Shaun’s Culture Review of 2017: The Year’s Best in Theatre, Film, TV, Books & Music

In previous years, I’ve posted a list of my top 10 West End and London theatre shows over on my theatre blog. At this end of 2017, I am no longer running said blog, so I knew that I’d have to do my annual theatre round-up over on here. But instead of just limiting myself to theatre, I thought I’d open the review up to all five of my favourite cultural mediums this year: theatre, film, television, books and music.

Best of 2017

I’ve consumed a lot of media this year, perhaps more this year than I have done in any year before and on the whole, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve seen. It’s rare that we have a year where all five artistic mediums that I favour happen to have golden years, but it really has been one to remember. From the likes of six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald making her West End debut back in the Summer in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, to the Academy Award-winning Best Picture Moonlight, to the multi-award-winning Big Little Lies and more, compiling this list has not been easy. Below, please find my ranking of the top 10 London stage shows, film releases, seasons of television, books I read and songs that were released in 2017.

The Top 10 Best London Stage Shows of 2017

2017 in theatre

When I wrote a blog post on my now-extinct theatre blog at the end of 2016 outlining my most anticipated shows of this years, the list looked totally different to the one I walked out of the year with. This year in London, we have had so many fantastic stories being told by incredible theatre makers, so many in fact that shortlisting a top 10 as opposed to top 20 was a tricky task. There are some obvious omissions from this list (I didn’t like Everybody’s Talking About Jamie or The Ferryman very much), but all in all, I managed to see almost every single show in London’s West End and at the National Theatre (and a few beyond) this year, which is pretty good going indeed.

Special mentions go to the likes of Girl From The North Country at The Old Vic, Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre, The Girls at the Phoenix Theatre, Committee at the Donmar Warehouse, and Oslo at the National. All are shows I loved but had to be creamed off the top for the sake of this list!

10 – Mosquitoes at the National Theatre

I adore Lucy Kirkwood so going into this play, I knew I’d fall in love with it, which I really did. Kirkwood likes to include science in a lot of her stories – a topic that I find hard to come to terms with – but in this play in particular, she managed to make the intelligent conversation so accessible that it left me feeling more educated after watching. The family-centric storyline, played out impeccably by Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams, has stayed on my mind since I saw the play in the summer.

9 – Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at the Duke of York’s Theatre

While this show did technically arrive in London in the Summer of 2016 when it had a short run at the National Theatre, this transfer into the West End landed earlier on this year and immediately caputred the hearts of many theatre goers in the capital. This intimate, uniquely-staged tale of a group of choir girls from Scotland is like a cross between The Inbetweeners and St Trinians with bottles of Hooch to match. I sat on stage when I saw the show, which probably enhanced by enjoyment of it greatly, but everyone I know who saw the show otherwise said it was one of their favourites as well.

8 – Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle at Wyndham’s Theatre

I’ll admit, I did not expect to enjoy this play anywhere near as much as I did. I love everything of Simon Stephens’s that I’ve ever read or seen, so I knew I’d enjoy it, but this really did blow me away. As I said after I left the theatre, this play is a stellar example of how good writing (Simon Stephens), good directing (Marianne Elliot) and good performances (Anne Marie Duff and Kenneth Cranham) will always make good theatre. It’s simple and not flashy in any way, but it’s just a shedload of talent being spat out at you; for that, I loved every single second of it.

7 – Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre

I mean… of course this was going to be on the list. I’ve been dying to see this show ever since I first heard good buzz about it almost three years ago, so seeing it earlier on this month was like a dream come true. I do think that the show is well worth the hype that it receives, not even just because of the fantastic music, but mainly because of how impressive it is as a show that brings everything from cast to design to storytelling right to the forefront. It’s a blockbuster show for the ages and I’m so glad I’ve been able to see it for myself.

