That's what she said" = AWESOME!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Five

  1. Recently discovered a fun Canadian TV show called "Being Erica." It's about a 30ish woman with career, romantic and family drama. A "therapist" finds her after an accident and helps her take charge of her life my sending her back in time to fix her mistakes. Time travel dramedy. Sounds kind of cheesy, but it's not. Erica - and the actress that plays her - is awesome! She's not perfect, but she's strong and likable. Give it a try on Hulu.

  2. The Oscars came and wen,t and the Hurt Locker prevailed. I've written about this excellent film before, so now that it's won the Oscar for best picture and director, will you see it? I knew Sandra Bullock was going to win, and even though I don't feel it's deserved, she gave the best acceptance speech I've heard in years. Funny, heartfelt and authentic. Makes the win more bearable. I was 18/24 with my Oscar predictions. Not bad. How about you?

  3. Going skiing this weekend! Yippee. Just New Mexico this time, so the trip is shorter. Foot still bothering me, but I think it will hold up.

  4. The second week of the month is my busiest because I work regular hours and also Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights. And this week also included a Wednesday evening meeting. Until Wednesday afternoon, when my Wednesday meeting was canceled. It's amazing how much joy I felt in that cancellation. When I'm in Relay mode, I almost don't think twice about scheduling meetings at night or on the weekends (I have Saturday morning and Friday evening appointments in the next month.) I always look forward to the slow summer. Which is the complete opposite of my job in Lubbock.

  5. Maybe I'll pick up a book on my ski trip, which I haven't done since the last time i went skiing. In December. Crazy. I know. It's March!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Friday Five

  1. I finally ran a half marathon! Cowtown 2010. Due to my lack of training, I completed it with a three-minute run/two-minute walk formula, but I still finished! Yippee. I could barely walk later that day, but who cares. Here are a few pictures.


  2. I was going to give up running after the Cowtown, but I loved the experience too much. So I'm giving in and finding a sports medicine doctor to check out my foot. Recommendations anyone?

  3. The weather has been great the past few days. Bring on the sunshine!

  4. Ready for the Oscars on Sunday!

  5. I have writer's block.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Five

  1. I'm participating in my first half marathon on Saturday. Due to injury and the realization that I don't enjoy the run-walk program I was doing, I'm not trained. Neither is Joe. So we'll suffer together. I actually like running, which is why I decided to sign up for the half in the first place. But I don't like running with walk breaks, which is how I was training. So I lost my motivation to wake up early in the morning and train. Maybe I'll try again. Maybe I'll give up running. Maybe I'll give in and see a specialist about my foot. We'll see.

  2. LOST Theory of the Week from Televisionary:
    "My current (and possibly off-the-wall theory) is that the flashbacks we've seen over the years were in fact the moments that were seen by Jacob at the looking-glass. I've long wondered if Jacob either exists outside the boundaries of time and space (thus able to manifest as both his past incarnation--the bloodied teenage boy--and his ghostly adult self and appear off- and on-island) or is able to perceive the world through the veil of time, perhaps aided by the looking-glass. Just as Smokey was able to scan the castaways upon coming upon them (as seen when he "reads" Mr. Eko way back when), Jacob is perhaps able to watch these key moments unfold. Which would therefore make the flashbacks not only key plot points but also integral to the larger narrative, giving us an plot-based explanation for why they exist within the series and making Jacob not just a player in the larger game but also one of us as well: a viewer, privy to these characters' pasts in a way that only an omniscient narrator can be."

  3. I'm enjoying my life without caffeine and sodas. Because I'd been drinking caffeine-free Diet Coke or Diet DP when I had the opportunity, I didn't experience caffeine withdraw. I am enjoying sleeping better, except when the stress of my job keeps me awake, like it did one night this week.

  4. As much as I love the Olympics, I'm starting to tire of them. At the same time, I just sat on the edge of my couch watching the results of the Nordic Combined. But that is because I love sports in general. I do not love NBC's time-delayed coverage, which is senseless from Games in the same continent and with results posted on the internet before before aired on NBC.

