University of Illinois Press: Best of 2011

Yes!  It’s time for my personal favorite post of the year.  The Best of 2011 list is in alphabetical order by staff member’s last name.  Feel free to post your list in the Comments section.

Lisa Bayer, Marketing Director
Favorite Book:
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. I didn’t know how important it would be. A must-read.
Favorite Graphic Novel: Special Exits by Joyce Farmer. For the sandwich generation.
Favorite CD: The King is Dead by The Decemberists. You know it’s good when your 8-year-old knows every song and learned none on Nick.
Favorite Movie: The Tree of Life by Terence Malick. By sheer accident, the screening I attended at the Art Theatre included an intro by the UI team from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, who contributed two amazing scientific visualization sequences. Also: I like dinosaurs.
Favorite TV Show: Downton Abbey, Hell on Wheels, Mad Men, Colbert
Favorite live performance: tie: The Decemberists, The Pageant Theatre; and the still marvelous Matthew Sweet, Blueberry Hill

Leslie DeLucia, Database Administrator
Favorite Book:
Stieg Larsson  – “The Girl Who….” trilogy
Favorite CDs:
Adele – 21; Lupe Fiasco – Lasers
Favorite Movie:
The Help
Favorite TV Shows: Sons of Anarchy, Parenthood
Favorite live performance: Lupe Fiasco, Assembly Hall

Dawn Durante, Assistant Acquisitions Editor
Favorite Book: The Magician King by Lev Grossman
Favorite Translation: The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky
Favorite Albums: Adele’s 21 and Raphael Saadiq’s Stone Rollin’
Favorite Movie: Cowboys & Aliens
Favorite New TV Show: New Girl
Favorite live performance, theater/music/comedy/etc.: Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, AZ (all attendees were told to wear sombreros in an effort to break the Guinness World Record for most sombreros in one place).

Rohn Koester, Journals Production Editor
Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Documentary: Charles Ferguson, Inside Job
Performance: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Choir, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
TED Talk: Malcolm Gladwell, The Strange Tale of the Norden Bombsight
Museum: 21st C. in Louisville, Kentucky

Kathleen Kornell, Awards Manager & Rights and Permissions Manager
Favorite Book: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Favorite CD: It’s a tie! All Eternals Deck by The Mountain Goats and Wild Flag by Wild Flag
Favorite Movies: The Tree of Life, Super 8
Favorite TV Shows: Revenge, American Horror Story
Favorite live performances: The Mountain Goats at The Vic Theatre, God of Carnage at The Station Theatre
Favorite Food: the duck fat fries at Hot Doug’s

Danny Nasset, Acquisitions Editor
Favorite CD:
War on Drugs – Slave Ambient
Favorite Movie: Hugo
Favorite TV Show Discovered Too Late to Watch in Its First Run: Mad Men (thanks Netflix)
Favorite live performance, theater/music/comedy/etc.: Pacifica Quartet

Joe Peeples, Catalog & Copywriter Coordinator
Favorite Book:
I didn’t read anything published in 2011, but I read last year’s Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, and I got halfway through David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest this year, a new record for me (third attempt).  I still have a few days left in 2011 to finish it!Favorite CDs: Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams, Death Cab for Cutie – Codes And Keys, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong
Favorite comedy CD that’s also a great rap CD: The Lonely Island – Turtleneck & Chain
Favorite Movies: Beginners, Super 8, and the Ebertfest showing of I Am Love, featuring a post-movie panel with the always lovely Tilda Swinton
Favorite returning TV Shows: Parks & Recreation, Louie
Favorite new TV Show: Happy Endings
Favorite musical live performance:  Dum Dum Girls at the Empty Bottle, Chicago
Favorite theater live performance:  QED at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts

Willis Regier, Director
Favorite Book, fiction:  Francis Spofford, RED PLENTY (Graywolf Press)  The last decades of the Soviet Union as seen through characters who believed for most of that time that they were on the brink proving that a planned economy could out-perform its capitalist rivals.  It has fascinating chapters on Soviet science and the beginnings of soviet computerization, with plenty of attention to internal politics and social stresses.
Favorite book, non-fiction:  Marjorie Garber, THE USE AND ABUSE OF LITERATURE (Pantheon) A smart and engaging defense of poetry and fiction, and of several methods for studying it.
Favorite CD:  ADELE 21 (Columbia) released in February, this CD held off challenges from all comers.  Very impressive song writing in several genres, with a delivery that is convincing no matter what emotion is driving.  2nd Place:  Rachael Yamagata’s CHESAPEAKE.
Favorite Movie:  CONTAGION.  This was a very pleasant surprise.  Unlike the flood of movies that use stars to convert a public calamity into a private drama, this movie used its impressive cast to explain how a new epidemic would actually be combatted by national and international agencies, which depended on the heroism of many people.  As a result, what might have been a cliché-ridden disappointing thriller was instead a depiction of what steps would be taken to combat a worldwide epidemic.  2nd place: RISE OF PLANET OF THE APES.  Excellent special effects with an ape hero who steals the show from James Franco.
Favorite TV Show:  JUSTIFIED (FX) Timothy Oliphant finally gets to act, and he does superbly as a U.S. Marshall, opposite the cunning villain, Boyd Crowder (played perfectly by Walton Goggins), in hill country where the best way to make a living is to break the law.  Each season has a well plotted narrative arc with plenty of unexpected mayhem in between.
Favorite live performance, theater/music/comedy/etc.:  Valerie Hotchkiss’s lecture on the history of the English Bible at the University Library’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection.

Will Ridenour, Programmer
Favorite Book:
Special Exits, Joyce Farmer’s unblinking graphic novel, a memoir of her parents in their final years.
Favorite Album: The Guilt and the Ambiguity (Johnny Ridenour). What I’ve heard so far of my son’s unfinished opus is richer and braver than anything else I’ve heard this year. OK, I’m prejudiced, but this is going to be a good album.
Favorite Movie(s): Another Year (Mike Leigh, dir), The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet, dir), Hugo (Martin Scorsese).

Michael Roux, Publicity Manager
Favorite CD: Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow
Favorite Hit Song on the Radio while Driving My Kids Somewhere: Wiz Khalifa – Black & Yellow
Favorite Movie: Source Code
Favorite TV Show: Homeland
Favorite TV Show Discovered Too Late to Watch in Its First Run: Veronica Mars

Lisa Savage, Journals Production Editor
Favorite Books: Jeffrey Eugenidies – The Marriage Plot; Roger Ebert – Life Itself: A Memoir
Favorite CD: The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
Favorite Movies: Bridesmaids; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Favorite nostalgia trip: The Muppets
Favorite TV Show: Parks & Recreation
Favorite quote from Parks & Rec
Favorite live performances, theater/music/comedy/etc.: Wild Flag at the High Dive; Matthew Sweet at Blueberry Hill
Favorite restaurants that are new to me: Girl & the Goat, Chicago; Ranoush, St. Louis
Favorite encased meats emporium and sausage store: Hot Doug’s

Vijay Shah, Assistant Acquisitions Editor
Favorite Book:
 Dinaw Mengestu-How to Read the Air
Favorite CD: The Roots—Undun
Favorite Movie: Even the Rain
Favorite TV Show: Hung
Favorite live performance, theater/music/comedy/etc.: No Place Like Home, play about Iraqi refugees on campus

Here are the previous years’ lists: 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.

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