6 – Ink at the Duke of York’s Theatre

Like I said with Heisenberg, I really did not expect to enjoy this play as much as I did when I bought the ticket, but it is a play that has left me thinking “I can’t wait to buy it and read it”, the same kind of thing I said about Heisenberg. The only way I can describe the brilliance of this James Graham play is by calling it the kind of play you can see a film adaptation being made of it and it then going on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. It has everything that a high-brow journalism drama movie has, but in a fantastically funny and deeply theatrical stage play. What a brilliant piece of theatre and how proud I am to say that it’s by a British playwright no less.

5 – The Glass Menagerie at the Duke of York’s

I’ve clearly had a very good year at the Duke of York’s this year, but I’ve also had a very good year when it comes to seeing versions of my favourite plays. In the first few months of this year, I managed to see new stage versions of my three all-time favourite plays and this production of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie was the first. John Tiffany managed to make me see the play in a unique way I had never thought of seeing it from before and Cherry Jones, Kate O’Flynn, Michael Esper and Brian J. Smith brought it to life in a new and thoughtful way as well.

4 – Angels in America at the National Theatre, Lyttelton

Speaking of seeing stage productions of my favourite plays this year, the landmark 25th anniversary revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America hit the stage this Summer and totally blew me away. I was lucky enough to see the play on its press day right from the centre of the stalls giving me a theatrical experience that I think I’ll remember for years to come. And while I could see anyone perform this play and still fall in love with it over and over again, Marianne Elliot’s fantastic production led by the likes of Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, Russell Tovey and Denise Gough really was a production that will define this decade of London theatregoing for years to come.

3 – Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill at Wyndham’s Theatre

I don’t know what to say about this show really. I waited a whole year for it to be rescheduled and to finally get to see it and it was most certainly worth the wait. Audra McDonald just… kills me. I don’t think I love many actresses in the same way that I love this woman. Just pure, unadulterated bliss.

2 – Follies at the National Theatre, Olivier

Talking of bliss, getting to see my favourite actress Imelda Staunton in a major revival of one of my favourite musicals by my favourite composer Stephen Sondheim wasn’t a bad experience either this year. While I know that a lot of people felt like this production (and show as a whole) fell short for them, I was nothing less than blown away. I know I’ve said it for a lot of shows on this lineup, but this really was a night of inspiration at the theatre that I don’t think I’ll ever forget for the rest of my life.

1 – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Harold Pinter Theatre

And finally, a stunning revival – directed by James Macdonald – of my favourite play of all-time, starring my favourite actress in a role I’ve always dreamed of her playing? Yeah, that really was my highlight of the year. I saw this production multiple times (the first time being on my 18th birthday – best birthday ever!) and each time, I found something new about it, despite the fact I’ve read the play so many times that my annotated copy is falling to pieces. I will never tire of this play and would most certainly never tire of seeing this incredible production… if only they released their live broadcast recording on DVD! Seriously, if you missed out on this production this year, you missed out on an acting feast fit for a King. Something we’ll all be talking about for many years to come.

The Top 10 Best Films of 2017

Films of 2017

For the first time since I was a child, I really loved going to the cinema in 2017. I think it had gotten to a point for me that the idea of going to the cinema paled in comparison to going to the theatre; where I live, it’s hard to find cinemas that give you an experience worthy of spending £10+ for a ticket. Luckily, I managed to find my groove for going to the cinema this year and a roster of good films to see enhanced that experience for sure. From Disney inviting me to a private IMAX screening of Beauty and the Beast in Leicester Square to my annual midnight visit to see Star Wars, what a wonderful year of cinema we’ve had this year, too. Obvious omissions from this list might include the likes of Murder on the Orient Express and The Greatest Showman – neither of which I was a fan of – as well as films I really did enjoy like The Founder, The Circle and the second Kingsman

It’s probably also important for me to note that all films listed opened as a wide-release in the UK in 2017, even though some may be thought of as late-2016 films. I’m also yet to see some films as they haven’t been widely released here yet, like Call Me By Your Name!

