Favourites

 

These are a few of my favourite books, movies and characters. An eclectic mix, I know, and a list that was hard for me to narrow down, because I usually find something I like in everything I read — I’m a lover of stories! But here are a few of my real standouts:

Books:

  • Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Of course!
  • Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy. The books that inspired me to try writing speculative fiction myself. I love everything about this trilogy: the characters, the gorgeous writing, the sheer metaphysical scope of the tale, the world building — awesome stuff!
  • The Etched City, by Australian writer K. J. Bishop. I’m totally in awe of Bishop’s language and characterisation. I also saw her speak at a con inSydney once, and in real life, she’s just as amazing as her writing suggests!
  • The Little Drummer Girl, by John Le Carré. I first read this book as a teenager, when I was devouring all sorts of bad action novels featuring evil Palestinian terrorists. But The Little Drummer Girl was the first story I ever read that expressed equally the pain and anguish and hopes of both sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and for that reason, for its sheer complexity and humanity, it remains one of my favourite books to this day. As in real life, nothing is simple in this novel.
  • Schindler’s List, by Thomas Keneally. One of the most inspiring yet ‘real’ stories ever. I love the contrast between Schindler’s moral laxness in regard to extramarital affairs and war profiteering combined with the utter goodness of his rescue efforts; I love the detail, the sustained passion and moral outrage of Keneally’s writing. Brilliant.
  • Other writers I admire include, in no particular order: Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, Haruki Murakami, Stephen King, Louise Cusack, Sara Douglass, Neil Gaiman, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and George R. R. Martin.

Movies/TV Series:

  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: My favourite movies ever. Full stop.
  • Moulin Rouge: for the brilliance of its songs, for its romance, beauty and tragedy. I cry every time Ewan Macgregor and Nicole Kidman sing their love duet atop the jewelled elephant.
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Game of Thrones. Of course!
  • True Blood
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand (RIP Andy Whitfield; I haven’t started watching Season 2 because I can’t bear the thought that Andy is no longer alive to star in it).

Characters:

  • Loki in the movies Thor and The Avengers. OK, I admit it, I (along with thousands of others, I know) have the biggest crush on Loki, a.k.a. Tom Hiddleston. Tom Hiddleston as Tom Hiddleston is handsome enough, I suppose, but it’s as Loki that he really does it for me. It’s that beautifully smooth English accent, those perfect white teeth and that marvellously archaicvocabulary (‘you mewling quim’, indeed), those long-fingered hands and yep, even that long black hair and the horny helmet. Yum. Besides, complex, conflicted villains are always so much more interesting than big blond muscle-bound heroes.
  • Gwynn in The Etched City. Another anti-hero with long black hair and pale eyes. What is it with me and these types? (Did I mention that my husband had long dark hair when we met? And he’s a Serb, which some would say makes him an anti-hero by association). And I love/hate it that it’s not until the end of the book that you discover that Gwynn — lover, piano player, occasional gunfighter — is infinitely darker than you thought…
  • Lancelot in The Once and Future King. There have been so many book and movie versions of Lancelot, but T. E. White’s depiction of him as a grotesquely ugly master swordsman whose courage and inner goodness still captures Guinevere’s heart really touches me.
  • Lyra in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy. Because she’s so young, and yet so plucky and quick-witted. The scene where she fends off a would-be child molester by spinning a tale about how she’s all alone on the streets at night because she’s just waiting for her father, a hired assassin, to finish work is one of my all-time favourites.
  • ‘Joseph’/Gadi Becker and Charlie in The Little Drummer Girl. Joseph remains a bit of an enigma throughout the book, but it’s that mysterious reserve of his that makes him so compelling. Whereas Charlie is just real and flawed — a good-hearted woman of strong humanistic beliefs who gets caught up in events far beyond her understanding, and lets her heart lead her into the darkest of places.