Yet I wonder: does everyone else who is posting today think, "Uh-oh, what if ten people say 'Pshaw, I read that book/saw that movie long ago!'?" Or am I the only one who's thinking that? (And do people really say "Pshaw"?) Anyhoo, here goes.
Two best novels you've never heard of:
Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding
When a young deaf-mute man, Augustin, is found collapsed on the steps of a Romanian hospital, a nurse recognizes him as her childhood friend, the son of a servant on her family's estate. This haunting novel explores their youthful relationship, their separation during WWII, and their journey to new lives after they meet again. The book has a very simple and subtle style, and the descriptions of how Augustin communicates through painting are beautiful. It ends abruptly -- I turned the page thinking, "Is it really over?" -- but ultimately the conclusion is satisfying and hopeful. This is not a page-turner, but if you like beautiful writing and a moving story, you'll like this.
(Thanks to my friend Mieke for thinking I'd like this book; I did!)
The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty
Young Evelyn sees the world as black-and-white: she accepts her religious grandmother’s view of life and scorns the foibles of her struggling single mom. But as she matures and gains more life experience (first love, friendship, a handicapped brother), she realizes that the world is much more complicated than she thought – and that her mother may in fact know a bit more about right and wrong than Evelyn gave her credit for. This was Moriarty's first novel; I discovered it on our local library's reading list and loved it so much that I've devoured everything she's written since.
Best movie you've never heard of:
A young boy is forced by his irresponsible mother to spend the summer at a farm owned by his two eccentric great-uncles (played by Michael Caine and Robert Duvall). The uncles regale him with stories about their exploits in the war and the love affair one of them had with an African princess. Are the stories true -- or does that even matter? And should you really buy a lion sight unseen, anyway? This is a funny, touching movie about family, love, and truth -- with a delightful and surprising ending.
(Thanks, Brenda G., for the recommendation: loved this movie!)