10 – 20th Century Women, dir. Mike Mills

As a fan of plays, I thoroughly enjoy intimate pictures that feel like a play brought to life on the screen. For me, 20th Century Women did just that. Not only did Mike Mills do a fantastic job in directing this flick to feel intimate and personal for an audience, but he also managed to write a story that burned slowly but brightly from start to finish. And needless to say, the performance given by Annette Benning (which earned her a Golden Globe nom) is enough to make you fall in love with the film at the least.

9 – La La Land, dir. Damien Chazelle

When I first saw this film, I hated it, but not because I felt like I should as a fan of musical theatre, but mainly because I didn’t think it was very good musical theatre. And I still stick by that judgement having watched it as few more times since it opened in January. For me, it’s a film that feels as though the musical numbers are shoehorned in for reasons that I fail to understand; I think it would be a much better film if they didn’t sing at all. I do, however, feel weirdly charmed by what the film is trying to do and try as hard as I might, I keep getting drawn back in by it to assess it again.

8 – Baby Driver, dir. Edgar Wright

Considering one of the lead actors in this film, I guess it’s now become a slightly controversial choice for one of my favourite films of the year, but it really did stand out as a good, fun time I had at the cinema in 2017. For me, it was a perfect blend of what I love about the Bond films and what I love about the Fast and Furious films, but cutting all of the crap I don’t like and replacing it with fun stuff that I do. While part of me wishes it was more hardcore than it ended up being, it certainly gave me some Kingsman vibes – a franchise that I love – so I ended up liking this a lot too. Also, it stars Ansel Elgort and the teenage girl that lives deep inside of me just loved watching that.

7 – Moonlight, dir. Barry Jenkins

Our Academy Award-winning Best Picture this year was, almost infamously, Moonlight and I really did think that it was an honour that the film deserved. This film doesn’t have all too much to say for itself and instead, it just oozes with its own kind of groove. So often do we see character-centric movies be told in such a contained and limited way, but this film’s three-act structure and wide timeline allows for it to progress and grow in a way that few other movies have done before it. It’s a film that also brought A24 to my attention and has made me an avid and excited follower ever since.

6 – The Florida Project, dir. Sean Baker

Talking of films from A24, I managed to find a screening of The Florida Project last month and fell in love with it even more than I anticipated I would. In a similar way to Moonlight, we are brought along on a character’s journey without any prior knowledge or warning to what’s going to happen. Instead, we learn what’s happening as the character learns what’s happening and exist almost like a fly-on-the-wall in the world of the film. The Florida Project, while it took me a while to get into it, gave me so much love and hope and then kicked me so hard for it that I couldn’t help but to list it as one of my favourite films of the year; it was an emotional rollercoaster that I loved to ride.

5 – It, dir. Andres Muschietti

I like the idea of horror, hence why I am such a big fan of American Horror Story, but so much of it seems so tacky that I daren’t even venture into the realms of it. One thing I do love in that genre though is the work of Stephen King and having read a handful of his novels (Misery being my favourite) and seen many adaptations of his books, I was very excited about this release, not least because I enjoy the original Tim Curry adaptation so much. But this film really did blow me away, not only as a film that will hopefully make horror be taken seriously from now on, but also as a fantastic example of how some films should be adapted again and how taking different artistic turns on that road can make for an even better movie than the one that came before it. I’m tasking myself with tackling the humongous novel at the start of this year while I excitedly wait for the film’s sequel in 2019.

4 – Fences, dir. Denzel Washington

Fences by August Wilson is one of my favourite plays of all-time so a film adaptation of the play excited me greatly, but with Violia Davis in the driver’s seat, I was over the moon. This adaptation was nothing short of a masterpiece, not necessarily because of Denzel’s directing skills, but especially because of all of their performances. This is the definitive version of the play for me and I cannot wait to indulge in it again.