  5. So haven't been reading lately. It's been Olympics and movies all the time. I still haven't finished the Andre Agassi autobiography I started in December. I devour books, so if I take a break, I don't usually finish. But I want to finish. Have to make myself.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Five

  1. I've seen all 10 nominees for Best Picture. Finally. I'm partial to the Hurt Locker. Rent it today. It's a thriller about disarming bombs. Don't skip it just because you think it's a "war movie." It's not. Tthe war in Afghanistan is the setting. And it has great cinematography. And it's a directed by a female, the front runner to win and become the first woman best director winner.

  2. It feels like ages ago that we had snow, doesn't it? I didn't go into work Thursday or Friday. On Thursday, I walked a mile or so to eat lunch because I didn't have groceries. I knew the roads weren't bad, but I love the snow, so why not? Here are a few pictures from my journey. (I took them with my new phone; it has a zoom!)

    I love the hay barrels in this photo. This is in a field behind my apartment complex.

    The resort-style pool at my apartment. Loved the juxtaposition in this photo. Palm trees covered in snow.The road I walked from my apartment to Chick-fil-A.

  3. On Friday, I went a little stir crazy. I got out in the afternoon and drove to the mall to see a movie. Poorly chose "Valentine's Day." Do not waste your time or your money. Skip it and put "Love, Actually" in your DVD player. You will thank me.

  4. Saw the Greencards in concert last Wednesday and Zane Williams (!) two days ago. I haven't seen Zane since college. He sounded good, but the venue was awful. Horrible acoustics. Want to see him again when I can really hear what he is singing.

  5. Going to see a documentary film festival this Saturday in Denton. If that interests you and you want to tag along, let me know. We are going to see three Oscar-nominated docs, including the "Cove." So if you are anti-dolphin slaughter, this is the movie for you.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday Five: Oscar Nominations

I love movies. Shocking revelation, I know. Tuesday was Oscar nomination day, and I have opinions on those nominations. Again, shocking.

  1. Unless you've been living under a rock (or simply don't care, which if that is the case, I won't be offended if you stop reading now), the AMPAS expanded the best picture list to include 10 (10!) movies. Crazy. Nominees and my reaction below.
    - the Blind Side
    - District 9
    - An Education
    - Hurt Locker
    - Inglourious Basterds
    - Precious
    - A Serious Man (have not seen)
    - Up (have not seen)
    - Up in the Air

    Super excited about the inclusion of District 9 on this list. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Avatar has to have the worst dialogue of any Best Picture nominee, possibly ever. So bad it was distracting. The Blind Side, really? Tim McGraw can now say he starred in an Oscar-nominated movie.

  2. Overall, don't see the point of expanding the list when the Best Director category is still five. Movies there weren't nominated for best directing are the "second-class citizens" of the best pic race. But with the inclusion of Avatar, the Blind Side, Up and Inglourious Basters, maybe ratings will increase.

  3. What happens if Up loses the Oscar for animation? How can the Academy justify that? It was good enough to be nominated for the overall best picture race, but somehow is not considered the best animated film?

  4. Kathryn Bigelow might become the first woman to win the Oscar for best director! Lee Daniels is the first African American man to be nominated for best director! Exciting! Except I have mixed feelings about Daniels inclusion. Saw Precious, liked it, recommend it. Daniels pulled incredible performances out of his cast - two receiving Oscar nominations - and deserves credit. But I didn't like many choices he made shooting and editing the film, including, but not limited to, the scenes in and around the fantasies. So mixed feelings.

  5. In the Loop was nominated for adapted screenplay. Wow. Just saw this movie last week. Probably the most profane movie every nominated for an screenplay Oscar. You know how sometimes, you watch a movie with repetitive foul language and you get used to it by the end. The profanity in this movie is so over the top (and creative) that you always notice it. It's a British comedy about the lead up the Iraq war. But it's very smart and clever and deserving.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Five

  1. For my (few) regular readers, I'm not done with my Best of the Decade series, I'm just struggling with the TV and music lists. Challenges, challenges. To be continued.

