Anika’s All-Timers

I used to have this playlist titled the All-Timers that contained all my favorite songs and albums so that I could always have them on hand. I thought about writing a post that contained all my favorite books, movies, and TV shows based on my experience with them. I know I don’t usually do much with TV shows, but I wanted to add them on this list. So let’s start with books. 

Books

  1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

In my eyes, this is the ultimate historical rewrite. This book follows Jake Epping as he goes back in time to the 1960’s to prevent the assassination of President Kennedy. You can tell that King has done his research into not just the circumstances surrounding the Kennedy administration, but also into the popular media of the time. As with his horror novels, he brings the care and detail into this book and ultimately that’s why this book was worth the read. I’ve read it twice, but it’s been a few years and I could use a refresher. This book is fairly long, so I highly recommend finding the audiobook which is narrated by Craig Wasson who -despite James Franco’s portrayal in the Hulu adaptation – will always be the voice of Jake Epping to me. 

  1. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier 

This book is the epitome of film noir. It’s the story of the second Mrs. de Winter, wife of Maxim de Winter. After a whirlwind romance in Monte Carlo, the new Mrs. de Winter returns to Manderley to find herself stuck in the shadow of her predecessor and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death and the estate that she now calls home. This book was my obsession during my freshman year of high school, I was so captivated by du Maurier’s style of writing that I could practically see the events of the book unfold right in front of me. It’s got a very suspenseful feel to it which is probably why it served to be a good book to be adapted by Alfred Hitchcock.

  1. The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve read this series too many times. Yet, with Clare’s attention to detail, I find myself discovering something new every time. This is the story of Tessa Gray and her adventures in the Shadowhunter world. While much of this series is an introduction to the shadowhunter world, the adventures that the main characters go on are very entertaining. Also, Will Herondale is my absolute favorite romantic hero.  This series makes my all-timer’s list because of the sentimental value that these books hold; I met my best friend (to this day) through these books. I find that the appeal of these books is that they are books about books. They are loosely based on A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and if you’re familiar with both works, you’ll be able to notice just how important literature is. While Clare continues to add to her extraordinarily intricate world of Shadowhunters, this will always be her magnum opus to me. 

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I am probably one of the biggest Gatsby nerds out there. From my Gatsby tattoo to the yellow car sticker on my water bottle to the fifteen page paper I wrote on the importance of Gatsby, this novel is deemed the Great American novel for a reason. Gatsby follows Nick Carroway as he falls into the world of a man named Jay Gatsby and Gatsby’s love for Nick’s cousin, Daisy. This is one of those books that you can – and should – read more than once. I’m a strong advocate for Fitzgerald’s literary prose and this is his best work for a reason. He manages to weave several universal themes into this story and despite it’s jazz age setting, The Great Gatsby is a story for “the youth, the critics, and the schoolmasters” of every generation. 

Honorable Mentions

  1. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – the story of the rise and fall of a band during the 1970s. I love how this book is loosely based on the story of Fleetwood Mac and it had me rooting for a band that didn’t exist. 
  2. Defending Jacob by William Landay – the story of a family as they suffer through a terrible murder trial. This is probably my favorite legal novel but it hasn’t quite made enough of an impression to make the main list. 
  3. Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman – the story of Elio as he explores his sexuality with a student that comes to stay with his family in their Italian home. This book is beautiful, it has the potential to make the main list after a re-read or two. 
  4. All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness – The story of Diana Bishop and Matthew de Claremont, a witch and vampire respectively, as they navigate the repercussions of their relationship. Harkness’s research and attention to detail, plus the magic/time-travel elements were right up my alley. The only reason that it’s not on the main list is because of the length; these books were so long that I was reading them for six months because I had to keep taking breaks from them. 

Movies

  1. Gone Girl (dir. David Fincher)

This is an adaptation of a book that I read in eighth grade (Note: this was completely against my mother’s wishes but if I ever got in trouble for anything when I was younger, it was reading books that she had told me not to read). While the book was wonderful, it was Rosamund Pike’s performance in the film that sold me on the merit of this story. In this movie, she had truly taken on the persona of Amy Dunne. This movie is only made better by the casting of Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne because it almost feels like Ben Affleck doesn’t really know why he was cast in that role. As an adaptation, this mirrors the book closely so it felt like my imagination was coming to life. This movie is a wild ride. 

  1. Knives Out (dir. Rian Johnson)

This is the ultimate murder mystery. This is the kind of movie that doesn’t need to rely on cheap gimmicks to shine. The story itself has been written so beautifully and with such attention to detail that it honestly kept me guessing for a while. Also, this movie relies heavily on irony which serves to add a comedic effect to keep the movie light and entertaining. This movie earned a spot on my list because of its attention to detail and the subtle political commentary. I also adore Chris Evans, Christopher Plummer, and Jamie Lee Curtis and Ana de Armas was robbed of an Oscar nomination. 