3 – Star Wars: The Last Jedi, dir. Rian Johnson

I don’t have all too much to say about this film right now, but because of how much I love Star Wars, this was going to be on my list either way. But for me, this was also one of the greatest films in the franchise that they have ever made. Finally, they have found a way to evolve Star Wars into something that isn’t going to get stale: a film that focuses more on character development and plot than it does on action. In a cinema-scape that is vastly dominated by the likes of Marvel and other Disney-owned brands, they’ve managed to make Star Wars a franchise that stands alone and on its own two legs. I know there’s been mixed opinions, but I for one absolutely loved it.

2 – Hidden Figures, dir. Theodore Melfi

This was so nearly my favourite film of the year, but you’ll understand number one when you see it. Not only is this film wonderfully made and beautifully acted by the holy trinity of Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer and the delightful Taraji P. Henson, but it is simple, uplifting and empowering fun. It’s a film that is both inspiring and enjoyable from start to finish, always making you feel something new and fresh and one that never loses that factor no matter how many times you watch it. I love this film a hell of a lot and will continue to recommend it to people well into 2018.

1 – Beauty and the Beast, dir. Bill Condon

The original Beauty and the Beast is my favourite movie of all-time and when I got to see how brilliant this film was for myself, there was no doubt that nothing was going to top it this year for me. Not only was this new version incredibly well handled when it comes to the original film’s material, but it also presented some wonderful added extras to the story and filled in all of the plot-holes that we loved to hate. And, as I mentioned before, I got to see the film for the first time at an invited IMAX screening in Leicester Square (thanks Disney!) and got to take my little sister on her first trip to London as a result. This film really did capture my heart this year, even if it isn’t the most high-brow or serious movie of the lot, but it most certainly isn’t a film that should be quickly overlooked.

The Top 10 Best Seasons of Television in 2017

TV of 2017

Obviously I do, but wow do I love telly and this year has been one to celebrate my feelings for that as well. Not only has there been some incredible new shows coming on the air this year, but the latest seasons of some of my old favourites have blown me away this year as well. Some notable omissions from this list include the latest seasons of Stranger Things and Black Mirror (the former I’m starting in a few weeks and the latter I only just started last night!) as well as the new seasons of Game of Thrones, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Good Place all of which would’ve made the list had it been a few places longer.

10 – Liar (Season 1) from ITV

I love Doctor Foster so much that I think it’s one of my favourite shows of all-time, so when ITV announced Liar – starring my Downton Abbey favourite Joanne Froggatt – I was livid that they’d even dared to counter-program. But because I can be sucked into anything, I tuned in and found myself deeply engrossed. While it may look to be a similar show on the surface, when you really watch it, the story is totally different and equally as brilliant in its own right. Following a woman who is raped and then has to prove herself as having told the truth, the show explores the idea of false rape allegations, what it’s like to be a woman in British society and so much more. While some topics are heavy-handed in their representation, overall, I really got into this show and can’t wait for a season two.

9 – American Horror Story: Cult (Season 7) from FX/FOX

As I said before, American Horror Story is one of my favourite TV shows, so this new season was of course going to make the list. And while it wasn’t my favourite season that the show has ever done (a lot of the content felt like filler content), overall, I thought the season was much better than I anticipated it to be and as a result, I ended up thoroughly enjoying it. For me, it also helps that a lot of my friends watch the show as well so I always have people to talk about it with after each episode, all of whom enjoyed it, too.

8 – Insecure (Season 2) from HBO/Sky Atlantic

When Girls came off of the air, Insecure filled that hole for me and season two did not let me down. Perhaps that’s a controversial statement to make as Girls was infamously whitewashed, but the story of Insecure intrigues me for all of the same reasons: it’s a very realistic portrayal of twenty-something year old women living their lives and trying to find love and purpose in the world, a situation I can’t fully relate to, but one I like to divulge in. I love to hate the characters of Insecure and the way that they progressed this season made me love them even further.