  2. Super excited about the premier of LOST next week. Bummed that I work every Tuesday night and can't watch the episodes live. What is going to happen? Totally love these posters for LOST. Check out more here.
  3. Recently released movies you should add to your Netflix queue immediately: the Hurt Locker, the Cove (propaganda with disturbing footage, but worth knowing about), and (500) Days of Summer. Yay!

  4. Glad the work week is over. I worked Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights in addition to regular working hours. And I'm not done yet. I'm working 11-4 tomorrow.

  5. Recent happy thoughts:
    -"What the Fraggle Rock is going on here?" - Scrubs
    -"stealing" wi-fi from the parking lot
    -people sitting on the floor reading in a bookstore
    -watching tape-delayed sports instead of looking up the scores
    -Conan: "Let's have fun on television!" followed by jumping and dancing
    -playing tennis and cooking with Janie on Sunday

Friday, January 15, 2010

Best of the Decade: Movies

I'm constantly debating myself on the criteria for my favorite movies of the decade. Ultimately, I decided to only include movies I own - with exceptions.

Exception one: documentaries. I have seen some exceptional documentaries, but I don't own any of them. I figured I'd be doing those docs and my faithful readers a disservice by not including them.

Exception two: movies I expect to own or think I own. Think I own? Movies I've tried to watch several times, only to be frustrated by their absence from my library. But when I go shopping for movies, I never remember to look for them (because I think I own them.) So I'm counting those movies. Besides, it's my blog and my list, and I make the rules.

So, here are my favorite movies of the decade, once again in alphabetical order. I'm still torn between some of the movies on the official list and my honorable mention. I just love so many movies! If you like the illustrations, check out the work of Elloh at her Etsy shop.
  1. Almost Famous. Hands down my favorite Cameron Crowe film of the decade. A teenage boy goes on the road as a rock journalist and discovers himself and his passion. Crowe based the film on his own life experiences and the authenticity helps the movie resonate. It also has great characters. Watching this movie makes me shake my head at Kate Hudson's career choices. Her breakthrough performance 10 years ago is far and away the best performance of her career.

  2. Amelie. Love at first sight, baby. Some movies pull you in instantly, like this one. How can you not be charmed by Amelie and her romantic journey and her quest to help others find happiness? Add in the city of Paris and gorgeous cinematography, and you have a winner. Seriously, check this movie out now.

  3. Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. (Before Sunrise came out in 1995, but I saw it in 2003. And you need to watch them in order, so I'm including both.) I like to think I would appreciate these movies even if I hadn't backpacked through Europe, but I can't be sure. The opening sequence of Sunrise left me giddy because it was so true to life. You meet strangers on trains, have deep and personal conversations, and alter your plans to travel with them, all before exchanging names. I lived it. From there, I was hooked. Nine years later, the sequel arrived, and I think I like it more than the original. The movies are one long conversation, set in Vienna and Paris, so don't expect much in terms of plot. But the point is the conversation and the relationship. Heads up: you might not like the ending, but I think it's perfect.

  4. The Best of Youth. I've written about this Italian miniseries before, and I will keep encouraging you to watch it. The movie follows two brothers throughout their lives set against the backdrop of Italian history. It stars, who I like to call, the Italian Hugh Jackman, and it's just captivating. Great storytelling. And over the course of six hours (not a typo) you feel connected to the characters. And by the closing scene, you feel closure. The final scene is one of my favorites of the film because it communicated so much without words.

  5. Brothers (the original Danish version). I just wrote about this film, so I won't say much more. This movie nails the nuances of all kind of relationships and manages to express so much with very little. And it's far superior to the recent American remake.

  6. City of God. This film is about the slums of Brazil and what you must do to survive, with our hero using his love of photography to escape his surroundings. It's not easy to watch, but it is beautifully made. Somehow it wasn't nominated for the foreign film category in its eligible year, but returned the following year with director, cinematography, editing and screenplay nominations. So it's a well-made film.