  1. Blinded by the Light (dir. Gurindar Chadha)

I knew that I had to add one coming of age movie to this list and that happens to be this one. There are two reasons that Blinded by the Light trumped all the other coming of age movies. The first one is the representation. I loved seeing a cast of Pakistani/Indian actors that weren’t well-known but still could act wonderfully. It was important to me to finally have my story told in a way that wasn’t a cheap-shot at my culture. The second reason is the music. Bruce Springsteen is one of my favorite artists and instead of choosing to make this a traditional musical, we see the emphasis on certain lyrics that were important to the main character. The song Born to Run provides the same feeling as the tunnel scene in Perks of Being a Wallflower but for people who have dealt with the expectations of being a first generation. This is my coming-of-age story and that’s how it earned its spot on the all-timers list. 

  1. Kaaviya Thalaivan (translated to Epic Ruler) (dir. Vasanthabalan)

I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t add this movie to my all-timers. I remember the first time I saw this movie on a plane ride back from India and I fell in love with the story. This movie follows two best friends in an acting troupe in a small town in India. One of the boys is a natural talent but lazy (Kali) and the other is extremely hardworking but very arrogant (Gomathi). This movie details how these two boys go their separate ways and the competition that always exists between them. While Bollywood is very prominent around the world, there are different language movies in India and this is a Kollywood movie (it’s in Tamil, the language of Tamil Nadu). Yes, it will require some reading of subtitles but this is a heart-wrenching story with the most beautiful soundtrack. 

Honorable Mentions

  1. Dirty Dancing (dir. Emile Ardolino) – This is my guilty pleasure movie. Growing up, I always wanted to be Baby and get the chance to dance with Patrick Swayze (whom I happen to adore). If I turn the channel and this movie is on, I have to watch it all the way through. 
  2. The Sound of Music (dir. Robert Wise) – I went through a pretty long phase of being obsessed with this movie. Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer have such wonderful chemistry and it’s my family’s holiday movie.

TV Shows

  1. Merlin (BBC) 2008-2012

This is the show that jump started my love for the Arthurian canon. In this retelling of the legendary kingdom of Camelot, Merlin is not an old man but a young boy who serves as King Arthur’s manservant. In a time when magic is banned, Merlin must keep his magic hidden while helping Arthur fulfil his potential as the once and future king. I acknowledge that this show is extremely cheesy and that it contains several historical inaccuracies, but in terms of perpetuating some of the important themes in the original stories, this series does a good job. This show managed to wrangle several Game of Thrones/Harry Potter stars while maintaining a strong main cast composed of Colin Morgan, Katie McGrath, Bradley James, and Angel Coulby who all deserve so much more recognition than they have received. 

  1. The Americans (FX) 2013-2018

This show has been on my all-timers list since I watched the pilot back in 2015. This is a period piece that follows Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, two Russian sleeper agents during the Cold War/Reagan’s administration. This show is the product of beautiful attention to detail, phenomenal acting, and strong/consistent voice. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys also have incredible chemistry and do a wonderful job convincing the audience that they’re right there alongside them. I do want to say that this is a show that requires meticulous attention to keep track of the various disguises and operations but it’s a wild ride that makes you think about a vital period in American history. 

  1. Dawson’s Creek (The WB) 1998-2003

Dawson’s Creek is the show I came to when I needed advice. This show doesn’t rely on overdramatic themes to keep the audience engaged. Also, the characters don’t treat the audience like they’re stupid. The characters are all intelligent in different ways and provide a character for anyone to relate to. It’s a show about normal teeangers navigating their adolescence. There are some important lessons to be learned from the characters on this show. This show was also one of the first shows that taught me the importance of media and art in everyday life. 

  1. Outlander (STARZ) 2014 –

I wrestled with whether to include this in the book’s list or the TV show list, but ultimately I realized that this is a rare case where the adaptation is truly better than the written work. The show follows a WWII nurse, Claire Randall as she is thrown back in time after discovering magic stones. She meets Jamie Fraser, a Scottish highlander and is thrown into the very history that her present day husband was studying. This show has been aptly casted and sheds several hundred pages of the books, keeping the most important parts and some sweet moments that further the plot. I like that this show moves throughout a rather unknown part of history in Scotland and the two main characters always end up in a position to change history. I read somewhere that you start watching for the beautiful scenery and stay for the chemistry between the actors and the intriguing plot lines which I found to be very accurate. 

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Teen Wolf (MTV) 2011-2017 – Teen Wolf makes it onto the honorable mentions list because of the extensive research that was needed to make the show. This is another show that keeps its voice until the very end and that made it a really fun watch. 
  2. A Discovery of Witches (Sundance) 2018 – Present – This show is the adaptation of the All Souls trilogy and from the first season, I can already say that I am extremely excited for the rest of the show. It’s a great time and I highly recommend it. 
  3. Sex Education (Netflix) 2019-Present – A show that understands the importance of diversity, proper education, and knows how to give it’s audience a laugh. What more can you ask for?

That’s the end of this list! I hope you enjoyed and check out some of the books/shows/movies on these lists because I truly believe that anyone will enjoy them! Thank you for reading!

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