7 – Doctor Foster (Season 2) from BBC

I love Doctor Foster so much and when I rewatched the first season of the show earlier this year in anticipation for the second season, I was reminded of why. As a child from a home of divorce, it’s so darkly nostalgic to watch a family fall apart in a way that may seem dramatic, but is almost entirely plausible and true. The second season differed greatly in tone to the first season and was impactful in a very different way, but still, the season was one of the best things I saw this year. It goes without saying that Mike Barlett’s writing is second-to-none, but the performances given by the likes of Suranne Jones, Bertie Carvell and Victoria Hamilton blew me away even more than before.

6 – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Season 3) from The CW/Netflix

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, for the first two seasons, was my favourite show on television. As it matures into its third season though, somehow, it’s lost the spark that I loved about it so much. It is, however, still one of the most intelligent shows I have seen for a very long time and the way that the show has managed to build on itself and grow astounds me greatly. If you haven’t tried it out already, please do. As Patti LuPone once said in an interview, Rachel Bloom is the only person right now who seems to properly understand how to “do” musical theatre. In my eyes, she is one of the few people who knows how to “do” telly in a more general sense as well.

5 – The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 1) from Hulu/Channel 4

I was somewhat aware of Margaret Atwood’s iconic novel before the television show was announced, but when it was confirmed and greenlighted, I went and bought myself a copy and read it. For me, it was half good, half bad, but what I thought was lacking in the novel, the television show certainly made up for. This brutal, gut-punching adaptation is totally unforgettable and was something of a cult-sensation earlier on this year, eventually ending with a landmark Emmy win for the show. While the show is dystopian, there’s a lot in there for people of now to find relatable (especially women) and maybe that’s why it found such cultural success this year. But even without the pop culture hype surrounding the iconic red robes and visors, this is just a fantastic TV show.

4 – GLOW (Season 1) from Netflix

In the same way that I said Hidden Figures was good because it was non-stop fun, the same can be said about Netflix’s GLOW, a somewhat-true depiction of the tale of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Everyone on this cast is fun, strong and extremely likeable making it easy watching, but the topic it presents of being a woman in a male-dominated world is heavy enough for it to be much more than a simple comedy. I thoroughly enjoyed devouring this season and can’t wait for its return in 2018.

3 – The Crown (Seasons 1 and 2) from Netflix

Picking my top three was so difficult as I love them all equally, so don’t take this show being as low down as number three very lightly. I discovered both seasons of this show in 2017 and it has decidedly become one of my favourite things of all time, never mind on television. And I know I’m not alone in this decision. As a fan of the Royals anyway, I knew this show would be up my street, especially as its another high-budget work by Peter Morgan, but I didn’t expect to be as impressed as I am with this. It is literally faultless and it so perfect, I struggle to find ways to describe it. Claire Foy is a total bloody dream though and I’m devastated that she’s done with the show now, but Olivia Colman who takes over from her is one of my favourite actresses, so bring on season three!

2 – Big Little Lies (Season 1) from HBO/Sky Atlantic

Big Little Lies really took over my year this year and as I am about to settle into watching this show for the fifth time in the next couple of weeks, I still find it hard to put words to why I love it so much. Not only am I besotted with Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Laura bloody Dern anyway, but this show is such a delicious piece of juicy drama that I just can’t get over it. Again, this is another show that is nothing short of perfect and is so different to the novel (which I also loved this year, as you’ll find out later) that it stands alone beautifully as well. I’m so excited that they’ve decided to extend the story and figure out a second season and am endlessly excited to see where the girls go next.