  7. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Is there any genre film Ang Lee can't direct and direct well? I loved many things about this film: the breathtaking fight sequences, the dominant role of women, the heart.

  8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry team up and the result is better than any of their solo efforts. Loved the originality (it won the Oscar for original screenplay)! The movie is such a fun, unique journey. Kate Winslet should have won her first Oscar for this performance. She is outstanding!

  9. Grizzly Man. Fascinating is the best word to describe this movie. It's about a man who devoted his life to studying bears, believing that they are misunderstood by the human world. He lives with the bears every summer and this movie uses his own footage to chronicle his life until he is mauled to death (not shown). Fascinating.

  10. Little Miss Sunshine. How can I leave off the movie that made me laugh more than any other movie I can remember. After I saw this movie, I called several people to tell them to go see this movie immediately. And I couldn't stop laughing long enough to do much talking. I also couldn't fall asleep because I kept remembering scenes in my head and laughing.

  11. Memento. I say that my movie obsession began when my aunt took me to see the Spitfire Grill in high school, but Memento played a key role as well. I watched a lot of odd movies in college, and some were just awful. But this 2000 film convinced me that I had to keep searching. If I have to sit through a few duds to see a movie like Memento, it's worth it. This revenge thriller is told backwards because the protagonist has a memory disorder that prevents him from making new memories. If you want to know why so many fanboys were excited when Chris Nolan took over the Batman franchise, this movie is the reason.

  12. Moulin Rouge! I was in Europe when this movie came out, and didn't know much about it. I remember turning to Janie in the middle of the Elephant Love Medley and saying, "I love this movie." And that moment, when a movie overtakes you, is one of the reasons I love cinema. I still can't believe Baz Luhrmann didn't receive a best director nomination for this movie. It's travishamockery that boring Ron Howard and an overrated Beautiful Mind beat out Baz. Anyone could have made a Beautiful Mind; there was nothing distinct or special about it (multiple personalities represented by real actors does not count). Baz Luhrmann is the only person who could have made Moulin Rouge! It breaks my heart every time I see it.

  13. Murderball. Rugby-playing quadriplegics compete for Gold in the Paralympic Games in Athens. Really, that should be enough. Add double crossing coaches and other conflict, and you've got yourself an interesting movie.

  14. Once. The little movie that could. I'm not sure I've seen a more perfect movie scene than when Glen and Marketa get to know each other while playing and singing "Falling Slowly." And what a song! (So glad it won the Oscar because it was essential to move the story forward. Hate it when songs that play over the credits win. What is the point?) I have a smile on my face the entire time I watch them. I can't find a movie clip to show you, only edited and cut ones, which don't do the scene justice. Again, some people aren't entirely thrilled with the ending, but it doesn't change my love for the film.

  15. The Royal Tenenbaums. I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I love the quirkiness of this film. Comedy with a heart.
Honorable Mention: Across the Universe (I'll take Julie Taymor reaching for the stars, sometimes hitting her target and sometimes missing, over cliched, blah romantic comedies any day), Big Fish (great visuals and a compelling story), Billy Elliott (what's not to like about a young boy falling in love with ballet), Bourne Trilogy (specifically the Paul Greengrass-directed second and third films - each one got better), Children of Men (kind of dark, with only a slight ray of hope at the end, but man, gorgeous to look it), Hairspray (fell in love with this movie by the end of the opening song), Hero (loved the decision to drench fight sequences in certain colors), In America (one family's story of immigrating to America, not all happy, with young actresses that break your heart), Lars and the Real Girl (delightful and moving; don't be turned off my premise of man dating sex doll), Pride and Prejudice (love the Keira Knightley version and how it portrays the character of Elizabeth), Slumdog Millionaire (a romance disguised as a thriller, this movie will steal your heart) , Stranger than Fiction (this movie comes across like a book, and it has brilliant moments, like when Will Ferrell brings Maggie G. flours), Waitress (slightly odd tone, but very lovable film with a great performance Keri Russell; takes on an added depth when you know the writer/director and star was murdered before it's release)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Best of the Decade: Books

I'm jumping on the best-of-the-decade bandwagon with lists of my favorite books, movies and TV shows. This week is all about books.

