new narratives · other work

Top 10 Movies and Top 10 Books

I may come back and edit these lists later as I will probably think of works which I feel better represent my aims and interests.

Top  10 Movies

1. Laika’s Coraline

This film is Selick’s masterpiece and I defy you to tell me one single thing wrong with it. Every aspect of its making is lovingly hand-crafted, with an interesting story and strong young protagonist that I’ve loved since I first saw this movie. 10/10 shut up it’s great

2. Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea

This beautiful movie always makes me cry, and I never cry! I love every aspect of the visuals and music but also since I grew up on the Irish coast it really reminds me of my own childhood

3. Studio Ghibli’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky

I first saw this movie at like 2AM, aged 9, when my sister was in the hospital. I found it both exciting and terribly, terribly sad. And it stayed with me until I saw it again like 5 years later. I love Studio Ghibli with all my heart and as this was their first production and one of the first of their films I saw, it seemed right that this film would be the one on my list.

4. Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire

No touching personal anecdotes this time, I just think this is a really class fantasy/sci-fi/adventure story which is one of Disney’s most criminally underrated movies.

5. Pixar’s Wall.E 

Yep, another animated feature. I think watching this really furthered my understanding of visual storytelling and film as a whole, possible because so much has to be conveyed visually when your two lead characters don’t speak. Also a cool sci-fi story with environmental themes that kid me loved to bits (same as Laputa above).

6. Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean 

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is not without flaws but I love it all the same. Everything from the story to the visuals to the Hans Zimmer soundtrack is simply an epic load of fun.

7. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Hot Fuzz

Edgar Wright is one of my favourite filmmakers. His incredible attention to detail and use of callbacks and layered storytelling means his films have a very high rewatch value in my opinion. Hot Fuzz might be a silly action spoof but it is definitely one of my favourite films ever.

8. Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal 

I was obsessed with this film as a kid and the visual designs and dark fantasy themes definitely influenced me and my tastes in fiction. I mean, now it is a puppety abomination which I would only dare to watch in bright daylight, but still. I liked it as a kid.

9. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Movie 2: The Lights in the Sky Are Stars 

This is a movie adaptation of the second half of the Gainax anime series Gurren Lagann. I put it on this list because I feel this film epitomises a kind of colourful, appealing, over the top cartoon action… a bit like the Lego Movie, only with giant space robots and boobs.

10. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Oddessy 

Aside from fantasy, I also love sci fi and dystopian fiction, and what better work to include on my list than Kubrick’s classic?

Top 10 Books

  1. Terry Pratchett is definitely my favourite author, and has been for years. If I had to choose any of his novels I’d probably go with Wee Free Men. It introduces one of my favourite protagonist characters, young and determined Tiffany Aching, and I think it was the first Discworld book I ever read too.
  2. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is another – it’s not actually one of my overall favourite books, but I did read it at a formative age where it greatly influenced my thinking and sense of humour.
  3. American Gods by Neil Gaiman – a sprawling and somewhat dark roadtrip story mixing various mythological figures together. Neil Gaiman is another of my favourite authors, having written the novel from which Coraline (see above) was adapted. His Sandman comic book series is also very important to me.
  4. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – Dystopian novels are another love of mine, and so for this list I chose this hauntingly surreal book which has stayed with me since I read it on its English release in 2011.
  5. Origins by Kate Thompson – When I first read this book as a youngish child I cried. I got very upset because I couldn’t understand it. The narrative follows several different characters living in different periods of time, and deals with many of the themes I continue to find interesting in fiction: post-apocalyptic society, prejudice, genetic manipulation, stuff like that. Also the author is Irish. Woo.
  6. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. This book seems to me like the dark companion of the Chronicles of Narnia and those types of childhood fantasy adventure stories. The Irish author (no relation to myself as far as I know) writes mystery, crime and horror novels, as well as the darkly comic Samuel Johnson series which is a lot like Adams, Pratchett and Lemon Snicket with a demonic twist.
  7. A Little History of the World by Ernst Gombrich – A nicely written book with an overall very humanist approach to history.
  8. Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (part of the The Ibis Trilogy) – a story with the kind of diverse and complex cast of interacting characters of Game of Thrones, but with incredibly vivid and beautiful use of language.
  9. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey – rather like Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, only Australian and with jokes about Batman. A coming of age mystery novel which I wasn’t able to put down. I also liked it because it gave me a very clear idea of the setting.
  10. As You Like It –  I’ve read/seen a few of Shakespeare’s other works but this one was probably the one I’ve grown to like the most, simply because I studied it in school so I understand it in more depth than his other works. I’ve gotten quite attached to the characters in this play, especially the narcissistic and depressive Jacques, whom I find quite comically relatable.

(Conan said we weren’t allowed to put ‘books with pictures’ in our lists. I think if we were allowed to, my list would look quite different. I have read a lot of great comics and graphic novels over the years. However, I feel honourable mentions must go out to Bone by Jeff Smith, Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples, Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds, Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley, and the manga series Fullmetal Alchemist (Hiromu Arakawa) and Mob Psycho 100 (ONE). I feel like I should include these books because they are some of the key works that I have encountered across the years that have made me take a step back and think, ‘Wow. This is the kind of story I want to tell myself. This is how you do it.’)

I am aware that my tastes are largely nostalgic in nature at this point. Most of these films and books are aimed at a younger audience and have been favourites of mine for years.  It’s not like I don’t watch read books and watch films aimed at adults, because I often do and I do enjoy them, but right now there aren’t many that I would consider personal to me or my outlook… Either way, I don’t doubt my tastes will change with time.

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