1 – Feud: Bette and Joan (Season 1) from FX/BBC

And talking of perfect television, the same can be said for the first season of Ryan Murphy’s latest anthology show Feud. I am waiting for Murphy to slip up when it comes to making new shows like he eventually did with Glee and is starting to do with AHS, but my God, I am so behind this man and everything he is doing. As if the OJ Simpson season of American Crime Story didn’t blow me away enough last year (my favourite season of TV last year and maybe even ever), he managed to do it again with this high-glamour and rich drama starring the likes of Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange. Having watched Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and falling in love with that first, delving into the show head first was a treat. And before the first episode had even ended, I was already feeling excited to watch the show again. If that isn’t a testament to how fantastic I think this show is then I don’t know what is.

The Top 10 Books I Read in 2017

Books of 2017

Trying to make a ranked listing of my favourite books of 2017 that were published in 2017 is a very difficult feat. Unlike other forms of media, books don’t ever seem to age and a publication date is not in any way important when I pick one up to read it. In fact, unless I bought it new, I don’t ever really remember the date a book was published. As a result, unlike other lists in this post, the ranking of my favourite books of the year is based upon books I read irregardless of their publication date. If you want a full description of all of the books I read this year (which averages out as one book a week as I managed 52 this year), you can find them on my Goodreads page.

10 – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This book was a popular new release here in the UK this year and I can see exactly why. Following two family lines through the past two hundred years, we see a wide variety of black people and their everyday struggles from start to finish. It’s an eyeopening book that was not only fascinating as a subject matter for me, but also as a way of telling stories. A hype that I can totally get behind was this one.

9 – What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell

I discovered this book this year on a visit to the library and picked it up because I fancied reading something short, but I didn’t expect to be as impacted by a book as much as I was by this one. Telling the story of a young English man who moves to a European city to become a teacher, we follow him as he has a sexual encounter in a public bathroom and then tries to build a relationship with the man that he had sex with. It’s messy and heartbreaking, but is also so poetic and beautiful that I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since I read it.

8 – The Gender Games by Juno Dawson

I read a lot of non-fiction – perhaps more than I do fiction – so this book was on my radar. Advertised as being a book that looks at gender written by somebody “who has been both” (Dawson is a trans writer, writing about her experience as well as the social construct that is gender), it really opened my eyes to how deeply rooted the world’s view on gender is. I haven’t stopped identifying all of these weird details ever since I read the book and I feel a much more self-aware and socially aware person as a result of having read this. In addition to that, I find Juno Dawson’s voice so endearing to read that I was devastated when this book came to an end. A book I’d recommend to anyone.

7 – The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

Given to me as a gift by my aunt earlier on this year, this book (that was co-written by the founder of LinkedIn) is an exploration of how to be a good human being. That may sound like a ridiculous thing to say, but whoever has read this book will totally understand what I mean by this. It’s a wonderful exploration that not only shared the story of creating a start-up in Silicon Valley, but it also put these life lessons against this backdrop and made them applicable to the modern world. It’s a book that I know I will revisit many times again in the future and am already excited to visit it again just thinking about it.

6 – Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

I am a big Elizabeth Gilbert fan, so when I saw this book, I was very excited to hear about her writing process. While this book is frequently mocked for its “out there” depictions of how she understands writing and ideas, it’s a thesis that you can pick and choose what you want to take on board and not. Yes, some of it I do think is a bit odd, but I still totally appreciate her vision and loved seeing how she saw the world. And after falling in love with Eat, Pray, Love like everyone else did, it’s hard not to love whatever she has to say.

5 – Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock

After binge-listening to Janet Mock’s podcast called ‘Never Before’, I decided I needed more of her voice and bought the audiobook for her latest memoir on Audible and it was one of my favourite storytelling experiences of the year. I did the same for Taraji P. Henson’s memoir a few weeks later as well and there is something so arresting about hearing someone read their own story to you and tell it the way that they want to tell it. With such a unique and entertaining life story, Janet Mock’s audio book made for some fantastic listening and gave me a great new perspective on what it’s like to be a young, trans and black woman.