Just to clarify for those of you that don't know, I have a horrible memory. Mainly, it's the recall. If you ask me to name the last five books I read, I can't do it. But if you show me a list of books, I can remember which ones I've read. All that to say, I started keeping a reading list in 1999. And since 2000, I've read approximately 243 books. I still forget to write down every book (my most recent completion and the entire Twilight series were left off; who knows what else.)

I decided to be generous with the list. I went through my list and marked any book that stood out. I went back through and excluded anything that didn't stack up. Not too scientific. The list is in alphabetical order, with the year I read it included, and series listed together.
  1. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (London, 2002). Great story, great writing. You've probably read it. What else is there to say?

  2. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (2008). I didn't want to put this book down, and it's about gardening, cooking and eating.

  3. The BourneTrilogy - Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum by Robert Ludlum (2003). Started the first book and didn't stop reading until I finished the third and final book. I'm not saying these are top quality books, but the cliffhangers at the end of each chapter keep you reading. Finding a book you can't put down is one of the reasons we read. The books were a jumping off point for the movies, so the plots are different.

  4. Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (2003). I read the Da Vinci Code on a bus and couldn't put it down. Enjoyed Angels and Demons even more; even read it twice. I've also loved thrillers, even though you won't find a Grisham book on my list. (Hmmm. I read eight of them. I guess none stood out.)

  5. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Alters Everywhere by Rebecca Wells (2000 and 2002). Not perfect books, but I loved the style and the characters. And these books were loved by my friends, creating a shared experience.

  6. Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer (2003). Now for something completely different, this true crime novel won the Pulitzer in 1980 and tells the story of the first man executed after the death penalty was reinstated in 1977. I remember reading this book at the kitchen table instead of eating during my lunch breaks. Not light reading.

  7. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser (2006). I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that reading this book did not result in permanent changes in my behavior, just temporary ones. Maybe I should read it every year. Because I want to act on what I learned in this book, and that action should not be eating fast food. It's just not a positive action.

  8. Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner (2006). A quest-for-faith memoir that includes embracing Judaism and Christianity. I enjoyed reading this book because the author's writing style matches the way I think. Everything about this book made sense to me.

  9. Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowling (2002-2007). How could I not include this series? It was the biggest literary sensation of the decade. Even though the first book was published in 1998, I didn't read it until 2002, in England, with the title "HP & the Philosopher's Stone." I want the entire series in hardcover, but I will always cherish my British paperback. Because I made the decision to wait and read the books until right before the movie releases, I had the shocking revelation in Book 6 spoiled for me. No fun. So I read the final book right after its release. Can't wait to read the series again.

  10. His Dark Materials Trilogy: Golden Compass, Subtle Knife, Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (2007). Another British, young adult series makes the list. In this series, a young heroine fights a corrupt government and makes the ultimate sacrifice to win. Heartbreaking. I wasn't offended by these books and the perceived anti-God theme, but some might be.

  11. Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (2009). A society that forces children to compete in a gladiator-style competition to the death broadcast on TV may not sound like the ideal plot for a young adult book, but it is. And it's excellent. Another story of youth fighting a corrupt government. Great pacing and characters. Can't wait for the third book in the trilogy to be released.

  12. Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Sons by Khaled Hosseini (2006 and 2007). Different stories, but the author and setting are the same, so I'm clumping them together. Great stories, great writing, and a great window into a culture that is dominating the news.

  13. Lamb by Christopher Moore (2004). I love to read and love to laugh but very rarely do books make me laugh. I laughed out loud all the way through this book. This is a religious satire, so if you can't handle reading about Jesus doing "sacrilegious" things, don't try it. To me, that is what made it so funny. And because I read this book, I had a conversation with a stranger on a plane about religion and politics, separation of church and state, Christians and Bush, abortion and homosexuality. All because of a book.

