Sunday, 18 December 2011

Best of 2011 - Books and TV

      As this year draws to a close, I found myself reflecting upon the year that was and the best stuff I read and watched. This is a list of the best books and TV shows of 2011, in my opinion.

The Books:
   This year, I read fantasy fiction almost exclusively and as a result all of my top book choices are from this genre. That being said, 2011 was the best year in recent times for fantasy fiction. Not only were a great number of fantasy books out in the market, the quality of writing was exceptional.

     Coming in at number five is the thirteenth book in The Wheel of Time series, Towers of Midnight, written by Brandon Sanderson, with the aid of extensive notes left by the original author of the series, Robert Jordan. I am a WoT fan and am eagerly looking forward to the final book in this series due next year. The joint fifth place is shared by The Way of Kings, the first of the Stormlight Archives series, also written by Brandon Sanderson.

     At number four is the delectable Red Seas under Red Skies, written by Scott Lynch. Heist story meets pirates and the high seas meets magic. Can t wait for The Republic of Thieves.


     At number three is Patrick Rothfuss' sophomore novel, The Wise Man's Fear. Because the novelty of the first book wears off, the ensuing sequels can seem a bit lacklustre. Not in this series, though. The promise seen in Rothfuss' debut is realised in this book and then some.

    The second best book of this year is Ghost story, the thirteenth book in the Dresden files series. The twelfth book left the readers on a cliff hanger and so saying that the thirteenth book was highly anticipated is like saying Sachin Tendulkar is a batsman ( true but understated ). I have already written a piece on why I love The Dresden files. Check it out here.

     There has neither been a more revolutionary writer than George R R Martin since Tolkien nor has there been a story more epic in scale than A Song of Ice and Fire since The Lord of the Rings. The world the series is set in, the rich multi dimensional characters, the unpredictability of the story and the exceptional style of writing place this series in a different league altogether. It has been called an instant classic and rightly so. A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in this seven book series, released this year was unbelievably good and my pick for this year's best book. Word of Caution, though - Do not get emotionally attached to any of the characters in this series; you might regret it.



The TV shows:
       I love courtroom dramas. I think the first few seasons of David E Kelley's "The Practice" contain some of the best episodes in TV history. I devour John Grisham's legal thrillers and loved reading Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason novelettes. So, it comes as no surprise that two legal dramas share the fifth place in this list.

     


        USA TV's Suits is a legal drama that had a prodigious young man with an eidetic memory masquerading as a Harvard Law school alumnus in a prestigious law firm. The highlight of this series for me is Sarah Rafferty's portrayal of Donna, a sassy secretary and the witty repartee she has with the other characters.

     


        Sharing the fifth place is David E Kelley's Harry's Law which has Oscar winner Kathy Bates in the lead. Essentially a Kelley legal drama which feels like a toned down version of Boston Legal and Ally Mcbeal sometimes, the show is elevated by Kathy Bates' acting and screen presence into something eminently watchable.





       In fourth place is the comedy, Community. It is a smartly written series that parodies celebrities, TV shows, movies and everything else in the American pop culture spectrum.Not being American, I had to look up some of the pop culture references on the internet and I laughed out loud afterwards. It is a satire that shows us how ridiculous some things are by going over the top sometimes.

   



       Revenge is a show that premiered this fall and is a modern day reimagining of the Count of Monte Cristo with Emily Van Camp in the lead. Though I have the hugest ( is that even a word? ) crush on Emily, it is Madeleine Stowe's ice cold, treacherous and Machiavellian character, Victoria Grayson, that I like the most.

   



        Fringe is a TV show about alternate universes, interdimensional travel and yes, Fringe science. It is in its fourth season now and is pure entertainment. I am usually not a sci-fi fan but I like this series so much that it is number two on my list.



     Finally, the best series of 2011 is............... drum roll please, ................. HBO's Game of Thrones. The Television adaptation of George R R Martin's first novel in his popular series is true to the book and has an excellent cast. Peter Dinklage is perfect as Tyrion Lannister and his well deserved Emmy win validates this opinion. The ensemble cast, the art direction, the screenplay, the music and the direction are all par excellence.

What do you think? Did I leave any of your favourites out? Let me know....

Next week, get my list of top movies and songs of 2011.

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