4 – Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

This is probably one of my favourite books of my life and not only because I love Shonda Rhimes so much. As I said on my podcast ‘Opening Doors’, I am always fascinated by peoples’ stories and their processes and this book is a wonderful exploration of Shonda’s. Retelling the tale of the year that she decided to say yes to everything, this book is not only a great example of what happens when you open yourself up to the world, but also a great look at what it’s really like to work in Hollywood, especially as a single mother. The book is an extension of a TEDTalk she gave so maybe check that out first and then read the book like I did, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re up for it. I also have the book’s accompanying journal which I love writing in, too.

3 – The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

This is such a stupid thing to be ranked so highly considering the age of this book, but my aunt sent me the new reprint of the book for its 25th anniversary and I devoured it like every other person before me. It’s one of the most famous books of all-time so I needn’t talk about it to you too much, but it is definitely a book that everyone needs to read at least once in their lives. Packed full of life lessons and subtext that’ll make you question yourself for days to follow, it’s stuck with me so deeply ever since the day I first read it.

2 – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

As I said in my TV wrap up for this year, Big Little Lies has affected me in big (not little) ways. I read the book before I binge-watched the TV show and while the two are so different, I love them both entirely. I actually loved the book so much, I devoured the entire 500-page paperback in ONE. SINGLE. SITTING. All I did was get up to wee or shut my eyes for a nap! I couldn’t put this book down and I’ve been converting my friends to reading it ever since. It’s much more “chick lit” than the TV show, but it works equally well in its own right and is great fun for absolutely anyone, reader or not.

1 – The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I know I’m behind on this – this book has a Pulitzer Prize from 2014 to tell me that – but better late than never has never been truer than it is when used to describe me reading this book. It’s a mammoth 900 pages and is almost like three 300 page long books in one, but was well worth every single second I spent reading it. Donna Tartt really is an actual genius with both plots and words and the world that the book created in my head is one I can regularly visit and see in my head even now. It’s become a world in my brain that is as real as the dreams I have at night and for that, it’s one of my favourite books of all-time, never mind just 2017. If you haven’t already yet, challenge yourself with reading it. It’s beyond bloody good.

The Top 10 Best Songs of 2017

Music of 2017

Something I never seem to share my love for is music, but compiling a list of my top 10 favourite songs of the year was incredibly difficult, proven to me by the fact that my initial shortlist of songs was over 30 entries long. I’ve managed to wittle it down though, but I don’t have all too much to say about them, so instead of a full description, I’ve settled on some three-word reviews of the songs instead. Favourites that didn’t make the shortlist include Sorry Not Sorry from Demi Lovato, Bad Things by Machine Gun Kelly & Camila Cabello, Havana by Camila Cabello and literally all of the music that Selena Gomez released this year because that stuff was brilliant.

10 – Boys by Charli XCX

Fun. Sexy. (Super) Gay.

9 – Want You Back by HAIM

Best. Band. Ever.

8 – Chained to the Rhythm by Katy Perry, ft. Skip Marley

Bouncy. Summery. Catchy.

7 – Cut to the Feeling by Carly Rae Jepsen

Cute. Feel-good. DANCE!

6 – New Rules by Dua Lipa

No. Words. Needed.

5 – Bad Liar by Selena Gomez

Catchy. As. Fuck.

4 – Green Light by Lorde

Sexy. Sassy. Unapologetic.

3 – Younger Now by Miley Cyrus

Nostalgic. Smile-inducing. Sing-along-fun.

2 – Little of Your Love by HAIM

Best. Band. Ever. (2.0. I don’t care if this is more than three words, I’m already pushing the limit)

1 – Symphony by Clean Bandit, ft. Zara Larsson

Played. 300+. Times.

To keep up with all of the theatre, film, TV, books and music I’m listening to in 2018, be sure to follow me over on both Twitter and Instagram. Bring on 2018 and I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon for a roundup of my year and what was good about it for me!


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