  14. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2005). Magical storytelling is how I've heard this book described, and I have to agree. It's a story you can't resist.

  15. Lindbergh by A. Scott Berg (London, 2002). The book is interesting as much for the man it deconstructs as the role his celebrity plays in the story of his life.

  16. Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2007). Not as easy read but worthwhile because of how the story is told and the character of Susie Salmon.

  17. Madam Secretary by Madeleine Albright (2009). Loved the insight into the inner workers of foreign policy combined with her personal life story.

  18. McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy (backpacking, 2002). Sometimes a book lands in your lap at the perfect time, and such is the case with this book. By the time I read this, I'd spent 10 months living and working in London and Ireland, and had just started backpacking across Europe. And here was a book about a man on a journey through Ireland to discover if you can ever full belong in a country you weren't born and raised in. I was on the same journey.

  19. My Life in France by Julia Child (2009). Reading this book made me want to get to know Julia Child even more. And the fact that she found her calling so late in life is inspirational.

  20. Personal History by Katharine Graham (2001). Graham was the editor of the Washington Post Co. during Watergate and the Pentagon Papers scandals. Well-written novel about the inner workers of journalism and being a successful woman in a man's world.

  21. Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (2001). One of my all-time favorite books, I've read this book more times than I can remember. Every chapter is written from the perspective of a different daughter in the family, and they each have a unique voice.

  22. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (2006). Living with or without freedom, oppression and the role of women, and the power of art and literature all combine to produce a moving memoir.

  23. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X (backpacking, 2002). I remember sitting in a train station in Paris forcing myself to finish this book before I moved on. A good book will always slow you down. And what is not interesting about this man's life and his journey?

  24. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (London, 2002). Any one can make a difference, as this true story proves.

  25. The Hours by Michael Cunningham (London, 2002, 2003). I kept rereading sentences and paragraphs because they were so beautiful. Even read the book twice. Three intertwining stories, all centered on Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway." Reader beware: dark tone.

  26. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2007). Couldn't put this dark, apocalyptic book down. I read it in one sitting, staying up half the night to do it.

  27. Thursday Next Novels by Jasper Fforde (2004). Reading these books was fun! I've heard this series compared to an adult Harry Potter series. Kind of sci-fi meets literature. Thursday Next is a literary detective in England in the future. Silly, but fun and smart. And fun!

  28. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (2007). Under the Banner of Heaven is an intriguing study of Mormon Fundamentalism. To understand Mormon Fundamentalism, you have to understand the history of Mormonism and why the Fundamentalists have broken off from the official Mormon church. The author includes a lengthy reference list, but I wanted a more immediate attribution of facts to base some of his claims.

  29. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. Almost nothing like the movie, this book is about an American couple that lives in Italy during the summer and and their experiences. Being someone that has lived in a different country and adapted to a different culture, I enjoyed enjoyed this person's perspective.

  30. Welcome to the World, Baby Girl by Fannie Flagg (London, 2002). I just like the style of this book. If I were to look through my happy list from this time in my life, I would find quotes from the book.

  31. Where the Heart is by Billie Letts (2000). Finally, a book from the first year of the decade. Is this book great literature? No. Do I love it? Absolutely. I even own the movie based on the book. To be honest, I read it so long ago, I can't remember why I love it. But if still feels like a part of me.

  32. White Teeth by Zadie Smith (2001). Again, I read this book so long ago. Simply, this book is about multiculturalism and the immigrant experience. Sounds like a book I would have picked up in London (that is the setting), but I read it a few months before I moved there. I remember being surprised by this book, feeling like I was reading something unique.

  33. Wicked by Gregory Maguire (2005). Did not expect the political angle when I picked up this book, but I ate it up. A little uneven, but worth reading. A book you want your friends to read so you can talk about it together.
And those are my favorite books of the decade. Did I miss anything you would include? Totally disagree with any of my selections. Sound off in the comments.