Every December since 2007 we have posted a list of our favorite pop culture nuggets of the year. The University of Illinois Press Best of 2013 edition is in alphabetical order by staff member’s last name.
Angela Burton, Rights & Permissions Manager and Awards Manager
Favorite Book: Benediction by Kent Haruf
Favorite CD: Muchacho by Phosphorescent
Favorite Paste sampler: The best part of subscribing to this online magazine is the sampler of music that you can download from each issue (it used to be CDs when the magazine was in paper; somewhere in my house I have a box full of them). You never know what you are going to get. This year, issue 115 (November 6—with the John Sayles cover) is my favorite, with songs from Midlake, Diane Coffee, ZZ Ward, Son Lux, and Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band. My favorite sampler song, though, is “Peach Blossom” by the Eels (issue 79, February 6), which always puts me in a good mood.
Favorite Film: Tyrannosaur. This is from 2011 or 2012, but it was the most memorable film I watched this year. Actor Paddy Considine directed this bleak but beautiful film, and Olivia Colman’s performance was mesmerizing.
Favorite TV show: The Fall, Luther, Shameless (U.S.)
Website I visit every day: Wonkblog, allrecipes.com (I never know what to cook for dinner)
Website I visit every weekend: StoryCorps
Marika Christofides, Assistant Acquisitions Editor
Favorite Book: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (new to me)
Favorite CD: Beyonce by Beyonce
Favorite Movie: Frances Ha
Favorite TV Shows: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Orange is the New Black, The X Files (all 9 seasons of which are available on Netflix instant, should you wish to view them)
Favorite live performance, comedy: Maria Bamford at the Neptune, Seattle
Favorite celebrity couple: Kim and Kanye
Kevin Cunningham, Catalog and Copywriting Coordinator
Favorite Book: Patrick O’Brian – Blue at the Mizzen (From 1999 but it’s not every year I finish a 20-book series.)
Favorite Movies that I finally saw in 2013: Children of Men; In Bruges; Take Shelter
Favorite TV Shows: Sherlock, whatever Blackhawks game is on
Website I visit every day: Superdames
Favorite oversized chocolate chip cookie: Foodstuffs in Evanston
Leslie Delucia, Database Administrator
Favorite Book: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
New favorite band: Caravan Palace French Electro Swing (thanks to Paula Newcomb!)
Favorite Movie: Silver Linings Playbook
Favorite TV Show: Misfits, The Voice, Master Chef
Website I visit every day: Steep and Cheap Great outdoor gear with huge discounts. Offers change daily.
Dawn Durante, Assistant Acquisitions Editor
Favorite Book: Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat
Favorite CD: Emily Bear’s Diversity
Favorite Movie: Blackfish
Favorite TV Shows: Orange is the New Black, Hostages, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (a PBS documentary series)
Favorite live performances: Whistle Pigs at City Winery in Chicago, Sing the Truth! Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, and Lizz Wright at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Favorite new establishment in Champaign: Orange & Brew
Website I visit every day: The Scholarly Kitchen
Steve Fast, Publicity Manager
Favorite Book: Tenth of December by George Saunders
Favorite CD: What is a “CD?” Trouble Will Find Me by The National has not left my current rotation since I first downloaded the album.
Most anticipated movies I want to check out during a holiday/reduced service day: Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me and Inside Llewyn Davis
Favorite TV Show: tie: Game of Thrones / Charlie Rose
Favorite live performance: Suzanne Vega at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, February 21, 2013. This duo performance was a terrific surprise. Vega was accompanied by longtime David Bowie guitarist Gerry Leonard, whose inventiveness was on full display as he built loops and created melodies and countermelodies that always served the song.
Website I visit every day: “Every day” is a stretch but I check out www.avclub.com and io9.com on a regular basis.
Willis Regier, Director
Favorite Book: Erasmus, Adages. My current obsession.
Favorite CD: Haydn, Complete Piano Trios, the Beaux Arts Trio. Delicious!
Favorite Movie: The Butler. This plot played with clichés but avoided them, and never let its all-star cast intrude on the narrative arc.
Favorite TV Show: I was introduced to Modern Family this year and love it. It’s easy to see why it keeps winning Emmys. Its writers are very clever, mixing three plots lines in every episode and having somehow reflect on the others. The foibles of the family are endearing, and there are no real villains. Still, my favorite is again Justified, the sole show I look forward to week after week, or when it’s off the air, for long dreary months.
Website I visit every day: TalkingPointsMemo; Daily Kos; Huffington Post
Jennifer Reichlin, Assistant Director and Editorial, Design, Production Manager
Favorite books: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (2009) and the first few books of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files (2000–2010)
Favorite movies: I missed many movies I’m sure I would have enjoyed; from the few that I did see, I’d pick Iron Man 3 (2013) and Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Favorite immersive experience: Dragon Con
Favorite TV show: Doctor Who reboot (2005–present)
Favorite controversial song: “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke
Song/video that makes me feel really old: “The Fox” by Ylvis
Favorite websites: www.nytimes.com, www.facebook.com, www.damnyouautocorrect.com
Favorite internet sensation: George Takei
Favorite podcast: Wait wait . . . don’t tell me!
Favorite food coma: Pie Day at the Press, 3/14, 1:59 p.m.
Michael Roux, Marketing Manager
Favorite Book: David Gilbert – And Sons: A Novel, Ahmir Questlove Thompson – Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove
Favorite CD: Midlake – Antiphon
Favorite Song: Laura Mvula – Green Garden
Favorite Movie: Philomena
Favorite TV Shows: Homeland, The Americans, Justified, Hello Ladies, The Mindy Project
Website I visit every day: Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, ProFootballTalk.com
Tamara Shidlauski, Production Coordinator
The Book That Made Me Most Angry: Gone Girl (I’m still very annoyed just thinking about it!)
Favorite Movie: Kinky Boots
Favorite TV Show: Orphan Black, Broadchurch
Favorite live performance: Sing the Truth! A performance with Dianne Reeves, Lizz Wright, and Angelique Kidjo at the Krannert Center. A truly stunning and revelatory auditory experience in a Krannert season of really great performances. The crowd went wild!
Website I visit every day: io9.com
Favorite Place I Didn’t Get to Go to This Year: Deadwood, SD